Leaving your home behind and going off travelling for a couple of years may sound like a dream-come-true… Sounds like the good life. But… It’s not without its own challenges. Which took me by surprise.
Belonging and feeling ‘rooted’ is a very powerful human need. And I know that? I talk about it a lot with my clients. So why on earth was I so surprised by it? My own naivety when it comes to myself never fails to shock me!
Leaving England behind and coming to Canada (years ago) was a very difficult time for me. Leaving behind your home and loved ones is huge. Counselling and understanding what new Canadian immigrants go through is something I know well. It’s a part of my job. But I guess I didn’t think the same rules applied to me?! Or I thought I’d already had ‘immigration fever’ – back then when I arrived from England – and was immune? Ha! This time it had an interesting twist though: it was kind of ‘backwards’ and it was difficult for me when I came home rather than when I left.
Luckily I have some of the best friends in the world – new friends and old friends. One good friend drove thousands of miles to help me get back home and gave me their own phone and keys to his apartment when we got back so that I could have a hot shower and arrange my phone to be reconnected. (The first step in dealing with a general feeling of disconnection could be getting your phone connected?! ps: If a strategy works, use it…)
Another good friend – like the daughter I never had – offered me a bed for a month and didn’t complain once when I turned her orderly apartment and life into total mayhem. My soul-sister came round within hours of my arrival to give me a hug on her way to work. I am truly blessed. This was just the first few hours…
Several friends cooked me fantastic dinners, organized a fun evening of dancing, welcomed me for a week to park my trailer in their driveway, walked on the beach together and generally reassured me that all would be well again. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I appreciate every single one of you more than words can say.
I had a chance to visit with and see most of those dear to me and to join in with some fun times – such as Improv Theatre and the Bike Prom, which were wonderful. I only saw my grandkids twice – for which I’m very sad. I miss them ten times more than I realized. Spending time with them was priceless and I can’t believe I let little things like distance and gas prices stop me from spending more time with them. One of my grand ‘babies’ is now taller than I am! And very beautiful and an accomplished dancer to boot! My second granddaughter is a talented soccer and lacrosse player and my youngest grandson will have you rolling in the aisles with laughter. I’m grateful to their Mom for somehow finding time to visit.
I spent one magical weekend camped on the edge of Horn Lake with my best friend. My youngest son drove all the way (2 – 3 hours each way) two days running to see us. We were surrounded by towering mountains, caves, a beautiful lake, family and the closest friends. Her oldest son has been inseparable from my youngest son since they were three years old. Her other two teenage sons were there, together with some of their friends. The whole weekend was full of young male energy and handsome guys modelling tee-shirts for my photographer and social-media expert girlfriend. As it was a rainy weekend – a rainy whole month – it was also full of dripping wet jeans, ruined designer footwear and huge meals because the highlight of this area is exploring caves hidden by waterfalls which was hungry work! Back to me?!
In hindsight I had the month of a lifetime. In fact the time of a lifetime for the last x number of years?
I also feel like one of those skittish cows in the auction… You know, the ones with the huge anxious eyes, being randomly poked with an electric cattle prod?
For years I’d felt – ‘known’ – that, despite its beauty, Victoria wasn’t ‘it’ for me. Not yet anyway. Although it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Somehow I just had to ‘get out there’ and explore? Go off for a couple of years – despite loving my home, job and friends. Everything? And it was good. It was good. Great…
These horrible feelings in my chest and tummy must be ghost feelings? I guess, ‘of course’… I am just not sure what of? It’s not easy to see clearly and understand yourself sometimes. Ghost feelings are more powerful – and painful – than I can speak of in words. They shoot up and try and spoil everything. Often. If I let them. And it’s really hard not to let them sometimes…
I’ve just spent several months feeling truly comfortable in Texas – liking the weather, the way and the pace of life there. Thawing out from the inside and discovering a different ‘me’… A ‘me’ without ghost feelings? I’m not done with Texas yet! I have more exploring to do – of the land and of myself. On top of it all I hadn’t reckoned on a romantic tryst. That’s just not something I do? Ever… All of this brings up ghost feelings – which are part of growth… And as such I’m ‘glad’ to have them? Although I’m resenting them (ghost feelings) and hating the threat to my peace of mind that they represent.
My life is full and fulfilling. I love it… Change – and growth and stretching – are uncomfortable! (Duh!) The way I’ve been feeling was physical – so visceral I was shaking like a crack addict before a fix. Emotionally I was a nervous wreck – more than likely heightened by the whole immigration/belonging thing. I hadn’t planned for this… Oops! I guess I’m not as flexible and spontaneous and laid back as I thought?! My nerves felt raw and exposed… And to some extent still do. Ah… I suppose this is what is meant by ‘ghost feelings’ and “adventure” and getting out there and living life? Hmmm?!?!?
I had an amazing time during my first 6 months and I’m looking forward to taking off again in a few weeks. Coming back to Victoria shook me to the core… Especially as it was in Spring with green grass and pink cherry blossoms everywhere, warm-hearted friends, the best dancing, a cozy place to stay, friends to visit and clients that I thoroughly enjoy.
It was beautiful and I really felt my rootlessness. I could almost taste the sadness of leaving – and loosing – the physical closeness to all that and to those I love. My loss… It hurt. A lot.
Which was something I hadn’t even noticed at the end of last summer? I had somehow avoided the notion of ‘leaving’… Other than temporarily.
It seems that when it comes to ‘something big’ – like immigration or divorce or falling in love – I have no more ‘control’ over my feelings than anyone else? Was I really thinking I did?!?! Again, ‘duh’! I guess I hoped that all of the personal work I’ve done would somehow inoculate me against ghost feelings? No way!
Seems that my ghost feelings can be as active as anyones. Knowing them for what they are sure helps… Remembering that we are all ‘just human’ – pathetically obvious but easy to forget and very important?!
We need to give ourselves the gift of time, to get used to changes in our lives. We need to find the time to mourn each and every loss that we have and, separately, to celebrate and acknowledge our every gift. Time… So big.
The ConnectionCue cards that I have been working on – and which are very nearly ready to launch – have been invaluable. These cards help us to ‘sit with’ what it is that we need. They help us to be aware of any deficits in our life. We are then aware, consciously, of what it is we need – which is the biggest step of all… Because once the psyche ‘knows’ it can readjust itself. We can also start to find strategies to address our unmet needs.
It’s easy to end up with our feelings rolled into a tight little ball, mixing up mourning and celebration and belonging and the need for adventure. Getting to really know myself – and to love and accept and explore ‘me’ – is the only way I’ve found so far to calm the overwhelm.
What I still have to do is work out what it is that causes a smokescreen of ghost feelings to run loose in my body. Is it the love of a man? Or the love of home… Land. A country that ‘feels right’. Is my survivor brain cleaver enough to drum up a love affair, just to distract me from losing a place? Or is the loss of ‘home’ my distraction from a man? Or is it something else altogether?