The Dark Side Of Being An Expat
When the perception of your life can change in an instant.
I sat there in tears. Piles of Kleenex on the table. He’d passed another one to me as I finished with the previous; a cyclical movement was going.
When you have to make a painful yet blatantly obvious realization about yourself and your circumstances, these moments can be sobering. I’d finally admitted after four years that I was not comfortable or happy in my new country. As I explained it in a different way than I had in the past, he saw it through my eyes and was shocked and empathetic. It can be so difficult sometimes to see life from someone else’s perspective. A part of me stood outside of our conversation, looking at what was going on. Everything I’d done in the last four years (and sort of.. nothing I’d done in the last four years) exhibited being comfortable, happy or feeling safe here. (Side note: there’s nothing to literally feel unsafe about where I am; I’m living in one of the safest countries in the world, but I’m denoting more of a personal connection to what was/is immediately around me.) I was always saying I hadn’t felt like myself, but I never stopped to investigate WHY I didn’t feel like myself — until now.
All the signs were there and suddenly, the collective became glaringly obvious; lack of social life; finding reasons to (figuratively) lock myself in my home and not go out; depression; gaining an alarmingly unhealthy amount of weight; not speak the language as potentially often as I could (of which it was not an intellectual matter, but an emotional one as I’d spoken different languages in the past). But living, like going out and speaking to people, visiting different areas of this very beautiful country didn’t help. Nothing “clicked.” Then ‘comparisonitis’ reared its ugly head; other people could do it, why couldn’t I? (Also, don’t compare yourself to someone else. That’s not good for anybody. Every expat has their own individual journey/experience.)
I’d chosen the man, but not the country.
As an Authenticity Advocate, the whole scenario today jars me. The bitch about being a coach is that you have to practice what you prea…erm.. coach. Helping others live authentically means I also have to live authentically. Usually this isn’t a problem. Usually there isn’t so much at stake. Usually you’re not discussing with your partner about continuing a relationship in separate countries. But when you practice so much self-awareness, it comes to bite you in the ass sometimes. Becoming self-aware makes you become self-aware. Meaning, if it’s something you regularly practice, it will become a part of you. And you can’t escape it, and that’s both a blessing and a curse.
Taking moments like this are imperative for your well-being. You can grip onto something and pretend you’re comfortable for only so long. You get signs and signals (or that subtle feeling you keep ignoring) that things aren’t quite right, but you keep going — until you break down in a fit of tears because of a discussion in the kitchen when someone says something the wrong way and it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.
We all go down certain paths for different reasons; either we’re numb (or have fear) and we just “go with the flow,” we make a conscious decision to, or because it feels right — or maybe because we’re trying a new adventure. In any situation, we’re acting on our values at the time and how they are serving us. Moving to a different country served my values of investing in and developing a significant relationship, but to do that, I had to give up familiarity and comfort.
I’ve been practicing mindfulness and meditation on and off for almost 25 years. Over the past month, I’ve been intentional in creating a daily practice and it’s served me well. Being mindful doesn’t make situations like these any less painful, but they do make them more manageable.
I’m going to stay for now (especially since we recently moved to a different town) and give it another go. I’ll keep up my meditation practice and involve more self-care.
“You can always measure what you’ll lose, but you can’t see what you’ll gain.”
~ Kyle Cease
Jumping requires having a lot of faith when going into the unknown. Your support system (‘tribe,’ if you will) and self-care regimes are an integral part of your well being, especially when situations like this arise. With a deep breath and head held high, you’re able to accomplish anything.
How did this resonate with you? Would love to hear your story in the comments below. Thanks for reading!