Hi! I haven’t written for GEM for a few weeks as I’ve been off on my summer break, traveling to see family in the UK. What an amazing trip! It was great to see everyone since it’s been so very long. I drunk it all in and squeezed everything I could from each experience.
Back on my home turf, I stayed with my mom and sister, caught up with many lovely friends, spent time with my dad and generally got stuck right back into the way of life there. I was able to see some things with new eyes and really embraced the things I already loved but found I loved even more – the beautiful landscape, the way of life, the people, picturesque places, the food and drink!
I slipped back into relationships with ease (mostly, though there were moments I felt like there was distance with some friends who I just sensed found it hard to relate to me anymore) and within a week I was just right back at home.
When the weather changed one evening, I couldn’t resist sitting outside, watching as the rain and mist moved in across the moorland on the horizon ‘til it finally reached where I was. I stayed for a while just enjoying the feeling of cool raindrops on my skin. When my son saw British rain again he ran around the garden with his mouth wide-open shouting ‘yuuummmm!’
In contrast, when I got back to our place in the Middle East even after missing it and looking forward to getting back ‘home’ here, I was shocked by how alien and strange it all felt; much more so than when we first moved here. It’s been unsettling.
I’ve never been good with change, despite actively going in search of it several times in my life and finding it desperately exciting. But this really took me by surprise. Of course a big part is the terrible sadness of leaving loved ones. But I found myself wondering what I was doing here, if I wanted to be here at all. Yes I know this is my choice, my decision, it’s not like it’s been forced on me, not like the people displaced by natural disasters or war or other misfortune, which I know is very different. But there was a feeling that I was torn and just didn’t know what was right for me. I couldn’t sleep, I felt anxious, my mood was sinking and I didn’t want to go out. I thought over the good things that had happened to my family and me because of the move but not even that helped. What was happening to me? I loved it here before!
Then I realized I just had to get in the car with my son and find real ways to reconnect with the place, it was worth a try. So off we headed. We found the familiar – the mall we like to visit; the comforting – sat in a cafe and had a frozen yogurt; the beautiful – the turquoise sea and sparkling buildings; the friendly – we popped in to see friends who showed us their holiday DVD and fed us locally made sweet treats. I told them how I was feeling; they completely understood and had been through the same. It wasn’t quite as good as having a cup of tea and a chat with my mom but I started to feel a little normal again. The anxiety started to wane.
It struck me that this experience is a good analogy for other times in life. When you feel lost, confused, somehow out of balance, wondering where you should be or what you should do send out your lasso and see what you gather in. I’ll bet you know the answers. Try to remember the things that matter to you, that ground and center you. It’s also really, really important to talk to people. Loneliness seems to go hand in hand with change. Step by step, you’ll reconnect, make new connections as well, and find a way forward. I’m realizing I’ve learned about adapting by going through so many tricky experiences in my life, and I can do the same now by harnessing those very same skills. It’s partly about maintaining certain common themes or threads wherever or however you are.
But what about you? When did you last feel a bit lost or out of place, either literally or emotionally, and how did you deal with it? How do you handle change? And have you ever been torn between two different places or ways of life and how did you overcome it?
Nikki Newman, 36, from England, currently lives in Qatar, where she moved this year due to her husband’s work. A former teacher and proud mother of 7-year-old Oliver, she’s currently focusing on settling her family into their new lives, while also pursuing her passion for painting. To see Nikki’s work please go to: www.nikkinewmanart.com.