Thursday, February 18, 2010

Then and now

Who was I ?

I was a wife, friend, mother, daughter and a sister, a aunt.
I was an employee, volunteer, carpool mom.
I was a hang out by the water cooler kinda gal.
I was a TV watcher, book reader, knitter.
I was a neighbor, chatty Kathy, friendly to all.
I was a shopper, deal finder, looker.
I was a thinker, confident, skilled.
I was supportive, listener, coffee pal.
I was silly and sassy, myself.
I was active, skinner (sometimes).
I was liked, needed and enjoyed.
I had purpose, wit, and knowledge.
I had a smile, a laugh, a purpose.

Who am I now?

I am a stranger in a foreign country, an American.
I only speak English.
I can’t grasp German. I’m trying but failing.
I am still a wife, friend, mother…daughter and a sister and aunt.
~I’m a wife that sole purpose is to support, cook, clean, do the errands, be happy and never tired.
~I’m a virtual friend.
~I’m a mother, some days better than others.
~I’m a daughter from afar. One that can’t be there to help or celebrate with, or need.
~I’m a sister from afar. One that is on a different time zone and available in virtual world, not a shoulder to lean on or commiserate with, shop with, have lunch with.
~I’m an aunt that misses the birthdays, graduations, school plays and sporting events.

I am not working for the first time in my adult life. No desire to volunteer,
I am without a car, the desire to just go is gone. It takes too much effort.
I have limited access to TV in English, never knit anymore, read blogs and a few books.
My neighborhood is older it’s like a retirement village minus the golf carts and mall walkers. I live in the outskirts of the city more in the country. This city is small not a large American community.
I only shop for food, why because the cost is high and the selection is low, and the need is gone.
My brain no longer consist of knowledge, current events, skills…it’s hollow. My memory is fading…it only consist of my thoughts.
I am less active, fatter, silent.
Do I smile? Yes but it is less and less.
Do I laugh? Sometimes
Do I cry? You bet
Am I lonely? For sure

I’m not asking for sympathy or understanding. I know this is an amazing opportunity for my family. I know it has afforded us to travel to amazing places. I know many would love to be in my spot. I have nothing against Germany or Germans. Yes it is different here, it’s not America it’s Germany. Yes the culture is different and the language difficult. I don’t mean to come across poor me or Germans this or the Germans that.
I’m not saying America or Americans are better it’s not about that. It’s about me and how I’m handling living here. I don’t need anyone to fix this or suggest do this or that. Please just know it’s not like being on vacation, yes it’s beautiful but so is your backyard. It’s just hard and I’m losing myself here….I’m not the person I used to be, not the person I thought I’d be, not the person I want to be.
Knowing this is not home forever helps. I believe that home is where your heart is…mine is spread out. Is living in American the answer for me to be me again. I believe the answer is yes.


Ann said...

Hope you have a happy day today and get to start planning your repatriation soon : )

Anonymous said...

My sister who I miss tremendously I hear you ..... Call me today we are home all day...... I am here. xo Mary

Sneaker Teacher said...

Aw I am sorry you are feeling this is a big adjustment to be living in a foreign country and I don't think Germany is the friendliest per say which makes it harder. I am SO with you on having a hard time learning the language!

Hang in there!!!

Ina in Alaska said...

You have not asked for sympathy or support so I am just sending you a big, gigantic, overwhelming HUG!!! Very real post, Frau. Your sister will be there soon, thank God. xoxoxo

Joyce said...

There will be days....

I do understand your feelings...hang in there.

Hoping something nice happens in your day today.

Phivos Nicolaides said...

I fully understand your feelings and thoughts my dear friend! Wishing you all the very best.

Matty said...

I'm sorry you are feeling like this. I certainly don't know your family dynamics, but I'm hoping that you can discuss your feelings with your husband and family so they know where you are. And from what I gather, you have sisters who I hope you can call and talk with for support. I would hope too, that maybe you can find other Americans within your area who you can befriend. ((Hugs))

Ronda said...

Frau, I'm sending you a GREAT BIG HUG, from me to you!!!!
Hang in there and know just how many people truely love you!

Keia said...

we call it Heimweh - dont know the English word. I have it after 2 weeks on Majorca island already.

So 2 years in a foreign country isnt easy. But perhaps I can help you a bit over it when we make aqaintance. Hold on! Time passes by!


Kwana said...

You are still there. Believe me you are it's just hard when life seems to revolve around the family only. I know, I have that problem here in NY. You miss your US family call and talk to them.
Look online and have them send you some yarn and needles. Knit again. Anything!
Also you are a great writer. Write your feelings down. Journal these experiences or write a fiction story. You never know where it will lead. A book maybe. You don't have to share it just buy journals or set up a secret file on your computer.
My heart is with you but I know you will be ok.

Debra said...

Darlin'- I think I may have been one of those blog friends that at one time of another verbalized how fortunate you are to have this experiance. I read this entry and sat back. Then I went on with what I was doing for a while, thinking to myself-how would Frau be doing these chores, cooking projects, etc., etc. I came back and reread it. I now have a much better understanding of what some days must be like for you.
Just sending along a warm thought.

Expats Again said...

Frau, I totally understand everything you are saying. I too have struggled with these thoughts. My children, grown and back in the U.S. make it even harder to be here. You are not alone.

Lisa said...

One day at time. Change is so hard. But, it is what it is...and that is okay.

I hope you will be home soon.

Love from States


Pink Martini said...

I can imagine it is very isolating for you and sometimes we just find ourselves in a situation that we know is not the best for us no matter how we try to adjust. Sometimes it's just not there. Sometimes it's just a bad day and it works out eventually. Knowing from your past posts you find the beauty and uniqueness around you and you express it so well. This post is no exception. It is a beautiful expression of your feelings. Perhaps this experience is an opportunity for you to slow down, observe, reflect and write. Is it too cheesy to say, "You'll always have Utah?" ;) You'll have it again too. :) xoxo

Sonya said...

I understand....

Grand Pooba said...

An amazing opportunity yes, but you are totally allowed to struggle with it! There is a freakin ocean between you and your family!

I know you don't want sympathy but I'm givin it to you anyway! I am so sorry! That has got to be so hard, I hope it gets better for you soon :)

bernthis said...

I live 3000 miles from where I grew up. Away from family and all my old friends.

It has been hard accepting that this is where I live but I do it for my daughter.

and I live in America. I can't imagine how i would feel if I were so far away.

It's not forever. Keep your chin up.

VictoriaArt said...

Liebste Frau,, how long have you been over there? I so understand you, but try not to pour out the baby with the bath water, so to speak. Be a little easy on yourself. A language to master takes a long time, sometimes I miss the old Mother Country of mine and nothing helps to make me feel better for a little while.
Look forward to spring, go for walks, try to make some new friends, there can not be only old people around, start knitting again, begin something new, talk to your blog friends....get a cat...and keep writing!
I send lot's of good karma and a heads up!

Major hug!


RennyBA's Terella said...

If feel it's too easy to say I understand, as I haven't experienced it myself - but: you have my sympathy!

And: I'm married to an American whom I met on the net 12 years ago and came over to Norway to live with me 10 years ago. It's not that easy to adjust, but she is doing fine now.

Unknown Mami said...

You are an amazing woman in a foreign land.

You are creative and thoughtful.

You are supportive.

You are allowed to express yourself completely, including your misgivings.

You are just being honest.

kks said...

lovely, thoughtful, heartfelt post! just saying it makes things better, doesn't it?!
how much time do you have left in Germany? start thinking of the life you want when you get back and start making it happen now...why wait? everyday that pasts, is the past...make those past memories what you want....

Nancy C said...

Own those feelings. Allow yourself to feel them. Some days are hard, especially in February.

I think you're aces.

Sue said...

Hang in there. Whenever I am feeling down, I try to plan something to look forward to. Can you do that? Just think, Germany is a better place because you are living there!

Yvette said...

I'm sorry you're having a rough time right now.

I totally understand. In the early '80's I was stationed in Iwakuni, Japan while serving in the Marine Corps. I was miserable. Didn't want to be there, determined to have a crappy time. I was successful. In retrospect I wish I had made more of an effort to experience more of the culture.

I hope it gets better for you. Good Luck

Joyce said...

Don't you just love when you can express your feelings out to the universal and don't have to worry about anyone starring? I love this blog world. I share more on my blog or emails than I do with my friends nearby. Having a blog is like having my own bartender!!! Kathy there is a bright side to this, you could live nearby me and we would be in a whole lot of trouble as we open our wine bottle"S"! Sending you many hugs and a special vibe your way. Love ya my friend! You ALWAYS brighten my day! xo

Somer Love said...

Sending you LOTS OF LOVE!!!!!


Ann Marie said...

Wow! so admirable to do something so hard, yet so so so rewarding!

Marla said...

I really appreciate your honesty.

Cop Mama said...

I'm so glad you have a blog to come to and write. I hope you feel better by the time you get my comment. You are just being honest and real. That was a wonderful post. Hang in there my friend. I know you don't want sympathy, but you never said anything about a {{hug}} :-)

preppyplayer said...

Oh my heck! ( can you tell I've been in Utah?)
This time of year is hard if you're feeling down already. I think everything you wrote is true for you...right now.
It will get better, starting with Austria next week and then before you know it- the four of us in Paris! Look forward to all these things and it will help you endure... that and some good anti depressants ( I'm not kidding.)
Love you and call me if you want some laughs at Kevin's expense- we may have our work cut out for us in Paris. I can't repeat the names I've called him this week, child protection may cart me away if I do!

deiala said...

I totally understand your feelings! It's like living in a bubble... But there will be better times again. I'm sure. Just wait for spring ;-) When the sun comes out you'll experience a whole new side of Germany...
Have a nice day!

Follygirl said...

Das ist aber sehr schade, daß Du Dich hier in Deutschland nicht wohl fühlst...
Schicke Dir liebe Grüße, Petra

PS: lese sehr gerne hier mit, und da Du ja Deutsch lernst, kannst Du das betimmt lesen.

OHN said...

I really understand. After just a couple of months away, many years ago, I realized that Dorothy was right.

There is no place like home.

Ironically, once I got home, I was kicking myself for not doing more when I was there.

Susan said...

I've said to your sister (who I love) and we live in the same "small" town, same book group that I've often wondered over to your amazing blog and love your stories... I'm sure you are as missed as you miss everyone and be grateful it's not forever!!! I agree you seem to have an amazing family and blessed, we all go through times when life seems "not so fair"... hopefully the lift of a long winter will "spring" you back to enjoy the longer days... I hear you're back on the East Coast this summer and I hope to meet you in person!!! Hang in there, the blog community all seem to respect and admire you!!!

pve design said...

I think a wall of "red, white and blue" is just what the Doc ordered! Make a wall, a tribute to America and invite your German friends in to view all the things you are proud of!
We need to plan a "virtual" blog visit to share our love and support.

pve design said...

Can we send some care packages, full of American items? Things like Oreo's, Cheez whiz, marshmallow fluff....and perhaps Cool Whip...even though it might melt....I'd love to send something....just for some smiles afar!

Jen said...

Hang in there :) It is great that you can share that, talking it out helps when we are struggling. Everything is temporary, hope you feel better soon.

Andrea said...

Thank you for sharing honestly from your heart. Your feelings are your feelings and no one should judge them.
"Home is where the heart is" but my heart is very spread out...I get this...indeed my heart is spread out and it makes life difficult.

I pray today will be a wonderful day full of sunshine!!

BTW: I can't imagine having to learn a new language. I am sure I would be pulling my hair out.


Smeltzers said...

I read this and I was sad, then guilty, now I want to come to Bremen, coffee at Starbucks, lunch at Delano's and maybe smack you up side the head. ;) Miss you, sorry your sad.

Melanie said...

I don't know what to say but here's a ((((HUG))))!!

Mrs. Lovely said...

Oh Frau. :( *hugs*

G in Berlin said...

Let me give you some fellowfeel. It's been 30 months for me and I can now finally communicate as a foreigner here. Today I had to ask my daughter's 1st grade teacher to slow down, but my doctor's nurse (pneumonia again this year) told me how great my German was (compared to last year). The weather is terrible, all the time. SAD is a real thing here and they sell full spectrum lights to sit at in evry town (and on Amazon). There are ways to watch streaming TV shows - e-mail me. Also, I miss my home news, and for that I have a Slingbox at my parents so that I can watch my local Upstate NY town news- makes me happy.
The first year, the TV made life as a SAHM without a language bearable. People don't recognize how much more difficult it is to integrate as a parent with small kids.
Also- we just moved. We painted teh walls for the first time since being in Germany and it made an immediate difference in my happiness level. Immediate. Huge. If you are a person who is affected by colors and your walls are white: paint them. Or hire someone to. You can find people between 8-15 Euros an hour. the paint is 2-3x as expensive, but who cares?
Berlin also has, finally, achieved junk norvana for me- I found Fanta Zero here for the first time. Don't underestimate how important decent/loved foods/snacks are. Give yourself a break.I would recommend trolling for a book club- if you can find one- and trying out a Volchshochscule rather than private tutoring. Germany is very good at integrating people into the language and you may get to meet some other Anfangers that way. They have morning, afternoon and evening courses. Some also have weekends.

Shady Lady said...

I can only imagine how difficult it is for you. Although, I sort of have a teeny bit of an idea. I moved from PA to OR...alone. I knew nobody here. I had no friends. Everything I knew was in PA. That was back in 1995. Now I can say that moving to OR was the best decision I ever made. Of course there wasn't a language barrier here.

(((hugs))) to you. I hope you can find your place of happiness.

CZ said...

I feel lost a lot in my own home, so I completely understand. Sending hugs :)

Suzy said...

****I’m not the person I used to be, not the person I thought I’d be, not the person I want to be.****

I feel the same way and I live in America. It really doesn't matter where you live, it's how you feel no matter where you are...

Lisa said...

I'm glad you are my virtual friend!!!

I can only imagine how it feels to feel so far away from everybody and everything that you think defines you. I too feel like that here, at my home, in the town I've lived in for 20 years. But I do have the opportunity to get out and get away from the loneliness and I bet that is what you struggle with the most being in a foreign country. You may not realize this, but a lot of us are envious of your adventures and opportunities and are traveling vicariously through you.

You better watch what you say.... we all might pack up to escape from our boring routines and show up on your doorstep at one time!!

♥ Braja said...

Gosh I'm just the opposite, I can't imagine....sorry you're going thru this....

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Well said, friend! I think we expats feel like this at one time or another (more than once!!). Some days it can be really hard.

Sending you XOX

Kristin :) said...

Hi! I just stumbled upon your blog today... I'm currently an American living in Germany. My husband's company sent us over here originally on a 2 year contract (we actually just extended it for another year, so it'll be 3 years altogether). After a year and a half of living here, I completely understand how you're feeling. I have the same feelings at times... It's really difficult to be so far away from your family and friends back home... At times I feel so alone. For me, going to the gym or getting outside really helps... That, and planning a weekend getaway to somewhere in Europe definitely adds some happiness as well! :) I'm also fortunate in that I live in a city where there are alot of fellow English speakers... We try to get together once a week for coffee just to chat... It can be very therapeutic (considering we're all in the same boat living in a foreign country) and it kind of gives you a small feeling of "normalcy".... If you're able to find an English speaking community in the city that you live in, I would strongly suggest it. It helps tremendously - especially when those feelings of homesickness really set in! I hope things start to get better for you very soon! Just think... spring is right around the corner, and spring time in Germany is so beautiful that you just can't help but to smile! :) Take care!