Have you ever stood in the middle of the road and looked ahead, not able to see the end, not able to see where it leads? Have you ever been excited about that?
October 10 will be my 5 year Swiss-iversary. Exactly one month after that, me, Mr. Shoe and Auggie doggy will be moving to Singapore for our next adventure.
If you scroll back to the beginning of this blog, you'll find yourself reading about some of my darker days. I always tried to give them an uplifting spin to keep my parents from worrying, but after a year or so, I knew I wasn't fooling them.
I can honestly say that moving here is one of the toughest things I've ever done in my life. It is also one of the things of which I am most proud. These last 5 years have taught me lessons I needed to learn and lessons I had no intention of ever learning. It has stripped away everything I thought made me “me”, but what is left is authentic and hard-earned.
Before we moved here, I identified myself through my career. I worked for a respected firm with attorneys who were recognized as the best in their field. I worked all hours of the day and night. I thought I was kinda a big deal.
I was married, but I was also independent. I thought I needed to be self-sufficient and not "bother" my husband. I wanted to be a perfect wife, perfect paralegal, perfect daughter, perfect Christian and perfect friend. I wanted our home to be cozy, our lawn to look like our neighbors' and our driveway to have shiny, clean cars in it. Essentially, I wanted my life to look perfect, if not be perfect. Sometimes you can keep that facade up when you know your environment, know the temperament of the people around you and know how to say the right things at the right time, even if they are a total lie. Anyone who has read this blog or knows me knows that I am not perfect. I tried for a long time and sucked at it.
Moving to Switzerland under the impression I could fake it here too was a total disaster. I found myself in the darkest place I had ever been and I stayed there. For way too freaking long I stayed there. If I found English-speakers I just used the time to complain, to see how they dealt with the Swiss people and the Swiss culture. I have written about this before; in a time when I needed to be making friends in the worst way, I was draining everyone I met with my negativity. I couldn’t pretend things were perfect, I couldn’t even pretend things were acceptable. My independence vanished, locked up by my insecurities. It was a lonely time made more so by the disconnect I had created between myself and mr. shoe.
But in that loneliness, the facade of perfection was stripped away slowly and painfully, each new lesson revealing to me something I needed to learn or give up or decide to change. Each situation showing me that the only one who had believed the fake version of myself was me. The reminders continue to this day. Even now I have re-read this post 4 times to be sure I’m not faking anything, not pretending there is growth that hasn’t happened, but conceding that growth doesn't stop when you feel like it should be done. It continues, a result of being stretched and surviving.
There were many times that I contemplated going home, being done with the lessons, declaring that I had given it my best effort and all that but I never felt "released". I felt like God had/has me in this place where His was/is one of the few voices I understood. But man, He didn't/does not make it easy.
After about 3 years of living like this, I slowly began to see things I loved about Switzerland. Things that had been hard were less hard. The Swiss culture that left me feeling so hurt became something I could see past and shrug off easier. The silences became restful and not oppressive. Ironically this new perspective came at about the same time that I started dealing with a crushing bout of clinical depression. I had finally found peace in Switzerland when I learned that the brokenness was rooted in me, not the country I lived in.
It was in the midst of this that we found out we would be moving to Singapore. I admit that my initial response was "um, WHAT?"....or maybe that was Brigit yelling in my ear since I found out while we were in London, but she was only echoing my original thought. After a few days to soak it in (and to read Wikipedia and to take my meds) I started seeing the good things this move could bring.
We would be moving to a land where English is one of the national languages. I would have a broader field of jobs to choose from. There would be no more winters to suffer through. DAYLIGHT SAVINGS DOES NOT EXIST IN SINGAPORE. But you know what does exist in Singapore? Krispy Kreme.
Everything seems easier this time. I know I don't, can't even, pack up a single item myself. I know that we will be living in a serviced apartment when we arrive, meaning we get to pick out our home after actually having seen it. (Also meaning I know we will have daily house-keeping for the first month.) I know that sticker shock will be more tolerable. (HELLO, cheaper Starbucks.) I know that it will suck saying good-bye to my family and friends in the States again and it will suck saying good-bye to the friends I have here.
And I know that it won’t be perfect. There will be culture shock. I will need to make new friends. Things will get messed up in the move. I will get short-tempered with mr. shoe and he with me. But knowing that all of these things can’t be controlled brings me peace. It means that there is no way I can expect perfection, nor is it expected of me.
That’s how I know this move is different. I’m not panicked anymore, I’m excited. Discussions with mr. shoe haven’t been based in apprehension, but in anticipation. Together we get to pick a new home and start anew in a new place. I get to be a more positive, confident “dependent” wife - that’s what attached spouses are called and I’ve stopped being annoyed by the title. See, baby steps to positivity.
So let the “last times” begin. Let the sentimentality of leaving beautiful Switzerland remind me that, while at times it felt like this place broke me, it only bent me. I broke me. And I get to choose what pieces to keep and what pieces to toss out.
I get to leave the baggage behind. There isn't going to be any room for it in the new place.