Are you afraid alone with the children at night? Do you feel vulnerable in a world where you don’t understand the language and couldn’t communicate if anything went wrong? What other worries occupy your mind?
For me, this was evenings. Once the children had gone to bed, I knew I had difficulty sleeping. I would end up working late until the early hours of the morning or binge-watching TV. If I didn’t fill those evenings, the lonely feeling would just seep through. It’s funny though because there is no way I was lacking friendships or people around me. They just weren’t around in the evenings.
During one of my therapy sessions, the following question came up: Is it because you miss your husband or because you don’t want to be alone? Although I missed him a lot, I must admit that it is the fact of being alone that bothered me. My days were full of meeting people, my kids were always around. How on earth could I feel lonely? Surely those evening hours were my me-time. Maybe it comes from being an extrovert. For an introvert, the vulnerabilities will lie elsewhere.
Now that I know that evenings can bring out negative emotions, I am more mindful of what I use them for. Choosing alone time in the evenings becomes more of a conscious decision. I also struggled with feeling scared during those times. We now have cats to keep me company, and it’s amazing how much that changes.
Everyone can go through times of anxiety in their life, but there is something especially challenging about being an expat which brings with it a whole different and colourful palette of fears and vulnerabilities. Also be aware that these will not only be different for each individual, but will may also change over time. What do they look like for you? What strategies do you have to avoiding or coping with these oppressive feelings?
Let’s help and encourage each other, sharing tips on how we cope with these fears that our particular lifestyle throws at us!