There was a time in my life when I was separated from someone I loved because he had to do military duty in Iraq. We were able to text and send letters and occasionally we even spoke on the phone. But even so, inevitably we said, “I miss you.”
I began to notice that “I miss you” left me feeling lonely and helpless. At first, without realizing it, I tried to block out the yearning and pining that made my heart ache and kept me up at night. Eventually I became aware that I was tensing my muscles so I wouldn’t cry. And eating all those pints of ice cream was just an attempt to stave off loneliness with sugar.
As a psychotherapist, I knew the best thing to do was to go ahead and feel my feelings without censorship. So I consciously gave myself permission to experience the physical deprivation of my boyfriend’s presence.
At first the feelings intensified, sometimes as a deep ache, other times almost unbearably stabbing … and then they would recede. The end of this cycle bore fruit. I felt relieved, my body relaxed, it became easier to sleep at night.
And then, something inside said, “Make a ‘miss’ list.”