For the last few weeks I have been going through the all-consuming process of returning back home after an overseas posting. First the packing, then the suitcases (which had to include things that somehow didn’t make it into the boxes!), then the long flight home, and then the realization that this is it. Our overseas adventure is over.
Of course, I realized this seemingly simple fact before – all through the moving and the packing process. But the emotion of “having left” didn’t fully hit me until now. It’s not so easy to leave behind a place where you’ve spent four happy years of your life and never long for it. Especially when your Facebook friends who are still there post little reminders of it every day!
So what do these feelings of longing for a place that’s become your home have to do with difficulties of repatriation? Aside from the fact that we experience some sadness from leaving behind a part of our lives, how do these feelings affect our experience back home?
I’ve been watching myself these past few days and I’ve discovered something that I think contributes to a negative experience with repatriation. The thing is, I’ve been engaging in a lot of comparisons. Starting from the size and quality of baked goods and ending with how tolerant the society around me is towards dogs, I’ve been criticizing everything. Statements like “there I’d never have to…”, “this is not how it’s done in…”, “it’d be much better if these people here …” and so on have been populating my speech and my thoughts. So how am I supposed to move on and start integrating into my new life when I am not even giving it half a chance?
Comparing often means that you come from a place of judgment and a place that leaves very little room for curiosity and exploration. Because if we already decided that “there” is better than “here”, it’ll be very difficult for us to allow for an opportunity to develop “here”. If we keep comparing the “there” and the “here”, the “here” will never have a chance in our lives.
As adults we do a lot of judging and I think we would benefit from taking a cue from our children, who, instead of judging and comparing, look around them with openness and curiosity. My daughter, while being a little sad and missing the country we just left, is wide open to possibilities that await her here. She isn’t judging and she isn’t comparing. She is just living her new life.
So I am going to try to do the same. I am going to try wearing the “glasses” of curiosity and openness and take off the “glasses” of judgment and comparison.
What about you? Have you had a similar experience with repatriation?
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