Thursday, October 24, 2013

On being an Expat

I must admit I've been feeling a bit down lately.   I'm sure being sick has a lot to do with it.
But, I also have to admit that there are a few other things swirling around in this brain of
mine that are contributing to the rut I'm in.

As bloggers, we're pretty comfortable presenting a positive face to our readers and friends.
But, you know as well as I do that there is a whole other side to life.
Sick days.  Bad hair days.  Lonely days.  Bra-less days.
 I'm certain you don't want to read a post about them.
(And you certainly don't want photographs!) 

But, today I'm going to bare a little bit of my expat soul to you.  



  Apparently, Expatria has three evil stepsisters.  They are called Fear, Guilt and Melancholy.  

I didn't realize this before, but now I'm very well acquainted with them.
And let me just be blunt.  They are major bitches. 

So, I'm just going to call them out and expose them for what they are

My hope is that it will not only benefit me to get it off my chest,
but that maybe you can relate and not feel so alone on your bad days.  



I'm afraid that when I go home, everything will have changed so much that some connections and comforts will be lost forever. 

I'm sad because I miss my family and friends so much every day.  Some days it's almost unbearable. 

I feel guilty because I moved so far away from my daughter.  Children are supposed to leave the nest, not parents. 

I'm afraid that when I go home, everyone will think that I've changed too much and they will feel like they don't know me.  Or like me.

I'm sad because I spend so much time alone now. 

I feel guilty because I don't work hard enough to keep the connections strong with people that  love but live far away from. 

I'm afraid people think I'm an obnoxious braggart when I talk about traveling and that they don't realize how thankful I am for this time in my life.

I feel sad that friends and family don't know how much I love them and that I think about them all the time. 

I feel guilty because I don't know if I ever want to live in the US again.

I'm afraid that I'm going to get a phone call that will stop my heart and I won't be able to be where I need to be fast enough.

I'm afraid that the price I will have to pay for becoming an expat will be much higher than I expected.

I'm afraid that in spite of a wonderful life and numerous opportunities, I will never become the woman that I've always wanted to be. 


See.  Aren't they awful?   Fear is definitely the ringleader.  (Such a bitch.)

But, I've decided to stop giving them so much leeway and control over my life.
I shall use their powers for good instead of evil. 

These feelings are all very real to me.  I feel guilt.  I'm afraid.  I'm sometimes sad.

But, I don't really want them to go away.  They help me to remember what is important in life.

I'm also grateful. Happy. Content.  And I'm so excited by what the future holds.


How about you?  Any evil stepsisters lurking about and whispering dark secrets in your ear?



62 comments:

  1. I can really relate to this one. I have days where I convince myself that the phone call you speak of is coming. I worry how I will afford to get back at a moment's notice. I have had moments of true sadness when friendships disintegrated, and fear for those I cherished most would follow suit. Thanks for sharing Selena, it is always good to know that there are others who are haunted by the same feelings.

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  2. You almost made me cry :( I put on such a front... all.the.time. But you are so right about a all of these things. I try to stay strong and not think about them because if one changes, they all must change (if that makes any sense). I'm sure it felt good to get that off of your chest, though. Maybe I should just let myself cry about it, everyone deserves a good cry, right?

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  3. Well, this just plucked at my heart strings. I love this post... powerful and honest. I may be inspired to write about my own ugly stepsisters if you don't mind. :) I wish that we were closer to each other, I feel that we could lend each other great in person support. Chin up lady, I am right there with you.

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  4. This post...well we've all been there. I consider myself a seasoned pro but this still happens sometimes, although it does get easier. I often worry about returning to the UK for good and finding that we don't fit together any more. What I can tell you about friends though, is that the real ones, the ones that really matter, those friendships don't change. In fact, some of mine have even improved while I've been away which I never imagined. It is true that I've probably lost some friendships, some of us have drifted apart, but if I'm really honest our friendships were more superficial anyway. I think my biggest guilt comes from leaving family behind. I chose another life over them...or at least that's how it feels sometimes...but you know if you asked them they would think/feel differently. At times like this it is important to reach out to those you love, wherever they are. You'll feel much better for it. Big expat hugs, my darling.

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  5. Expat life can be tough, huh? I think all of us long-term live-abroad-ers face the same feelings, at least I do. I hate missing Thanksgiving and I'm scared my grandparents are going to have last words with everyone except for me.

    But, at the end of the day, life sure is a lot easier with technology and I think it's worth the things we give up.

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  6. I have definitely been chillin' with the evil stepsisters recently... ugh! I'm almost afraid to go back to America to visit (I haven't been back since I moved a year ago); my friends have new friends, my house isn't my house anymore, I don't if I can handle going because I don't know if I can handle leaving. But I feel guilty as well because like you said, I don't know if I ever want to live in America again!

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  7. This week I have written every day looking back on the past year. So far, all good stuff. Tomorrow I take another angle and I will admit I am terrified at going back. That Fear. But not that I won't fit in- but that I won't be as happy or able to find this happiness. I am so in love with the kids' school- that's a big part of it for me. I weep for what I haven't even lost yet.

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  8. The receiving of a horrible phone call is my number one fear and is the one most likely to keep me up at night. My brother just started high school and I just think of all the things that could go wrong in that time and I so wish I was there to oversee it but part of me knows that in reality he would not actually want his big sister hovering over his every move but I can dream and make myself sad either way!

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  9. I feel many of these same thoughts living in my "birth" country!

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  10. I so appreciate your honesty. For those of us who love to travel but are much more limited in our opportunities, it is easy to imagine only the wonderful and positive things about the experiences of travel bloggers. Every life and line of work has its ups and downs....thank you for hanging in there. I truly enjoy reading your blog.

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  11. I know what you mean - I blogged about it myself back in April (http://twenty-something-sherbet.blogspot.com/2013/04/immigration-moving-guilt.html) I often feel guilty a little about not even wanting to visit the UK ever again yet alone move back!There I said it, I don't often say it aloud but it's my little guilty secret!

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  12. Being sick is such a huge contributor to the negative feelings - the same thing happened when I was knocked down by a cold a few weeks ago. It's food to get the feelings out, and at least you know that the expat blogging community knows what you're talking about. Thanks for sharing :)

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  13. Farrah, I know what you mean. It's good to keep a balance, to look at the good and the not so good. Fear is a constant struggle. 

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  14. I'm amazed at how many people can relate. I get my brain twisted up in knots for no reason sometimes. I haven't been back yet either. Hopefully Christmas. I'm really nervous. And excited. 

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  15. I can't imagine what it would have been like years ago. My mom was a military wife in the 60's and 70's and left her family. She wasn't even able to get home for her mother's funeral. I can't imagine how difficult it was without the technology. I so admire her. 

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  16. Thank you so much, Amy. I feel so much better having just put it out there. It's the reality of the situation. Struggling with it doesn't make me weak. Amazing how much another person's words can lift you up. Thank you!!

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  17. Thank you, Belinda. I knew that you would understand. Your blogging compass series helped give me the idea of just putting it out there. I consider you a friend and feel like I know you. I'm certain we will meet up some day :D

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  18. A good cry is always helpful. And time talking and laughing with girlfriends is the most healing. Hugs to you!!!

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  19. Oh Selena, I have been there and know exactly how you feel - and how you feel similar things when you return to the US. People, and friendships, move on, and you spend an inordinate amount of time missing the place you just left. Your feelings are so, so normal, and they will pass, I promise :) And now you have new friends to come visit in the US (Atlanta and DC!) hugs! xx

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  20. The phone call one was the hardest and scariest to admit. I didn't even want to write it out. I can't even think about it. Thanks for commenting & letting me know I'm not alone. Big hugs, Jessica!

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  21. Thanks, Andrea. Your comment made me tear up. I hate to see old friendships go, but damn am I thankful for the new ones!!!! xoxo

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  22. I don't even know where I'd be without the blog and the connections it's brought me. I hope you are feeling better, too!! xoxo

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  23. Rachael, your link didn't work and I really want to read your post. Can you resend it? I have your shared secret. But, I guess we never know what the futures holds. Maybe someday my hearts desire will be to return. Hugs!!

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  24. Thinking of you today! :) So many of these things are things that I think on a constant basis too and I am still in the US, just far from my family and so busy with my own. I think it's important to remember that no matter where you are, we all deal with these feelings. Thank you for your honesty and know that you have people all over the world thinking of you! :)

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  25. Thanks so much, Paula. I think these things are probably felt by women universally. I really appreciate your sweet encouragement! xoxo

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  26. Thanks, Lovely. You probably grew up with these living all over. We just learn to carry "Home" with us where ever we go, I guess. It has helped me immensely to get them out of my head and into the light of day. Not nearly as overwhelming that way. Hugs! 

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  27. I think they must just be universal feelings. Thank you for commenting. I've followed the trail back to your blog and LOVE IT! Can't wait to read more. :D

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  28. That's one that makes me go cold. I could barely even put that one in words. When you love someone so much... 

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  29. Yes, I get this too. It's nasty stuff, being an expat. You vocalized all my fears. Wishing your day gets better

    Hannah
    Www.thelemonhive.com

    Ps. Bras are overrated anyway

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  30. ann@travelturtle.netOctober 24, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    I think it's so hard for people to understand how a place can tear a heart in two like it does. For me, there's so much I love about living in the states, but that doesn't change the fact that I love living here. And along with all the things you list one of my "things" is that I hate thinking that anyone would assume that my love for being here means I don't love the US.


    And then there's the unknown. That I strongly feel that giving my kids an overseas opportunity is a good thing... but there's no way to really know. In the meantime, I tend (or at least try) to push those fears aside, do what I can when I can, and stay happy, content, and grateful much like yourself.

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  31. Ah apparently it wasn't working because it copied the end of the bracket into the URL but here's another try! http://twenty-something-sherbet.blogspot.com/2013/04/immigration-moving-guilt.html

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  32. Even though I have only been away from home for 3 months, I can relate to this post. I think my biggest fear is when I do eventually move home, my friends and family will have gotten so used to me not being there that it will be hard to fit back into 'normal' life again. Thank you so much for sharing, I am really enjoying your blog.

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  33. Hey Selena! I remember the fear of going home and seeing old friends after such a long time- what is amazing is how quickly things return to normal. Yes, changes have happened, but even the first time seeing them and catching up, you'll feel like you never left (even with the people you haven't kept strong connections with). Trust me, kick that fear out the door :)

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  34. This is one of those situations where I can say without hesitation that I know exactly how you are feeling, from missing your babygirl to worrying about getting a ' phone call ' that you never want to get especially when it takes so long to get back to your other home. I just came back from a ten week US visit and as much as I enjoyed it and I did, I missed my husband while I was away and I've been homesick for my stateside family and friends since I came back. It's tough to balance when your heart is in two places.

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  35. I hate these feelings, they can suck the life right out of us. We have to faith that we're doing the right thing... living our lives as we want to. Imagine if you had made the decision not to move to London, the 'what ifs' would probably be eating you up more than the fear, guilt, and melancholy.
    I'm sending you lots of love and hugs from The LPV xoxo

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  36. I haven't been away from "home" long enough to experience all of these, but I've certainly had one or two rounds with fear since coming here. I, too, am not sure if I want to live in the US again for a long time, but if I do end up going back, I know this lifestyle has changed me enough that I won't let my complacent US-self come back. I'll still be traveling and exploring - there are plenty of states to discover even if Europe is too far away! :o)

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  37. I struggled with very similar feelings as an expat. Not so much in Europe, since I was a (relatively) easy flight away. Australia though… that felt far. There was a 16 hour time difference, and at least 25-30 hours of travel to get back home. As much as I loved being there, there was a lot more of the "3 bitches" mixed into daily life there. Thought maybe I just wasn't cut out for it - but you're right, we all struggle from time to time! :)

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  38. Oh gosh, I found myself nodding at a lot of this... Just know that you are not alone in feeling like that.... It's a funny thing this expat life isn't it?

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  39. Selena this was a magnificent post! Thank you for putting out there what so many women feel daily. Which is guilt for living the life they want to lead! Thank you Thank you Thank you... Do you know what my biggest fear is? Moving to the UK and missing out on the lives of my future grandchildren, I mean they aren't even born yet and I'm thinking "What if"... We have to have peace about our decisions in life, but in that peace, as you say... we always get the bitches that show up.
    You're also so right about the blogging face, the blog world gets the very very best of us, and that's probably a good thing!
    Now put those boobies back in their bra!
    Much love to you,
    Tammy xx

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  40. Aw. Thanks, Tammy. And thank you for the card. I was so excited to see that orange envelope among the white bill envelopes!!! The grandchildren thing is something that I think about often. Not sure how that will change things, but I'm certain that it will. I'm looking forward to seeing Jessica become a mom someday. :D (Bra isn't on yet today, but it's still early) xoxo 

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  41. It's such a roller coaster ride. Today, I'm feeling great! :D

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  42. I feel so much better having just admitted to it all and then moving on. Feeling good this week. Such a rollercoaster! Matt wants to go back to Australia to live someday. I admit I'm a bit nervous about that one. So very far away! How long were you there?

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  43. I agree. I'll never be the same. This exploration and traveling thing is pretty amazing!

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  44. Thanks so much, Sarah. You are absolutely right. I wouldn't change this decision for the world. There was no way that I could say no to this opportunity. xoxo

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  45. So very tough. I know you can completely relate. I'm thinking about taking a few weeks and just going home by myself after the holidays. I haven't been back since we moved here two years ago. And the longer it goes, the more nervous I get about going back. Where is your daughter living? Jessica just moved in with my brother which brings me comfort. I know he protects her and takes care of her like she is his. 

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  46. Ashley! I've been wondering how you are getting settled in. Nice to hear from you. You're right. I just need to get home for a visit. It's been too long!!

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  47. Samantha, I'm so glad you are enjoying the blog :D That brings a huge cheesy grin to my face. I can't believe it's been almost two years now. That first month I didn't think I was ever going to settle in. But now I feel very settled. Such a fun adventure, isn't it??

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  48. Wow! this is a fantastic article and really resonates. Thanks so much for sharing it. :)

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  49. Ann, I know exactly what you mean. I would hate for people to think that I don't love the US. I love my home. But I love England, too. You're children will greatly benefit from this life. They will be adventurous and open minded. After dwelling on those negative feelings for a few days too long, the response to that article has helped me so much. I am happy and so grateful. Hugs, Ann!!

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  50. Hannah, thanks so much for reading & commenting. I'm lovin' your blog... so fun and positive! Just what I need more of. It's nice to know that we aren't alone in our fears. xoxo

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  51. Catching up on all my social medias on this the day of my birth (cause when would be a better time to do this?) and I agree and have similar feels myself. The guilt, the fear, the sadness and then feeling them all again for feeling it in the first place. I just try to remember to live in the moment b/c for me this is all temporary.

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  52. I was there for a year, and it does seem very far away. However, I would love to go back! Aussies seem to know that they are isolated travel-wise, so their normal holiday time period is at least 2-3 weeks per trip. So actually, I would have had more time to come home to visit than if I lived and worked in New York!

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  53. Thanks, Selena. It's so nice to hear such wonderful feedback. I'm looking forward to reading more from you :)

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  54. This is a beautiful post Selena. Oh those evil sisters. Guilt is probably my biggest. Every time I get a message from a friend with good news or bad news or every time I sense sadness in a family members voice and every time someone asks when are you coming home? I even feel guilty about blogging sometimes when I post pictures of one of the beautiful places I've visited while one of my friends is going through a break up and I'm not there to drink wine and bitch about the scumbag with her. I don't know if it will ever go away but I think if I didn't live abroad and didn't travel then I'd have something far far worse to contend with, and that's regret.

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  55. Thanks so much, Anna. I'm so amazed at the response from this post. I feel so much better, I can't even tell you. They are really tough feelings. But you are so right. Regret is one Evil Stepsister that I do not want to meet!!! Can't wait to meet you at the Bloggers Tea!!!! xoxo Selena

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  56. I hope you had a wonderful birthday! Hugs!!! Having friends like you, certainly makes life here easier. And so much more fun!!! xoxo

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  57. I like the honesty. This is why I practice emotional release all the time, I don't like it when this stuff builds up too much.

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  58. That is so true, Erika. It just builds up and gets worse. Plus it's so nice to get support and encouragement from others. Thank you so much for reading and commenting!
    Sent from my iPad

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  59. Selena, I stumbled across this when a friend of mine posted it on FB. This is exactly the feelings I have every day about living overseas! I have to say, it makes me feel better to know that others go through and grapple with the same feels and doubt that I do! Thank you so much for taking the time to write and post this!!

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  60. Tina, thank you so much for reading and commenting! I can't tell you how much better I felt after posting this. It felt good to know that I was not alone. Everyone has those bad days. It's just important to try not to let it get to you too much. Are you from America? How long have you been an expat? 

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  61. Yes, I'm from Florida originally. I moved to Italy in 2009 and have been in Germany since 2011. :)

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  62. Italy & Germany! How wonderful? I always knew that I'd live overseas. Expected it to be Italy a la Under the Tuscan Sun. But England has been wonderful. Any plans to return to the US soon? I think we will be here for a while yet.

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Thanks for commenting. I love to hear from you!