I’ve recently made a fairly major life change. For the second time in four years I’ve moved clear across the world. The difference is this time I moved home. Or at least what used to be home.
If you follow my social media closely (I hope you do…) you’ll know that I’ve recently moved back from Hong Kong to South Africa and although I am very happy about this move the circumstances were definitely less than ideal.
For one, I moved back without my husband. Not ideal. In fact completely not what I wanted. We’re a team, and although we’re super independent we rely on one another for support and encouragement. I think that this is part of what a good marriage is: having the other person’s back without smothering them and with four years of living in a shoebox apartment under our belts we’ve mastered this art for sure! So, back home without my biggest supporter, not ideal.
Secondly, my other great support system namely my family were going through something traumatic. You know the saying “It never rains but it pours”, well this was a typhoon and not one I was prepared for. Spending your first week in a new (old) country in the hospital coffee shop, less than ideal.
Thirdly, let’s be honest I was tired. Packing and shipping every personal belonging, dealing with a foreign tax department and banks that don’t speak my language was a lot harder than it sounds. I was exhausted and terrified and most of all unsure. Was this the right decision? Should I not just have stayed put? When will my husband be back? Can I do this alone? What if I break? These problems had become this huge monster on my back that was weighing me down.
S… s… selfish
For the first week back I was surprisingly OK. No major break downs, it seemed to be going well. I was surviving. Hospital visits aside I even kind of felt like I was on holiday as I hadn’t started work yet. Second week, still holding on, no surprises, I had started work, hospital visits were over. I was surviving. The monster on my back was leaving me alone, he was tame and quiet and didn’t give me any hassles.
Cue week three and a major break down. Suddenly everything that was less than ideal was now the end of the world. My whole wall of denial (read “it’s going to be fine” “He’s going to be back in a month or two” “You can do it on your own”) came crashing down on top of me. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breath. I was being crushed.
But here is the thing, after crying in a heap in the corner for about 4 hours I suddenly got a wave of clarity. What was sitting in the corner, crying going to help? How was feeling so sorry for myself that I didn’t want to move, going to benefit me or anyone counting on me? This was not about me. The hospital stay was not happening to me, I was a visitor, the support system. I wasn’t going through the fear of actually being in hospital. I was not being operated on, poked by needles or waiting for those biopsy results.
I might have come home without my husband but he was alone too and he had loads of added stress that I hadn’t even considered. To add to this, no one made me leave. I chose to move because I found a job that was worth moving for. I was working on my dream and I made the choice to change my situation. This was my doing. I had tamed this monster.
I was also certainly not the only person to had ever packed up their entire earthly possessions into 12 boxes or who had sat at the tax department with people screaming at me in Cantonese. These were hardly the world’s worst problems and even though I felt them and they hurt, they were MY problems. I was responsible for them and I was responsible for getting through them too. Being angry, or sad or broken was not going to help anyone and even though it was ok to feel this way I was determined to not let it define me. I was so inwardly focused that I allowed my circumstances to define me.
Ch… Ch… Choices
Now, don’t fool yourself. Upon this realisation I didn’t jump up and all was right with the world. Unfortunately that’s not how it works. Just because you take responsibility for your feelings and problems doesn’t mean they don’t hurt just as much. The difference is that I realised I was responsible for what happened next. I had ‘tamed’ these problems, they belonged to me, and what I did with them was up to me too. A lot of this had to do with the book ” The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”. If you’ve not read it, do yourself a favour, you’ll be a better person for it. I chose to not just give up, I chose to stop being so damn selfish and think about others for once and even though I still missed my husband, still felt stressed beyond belief and still needed at least a 2 month holiday I started to feel better.
I did my job (which I absolutely love) every day. I saw my friends and told them about my uncertainties. I allowed myself to cry when I felt sad but I didn’t let this sadness overwhelm me. I looked at life as an opportunity rather than a challenge. I realised that the monster on my back was now more of a companion whose pockets were filled with everything I needed to succeed. I made these challenges work for me and not the other way around.
I still have days that are hard but I also have days that are amazing. I choose to focus on the things I can control and the things that I have to look forward to. These are my choices and I am responsible for what I have tamed.
You are not always responsible for what happens to you but you are responsible for what you do with it. You are not always the reason for your situation but you are responsible for how you act. You control your actions and thereby you control what happens tomorrow, how you feel in a week’s time and inevitably where you’ll end up. You can make that monster your enemy or companion, what he is…is up to you.