Thursday 7 August 2014

Life is all about change

We know there will be changes to our lives, marriages, births, new job, new home and we plan with excitement, it also stresses us out a little, the fear of the unknown and the what ifs.

Sometimes changes can be small, others can be huge, some are done willingly, and some are forced upon us.

Change isn’t always positive, there could be a death in the family, loss of a job, a divorce.

Change doesn’t have to be negative or huge to cause a major impact on someone’s life, it can be as simple as an unexpected car repair or replacement of a stolen item, or even hidden costs that can cause a family to re think their budget for a few months and what seems like a major issue to you can be viewed as a minor one to others.

We all know people who have been through changes, we’ve all been through changes, it’s what life if all about, survival of the fittest. Some people appear to handle changes like a duck on water, all serene on top while paddling furiously underneath and we wonder how they manage it. Others just shut down, have a break down, ask for help or ignore the situation until it is forced upon them, such as house repossession or a court order and sometimes there is the element of surprise when someone dies and there are no set rules, other than maybe a will and a funeral.

For those who live their lives as expats there is always change on the horizon, for some they venture into an expat life excited with promises of a new life in a foreign country, a house to make into a home, schools, work, new salary. Some expats go with their eyes wide open, some go on a fixed contract, knowing the exact date they will leave, some will even know in advance where there next move will be. Others like us moved without knowing anything, other than where the children would be schooled and where hubby would work. We had no idea of how long we’d be expats for, where and when we would go next and for the past year we’ve lived with facing a new change of which we’ve had little control or say over.

We heard in January, there might be a move, it also coincided with another huge change in our lives and that was the last child leaving home and having to deal with empty nest syndrome. But we knew about that change, that’s what happens in life, you have kids, they grow up, and they leave home. We have 5 children between us; the hardest change was moving the eldest into residential care aged 12. We thought that as we dealt with that (some days we still feel the guilt) that the rest of the children leaving home we could deal with. But we didn’t anticipate that after the 2 oldest boys left home, that we would then be packing our bags and moving 6000 miles away from them, we didn’t anticipate the youngest, then aged 14, returning to the UK for boarding school and we didn’t anticipate how we would feel when the last child left home and also moved back to the UK.

We visit, they visit, but it’s not how we imagined it to be, wanted it to be or how we see our future relationships with our children living on different continents.

We are now in the planning stages of more change, we are moving, it looks like we’ll be gone by January 11th 2015, almost 4 years to the day that we moved here, our visas expire and due to new changes in the law, hubbies visa renewal to work here may not be granted, which means we have to leave, it is an enforced move, one of which we have little or no control over.

When the kids left home, I threw myself into life here fully, I took up opportunities to travel and explore further a field, to really become hands on with my volunteer work, starting to look for funding for projects and carrying on with sourcing and distributing donations.

Now I’m in limbo, I don’t know where we are going, when we are going. I don’t know the timescale therefore I can’t do anything, there is a requirement for moving the animals, but where and when? Removal companies to quote, utilities to sort, notice on the rented house to give, contracts to end, a car to be sold, bank accounts to close. Can I work in our new country? Can I have my own bank account? Can I take out contracts such a phone in my own name?

I’ve moved many times, the move isn’t daunting me, it’s the fact it isn’t my choice and that I have no say over where and when.

Then there are the non-practical issues, the stuff no one can really help you with. The change of moving to a new country, without a job to go to, without children to settle, what will I do? How will I feel? How to make new friends? It’s not an easy job when you don’t have kids or work. Without friends how will I know where to go? Who to ask? How to do things? What about buying a car? Insurance? How do you know what’s the best thing to do in a new and unfamiliar country, with little or no support?

We moved within the UK, we moved within South Africa, once you know how things work, it’s relatively straight forward, but with a South African government, one never knows how things will work today compared to yesterday and with so many changes in the law that no one seems to know how the new laws will work, this is not a good change for me.

The only thing I do know is, is that I coped, I succeeded, I sorted, I battled without help and support, but I remember it was hard, it was frustrating, it took up whole days, weeks even. I didn’t like it, I didn’t do it willingly, I did it or it just wouldn’t have been done.

I’m daunted by the upcoming change, I’m frightened and I feel isolated and alone.

I’m not just dealing with a change in our lives again; I’m dealing with another change in my personal life, my identity and the unknown. I don’t know how I’ll cope, right now I don’t think I will cope.


  1. Suzanne, I see you as an amazingly strong woman, right now everything does look daunting but once the change happens, you seem to be the type of person who gives her 100%. Scary definitely, will you survive, definitely, changes are scary but not changing I think is more scary and kind of boring.

  2. Breathe in...breathe out...I don't know what you'll be facing either, but if anyone can make it work, it's you.

  3. Change is scary! I have found that I do not get braver with the same set of unpleasant circumstances! I feel like I can't face it AGAIN!
    Maybe that's the same with you! Done that! Got the t-shirt! Now you have to do it all over again?
    It must be difficult!
    Best wishes with this uncertain times!

  4. Very best of luck with the move. Sounds like a busy few months ahead.