It’s funny, this expat life seems to be life of extremes. Nothing is every truly easy, even when things are going well. Sometimes even in the relatively calm, mundane, nothing to see here moments, you can get an extreme emotional reaction. You can’t actually fathom why or how this has occurred but whether it be no sleep, change in the weather or lack of caffeinated wisdom, you can have an off day. When is a bad day just you needing a slap and when do you need to land the killer blow?
For whatever reason, I have been in a 24 hour blip. I can’t tell you why or find any fundamental change that caused this monumental self doubt fest, but there I was deep in the depths of an emotional car crash. I knew something was off, when I had literally scared myself out of my skin, almost a dozen times before 9am. I am completely serious, my nerves were shot, I had been traumatised by a cat, a bird, a flying bug and at one point my own shadow! Being on edge was an understatement and jumping out of my skin on numerous occasions was not helping my old lady back. To say the day was not going well, would be an understatement.
My nerves and I decided that caffeine (I know, I don’t know why I thought fuelling my nervous system with more stimulant was a good idea) and poolside chilling was exactly what I needed. So there I was, all set up on my sun lounger, but still on edge waiting for the next feline attack and I could not relax. Then I was in the danger zone, the moment when you start to question, not just the choice to caffeinate further but EVERYTHING.
That classic expat moment when you think, what the hell am I doing?!
You can lie to yourself all you want, even the most seasoned, happy expats around the globe have have these WTF moments of self contemplation and doubt. I don’t care how brilliant your life is or how settled you are in your location, we all have them. So here I was supposedly relaxing but instead I was going over every decision, conversation, negative comment, judgement of the last 9 years! I was down the rabbit hole. Pull yourself together, I said to myself in a tearful but authoritative tone (internally obviously, I didn’t want people around me to think I’d completely lost it) trying to snap myself out of a complete emotional downpour.
I was on one of the most contrasting emotional battles. Laying there in one of my happy places, the one that would have me internally smiling but it was fighting against every negative thing anyone has ever said to me. This was serious. I was very conscious that this had to stop, otherwise I would be in a full blown anxiety attack about my life choices. So I took my over heated mind to the pool to cool off and gain perspective.
I tried to get quiet my mind, as the peacefulness of my underwater world enveloped me. There on the bottom of the pool, I remembered how as a kid I used to dream of being a mermaid and how being under water is one of the most calming things in the world. I was trying to get my 38 year old neurotic self to let go and just let the 6 year old, that has no cares in the world, take over. I swam, floated and let the world disappear for a few moments. I was letting myself get overwhelmed, by what I don’t know, but something had set me off good and proper that morning and I just wish I knew what. Sometimes we don’t know and I realised that me analysing that in itself, was causing more anxiety.
Those negative comments or paths that people think I should have taken, are their projection not my reality. I needed to remember that. The choices we have made we have made for ourselves and I am amazed at how happy we have been on this journey. When I looked back at my life plan and realised that 20 something, lost girl, had no clue what really lay ahead and I wasn’t her anymore. That expectation I put on myself to live in convention, changed when I did. I needed to let go of what I thought would be and see what is. What was I doing?! Why was I sitting here in a twisted knotted turmoil, instead of seeing the amazing day that lay ahead? At that moment I got myself off the lounger and dragged my arse to a yoga class which was starting in half and hour.
An hour of deep breathing, focus on gratitude and a bloody good stretch I was transformed. I was a happy zen expat again, practically skipping out of the class and back to reality. I have no clue what happened or why I allowed my doubt and insecurities to take over but I am so glad I am at the stage where I can recognise them. My world was not collapsing, it just felt extreme, because everything around me wasn’t comforting, there was no bestie hug or wise mum words to slap me out of it. Out here, you need to give yourself that slap and some days it just needs to be a proper left hook.
Today is a new day and already its off to a great start. A sweaty gym hug from a returning friend, a training session to beat my self doubting arse, an hour with a book and a chat with like minded people. Someone actually said to me
You are amazing, I love how you do this life. You live it as it should be lived.
A reminder that I am doing ok. Today is a good day and a true reflection of me and my life, not that crazy bird that showed up yesterday!