If you've been reading my blog posts recently you'll notice I've been stuck in a rut and quite a negative one. I feel isolated and lonely and bored and quite frankly depressed most days.
I introduced a 9am rule to ensure I wasn't wallowing around in my pj's all day, something that happens easily when you don't work, your kids have flown the nest and you live 1000's of miles away from family and friends. I'm also taking steps to look after myself with exercise and eating better.
Having just passed the 7 year mark as expats (4 in South Africa and 3 in Dubai) you'd think I would have adjusted to life living abroad by now and got used to it, got on with it. I mean how miserable can it actually be living in the sun without a care in the world?
But I'm not an easy going person, I thrive on stress/deadlines. I had 5 kids at home, a carer, I did 2 degrees back to back (still need to finish one) I ran the local football club, sat on the PTA, had hobbies, baked and ran kids around the countryside to various activities.
When we became expats, we still had two kids at home, but I stopped working (laws in SA prevented me) I couldn't finish my degree (the OU wouldn't let me in SA) the eldest learnt to drive, there were no more school runs. I got involved with a couple of charities, I re established my identity, I made friends, I found a purpose, we got a cat and dog, the kids left home and just as I felt I was getting someone, we upped sticks and moved to Dubai, where I had to start all over again. New place, new rules, new friends, new routines.
But with the deep fear of having to give it all up again and risk everything I'd built up and move into the unknown, I've not settled into life in Dubai. I taught here for a year, but working full time and having a myriad of dramas back in the UK and with a husband who works long hours and is away a lot, I gave the job up, it wasn't working. I can't establish a routine other than back and forth to the UK.
I've tried the coffee mornings, I've met people online for coffee dates, I've made a few friends, but I know I'm keeping my distance and besides, try as I might I just can't keep my big mouth shut and can't (don't want to compete with the false world of living beyond my means to impress those who are living beyond their means.
I also find it hard it talk about the good stuff in my life, it feels like I'm bragging, showing off and besides people are much more interested in the doom and gloom anyway. In general it makes them feel a lot better about their own lives. I find people are happy to read about other people's problems but they're not so keen on actually listening to them. I also find when I talk about the positives in my life that people find it hard to understand I actually envy other peoples lives also. I also share a lot of stuff online and I'm very open, which some people can find difficult to handle if they're more private about their feelings. Why do I share online? Because I'm lonely and I'm looking for interaction and feedback to know I'm not alone.
But for my own benefit and not to piss anyone off (if you are pissed off, deal with it) here is what is good about my life and why and what I can do to build on it. In general I tend to find when people blog/post about how wonderful their partners are or how financially secure they are, that usually there are deeper problems and that they are only fooling themselves, so here goes:
I love my husband and he loves me. We have a secure and safe relationship, where I can be me. I can scream and shout, I can cry, I can blame him for how I feel. I am safe to explore my feelings and emotions, he never holds these things against me.
I have a good relationship with my adult children, we have regular contact and they will often come to me for help, advice and support. Usually they have already made their decisions, but they still run them past me first, this makes me happy, that they feel they can come to me without judgement.
I have a good relationship with my mother, it could be better, there are still a few hangups for both of us to let go, but since my father's death last year, on the whole I'd say I think as Mother and daughter, we've finally nailed it.
I have a handful of friends who I can trust with anything, who will and have been there for me when needed and know some of my deepest and darkest secrets. BTW hubby knows them all also.
Living as an expat allows me the luxury of not having to work, I accepted a few years ago that my career is not important to me anymore, I achieved something, I can hold a conversation about the workplace and if others want to judge or even exclude me on the basis that I don't have a job then that is their loss and they're certainly not worth my time anyway.
I have money in my pocket to do things. I can go for coffee, I can accept an invitation for dinner, I can buy new clothes, shoes, handbags if I want, when I want. I don't have to worry about saving up for Christmas. I can book a flight and hire a car when I need or want to go to the UK and not have to worry about family emergencies. I can spend money on the house and garden to make it more comfortable and enjoyable for me to spend time in. I could hire a maid if I wanted to do the boring tasks such as cleaning and ironing, but TBH, if I didn't have that to do, I'd be even more bored and I've got used to living in a show home. I'm proud of my home, I'm relaxed about hubby turning up unannounced with colleagues he's forgotten to mention are coming round for dinner or even staying the weekend.
I'm not frightened to try new things, tackle challenges head on, it doesn't mean that I don't get stressed or upset or sometimes even feel like I'm going to fail and sometimes failing. I'm getting better at asking for help and have learnt last year how to say no to people who just drain me and take and give nothing back
I am generally happy being me, with what I've achieved, how people will come to me for advice, based on my experiences in life, turn to me to get difficult things done and sometimes I actually admire myself for what I capable of doing and how I do manage under such severe pressure and stress on some occasions. I've just got to accept that being lonely isn't a bad thing, that it's ok to be bored. It's ok to do nothing, it's ok to spend the day drinking coffee and watching TV as long as I break it up with some exercise (walking the dog) and eating properly. It's ok to go out for coffee and eat lunch on my own, sit on the beach and anything else I fancy doing.
I sent this to my niece last week, I'm not one for inspirational quotes, but today it suits me also.
Are you lonely? or bored? What do you do to combat it?