I'm boggled that seven weeks have passed since I left the US to start a life in Kuwait. And it's been a trip...with plenty of ups and downs. Maybe I haven't been so honest about the "downs". But this weekend while Facetiming my hilarious friend, Karen, I was finally honest with the outside world about how I feel here:
(Paraphrased for brevity's sake. It was a good, long Facetime chat.)
Me: "I just don't know how to write about the tricky stuff, without sounding like a big, spoiled whiner. Like, "Oh. My life is so hard because I live in a foreign country and don't have to work. Whine, whine." I know how that sounds! And it's not good."
Karen: "Well, I think anyone who knows you...knows that living in the Middle East isn't exactly your shtick. Lots of people wouldn't do it. No one is going to be surprised that you're not loving every minute. I can't imagine they've got, like, craft stores there..."
Me: "Uh, there's this place with a large pen selection..."
Karen: Dies laughing at my pathetic face.
Ah. Yes. Here it is, the big, messy truth.
The truth I've held back for fear of being thought spoiled or rude: I don't love it here. And I'm pretty depressed.
Somehow that feels cruel to say, or perhaps just scary to write publicly. Like lurking trolls will hurl insults at me for expressing this honest thought. I've tried, Lurking Trolls! For the first month I kept my mouth shut, even to Gabe. I focused on being open to the experience and embracing it. I read up on the interesting culture, people-watched and respected the rules. And when I felt that niggling sadness, I'd just Think! Positive! Thoughts! I withheld comparing my new home to anything I experienced previously. Just let it be what it is, I told myself.
But the other night, I laid in bed staring at the ceiling, feeling homesick and empty. Gabe noticed, and asked if I was okay. When I opened my mouth to explain, I exploded with tears that had been bottled up for weeks. Tears about how I miss everything. How I feel like a terrible person for not loving it here. But how, above all, I feel like a massive piece of my identity is just gone. I'm not great at many things in life, this I know, but back home I had this beautiful niche that was perfect for the very few things I felt good at: throwing cute parties, making special moments with my family, thrift-storing, arranging flowers, going on little adventures, crafting, walking and snapping photos. Maybe it was all fluff, but it was a life that inspired me and brought me joy. Fully of silly things that now feel like huge, gaping holes of who I am. This friendly, perky girl who loved crafting, writing and photography...with huge dreams and the crazy belief she could actually do things in life...that part of me vanished somewhere, or maybe she just deflated while crossing the Atlantic.
"Is that part of me gone forever? Is it just on hold until we move in a year?" I asked Gabe, that night in the dark. He didn't say anything, just hugged me until I fell asleep.
The next morning, Gabe emailed from work to say he'd spotted an insanely cheap flight to Rome and like it or not, I was going on a little getaway where I could stroll around taking photos, drinking wine, pillaging little shops + flea markets and scouring museums until my heart exploded. Being a stubborn girl, I put up a fight about finances and learning to be happy without running away. But I didn't win.
And so, that is how I find myself robbing our savings account and packing for a cheap week-long trip to Rome. Call it crazy, call it irrational. Call it running away, if you must.
We're choosing to call it "staying sane".
Have you ever felt a loss of identity after moving or entering a new phase in life? How do you find your way back in...do you try with all you've got, or just wait around until something clicks?