How a Long-Distance Relationship Taught Me Abundance, Not Scarcity

Crystal Jackson

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I’ve long said that I don’t do long-distance relationships. Until, of course, the Universe said the equivalent of hold my beer and sent me the right person — from the wrong location.

At least it was the wrong location when you consider we live nearly a thousand miles apart. How would this even work? Did I even want to try?

There are choices, and there are choices. This didn’t seem to be a thing I could easily walk away from. After all, from the moment he walked in the room for the first time, after hours spent in friendly conversation on the phone, I knew. I knew that thing you know when you meet a person who is going to change your life. It just all fell into place.

He’ll tell you that I immediately ignored him in favor of my pizza, and believe me when I say that he tells it better than I ever could, but I’ll tell you that when he walked in, I did turn away (after a quick double-take) to compose myself. The rest, as they say, is history.

I thought the long-distance nature of the relationship would encourage a scarcity mindset. After all, we get so little real in-person time together. But what’s actually happened is the opposite. This relationship has taught me how to live in abundance.

If you’re scratching your head in curiosity over this one, you’re probably not alone. Let me explain. The way it works is that we don’t count down the days by wishing away the time. We agreed early on that we didn’t want to waste a single moment of our time together and that includes those times when we’re on the phone but far apart.

We both said that we didn’t want to take that for granted in favor of wishing for the moments when there was no longer any distance between us. We would slow time. We would savor every single moment.

In a scarcity mentality, we’re filled with fear, and we make decisions based on our fears and anxieties.

We look at time as a precious commodity that’s running out, and we tend to spend more time focusing on what we don’t have rather than what we do. Everything tilts toward the negative with scarcity.

In an abundance mentality, we’re filled with gratitude.

We take chances because we’re aware that life is short, and we don’t want to waste a single moment of it paralyzed by our fears. We spend our time focusing on the moments that are filled with joy, kindness, and love. We tend to focus on the positive when we exist in abundance.

Being involved in a relationship where our time together is limited has helped me learn abundance.

Because we’re not choosing to wish away all the times between the ones when we’re together- after all, we both have children and jobs we love, hobbies we enjoy, and friendships we cultivate- we’re not looking at time as a precious resource we’re losing.

Instead, we appreciate the phone calls, the text messages, and all those moments that build up until we’re together again. We use that time to get to know more about each other and to support each other’s lives from where we are. We don’t feel like we’re losing out on anything. This mentality helps offset the natural fears that come from being people who are divorced and now dating with children in the picture.

There was no question, for either of us, that we wanted to take the chance to see where this could go.

We chose not to be ruled by our fears and instead chose to be brave in love. Our lives aren’t dictated by all the concerns about how this might work out in the long run or if the distance could possibly drive a wedge between us. Instead, we realize fully that time is precious, and we understand that what we have is something special that we ought to fully explore without being ruled by fears of failure or being hurt.

Because our time together is usually short, worked around our co-parenting schedules with former spouses, we spend a lot of time in mindfulness and gratitude. We choose to be present, enjoying every moment. Maintaining that level of awareness also helps us to stay in an attitude of gratitude. We really appreciate and savor the small things. All of it matters, from drinking coffee hand-in-hand looking over the mountains to having a conversation on our way to a destination.

No moment is wasted, nor do we spend hours hashing out everything that could possibly go wrong.

Which is not to say that we avoid challenging conversations. We don’t. We address those head-on, as we do everything else. We talk about our vulnerabilities and our fears, but we are not ruled by them. We’ve become a safe space for the other person to open up and be real, and it’s made our time all the richer for the ability to say what we’re thinking and feeling without fear of judgment.

I should be clear that most of my relationships have been from an outlook of scarcity. I am a chronic overthinker, and I’m no stranger to being ruled by fears. It’s why I haven’t always talked about vulnerabilities in past relationships. Instead, I tried to hide them, working on them in private but not voicing them to partners. I let fear rule how I approached problems in the relationship, so afraid that speaking up might end something I wanted.

By shifting to an abundance mentality, I don’t have to be afraid that honesty will drive a wedge between us. In fact, we’ve discussed at length that the only thing that will hurt us is isolating ourselves when we’re feeling insecure or being deceptive about our thoughts and feelings. When we approach everything with honesty, vulnerability, and courage, we have the chance to sort through any feelings that may be caused by triggers from past situations. We can reassure one another or even just be there while the other processes a difficult feeling.

Abundance allows us to lead with courage over fear, and it’s enriched the relationship in a way that I didn’t know was possible.

The attitude of abundance has also been something I’ve taken outside of the relationship, too.

As a single mom who is also self-employed, my attention is often divided with my children. I have to be everything and do everything, and I manage to stay on top of everything that needs doing most of the time. But sometimes it comes at the cost of divided attention when I need to check work emails or take a few minutes to work on an idea that’s flowing. I’m not always as present as I feel I need to be, and I feel like I’ve been parenting from an attitude of scarcity rather than abundance.

After all, it’s easy to do. As parents, our fears are legion. There are too many things out there that can hurt us and hurt our kids. We worry, and at the same time, we can see time moving by altogether too fast. It slips through our fingertips while we’re busy doing more than being. It creates further fears and anxieties because we know we’re losing time. Does that sound familiar?

That’s scarcity.

Parenting from abundance means that we are brave with our love. We take chances rather than being the helicopter parent consumed by our fears.

We practice mindfulness and gratitude, and we focus on the positive aspects of parenting more than we dwell on the negative ones. Yes, time is going by much too fast, but we learn to appreciate the moments because of it.

Being in a long-distance relationship has taught me the value of applying an abundant outlook to my parenting rather than one of scarcity.

I just spent a relaxed weekend at home doing little more than being with my kids. I talked to them about the things they’re interested in, we watched movies together, and we stretched out side by side for naps. We talked about plans for the future, and we talked about what we wanted to do that day. The day didn’t feel like one where I was divided, my anxiety ratcheting up as I lost more and more time. Instead, I just stayed with gratitude.

A long-distance relationship doesn’t have to mean something negative. Parenting doesn’t have to mean we’re ruled by fear. When we flip the script from scarcity to abundance, we begin to see that life is filled with possibilities.

Where there are possibilities, there is joy and hope. Time is precious. Do we really want to waste one more minute living them in fear? If we can move out of our fear and step into our courage, we just might find the lives- and loves- we’ve always wanted.

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Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned writer. She is the author of the Heart of Madison series and a volume of poetry entitled My Words Are Whiskey. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, The Good Men Project, and Elephant Journal. When she's not writing, you can find her traveling, paddle boarding, cycling, throwing axes badly but with terrifying enthusiasm, hiking, or curled up with her nose in a book in Madison, Georgia, where she lives with one puppy and two wild and wonderful children. Crystal writes about relationships, mental health, parenting, social justice, and more. Never miss an update. Subscribe to emails: https://crystaljacksonwriter.substack.com/

Madison, GA
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