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ok, this was meant to be 6 months, now 2 yrs+, am 40-something trailing spouse,what now for us/my career or lack of??Also getting BLOODY homesick!!

(34 Posts)
ExpatAgain Mon 06-Dec-10 11:50:42

rant over. sorry, had enough really so far from home, not got skype working yet, at rejection/anger/irritation/whatever cycle of culture shock I should imagine and finding it all rather shallow, hard, meaningless and lonely..And it was meant to be such an exciting adventure wink... Losing sleep over all this, not sure whether we're doing right thing in staying longer, dh is black & white about these things and "loves it" and things I should "live in the moment", rather belittling any concerns I have. Kids been homesick on & off and also got some safety concerns/making friends issues..VV worried about steppping out from my career for 2 yrs, not got right to work here.. am keeping busy with sports/helping at school etc but still desperately lonely, to be honest, even when with people, even dh and getting fed up of not knowing how things work, forgetting who people are, not knowing basics etc etc.

orangina Mon 06-Dec-10 12:05:01

Are you in the gulf by any chance?

(didn't want your thread to go unanswered....)

ExpatAgain Mon 06-Dec-10 12:08:33

thanks, no further south than that. where are you?

RuthChan Mon 06-Dec-10 12:10:55

Living abroad is really really tough at times.
So much of what your wrote resonates really strongly for me and I could have written a lot of it.
There is so much excitement and discovery, but at the same time the smallest thing can become an enormous trial with cultural, language, social and practical differences.
Friends can be made easily, but they are lost just as easily when people move on. It can be very hard to make a firm base of friends who on whom to really rely.
Also, the added stresses of overseas life can add to the stress and pressure between family members.
My family too are dealing with all these issues at the moment.

None of this answers any of your points or questions. Somehow I don't think you were expecting answers, but you are certainly not alone in how you feel.

orangina Mon 06-Dec-10 12:17:41

I'm in chilly west london, so am not a fellow expatriate I'm afraid! Have done the expatriate thing in the past before, and on someone's coat tails (in the gulf, as it happens) and it's not always fun.....

ExpatAgain Mon 06-Dec-10 12:18:50

thanks, RuthC, yes not after answers just understanding/advice from people in the same boat, I guess

orangina Mon 06-Dec-10 12:22:36

I found it was all about needing something to be about ME, and not just hanging around somewhere god forsaken for someone else (who on top of it all did NOT appreciate it) to ascend his chosen career ladder.....

You need your own friends (not just dh's colleagues wives, kids friends mums etc), your own activity, your own projects (not a pejorative term...). Can you do some distance learning to keep your career going? Can you do some research, write a paper, keep a blog, get involved in local journalism, ANYTHING that makes you feel as though you are doing something in your OWN right?

I also found that when I moved to the gulf to follow not-very-d p, I could only see the negative awful aspects of where I was, and I HAD to force myself to find the positives and focus on those. Really helped my mindset actually.

Can you tell us a bit more about where we are, what your career is all about? Is DH receptive to talking constructively about it all?

ExpatAgain Mon 06-Dec-10 13:57:28

wise words, orangina, I know it in my head but harder to apply! tryiong, trying not to see the negative but it's all I@m seeing at the minute. I'm getting involved in things but they're not gripping...

orangina Mon 06-Dec-10 14:08:44

I know, it was something I struggled with as well. Head and heart not always easy to get to work together!

Could you and dh come up with a plan of some sort? Even if it is a plan that doesn't get enacted for (say) a year, perhaps knowing it isn't an interminable situation, and that your needs are part of the equation, will help? I'm guessing your dh is working on a job that is good for his career and lucrative (enough) to be worth while. This is all important, but the needs of the family as a whole ought to be taken into consideration.... is he open to that kind of conversation?

If you can agree a potential end to work towards, that might (hopefully) be a project you would enjoy working on.....

I really do feel for you.

(Rant any time you like... smile)

strandedatseasonsgreetings Mon 06-Dec-10 18:14:46

Oh I had almost this exact conversation with a friend at lunch today.

We live in the Caribbean and it is impossible to tell anyone you're not happy. WHAT? You live in paradise - how DARE you not be happy. Literally, that is the response to most people when I tell them I don't like it here.

But it's a tiny and very cliquey place. There aren't that many expats here, and those that are usually have some connection through family/marriage etc. So disappear off at weekends with said family, or friends of their partner etc.

I can't work here and although I have made quite a few friends, this is a very transient place and many of them have moved on even in the short time I have been here (16 months).

I have managed to fill my time by writing (most of) a novel and looking after the dd's. But I feel like such a spare part, I can't wait to get home and start building up my life for ME again. Here I am nobody, I am invisible. And as someone who worked overseas herself, I find that very, very hard.

So, we're going home in 2 weeks time, permanently. I can't wait. And no I don't care if it will be cold - the intense heat here is much much worse. And no we're not on holiday so I don't sit on a sun lounger all day long sipping cocktails.

Sorry that probably won't help you at all but wanted to let you know you are not alone, lots feel like you and in fact I am toying with the idea of writing a Rough Guide to being a Trailing Spouse as there are so many of us out there!

ExpatAgain Mon 06-Dec-10 18:18:11

thanks, yes, write that book, I'd buy it! Good luck with your move back, stranded, I completely understand about the difficulty about airing ANY complaint about being overseas as people assume you're just in hol mode all the time.

strandedatseasonsgreetings Mon 06-Dec-10 18:22:28

Great - I will come and consult you if/when I start writing it!

ExpatAgain Mon 06-Dec-10 18:22:42

thanks, yes, write that book, I'd buy it! Good luck with your move back, stranded, I completely understand about the difficulty about airing ANY complaint about being overseas as people assume you're just in hol mode all the time.

ExpatAgain Mon 06-Dec-10 18:26:10

whoops and thanks orangina for tolerating my ranting! I have been browsing courses, thinking of projects since, hmm

lostinafrica Mon 06-Dec-10 18:31:01

Oh, it's always so reassuring to hear other trailing spouses who aren't enjoying the experience - round here, I'm surrounded by people who've grown up moving around or have just taken to it. And missionaries galore who are just so darn grateful to be out here where it's hot, dusty, dull and everything breaks after five minutes.

I'm ranting unreasonably, but it's to let you know you're not alone! We're looking into moving to Canada next year. Left to himself, DH would probably stay here longer, but he realises it just ain't right for me. I reckon it's not right for the children either for much longer, but I'm not sure he agrees. Anyway, I'm surprised and delighted that he's taking this move seriously - I half-expect him to say, "Yes, she wants to move on, so we're going", but he hasn't, he's said it's what's best for the family.

Good luck. Not all days will feel like this one! (Had an awful week two weeks ago when I didn't know how I'd survive here till next summer... But things are already much better.)

lostinafrica Mon 06-Dec-10 18:34:46

Don't know about you, stranded, but I'm always reluctant to tell people back hom that I'm not enjoying it here, as I expect the response, "Well, obviously, you moved away from everything and everyone you know and love - duh!"

strandedatseasonsgreetings Mon 06-Dec-10 18:38:06

Ah well, we came here purely because dh was posted here - we had already been evacuated from somewhere else, it wasn't our first choice and it was a tough one. But good for dh and his career. So I never feel guilty for saying I don't like it, I actually quite enjoy it in a perverse way as I get so fed up of everyone thinking we are on a permanent jolly.

It's worse for my dh as he has had to work his SOCKS off since coming here. He really isn't on holiday!

Where in Africa are you? (nosy)

ExpatAgain Mon 06-Dec-10 18:38:24

yes (same continent) things break after 5mins, things take SO long sometimes or don't happen at all, yet it's bureaucratic as hell..whinge over, feel better now grin
I can't say these things out loud you see (dh won't let me and locals would be offended)

strandedatseasonsgreetings Mon 06-Dec-10 18:42:01

Oh and funnily enough lostinafrica (our names mean the same thing really don't they?) I grew up travelling around. I had lived in five countries on five continents by the time I was 18, and then continued under my own stream by joining the FCO.

But now I've had enough. I want to put down roots, for myself and for my dd's.

Hassledge Mon 06-Dec-10 18:50:09

I do feel for you all, and it's made me think again about my mother and how she coped - I was an expat kid, and we'd lived in four countries before I was 5. It must have been bloody hard for her - if there had been a MN in the late 60s she'd have been here .

If it helps at all, I had a very happy, interesting childhood. The frequent moves didn't faze me at all. I'm sure your DCs are doing fine - but it must be so difficult for you. I can see the sense in finding your own project - something that's entirely yours.

Themasterandmargaritas Mon 06-Dec-10 18:52:13

'Why haven't you got a suntan?' that used to drive me mad.

I agree with having a project. Can you do some distance learning in something you'd be really interested in? What is your professional field? Is there anyway you can take your skills to an organisation for free?

I should imagine a 2 year career break where you can show you did some imaginative and interesting things, adding to your skills in some way, can only be a positive to any UK employer.

lostinafrica Mon 06-Dec-10 18:58:19

That's interesting, stranded (yes, very similar names!). I wonder how many people feel like you after a while? I just don't hear of people who want to "go home."

DH grew up travelling around and now travels so much that his parents think he's overdoing it! Although I think now he can only keep doing it because we are his roots.

I want to move back to the UK some time - when dcs are secondary school age seems a good time, but DH hates the idea of life in the UK - the usual complaints of rain and cold (I wouldn't mind that, either! How often do I stand in front of the AC just to remember a cool wind!! grin). Maybe Canada will be close enough for me and different enough for him and we'll stay there... who knows?

ExpatAgain - clearly not your first overseas posting, from the name. Are you likely to move back to the UK or on somewhere new after you're finished there?

Themasterandmargaritas Mon 06-Dec-10 19:07:14

What is interesting is that we have put down roots and stopped moving and I feel very settled.

However it's not my home country (she says sitting watching Sky News). So sometimes, like last week, the potholes and the crap driving, the incompetence and the unforeseens drive me mad.

Watching snowy UK made me feel quite sad and envious.

But that doesn't mean I want to move back, I enjoy living here, but it has taken 3 years to get this far and sometimes there are days when I miss my own home country. I think it is harder to feel settled when you know your situation is temporary and there is a time when your stay will come to an end.

Portofino Mon 06-Dec-10 20:41:49

I found the first 2 years REALLY hard. I always assumed I would make friends at work (I do work FT) as I always did in the past. Only to find that Belgians just DON'T socialise with work people. Lunch yes, girls night out no. And as I am working I never had the opportunity to do mummy things in the daytime either.

I really had to go for it. Volunteered for stuff. Sent emails to local NCT members asking if they were interested in meeting up. Gradually I met people. And then dd got older and does more friend stuff so I get opportunities with the school mums too. Though I still find the language barrier tricky.

I find this time of year very hard. DH has the weekend off over Xmas so we have no time to go anywhere. There is no work Xmas party or the social bits and bobs that we always had in the UK. I grew up in a HUGE extended family. I find Xmas day with 3 of us really, well, sad. All the pressies are opened by 8am. Then what do you do all day....

Portofino Mon 06-Dec-10 20:46:29

Blimey that sounded a bit doom and gloom. Generally I am happy and too busy. Christmas away from "home" does make me a bit maudlin. I have my dad coming next weekend, and friends the week after, and we have a MN meetup!

And Ruthchan, how are you fixed this/next week? Hopefully there will be no more snow.....

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