I've been reflecting on our expat journey over the past 10 years that is coming to an end soon. I've realised that my life hasn't been too different since covid started than to being an expat. Even though I've spent 9 months since the first lockdown started in the UK, I haven't been able to see much of the kids, our parents, our grandchild. We'd not been able to go to family events, attend funerals, weddings, christenings etc regardless of covid.
I've been isolated as an expat living abroad, lonely when Peter has been working and travelling and constantly adapting to circumstances and having plans changed last minute and short notice for things happening or being able to do things.
I know being an expat was through choice to some degree and whenever I've complained about the lifestyle I've been told 'oh well, at least the sun shines'
But that doesn't make things better, it doesn't fill the loneliness and the isolation.
Apart from being separated from Peter due to covid hitting whilst we were part way through a move, life hasn't been that different from my family and friends. I'm isolated, I'm lonely, I can't go anywhere, see anyone, we're all in the same boat for a while.
I'd love to visit our daughter living in a care home, but she's outside my area for travel, our grandchild is too far away also. Apart from 2 friends who live in the same town as me, I see no one else. They're bubbling with family, so all I can do is meet up for a walk. I can't wait for garden visits to resume.
The only main difference is we can use voice of internet and video calling instead of just messaging and expensive, short calls.
We're used to being alone, we're used to changing plans last minute, we're used to living life with high levels of stress and uncertainty, we're used to hanging around and waiting. We're not used to spending this long apart without knowing when the next trip will be made though.
When I've been told 'but you've been able to travel and see your husband' as an excuse to others driving 50+ miles to their parents, or visit their grandchild. I've had to remind them I haven't broken laws, I've PCR tested to leave and on arrival at the cost of £120 each test and have had 3 periods of 2 weeks isolation/quarantine to be able to travel. Yes I've had a friend in the house, but we both isolated for 2 weeks prior to the visit and for 10 days afterwards before I then had neighbours help me move the sofa in from another neighbours garage.
As an expat I've had to do hospital appointments, cope with chronic pain, deal with migraines and the after effects of surgery on my own. I've also had to do this during covid, little has changed for me physically.
But mentally, a lot has changed and will continue to change. I've been through a lot on my own, isolated from family and friends, dealing with the sudden death of my father, which I witnessed around the same time as I was seeing an oncologist for 2 years to rule out cancers. We've been out of sight, out of mind. We're still in the same situation now, just in the UK (well I am) for now. I feel for people separated from their families, I've experienced that as an expat and again during lockdown, I have empathy for others situation, I just don't have the capacity to deal with others emotions about it.
My response now is 'summer is on the way, the sun will soon be shining and it'll be ok' It's been OK for me.