Approaching Year Three – The Expat Experience

Well, I stopped blogging here since early last year, but a series of spammy notifications reminded me that this blog is still here. It also reminded me that an update may be in order.

When I look back at my pre-prep expat experience and my first three years abroad, I am reminded of the saying that it takes 5 years to fully adjust to life in a new culture. I can say for certain, at least in my own experience, that the first three became progressively easier. And that’s a damn good thing, too, because that first year was harder than anything I’ve ever lived through to the point where I wasn’t sure I would live. It’s something that friends and family will never be able to understand in depth. Only fellow expats really get the anguish that can come with an overseas move and all the outer and inner shifting involved.

I won’t rehash things I’ve already written about in those first two ears. Rather, I’ll talk about the transformations of self that took place in the third year. From the bewilderment and complete disorientation of year one, to the depression and emptiness in year two, there arose a growing resolve in year three to stop resisting and accept everything.

Somehow, by some grace, I pulled myself up by the bootstraps. I fully resolved to cut the cords to the ghosts of my old life and my old self once and for all. I surrendered to the emptiness. I came to love the emptiness, in fact. I started to appreciate my situation, that I had what often felt like endless time to myself and an abundance of privacy, surrounded by nature. I began to use rather than fight against it all. I spent time doing yoga and more and more meditation. I pushed myself to experience things alone. I took pleasure in simpler things like preparing healthy food. And I gave thanks more and more for the fact that I answered to no one. My still-fairly-young marriage began to improve, too. We were laughing more. I was having more loving thoughts and appreciation for him, and that was being mirrored back.

Slowly but surely, things started to change of their own accord. But I couldn’t have rushed it. I couldn’t have controlled it at any point along the way. My only job was to allow and trust it. The expat life is its own process.

Now, so much has changed, and it seems as if by magic. I’m living a life I never, ever expected and truthfully enjoying it. Some outward manifestations of my internal change are that I became a yoga teacher, we got adopted by a kitten (despite my allergies), we have a new car (ba-bye stick shift and no air con!), I’m wearing glasses now, and my hair is short! I hardly recognize myself. And that’s a good thing, actually.

There was a part of me that simply didn’t want to be reinvented. But the expat life demands it. So, I’m grateful that I wasn’t “afraid to die” so to speak. It’s really no great loss. I tried to tell myself it was, that my life before moving to France was so perfectly wonderful. However, spending some time reviewing old journals helped me to see that the perfect life I was nostalgic over wasn’t so perfect after all. I had a lot of the same problems and feeling states back home. It wasn’t the outside world that needed to change. I did!

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Approaching Year Three – The Expat Experience

  1. OMG, this reflects exactly the divorcee life I’m experiencing – I’m feeling happier and happier! I must be a divorce expat! Thank you for this, dear Dielle. I know the deep reflection and “work” you have probably done to get here. Any change worthy of us requires it! And here’s to you, brave and loving soul who stood resolutly under the banyan tree (I don’t know why that phrase came to me, but there it stands). Love you.

  2. Nice to hear from you Dielle.

    Glad to hear you’re more settled in. Pretty exciting about the kitty and becoming a yoga teacher. Wow that’s really something. And I’m happy that your marriage survived. Sthart seemed like such a nice guy in our brief visit. Love and hugs Rain

    On Wed, Jan 17, 2018 at 3:09 AM International Daze wrote:

    > dielleciesco posted: “Well, I stopped blogging here since early last year, > but a series of spammy notifications reminded me that this blog is still > here. It also reminded me that an update may be in order. When I look back > at my pre-prep expat experience and my first three ye” >

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