If you have ever lived abroad for an extended period of time, and returned to your home country, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
There is a little dark secret hidden behind the 'coming home' announcement.
Have you ever experienced the feeling of not really knowing where home is? Is home a space, a building structure or just a feeling of belonging? It's a strange sensation and a mental separation between where you want to be, and where you actually have to be.
We recently relocated to our home country after living in China for 5 years; needless to describe how unsettling it is readapting to your once 'normal' lifestyle, friends, costumes, culture, house, driving habits, food, and of course let's not forget taxes. It's like rediscovering a feeling of déjàvu, but, with a twist of nostalgia and the uncertainty of how to rebuild things from the place where you left them. Things are “almost normal,” almost the same “.
For a time, I found myself wondering: what did I use doing when we lived here last? How can this be happening to me? How do I get over all these feelings? As you can imagine, I deal with issues like this daily as part of my work, and yet there I was, wondering about the same things my clients grieve.
Funny fact, as I was unpacking the moving boxes, I caught myself smelling the old 'home'. It is well known that tastes and smells have the magic quality to take us back in time, even to our early childhood.
All of our friends moved on with their lives while we were away making a new life in another country. They have changed, but we have also changed, and somehow still expected things to be the same way we left them. How is that even possible? How to find balance again and the sense of being home? It's an old-new beginning to us, not to the world around us. We speak about home referring to China … how weird is that? We ARE supposed to be home!
All went in slow motion until I realized that home had more to do with a mental state, a comfortable feeling and not so much about an actual place. To my children, who live abroad, home is where we are, regardless of where in the world that might be.
I started analyzing (yeah … I guess it's in my nature to analyze stuff) … what was different with all of the other moves? I never felt the way I feel now. Why?
When we moved from our birth town in Latin America to France, we were 'gone' long before actually moving.
From France to Belgium, what pushed us was the possibility of a new beginning with the family, hope was behind all, and it turned to be the right place for us.
Later from Belgium to China, we were all excited with new adventures. Nevertheless, we expected challenges; Therefore, I started making contacts months before actually moving.
I was actively involved in networking; creating contacts, planning meetings, organizing work and making sure a stable platform was ready for us upon arrival. I knew where to live, what to expect, where my children will study, etc … Again, we were gone even before having the green light from the company.
From China to Belgium all that changed because none of us was ready for the return. We were in love with China. It was falling into a black pit!
What we realized later was that there is not much difference in terms of moving from one country to another, the attitude changes all in a positive or negative way. It is completely up to us to make the best of it, not only for our own sake but for our family's as well. Living in any country for more than 3 years creates invisible roots.
Home is definitely a state of mind, it's more about where you are happy to be than actually the place where you are. Many people say: home is where the heart is! And they are right.
Should you ever find yourself in this situation, keep in mind that small things can get you faster back on your feet:
– Join a club, gym, association, church
– Join group lessons: cooking, language, Zumba, running, etc
– Work on your garden and plan for the coming season. Nothing better than looking forward into possibilities.
– Retake contact with old friends and / or, go out and make new ones.
– Planning your days will help you get a sense of belonging
– Explore, there is always something new
– Love yourself and show appreciation to all those around you at home, life will be so much simpler and enjoyable
There is no small or big challenge, just a new opportunity to know yourself more and get better.
It's all in the attitude!