I’ve been reading the cards I was given by dear friends before we left. Cards to say farewell, and cards to say happy birthday, because that fell in the few weeks before we left. I’ve been reading the cards to remind myself of what I represent not just to my daughter, my son and
husband, but to the other people closest to me.
That reignites my courage. You see I am like anybody else. I am fallible and this second week here in a land so far from our home by the sea, has been extraordinarily hard. Despite what I wrote in my last post. I guess this week has seen new challenges thrown at me and with those, I have been worn down.
I’ve always said that you do not know your own strength, your capacity to cope until you are in a situation that challenges you, that stretches you and makes you see you are so much stronger than you realised. I learned this many years ago, and that it is just a matter of time.
This second week here, I was plunged out of my security zone and had to realign my mindset to manage these unchartered waters. I have found writing difficult. My mood has been up and down like a yo-yo. I’ve had moments where words have spilt forth like a water fall, and I have written those down in some way. I’ve even kept excerpts from messages and emails I have sent to friends and family thinking those words to be somehow meaningful. Then I’ve had times where all that is circling in my head is ‘yada yada yada’.
Now I am trying to find a way to bring all of my thoughts and feelings from this week into some sort of concise rhetoric that might bring meaning to your day.
“I feel sick. Reality is here. No longer do I have the safety of our special home here at the hotel. A safe place to run where I can feel protected, safe, looked after. We are about to be put out, sent out into this wild city to fend for ourselves and I feel sick. So anxious, my chest is tight, I feel panic rising and I feel like I can’t breathe”.
– That was Monday
“I am packing up the hotel room, and I start to cry. My cries turn into sobs and I sit on the end of a bed with my head in my hands and the tears roll through my fingers. I feel like the worst mother in the world when BB comes in and finds me. He rubs my arm and says ‘don’t worry mummy, it will be alright’. My child should not need to comfort me, that is my job.
We arrive in our new ‘home’ but I can’t call it that. I put down our things and stand looking around. OK we are here. What now? The children ask ‘are we going to stay here? and I am suddenly aware of how lonely I am feeling. There is just so much to do.
It is night time now. I lay in bed and I am feeling so lonely. Despite being able to reach out at the press of a button, despite my husband downstairs. Despite all of this. I feel isolated. I smell the sheets and they smell like home. A silent tear escapes. My sister messaged me, she wants to call me. I don’t want to speak to anyone tonight. I have no desire to. What would I say? I’m so tired and overwhelmed and all I want is that dark void that is sleep yet it won’t take me over. Insomnia has returned even in complete and utter exhaustion”.
– That was Tuesday
Wednesday came and a new hand of kindness was extended by the wife of one of SB’s work mates. She took me to a supermarket where I found comfort in old friends. Milo, Baked Beans, my cleaning products from home. It is amazing what an impact such small mindless objects can have when you are flailing for anything to grab a hold of.
Wednesday night comes and I find an email from a friend. This is part of what I write back.
“…I miss you guys. I miss home, and these last few days I’ve struggled to see the lovely aspects of this, or the funny side of life…SB is at work and I have hardly seen him, so I feel so very lonely. I have my friend A, and we message a lot but no-one is here now at nearly 8.30 at night in this empty house. The kids are finally asleep. At least I get my time to be silent, try to write…
…Anyway, love, hugs and kisses to everyone…I carry your card in my purse and I look at it a lot, it gives me strength when I feel down. I will be fine though. It is mind over matter and I’m letting myself feel it at the moment, then I will make myself snap out of it. This is a long process, like anything in life, it has ebbs and flows like the ocean and you have to ride the waves. Let yourself feel what you need to feel, and keep moving in the right direction. Sometimes you get caught in a rip, sometimes the current tries to pull you down. I made jelly for the kids today, and it was great. A bit of normal in an otherwise weird–arse place”.
I earned this
After I hit ‘send’ I am on my own again and this is the in-between moment where I can give myself space. I quietly reflect on these few days which have seemed such a struggle.
When I make room between my grumbles and gloom, I find quite a few sparkles of light twinkling at me. This is what matters…
On Tuesday we found awesome giant bean-bags to use until we get a couch. The kids run and jump on them and make them slide across the otherwise empty floor. Squeals of delight fill this once empty home.
It took all day involving potentially smashing holes in walls, however the washing machine was installed.
Our water service started. It’s nice to know we won’t perish from dehydration.
Our stove was installed. It was late, too late to cook anything meaningful for a first meal. Our meal was still amazing though. Baked beans. A taste from home which had the children and I smiling again.
The children’s bed mattresses finally arrived so they had something to sleep on (a massive source of stress).
I sorted the cable TV so the kids have access to Disney Jr. A new luxury, one we did not allow ourselves back home in Australia. Now BB and FB have discovered a new world of Sophia the First and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
My new friend today is the one who has the driver we get to use on occasion. She said I could use him the following week – all week while they are away!
When we got home from shopping, A was here and we organised our next week with the excitement anyone here gets when they have a driver to use instead of taxis!
At bed time I promise the children a better day tomorrow, and I asked the children if they thought we should make a trip in the morning to the toy shop to buy toys. The excitement on their little fresh faces made my heart glow. The children are challenging at the moment. Testing boundaries to see how they stand in this new world, and I am trying to redesign our rules for living in this new space. Despite this, their excitement is palpable. They run around playing with squeals of delight and giggles that make you feel like you are in a bath of warm bubbles.
As I reflect I start to smile and I feel the icicles of tension start to melt. Yes, a lot of things here are harder to achieve. But you know, they get done. This is just a process of adjustment and it’s a glass half full situation.
The flowers in our garden
Thursday came and I started to notice the lovely things again. Like the flowers in our garden. The way the stones around the pathways here in our estate form a beautiful and lyrical pattern that induces calm, and for me reflects mindful practice. An important reminder just outside my back door.
We shopped and the children came back to the condo laden with toys. A scooter for outside and something to play with inside. I put the scooters together and BB flies along the path that runs the perimeter of our common garden. I get intothe kitchen and make chicken lasagne. It is starting to feel a bit more normal. I am starting to plan our coming days. I’m starting to feel ready to step out, meet people and make new friends.
Friday arrives and it is a day of at-home activity. Let’s start getting to know our new home better. After all, we are going to be spending a fair bit of time here now. I spend the day pottering, cleaning and sprucing the place up. Friday night SB is home, and I laugh at him getting to know our giant bean bags a little better. He cannot get comfortable and I hope this means we will get a couch sooner rather than later.
We have planned an adventure filled weekend, and on Sunday SB will go on his first trip away from here, from us. He heads to LA for a few days and the children and I are really going to be on our own. But I am not worried now. I am excited by the adventures I have planned for us. I am excited again by the possibilities.
I am excited again by this new exciting life.