Oh, I have lots of advice for the newbie expat.
That the roller coaster of emotions you feel, the thrill of the exotic and the despondency of the reality, during the first three months or so in a new country is COMPLETELY NORMAL, for one thing. I can chart the ride out for you, even. But that's material for another entry.
This topic came to me today because a friend confessed she has been feeling down lately. That when she shared her feelings with her very supportive husband, he began to become uncomfortable with the topic. Because she needs a little more boosting lately than she normally does.
She's not alone by any means.
NO ONE is immune to Expat Overload. I have come across very seasoned Accompanying Spouses at the end of their emotional tethers. Weeping in the Ladies Room. Or a hotel lobby in the center of town. Wives of diplomats who have lived all over the world. In much more difficult postings than the one where they suddenly found themselves having a Bad Day.
And not just women, either. Expat Overload is an equal opportunity experience.
So here is my advice for all Accompanying Spouses, no matter how experienced you may be at schlepping around the world after your Employed Beloved.
Doesn't matter if you are the wife or the husband or the same-sex partner or what. The distinction here is that ONE OF YOU HAS THE GIG THAT BROUGHT YOU HERE (not you) and ONE OF YOU DOESN'T (that would be you).
Actually, the EB will get the expat blues, too, now and then. Stresses at work in general and life in a foreign country combined with general career path angst will mean your EB will need a little cheerleading and TLC from time to time. And that's part of the job description for the AS.
But who do you vent to when you are having a bad day?
I'll let you in on a little secret.
Don't vent to your Employed Beloved.
I know, I know. I can hear you objecting. "For better or worse!" you'll say. "We share everything,"
Don't share this. Or at least never initiate this topic. If EB does, then it is okay to chime in. Share away. But it's not unlike the old saying, "I can pick on my sister, but you can't."
If you have a bad day and find yourself weeping on the Metro or emotionally drained at the Post Office or chagrined at the meat counter--and believe me, I have done ALL of these myself--DON'T VENT TO YOUR HONEY.
NO, NO, NO.
I'll tell you why.
The EB will feel guilty for bringing you to this awful place where people mistreat you and make you cry. It's not necessarily logical, I know. If you are like The Spouse and me, we discussed, at length, together, the moves we have made over the years. He has always had my buy-in. I have never felt coerced.
If I have a Bad Day, The Spouse feels responsible, even if he had nothing to do with it. Even if I do not associate him with my Really Bad Day in any way whatsoever, he feels bad if I tell him about my Bad Day.
This is what friends are for.
Call your friend. Go to your friend's house. Or go for a coffee. Unburden yourself. Vent. Weep. Rail. Cry. Get hugged. Have some retail therapy or a glass of wine. Or a bottle of wine. Whatever it takes. Then wipe your eyes, blow your nose, pull yourself together, wind up your soul, and go back out into the world with a renewed sense of adventure about whatever foreign country you're in.
This doesn't mean you should never tell your EB what has happened to you. Just don't do it without testing the waters on the home front first.
We all do it.
We all have Bad Days.
Let me know if you ever need a hug.
Waiting... - *In October on Manezh Square, outside of the Kremlin* It's the final countdown until the Olympics... Here's a link to an article that was in the "Russia ...
4 years ago