Monday, 27 August 2018

Why Going Home as an Expat Is Hard

I spend the night before lying in bed feeling sick to my stomach, fighting back tears. It’s always hard, it never gets easier and every time I do it, I feel numb, trying to cut myself off from that awful feeling that is to come. The goodbye!  This is how I spend every night the day before I return to my expat life. Do any other expats go through this feeling? (please tell me I’m not insane) 

As I pack my suitcase to go home, I feel excited! I think about the people I want to see, the things I want to do, the clothes I’m going to buy and the food I want to eat. I’m going on holiday, of course it’s exciting! 

As soon as I arrive home I sink back into life in the UK, because as much as you expect it to, nothing changes. My favourite lip balm is still on my bedside table where I left it, my winter boots are still in the wardrobe and the weather is still a very prevalent conversation. I always expat things to be different, but they never are and it makes it easy to slot back into the life I have known for most of my life. 

Fast-forward a week and I start to feel restless, because although home will always be my home, it’s not MY home anymore. I only have 1 nail polish there and I really want to use the specific colour that I know is on my bedside table half-way across the world. I’ve stared at the same view out of my window for most of the year, but now I miss it. Not because it’s a great view, but because it’s comfortable. It’s what I know! 

The life I’m living in the UK is a holiday, and we’re all ready for home after a long holiday. But when the time gets closer, so does that feeling of dread. The goodbye! I start to dread it and feel emotional about a week before. The guilt begins to creep in and starts to take over. I feel myself getting rattier with everybody as the goodbye looms. I feel incredibly unsettled and anxious; I always have so much to do when it’s time to leave, but nothing at all to do at the same time. 

The night before it is the worst though. I think about how upset my mam always gets when we say goodbye and it breaks my heart. There is no bigger feeling of guilt than the guilt I feel the night before I leave. Knowing that I leave my mam feeling so upset is devastating and it’s so so hard. 

A tiny part of my feels like it would be easier to never go home, because if you don’t go home it’s easy to plod on with the life you live, calling on Skype and sending daily messages through WeChat (usually about why my recipes are a complete disaster when I followed the recipe completely) and not think too much about the distance. Of course, that’s completely not true, it’s always great to see everybody and live in the land of normality for a short while, but it’s so hard too. 

Once I arrive back in my second home, that unsettled feeling continues. I miss home, I miss my mam and I feel so guilty for putting my family in this position which they didn’t choose. After a couple of weeks, I settle back into expat life and go about my daily routine again until the time comes when it’s time to go home again and that unsettled feeling rears its head again. 

Despite the horribleness of these feelings, I will never not go home, I just wish it was easier. I wish it didn’t unsettle and upset me so much. I feel like I spend such a long time preparing and travelling home, but these feelings put a dampner on the time I’m there which means I never fully make the most of my time at home. 

Sara wrote a post about her feelings saying goodbye to family and I completely related to it, it’s like she typed out my mind. Check out her post.

I wish I could say I had the answers to how to stop these feelings, but if I did you can be damn sure I’d be using them. For me, I’ve accepted that it’s part of the choice I made when I became an expat and I just have to live with that until it's time to make a change.

That said, if anybody does have any tips or a magical solution to make the bad feelings go away, please send them my way!

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