Monday, September 1, 2014

State of Mind

So here we are, just 2 weeks into our new lives in the Netherlands.  I have to say, we're overall doing better than expected and definitely doing better than we did when we arrived in Spain.  That's not to say there aren't bumps in the road or bad days, because we most definitely do, but in the scheme of things, we're doing pretty good.

The kids are starting to make some friends.  Liam seems to be struggling a little more than Aidan but still seems to be hanging on and creating his new little pod.  Tonight as we were sitting around, one of the neighbor kids came over (with his mom because he didn't speak English) to see if Liam could come out to play.  I think it made his day to have a little buddy on our street.  And with play being universal, I don't see the language being a problem for him for long.

Aidan is basing his relationships on how long people will be here and where they will be going to school next year.  He's not sold on anyone in the neighborhood yet.  He met some kids at the neighborhood block party this weekend but they were a little older than him and he's still a bit guarded which is typical of him.  He doesn't let people in very easily but when he does, it's for life.

They met some kids at the block party but not all were nice to them.  Kids are not always kind unfortunately and with 2 foreign kids, they are "unique" which makes them a target for teasing.  But they both handled themselves well, though Liam did resort to his fists which I didn't like - however it was against a kid who was easily 15 so I admire the fact that he wasn't scared by his tormentor.

But while the kids are doing well overall, that doesn't mean we haven't had our fair share of tantrums. Given that I'm struggling on my own to "survive", dealing with their struggles is only making things more difficult for me.  Though at the same time, it's a welcome distraction from how I'm feeling about everything.

As always, Josh is fine.  It's annoying.  Like in Spain, he's had what appears to be zero learning curve and just takes to any new culture like it's normal life.  I'm envious of his ability to do this.  I also hate him a little bit because of it too.

For me, well, it depends on the day.  Today was not a good one.  Let's call it a bad Netherlands day. Yesterday was a good Netherlands day.  There have been pros and cons to each day and some times there are just too many cons.  I know it's early.  I know this is all to be expected.  But it's frustrating when all you want to do when you get up in the morning is go back to bed and wish that you were somewhere else, anywhere else, but here.  However, this is me we are talking about and while I want to go back to bed each morning, I push through and move on because it's all I can do.  If I slow down that is when I will break down.  And quite honestly, I have way too much on my plate to just go back to bed, the thoughts of what needs to be done would just stress me out more.

So each morning for the last 10 days I've been running again (with the weekend off).  I had stopped when the kids finished school in June and so need to work my time and distance back up but it's helping to clear my mind again.  And I need to clear my mind because it has not been in a good place.

I feel incredibly alone here.  It's reminiscent of Barcelona.  Only when I got to Barcelona, I already had one connection before I arrived and made another the day that I arrived.  Here, I have no one.  I've met a few people, maybe eventually they will become friends, who knows.  But as of now, they are people I've met and perhaps chatted with a bit - it's too early to define anyone as a friend.  But no one that I would call to ask if they can grab my kids because I have an emergency or to take the boys home with them because I need to get Josh to the doctor's for an appointment.  Zero support system.

I know it's early.  Like I said, it's only been 2 weeks.  But that's 2 long weeks when you are alone.  I focus on our daily needs.  Getting the house together.  Work (much needed to do!).  Errands to get things situated in the house - small appliances we didn't have, trying to plan sports for the kids, etc. Those things keep me focused on the here and now rather than on the fact that I'm feeling very isolated and alone.

The weather does not help.  In a word, it sucks.  It sucks bad.  It rains EVERY SINGLE DAY so far. It doesn't rain all day but it rains at least once every day from what I can tell and somedays it rains many times (I counted 10 times one day).  We're already in jeans and long sleeves, though I hear we may actually get short sleeve weather this week.

It's been nice weather for biking, that's a positive at least.  I've been trying to get out on my bike more since walking isn't as much an option here since things are more spread out.  And I have to say, there are bike paths EVERYWHERE.  I think you could actually bike the entire country.  And they are all well maintained that I've seen thus far.  I need to do some upgrades to my current bike or else get a "dutch" bike but I feel like I'm getting on the right track with it.  Plus I'm sick of being in the car.  I need to get out.

I'm chauffeuring the kids and Josh everywhere and that doesn't help.  Unfortunately, this is one thing I can't really do anything about.  In the city, I would walk around.  Here in the suburbs, there has just been no reason to do that.  So I will do my best to remain active - running and biking...and driving :(

The learning curve has been easier than the last time.  There will be more on that later.  And so as a result, I'm feeling better than I expected only 2 weeks in.  But I'm not happy.  Not by a long stretch. I'm angry.  I'm resentful.  I'm sad.  I'm depressed.  And then I look around where we are living and I feel guilty because it has to be one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen and we are so lucky to be here.  How can I have these feelings of sadness and depression when I'm somewhere so lovely and filled with people who are equally lovely so far.

Because I would give anything to be home right now.  But wait, I don't even know what or where home is any more.  I think it's a typical expat feeling of constantly being in limbo.  Of never feeling like you truly belong somewhere but no longer feeling like you belong home either.  I say I want to be back home in the US, but I don't necessarily know I want that either.  I feel like Jekyll and Hyde - constantly swinging on a pendulum of emotions.  Where do I belong?

I miss our lives in Spain.  I miss our friends.  But at the same time, we never fully integrated there either.  But it was the known - at least for the last 4 1/2 years.  It wasn't always that way, but at the end it was just where we lived and it was home for the time being.  I didn't cry when I left.  I cried when I left the US 4 1/2 years ago.  Does that mean something?  I don't know.

Our arrival in the Netherlands came at a good time, yet a bad time.  Good because the kids didn't have time to think before they jumped into our new lives here.  We arrived and they started school the following day.  But just 2 weeks in, Josh and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary.  And to put it simply, I don't care.  That sounds horrible, I know.  And I feel horrible thinking it.  This is a man I've spent the last 20 years with, have shared my heart and soul with... and I just don't give a shit about our anniversary.

There was no time for me to plan anything and I feel caught off guard that way.  I found some cards at a market the other day but didn't have the heart to write anything in them.  Primarily because I have nothing nice to say.  Yes, I love Josh.  But I'm not liking him right now.  None of this is his fault - directly.  But someone has to take the blame for us being here.  And it's him.  We've been through it before when we got to Barcelona.  And eventually things went back to normal and I'm confident that they will again - we've been thru the ringer and this is just a small bump along the way.  But here we are at 10PM on our anniversary and I can't stop crying about the fact that I ruined our anniversary because of my anger that we have moved... again.  When I barely acknowledged his existence today and when I did, it was with short, curt words and an evil look in my eye.  When I don't even know what I want in the first place.

If anything, Josh has gone above and beyond this year trying to keep our family together.  And yet, I feel so much anger and resentment, I don't know what to do with myself.  It's not where I want to be - emotionally and physically.  I don't know where I want to physically be - I don't know that I would be happy in the US.  I think we were ready to leave Spain.  And I am not happy here.  I'm sure I will be given time, but at this moment in time, I'm not.

I'm exhausted.  I'm tired of living in another language. I feel weak just admitting that.  And I'm lucky that here many speak English but nothing else is in English - not the food, not a menu, not an item in a store, not the doctor's office website or voice mail, not the road signs, not the radio, not the sports, not even the school website.  I'm tired of the constant roller coaster of emotions, breakdowns, etc.  I'm tired of crying.  I'm tired of feeling alone.  I'm tired of being isolated.  Hell, I'm tired of not having a dryer for my clothes.

It feels selfish to say all of this because I know how lucky we are to have this opportunity and that I need to open my mind to the adventures ahead of us.  Especially for the kids and what all of this means for them.  And I have no regrets about any of this journey.  But I'm fucking exhausted.  I'm done. I'm toast.  And I'm angry that my wedding anniversary was tainted by this anger and frustration.

Like anything in life, I know that this too shall pass.  It happened when we moved to Barcelona and like anything in life, time heals all wounds.  Or at the very least, time covers the pain.  At some point, I will have less breakdowns.  I will have the realization that I can either wallow in my sorrow or put on my big girl panties and take charge of this life, no matter where we are located.  I know it will be the latter but for today, just for today, I need to let myself take the low road and cry it out.

Tomorrow is a new day... I hear there may be sun...


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