Life Stuff: The Grief of Moving Far from Home – #RUOK Special Edition

I have been see-sawing on posting this, and I still may not, depending on how it comes out. More later on why it has been hard to decide. But for now, I really feel like I have to get some of this stuff out of my head.

The last couple of weeks I’ve really been struggling with homesickness. Really, really struggling. I think what is happening at the moment is more than the short periods of sadness related to things happening back home or hormonal issues I’ve experienced since moving, and more of the beginning of the true grief of leaving behind my home of 30+ years. I’m mourning the life I thought I would have, even if it wasn’t that exciting.

There are a lot of things that seemed like sureties in my life that I’ve had to put to rest. For example, a few years ago I realized that I would never live in a city. I don’t like them. So, I dated a few guys from my home town and even though they weren’t The One(s) that was still my future, I was pretty sure. We’d get married and if we decided to have kids, I would have a baby shower and all my friends and family would come and it would be amazing and I’d see how many people were there for me and how much support I had, in the networks I built up over 30 years. My grandmother would be there, and my aunt who is one of my best friends, who I’ve known since I was born, would host it maybe. I don’t know. It wasn’t an actual fantasy in my head, because it was by no means guaranteed that I’d have kids, but if I did that is how it would have gone. I’ve been to my friends’ baby showers and that’s been how they went and it’s been lovely.

I’ll never have that. I’ll never have hand-me-downs or, should I have been so lucky, family heirlooms. I have to let go of it. I know some of you right now are knee-jerking into saying “YES YOU WILL, THAT KIND OF THING JUST TAKES TIME” and you’re of course right in a way, making friends does take time. But, it’s just not really relevant. I would have to be here for a very long time to build up the kind of support networks that I had back home. It’s not going to happen. That’s Not Realistic. Does that mean I’ll have a miserable, supportless pregnancy and babyhaving? No, hopefully not, but making friends as an adult in a totally new place is really hard. Most people make friends from childhood or university and keep them. Ray’s parents (and his lovely friends!) are absolutely delightful, and SO kind and good to me, I adore them. But they’re not my family, the people I grew up with, the people who have loved me for 30 years despite all my shitty behaviour. So that was just a really long example of some of the things I’m feeling grief and loss for at the moment. I’m processing. It’s hard.

I’m also really missing my friends. Lately I’ve found myself even feeling a little angry with them, and hurt, because I don’t really hear from most of them much. I’m saying this, not to make anyone feel guilty, but to respect and acknowledge my own feelings and work on processing them. Because of course it’s not fair to be mad at my friends. They haven’t done anything wrong! They have busy lives full of all the things that they had when I was still there – they were just more easily accessible to me then. But whether my feelings are fair or not, they’re still my feelings. I just miss them so much, and in the past when I felt like I missed them, I would just be like “bitch, I’m coming around for a wine, put that sauv blanc in the freezer stat” and we’d do that. Now I can’t do that. If I even want to talk to them we have to set up a time when we’re both awake and free. It’s kind of exhausting, not just for me I suspect.

See, the thing is, that they just lost me, but I lost all of them. I lost them, even if not literally, in a very real, very life-affecting way. My friends have long been my lifeline. They’ve dragged me kicking and screaming through some really tough shit, for many many years. Some of them since I was born. Some for more than two thirds of my life. Some since high school, and some in a shorter but no less meaningful span of time. I owe them so much. That is a hard thing to leave behind, no matter what the future looks like. I missed one of my best friends’ weddings over the weekend. That hurt. I should have been there. I cry all the time. I heard a few bars of Michael Buble’s song “Home” at the markets on the weekend and had to try to block it out – lucky I was wearing sunglasses.

Fathers Day was last Sunday and I wasn’t there to make dad an elaborate dinner. I always make him dinner. It was a hard day.

I loved my life in Australia. I didn’t realize how important it was for my identity to have deep roots in the community like I did. I knew it was valuable to me but I did not have any idea just how much value that sense of connection had to my sense of self. Here, I’m flailing. And I’m lonely.

And don’t get me wrong – I don’t regret moving to the USA. My husband, who I love more than life, more every day, has amazing job opportunities here and a fairly clear career path – neither of which I have or want, and neither of which he had access to in Australia. That’s really important, and I proudly consider my main role in life to be his supporter and head cheerleader. Maybe I’ll add mother of his adorable babies to that one day but right now and for the current foreseeable future that’s my life, and I love that life. I do. I love my husband and being with him is vitally important to my wellbeing. When he and I talked all this through at dinner on Tuesday night in an awesome pub in Montpelier, I felt my love for him fill my heart. He was so understanding, so kind, he let me talk and vent and he helped me process. He managed to put his discomfort aside (after all, it’s hard to feel like your spouse is unhappy in the country you’ve brought them to!) to be supportive and loving. And New England is beautiful! I don’t love the town I live in but the area is gorgeous. It has lots of positives. But it’s still hard to be so far away.

I’m lucky because I do have some fabulous friends in the USA and Canada, scattered over the country as they are, none of them nearby by most stretches of the imagination but it’s still great to know I’m not totally alone. I’m also very lucky that technology like Facebook exists so I can talk to my mum every day, and iMessage so I can text dad about silly things Americans do and what kind of shower curtain public transit map design he might like. And Skype so I can see people’s faces! So good!

So yeah, I am grieving. I am mourning the loss of my life as I have always known it. The shine has worn off The Big Move and reality is settling in.

And in the spirit of #RUOK Day, no actually, I’m not okay. But I will be, with time. I’ll carve out my new niche.

I want my beloved friends to know that this post is not about blame, or pointing fingers or anything like that. It’s really not. That’s why it was so hard to post this – I wanted to be honest about my own feelings while trying my best to protect the feelings of others. My friends back home have jobs, babies, families, and TONNES of stuff going on in their lives. I hold nothing, not a shred of any ill will towards them at all. It’s. Just. Hard.

Take care of each other. Ask the question, today and as many days as you can muster. Are you okay?


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