Coming home nearly killed me, but I wouldn’t change it for a second

Almost two years have passed since my husband and I repatriated home to Australia – a move I had looked forward to for years – yet never imagined it would push me to the brink of a breakdown.

Ten years in London, gone in the blink of an eye.

We didn’t have to come back of course, but there was a yearning we’d both felt over the years, a pull that had increased with the start of each new one. Wanting to start a family well into our thirties played a part no doubt, and having a baby in a tiny flat in London just didn’t seem appealing.

It was supposed to be a fresh start for us – a line in the sand, signalling a new and better life.

And better weather, too.

Hanging up our coats and scarves, and saying hello to an outdoor lifestyle – one that would be more conducive to happiness and the needs of a young family. It seemed like the logical choice, a ’no brainer’.

People who’d made the move before us warned of the struggle to re-integrate into life at ‘home’. I acknowledged this, but never really thought it applied to me. I thought I’d be one of the lucky ones, slipping seamlessly back into the place I’d occupied before, as if nothing had changed. This, however, was not the case.

Re-entry was HARD.

After the initial novelty of being home, I spiralled into a funk that for lasted months. In fact, nothing else in my life has been harder to date.

It felt like a devastating break-up, but there was no ex to call in the middle of the night, begging to give things another go. Some days all I felt was grief – my identity as a nomadic expat was gone, but there was nothing there to fill the gap.

There’s an analogy that describes expats as Triangles – neither the Circle they left home as, nor the Square they become in their adopted home. The move abroad changes them inexplicably and irreversibly, yet they remain in limbo, somewhere between the two shapes, never really finding the place they feel at home in.

For me, this analogy fits like a glove. I am a Triangle.

When I realised this, relief washed over me. I was able to let go of the regret, the wishing to go back in time and the pining for a life that was no longer there – or relevant – we had a baby on the way, and a small flat in the middle of a bustling city was not what we needed right now.

My life was here now, whether I like it or not – and I had to make it work.

So I did.

I did some serious soul searching. It’s funny how a near-breakdown will cause you to see clearly what was there all along, but you could never quite grasp. Plus, when you’ve hit rock bottom and bounced, suddenly everything else seems easy.

I did the things I’d been afraid of doing for years.

I stopped.

I stopped working on my business. I stopped feeling guilty for not working at 100% productivity 100% of the time, and I stopped ignoring my intuition.

It was time to slow down. Regroup, recharge and just BE for a while, rather than a life of constantly DO.

It’s only now, almost a year after this descent that time has allowed me clarity.

Coming home has actually been the best thing that’s ever happened to me, but only because it was once the worst.

Being brought to my knees like I was changed me so much for the better. I was forced to REALLY re-evaluate what was important, and wipe the slate clean. Re-build a life for myself that actually made me happy, not just ticked boxes.

And this journey continues.

It is not always smooth sailing of course, but I’m getting there.

I never, ever imagined that it would be the coming home part of leaving that would be the most difficult. Moving to the other side of the world knowing no-one was easy – coming home to expectations, time-weathered friendships and faded memories was by far much harder.

For that, I am forever grateful. And the weather here’s not so bad after all.


2 comments on Coming home nearly killed me, but I wouldn’t change it for a second

  • Mike

    Who would have thought that something you looked forward to so much would be so hard! I’ve experienced this feeling of anticipation and excitement when looking forward to a holiday only to be let down when the holiday comes and the dread of it ending kicks in.

    • Nicole (author)

      I hate that! It’s always the way – the holidays you look forward to often don’t live up to expectations and the ones you don’t build up end up being the best ever!

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