Recently a lovely friend, who repatriated back to the US after 3 years in the Netherlands last year, shared how her repatriation was going. I found her honesty and sharing so moving and asked her if I could share parts of her blog as I felt there was great value for other expatriates who may be facing or going through repatriation or “re-entry blues”. She heartily agreed and I just want to say that’s she is fine and finding her way up and out of the “blues”.
To know that feeling blue and lost in the first year of being “home” is normal and others go through it can help. Remember how you first felt when you moved overseas – yes its similar feelings on going home – they take time to process and understand. Keeping active and engaged are important elements of coping.
Today marks the six month anniversary of my arrival back… It was at our six month mark after our move to the Netherlands that we came back to Seattle on vacation, and it was at that time that things started turning around for us. The misery that had been a big part of transitioning let up and we started doing more and being happier. I’ve been looking to this day to be the turn-around point for myself. I’m hopeful, most of the time, that this point will mark the beginning of the upswing back to my normal happy.
Because, frankly, it’s been pretty tough. I’ve been lonely and disconnected, unhappy and overwhelmed, burying myself in my vices and refusing all too often to do the writing and running that keep me on an even keel. I have read well over a hundred books, played way too much spider (and deleted it from my phone dozens of times), and spent hours and hours getting our music library in shape despite the urgency of other tasks.
…I hurried to get our Christmas picture taken in early December, then got the letters folded in with the pictures before Christmas, and they have been sitting on a shelf waiting for labels and stamps ever since. I have allowed my e-mail box to stuff itself until I am immobile (again), and I have nearly ceased activity on Facebook not because I haven’t craved the connection, but because I felt stupid, incapable, guilty, and unworthy. I am frustrated by my failings and my feelings. I have been impatient with myself and unkind in ways I wouldn’t tolerate in anyone else. I am ready for all of that to change…
I am making progress. I am running more. I am starting to make the personal and social connections that will keep me from feeling invisible at the schoolyard and at home. The weather is helping and I am able to work in the garden, something that gives me calm and satisfaction. Things feels more possible…
… I can bulldoze through obstacles that might otherwise stop me if I spent time beating myself up because I wasn’t doing everything at once.
So thank you my friend for sharing the truth, the challenges, the thoughts and the fact that it happens but does get better.
For my friend and other expats: I know you have the strength to get through this. As an expat you challenged yourself and learnt a great deal about who you are. Use that knowledge to ease yourself during this transition and remember BE KIND TO YOURSELF