The Long Haul: The end is nigh

Megan Amato //Associate News Editor 

My number one piece of advice for anyone entering a long-distance relationship (LDR) is this: you’ve got to have an end date. It doesn’t matter if it’s next month, next year or five years down the line. As long as you have that prospective date, you have something to work towards. Something that keeps you motivated to go through all the motions of being in a relationship without the benefits. Without that carrot—or in my case, loads of chocolate—at the end of the stick, a LDR can seem pointless, hopeless. It has been the number one failing in many other LDRs. Either the couple isn’t willing to agree on where they would end up or so many barriers were placed in front of them that they couldn’t see that end in sight. You can’t go on forever without a plan for your future, and my husband and I have had one from the start. And my time has finally come. If all goes as planned, I will be reunited with my husband by the end of June. 

If, if, if… 

I don’t have to tell you that this relationship has been expensive with the dozens of transatlantic flights over the years, two temporary visas, and several Christmas care packages to each other and our families. Immigrating to another country isn’t cheap and now my bank account is crying over the cost of applying for a visa to move permanently. I naively went into this thinking it would just be the visa cost but didn’t account for the steep healthcare surcharge, processing fees and flights over. And though I’m often broker than an old cuckoo-clock, I’m only one person from a very wealthy country. I can’t imagine the fees families and those with dependants have to pay per person, and from countries whose economies aren’t as strong compared to the UK. I briefly debated taking out a high-interest loan, finding another job or selling my eggs (of which I have no intention of using, so why not?) to help pay for these costs. So far I’ve resisted, sticking with the old fashioned method of saving every penny I could manage and not spending all my money on antique books and dumplings. 

It isn’t only financial concerns that are cause for anxiety however, there is that lingering fear at the back of my mind: “what do I do if my visa gets rejected?” It seems like an unlikely situation; I’m quite privileged being white and from Canada. But the UK’s recent anti-immigration policies, along with public opinion being on the more xenophobic side of things is enough to cause for worry. The 2016 EU Referendum where the majority of Britain decided to leave went into effect this year and though the majority of Scotland itself voted to stay in the EU, it isn’t Scotland who processes my visa application. Niggling anxieties of small things from the past surface in my mind: What if my visa is denied due to my father’s criminal record? What if it’s denied due to my student loans? Due to my credit score which hasn’t always been great? Due to a comment that I left on Facebook ten years ago, or mistakes I’ve made in my past? All these things, big and small, compile to cause anxiety that sits like a ball of fire in my stomach and they won’t go away until I receive that letter telling me that my visa has been approved.   

In February, I travelled to the UK to visit my husband and as we were saying goodbye in the airport, his own anxieties came to the surface—in a more glass half empty kind of way. They had me knocking on wood as he lamented about his bad luck, and the chance of me probably dying before I finally moved there. One of his worries was the recent Coronavirus pandemic and while he was being rather overdramatic about me catching the virus and perishing—please knock on some wood for me wherever you are—that is certainly a terrifying possibility, as is the chance of it spreading to those who are older or have autoimmune diseases. However, the bigger—albeit more temporary—worry that I have is whether or not I will be allowed to travel and immigrate during the pandemic. Travel bans have been put into place in multiple countries and it seems that the virulent virus is only getting started. It’s a real possibility that all travel will be suspended until COVID-19 runs its course.  

However, despite all these anxieties, they won’t stop me from barrelling on and getting through this process. Not because I am a fully functioning adult, but because I am really good at ignoring my problems. I’ll just push them down and bury them into that flaming pit in my stomach until that approval comes and I can breathe a sigh of relief. And if it doesn’t, well that’s something to deal with later. Unhealthy coping mechanisms aside, the thing getting me through it is being one step closer to that goal. One step closer to being with my husband because once I’m there with that lovable oddball, then all those anxieties will be worth it. All my stressing, late-night googling, half-filled out loan applications and binge-eating of sugary foods will not have been in vain and I will be rewarded with the tangible outcome of my relationship.

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