Since we last saw each other, we have had the strangest week of weather. Yet more sand storms blew in, leaving their usual dusty mess behind and these were followed by thunderstorms and torrential rain. I mean this was proper rain, only dirty, caused flooding in some areas, and made major roads impassable. The desert can’t cope with the rain and quite frankly neither can I.
So after a weekend indoors, yesterday the sun finally made an appearance, I was making the most of it. To any outsider that had spotted me, all set up on my lounger, kindle in hand, sipping on my almond milk cappuccino, I was the epitome of relaxation and living the dream. What they wouldn’t have seen, is that, under my big floppy sun hat and large sunglasses, tears had filled my eyes and I was anything but relaxed.
The reality of this life, is that sometimes, that cliched image of the lady of leisure sunning herself, is a facade and behind the sunscreen we are simply having a bad day. No one sees it and I am very good at hiding it, but yesterday I hit a wall, unable to lift myself off the emotional roller-coaster that had ensued by breakfast. The very fact that I took myself off for some sun therapy was my first attempt at snapping out of the fog and for the briefest of moments it worked. I sat there reading my book, when 2 pages in I realised I had read the same extract over again and nothing was sinking in. I was distracted. My head wasn’t in the expat game. So I took to my phone and thought some happy snapping for my insta page would improve my mood, so that picture perfect poolside coffee was uploaded and the pretense continued.
As the book wasn’t holding my attention, I preceded to scrawl my social media feeds and was inundated with posts about Mothers Day. I know some of my readers are yet to reach this celebration of motherhood and the Arabic date has been and gone, but for the UK, and therefore my mum, it was already in full swing. So whilst I posted my own dedication to my wonderful mum and sister, a lump came to my throat and that was it……the flood gates had opened and a motherload of emotional came flying out. I didn’t know what to do, I tried to pull myself together but every time I stopped, within seconds another batch of fresh emotions came bubbling to the surface. In that moment I felt utterly alone and I don’t just mean figuratively, I was quite literally the only bugger round the pool, which didn’t help my decent into despair!
My main issue when feeling like this is that I don’t ask for help or support. As I sat there I thought about messaging someone, but who? I was in no state to FaceTime my mum, as I knew the moment I saw her I would crumble, plus I don’t want her to worry and the day was about her not me. Ok, so scratch that plan. My sister was enjoying her first mothers day, so she was an inappropriate shoulder to cry on. It was the first day of the working week, so I knew Hubby would be up to his eyes and I didn’t want to be the weak, crying wife, who can’t cope with a day on her own. All of my UK based friends will be in the midst of their own celebrations, so hearing from me crying on a sun bed was hardly going to fit in with their relaxing breakfasts in beds and angelic children, so now what?
But it all honesty the biggest issue was that I didn’t want to admit that things get tough, that today was tough, as it’s apparent that this life does make you miss things. I was missing out on taking my mum for a posh lunch and spoiling her rotten. I was missing out on the happiness that my little sis would be feeling with her rainbow daughter, after the heart ache she felt as last years mothers day approached. I simply wasn’t there. Then the biggie……I’m not a mum. My one emotional thing, my kryptonite, that I successfully hide with my adult only vacations, idyllic Maldivian kid free get-aways and my vocal intolerance to screaming Kuwaiti kids. Hubby and I are just fine, just us, but I guess on days when everyone you know is celebrating this milestone, compounded by my family being 3000 miles away, I questioned everything.
The issue is that I am not always the together one, I like to have everyone believe this is the case, that I’m totally in control (Virgo control freak rears its ugly head once more) copes under pressure and is dutifully strong. Even in my desert life, I am the go to person, the one that is the sympathetic ear, will dish out advice, say it how it is and be the support when needed. I realised that not once, in my three years here, have I actually gone to any of my friends and said HELP!! I usually shut myself away for a day, have a few tears, watch my favorite movie and I’m over it and everyone is none the wiser.
All of this wasn’t helping my current state of mind, the doubt started creeping in about whether I really do have a support network here. I spiraled. Are my friends just fluffy ones, happy to have coffee with, occasionally bring me their expat woes (as I am the longest serving desert girl) and good as a tanning buddy. Was it really that superficial?! Do they really want to hear my pity party for the day? Maybe I should just pull myself together? But as more tears streamed down my face, I took a deep breath and sent a message hoping my instincts weren’t wrong.
Of course they weren’t. Of course these friendships I’ve built aren’t all smiles and cappuccinos. As soon as I was home, they were at my door, putting the kettle on and there ready to take on my irrational, emotional mess. It is in these moments that you realise we are all in this together, truly in every sense. We celebrate together and cry together and, as much as it pained me, I can drop the strong, independent, nothing phases me act, and its accepted, supported and no one thinks any less of me. Phew.
You will be pleased to here that this was a lapse in emotional maturity. A blip, just one of those days. It doesn’t happen often and hasn’t in a long while, but it is part of an expat life and we all get them. Sometimes we just need a good cry, sometimes random things will set us off without warning and sometimes, even at 36, you can just simply miss your mum.