On the Outside Looking In

We’ve been here for close to 2 years now, which is just amazing to me.  Our original end date is really just a matter of weeks away and as that approaches I think to myself that I can’t even imagine if we had to leave at this point.  I’m just not ready.  I never ever thought those words would cross my mind, nevermind say them out loud! 

The choices I have made while we have been here and the things I have learned have had such an amazing impact on my life and it’s something I will carry with me for years to come.  But what’s had an impact on me lately is a question that several people in the last few weeks have asked me “How are you doing?  Do you like it here now?”.  Considering that in my mind I’ve been more than “fine” here for last year, more than a year even, I find this to be an interesting question since these are people that with the exception of the summertime, see or speak to me with considerable frequency.  And it makes me wonder how others have perceived me in the time that I’ve been here and so I’m taking some time to reflect back a little bit.

Josh used to tell me that my blog was depressing. And that people he would speak to were concerned about my well being and if I was going to make it for the full two years.  This doesn’t surprise me because for the first several months here I was actually depressed and while I knew I would persevere and push thru the full two years, I did wonder at what cost.

But somewhere around month 4 things started to look up.  I was settling into a routine with Liam at home, Aidan seemed to be happy at school and Josh, well, Josh has never had any issues with adjusting so he was just fine.  I wasn’t socializing as much as I would like to but then I had Liam home with me full time which made working and socializing a bit of a challenge many days.  The longer I was away from home, the longer I was able to emotionally distance myself from what I considered to be a loss.  And while I missed home (and still do and probably always will til we come back), things were managable and while I wasn’t happy (yet), I was content.  Especially when we started to travel.

Yes, I got the travel bug big time.  We started off small in the spring of last year and slowly became more adventurous as we picked where we would go to next.  Having trips home to look forward to as well as places to visit in Europe kept me looking forward and not back.

We went home in August last year and our trip was chaotic and stressful for me.  We weren’t staying in our house and while emotionally this was probably a good thing for us all, it was also tough living out of a suitcase and constantly feeling the need to schedule things to do with the kids (if we’d been home there would have been tons of kids around in the neighborhood).  At the end of the trip was an eye opener for me – I was ready to come back home… yes, home to Barcelona.  Again, this doesn’t mean Attleboro isn’t home – it is… but it means that I recognized that this is where I live and my family is and that I was ready for us to come back.

Come September both kids were in school – a huge freedom for me because for the previous 6 years I had always had a child home either full or part time.  In all those years I hadn’t had a full week where I could focus on work or on getting together with people or just being alone.  And I embraced it and I also came out of hiding to get together with people I was hoping would become closer friends, especially now that I had more time and less children with me (not that they didn’t like being around my kids but it’s hard to enjoy lunch out when you are chasing a 2 year old).

Suddenly my social calendar was full and I was getting work accomplished on a regular basis (though I will admit my social life did get in a way here and there of my work life, but hey, it was my first taste of “freedom” in 6 years!).  I found that life had become “normal” again or as close to it as it was going to be for me here.  I was finding that I was happy with my life here, not content but happy.

Fast forward another year – we’ve had a fantastic year – tons and tons of travel.  I mean seriously, major travel this year that most definitely is not going to be repeated this coming year.  New challenges to embrace – and nothing seems as hard as what I’ve already been thru so these challenges are mere drops in the bucket of life.  The kids are doing well overall – Liam actually considers this to be home more than Attleboro (yes that breaks my heart just a little bit) and Aidan over time has begun to adjust to the fact that this is his life here and he might as well accept it til the time comes for us to go back.  And when I look to going home, there are moments where the thought frightens me.  Am I ready to go back?  At this point, no, but eventually I’m sure I will be.  And I’m sure it will excite me as well!

So it’s strange for me to have people asking if I’m doing ok.  Am I giving off a vibe that I’m not ok?  I thought I smiled a lot here.  I thought I had told people that I really do like it.  Is there something I’m saying or doing that’s wrong?  I talk about home, sure…but who doesn’t miss people from home?  And I talk about trying to get Aidan adjusted to life here as he still has days that he struggles.  But guess what, we struggle at home with life too and we have bad days there as well – you can have a good or bad day anywhere.  But I guess in the end, I’ve realized that I need to put on a brighter face and have a more positive attitude going forward.  So to answer everyone’s questions about how I’m doing.  I’m doing great – how about you??

Julie

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