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Just need to share - no solution(1000 Posts)
I met my kiwi husband 13 years ago in London, I am 48, he is 42 and we have two children, 10 and 7. We moved to NZ October 2019 against my wishes, but my husband always wanted to come back.
It was always an understanding that at some point we would move to NZ but this was decided before children, before my parents became frail and it kept getting put off as we built a successful and comfortable life in London with a close network of friends. I hoped that this would mean we didn’t have to move. By the time he decided we should move, I didn’t want to, but my husband held me to a ‘promise’ I had made 12 years earlier, and despite a lot of arguments, we set the wheels in motion and moved 6 months ago.
Immediately I felt homesick and suddenly realised that I had taken my life for granted, but emotionally I still felt in control and we threw ourselves into finding a house. And when we moved into that house, I looked forward to our container arriving and then it was Christmas. I spent 4 months either expecting things to improve or busy with the holidays. I still cried, we still had arguments, but nothing could prepare me for how I felt when the kids went back to school.
At the start of February it hit me like a ton of bricks that I have left most of my family and all my friends, my career, the home we renovated together, the city I love and my country of birth. It dawned that the rest of my life could be unhappy, living in a place I hate and don’t belong. At almost 50, I don’t really have much chance of building a life that is as fulfilling as my old one - I feel bereft and trapped. The best way I can describe it is that it feels like I’m in a coma and someone is trying to turn off my life support and however hard I try to yell, I can’t make them understand that I’m alive. I feel trapped in a nightmare - I have lost all control over my life. It’s a horror movie. I can’t even look back at last year and all the planning and believe I actually came. It’s a blur. I don’t know how I got on the plane.
Everything I do reminds me of an occasion, place or person from home. Hundreds of times a day. Music makes me sad, photos make me sad, social media makes me sad. I’ve always been the sort of person who can compartmentalise my problems, and still get up every day and find something to enjoy, putting a face on through hard times and still functioning well at work and socially. But now I only function for the children and nothing brings me joy. I have deserted my parents when they need me most, I argue and fight with my husband in front of the children, I don’t earn a living and I am horrible to live with.
Consequently, we are having terrible marriage problems - I’m not playing ball and embracing life as he wants me to, and he says I am negative. He is the classic extrovert and I am a natural introvert but with extrovert ‘cover’ when needed - he thinks I should socialise more to get out of my rut, find a job (after a 24 year career in advertising, I can’t get work for logistical/childcare reasons, age and now probably recession), and is pissed off that I don’t want to hang out with his family all the time (I don’t particularly get on with them). In return I have been absolutely vile to live with, lashing out (not physically) because I blame and resent him for my situation. He is now talking about separation but has said I can’t take the children home so I would have to stay here with 50% access, spending half my time alone in a country I never wanted to live in. I don’t know if I love him, I can’t see the wood for the trees.
I know I am depressed, but what good are anti-depressants, I need a time machine.
If you got this far thank you! There is nothing anyone can do to help but writing it down maybe helped. Or maybe not. 3.30am and I'm done x
Hi OP, I'm so sorry to hear what you're going through. Firstly I have to ask why he has the right to say you cannot take the children back if you separate? How have the children settled into life in NZ? how do you think they would feel about returning to the UK?
All I can say is that you just cannot live like that. Do you think you will feel the same if you try and give it a few more months. 5 months isn't that long.
I moved 100 miles from friends and family when I was younger and it took me more like 2 years to settle (and I was much closer than you are).
If you children want to return to the U.K. then maybe a court would allow that?
In NZ the kids have to stay where they are.
They have two passports, but even without this, if we moved out as a British couple and got divorced out here, if one parent wanted them to stay, they would have to.
I would definitely give it a go - I suggested giving it two years and then reassessing the situation but he said 'no, we came here to live and you'll just end up being miserable'.
And god, how I have tried to give it a go. I have pushed myself totally out of my comfort zone - walking round with a smile plastered on my face, talking to everyone, even friend 'blind dates' with English mums I met on a FB group. No one, except a lovely and supportive group of mums I have met through school, would know how I am sad and even they don't know how bad it is. But they have been there for me, more supportive than my husband.
My husband on the other hand, works for the family business with his brother and two other people and goes out with his brother and his friends. These are the people he wants me to hang out with but, while I don't have anything against them, they are not the sort of people I would be friends with at home. I don't feel 'safe'. And no one goes out for a casual drink at the pub, its all full on round people's houses which is too much at the start of a friendship. In their 40s everyone has their friendship groups so we are always going to be on the periphery. I miss closeness, intimacy. I miss my colleagues. Having value. I miss my family.
A friend at home is a psychiatric nurse and she has been helping me a lot. She says I need to see someone, get medication. But this feels like total bullshit - not her advice, but the fact I need to take medication just to live here.
Add to this, the shit of Covid 19 and worry about my parents and my flight home in July, and the fact that it's just clicked this weekend that I am probably peri menopausal as I've just started my 3rd period in 6 weeks and have heart palpitations every night. I am in despair.
I wrote a post on here months ago about how much I didn't want to come and I haven't got the strength to look back now, but I will at some point. Pretty sure most of the advice was not to come, but I had no choice.
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bide your time op.... wait it out, slap a smile on your face, plan a holiday back home with the children and refuse to return.
Sort out the things you can change before reviewing the things you can’t change ie perimenopause and depression.
Good luck x
I agree with rvby your DCs MH is at serious risk of long term damage.
They have also had their lives turned upside down by a move across the world - the first thing THEY need is two v calm, supportive and reassuring parents proactively looking to bed them in as a team.
They cannot have a rage-full, angry DM and toxic fighting parents. NSPCC state that kids seeing, hearing, sensing DV (which includes verbal) as child abuse.
I agree that medication for 6 months would be important. Also peri-meno - severe pmt, mood swings, short fuse, insomnia and debilitating anxiety are some of the MH issues which may be overlain in top of the total trauma, shock and disruption of the move.
Some counselling or looking at online resources would also help.
You need some significant support to get through this.
I am not sure the compartmentalising is helping you right now. This is too big - needs processing and supporting.
I am so sorry that you are going through this and I hope that you can find a way to focus on a calm and peaceful live.
Accept and adapt is the end game unless you think that there is any chance your DH will move back?
rvby, thank you for understanding, your post made me cry. Mainly the confirmation that my kids are at risk, but also relief that my feelings are quite normal, . I don't think you can possibly imagine the horror unless you have done it. Lots of friends at home get that I am homesick but will say 'but think of the wonderful weather/beaches/prime minister'. As if any of that actually matters when your life is in tatters. We have a bloody 5 bed house with a pool and I would swap it for a squat back home right now.
I am very worried about the children, especially the younger one, my son. He is already showing signs of stress and that breaks me. I think there is time though, if I sort myself out now - this will be my focus to go on. I have the number of a depression helpline and I am going to try and find space and time to call this afternoon. I don't have a GP and doubt I can sort that out until lockdown ends but that shouldn't be long.
Gutterton, thank you. As well as seeing a GP re depression meds, I am looking into counselling and have two recommendations, one from a friend here who had similar problems when she moved back from the UK even tough she was a returning kiwi.
Nobody realise how the perimenopause fucks you up, I went almost full psychotic.
That needs to be sorted out before anything else.
See if you can get HRT.
Get a job. Logistics and childcare issues: bollocks to that. DH will have to make sacrifices. You had a career. That career exists in NZ. Reconnect with it.
Use it to meet your type of people, have your own money, carve your own life there. Make it happen. Yeah, it will be a pita most likely for DH to have to work around your busy schedule and hang out with your new mates. Oh well. He'll have to get used to it won't he?
I moved 8 hours away from family due to DH work.
I hated it for years.
It took at least 2 years to accept life was different and there was no going back.
It took until my current job to feel happy about things.
Seek a GP appointment, start looking for work or start your own business.
I think u should play it safe like another user said, make out your trying, then say about a trip back home and don't go back.....
I feel for you OP especially how powerless and unheard you feel. And perimenopause and pandemic as well. There is little you can control here except to make a commitment to work on your own and by extension your DC mental health. Think about what will help them to see at home.
It is so unfair when one half of a couple gets their dream at the expense of the other.
Wait.. what’s stopping you and your kids getting on a plane and going back to England? You are a free woman you can do what you want, think about it, you think a judge would care if a mother takes her children back home to England? If it came to court (which it wouldn’t!) I worked for the CPS so I know. Please end your misery and book a flight home! I don’t know if you can right now because of the current restrictions but book one for a few months time and that gives you time to plan where you’ll be staying etc. Xx
I'm really sorry you are feeling like this. I'm a New Zealander living here and I totally understand how you feel. There is such a cultural difference here and with you not wanting to make the move in the first place you have an uphill battle.
I second going on some antidepressants. If you ring your closest gp they will be able to help or refer you to who can. They are all doing telephone consultations at the moment. We have been urged to seek medical help if you need it.
I've always lived here and I really wish I had a big friendship group but it's never happened like that for me. So it's not just you!
When i was planning my move from UK to Australia i was told it takes 12 months before children are considered settled and can't be made to return to the UK. So i think you might have a valid legal argument to take them back to the UK
Try some HRT or traditional Chinese herbs for the peri. It helps, more than you might realise.Try it before antidepressents because most likely your hormones, at 48, are making you crazy.
Then, once that is under control apologize to your children. You made a decision, nobody made you do anything. Yes, it's harder than you thought, maybe it even feels like a mistake but it was your decision, not theirs, and they shouldn't be subjected to your stress on top of trying to adjust to a new life in a strange country.
You are the adult, they look to you for stability. Sorry if that's harsh but you need to put it in perspective and find your backbone.
Then, start to build your career. Advertisising? I bet you can write, I bet you know social media really well, marketing, all that? Make something happen for yourself.
Even if you separate from your husband you can find a way through this. Just put your kids first, be practical, and one foot in front of the other.
Oh, and what Tork said. Why is the childcare only on you? It's not, is it? You need a career back and yours is as important as his.
The family court in NZ will not necessarily say they have to stay, particularly as you have not been here long x what part of nz are you in? If Auckland or wellington, your career is most definitely not over.
Will people STOP telling OP to fucking take her children away?! That is really really shitty advice, illegal and totally unfair. Poor father. Imagine if the tables were turned
OP I have some sympathy having emigrated and knowing how hard it can be at times. But this was a deal you made. One of you was going to have to give up the idea of home- you had your turn and now it is his.
You are not going back. So this is your new life. Don’t get fixed on what life COULD be. It isn’t. This is your life. I found comparing with the UK was the thing that made things worse (plus there are always some rose tinted glasses elements) You need to work out going forward what you want this new life to look like and how to make it get there. Journal, meditate, do the self care and then just keep chipping away slowly and eventually it will come. Take going back off the table as an option and then make a list of your other options. Keep going and know that it will pass and life will get better
Will people STOP telling OP to fucking take her children away?! That is really really shitty advice, illegal and totally unfair. Poor father. Imagine if the tables were turned
Nope - they lived as a family unit in the UK for 13 years, and been in NZ for 6 months. It's not illegal or unfair.
It's nice to hear from people down here, thanks for responding.
Strongmamma. I need permission to even take them on holiday. But we do have flights booked in July, just me and the kids. Good to know from a CPS POV.
CMMum88/Hypatia - I will look into this.
Hepzibah - not harsh, caring, I get it. And they need to remain the most important thing. But I literally can't function right now. I physically got on the plane yes, but he was coming either way. Of course now I know that's what I should have let happen, and believe me, it's my biggest regret.
Weenurse - thanks for the insight. The two year thing seems to be the crux of it for most people.
Itstrue - I will, thank you. I have heard a lot of people here say that about friendship groups. I guess I didn't appreciate how lucky we were living somewhere so busy, transient and friendly despite London's bad rep.
I have looked at the work thing every which way. This is long, but has been my journey of discovery.
1. I will have to sacrifice seeing the children during the week. At home I worked a 3 day week in a job share but it took 5 years to 'earn' this. For anyone who knows NZ, we live in Auckland on the North Shore and I would inevitably have to drive to the CBD which is a f*cker of a commute over a bridge that acts as a bottleneck to and from the city. So crack of dawn to late evening. And parking is $60+ per day.
2. Childcare (DH travels so not reliable) - if I was willing to not see them during the week, childcare would become an issue. They could go to after school club but would then not be able to do sports. Literally. What has surprised me is how all encompassing this is - most sports take place twice a week, after school and weekends and scattered around the region. If it wasn't for lockdown, this would be our schedule:
Monday DD Rugby training
Tuesday DD+DS swimming
Wednesday DS Football training DD Netball
Thursday Free - whoopee!
Friday DS Football matches (sometimes)
Sat am DD rugby matches DS football matches (if not Friday)
Sat pm DS Flippaball training (alternate weeks)
Sunday PM DS Flippaball matches
And there are sports the kids wanted t do that we can't fit in.
No one does car shares - everyone drives, a lot of mums don't work, and most people are juggling similar or worse schedules and time is precious. I even know of one family who employ an Uber driver from 3-6pm every night for this. My kids were incredibly sporty at home, but a lot was at school, straight afterwards, to at weekends. So we would need someone to take and pick up. A nanny or MIL. She's a whole new thread, but I didn't come here for her to look after my kids every day and the money left over after a nanny and parking would not make it worth me not seeing my children.
3. Another problem with working is holidays - a lot of firms make you take 2 weeks of your annual leave at Christmas and I have to go back to the UK every year for at least 3, preferably 4 weeks. My dad has advanced Parkinson's and cannot travel here. This is non negotiable.
4. My role doesn't exist is the same way here. I'm basically a creative producer/ project manager and it's quite niche to the industry. I push briefs through the agency and get ads and other communications made and delivered. A lot of this role is taken up by account managers here but I don't have the strategic background to do the rest of their role, but nor do I have the gritty production knowledge to work for a production company. Bit of a jack of all trades role, based on personality, relationships, local supplier knowledge (which photographer/retoucher/printer/animator/CGI artist can produce something best or fastest or cheapest, who owes you a favour etc) and a big dose of common sense.
I know this all looks like I'm making elaborate excuses but it's not just me - it's something my mum group discuss a lot. A lot of them don't work (not out of choice and can't afford to do so) and amongst others, I know a expat lawyer working as a cleaner, physio as a teaching assistant, because their 'real' jobs don't work.
Thanks for giving me an outlet x
I did try and talk to him today and it was tricky. He's quite good at gaslighting 'lite'. Blaming me for everything. Winding me up. Making me look unhinged (ok, I am at the moment). Putting a wall up and blocking me from speaking to him. Just before lockdown, his idiot brother came home from LA, got off the plane, lied to immigration and went home to his parents then to a bar to meet DH and his other brother. Then realised they would all have to isolate for 14 days leaving me alone with the kids. He can't hear a word wrong against any of his family so when I was angry about it on the phone, he kept hanging up and then they all drove up to their beach house and he didn't pick up the phone to me for the next two weeks. Ignored every call and email. I had important things to discuss like our UK tenants not being able to pay rent and practical house stuff but not even that.
Anyway, today he told me that I didn't love him (I honestly don't know myself right now) and asked what I want. I said that surely it's worth trying marriage counselling once I have started to sort myself out. We have so much to lose if it doesn't work. But he didn't seem keen.
So I asked him if he would let me take the kids back home. He asked on what basis, I thought money but he meant when could he see them Christmas/UK summer holidays...?
But they love him. He's a great dad.
I think you need to seek legal advice as soon as this virus situation has run it’s course. Especially as DH has over-sold the life he promised you, and you are not being given a reasonable expectation to a lifestyle you had previously - ie independence, career, etc. He is minimizing your very valid reasons for being unhappy with a situation because he is happy. Have you had counselling together?
Also, the gaslighting thing is unacceptable. You need to stop being British and soggy about this and stand up for yourself.
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