Saturday, April 20, 2013

the expat life

It has started... My heart physically hurts for London. All day yesterday I have been missing my expat life.

I can't really pinpoint what triggered it or how the feelings became suddenly overwhelming. I just remember sitting on the couch, looking around a room in a house that is not mine, and facing Tim to say, "I miss London."
"Me too," was his reply.
"Like, a lot," I said back.

Before moving back to the states I started reading, "The Art of Coming Home" by Craig Storti, a book that KPMG gave us weeks prior to our move. It is recommended that even family members read it.

It was very interesting to say the least. Can you believe they have books on this? I was informed ahead of time by my expert expat friends about the roller coaster of emotions an expat goes through while living abroad. I didn't fully understand it, but I took their word for it. And sure enough, throughout the two years I would catch myself at those various high and low and twirly points along the ride.
Mid-coaster ride I had been prepped a bit about "reverse culture shock". Yes, there is such a thing. Again, I didn't understand, but I believed it.

So to finally sit down and read about this, so called "reverse culture shock", was eye opening for me. I wish I had the book with me so I can share some excerpts with you, but it is currently packed in a box on a boat sailing the deep blue sea toward LA.

I was very curious upon reading when reverse culture shock would hit me. Every expat has a different experience. How long will it take for me? How severe will it be? How long will it last? Will I ever be the same? Can "home" truly not feel like "home"? Where is "home"? And do I need therapy???

Ok, the last one is kinda a joke, but really, I did think it!

Fast forward exactly one month later from our departure date and I am finding myself throughout the whole day looking at old instagram pictures of London, seeing pictures of our old flat, and so desperately wanting to go back. I even had moments where I would close my eyes and envision myself there, looking out at our amazing view....

Maybe, it was the fact, that as my dear friend puts it, "...when the dust began to settle from the rush and excitement of being 'home'," that triggered this awkwardness of being stuck between two worlds. We bought  our cars, settled our bank accounts, ran a bazillion errands, met up with old friends, went on a family vacay... and now the chaos and enjoyment of all the re-introductions of American luxuries has come to an end.

I know this sounds crazy. I don't expect you to understand. But I know my fellow expats totally understand and that's comfort for me to know, I'm not crazy.

So, yes, I cried at night in bed last night. Also laughing because the emotions were all so bizarre! Tim and I stayed up discussing our feelings about our experiences. After all he is the only one that can truly understand. He is having a hard time too and in different ways.

Today I'm better. But I don't know what tomorrow will be like. So if you ever talk to me and I seem out of it, I'm sorry. I guess I will have normal days and not so normal days as I try to figure out my "normal". So be nice to me, please. :)


chelseyandmatt said...

Tanya, I seriously get emotional reading this. I'm so sorry! I commented on facebook, but we only were in Germany for 9 months, but we Lived like a German! It took me a long time before I thought about Germany every single day. It is a whole different world. Good luck with the transition!

shannon said...

That quote looks familiar ;) Oh, Tanya, AND Tim! I feel you, oh how I feel you! I cried so many tears for London during our year "home." And I'd play a slideshow of all our favourite London/Europe memories and just sob my face off. I honesty think the transition back home is so much harder. You are changed forever. I know you'll enjoy being back in California (the weather!), but there will always be a piece of London in your heart. Text me anytime!


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