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Thursday, October 6, 2016

I Don't Trail

There is a phrase you hear a lot in expat life and that is trailing spouse. The trailing spouse is the person who followed the person whose job required him or her to move to a new place. I am a trailing spouse because we came here for Mr. Deep's job. 

But I don't feel like a trailer. 


I know that some people struggle with their role as a trailing spouse. Hopefully this post doesn't make it sound like I am minimizing their challenges. I subscribe to the walk a mile (or a kilometre) in my shoes mentality. I have no way to know what circumstances led other people to end up trailing or whether or not they wanted to trail in the first place. I only know my situation and I will describe it so you can understand it. There are circumstances which have led to my acceptance and love for my role as the spouse who came here with someone who had a job. 

First, I was part of the decision. Not just the decision to move to South Africa but the decision made years and years ago that we would be mobile and willing to move for a job opportunity. Mr. Deep and I knew that the company he worked for in the U.S.A. was global and that one of the best ways to move up the ladder was to accept an overseas assignment. Mr. Deep was asked on several occasions if he would be open to moving to another country. We discussed it and for both of us our answer was a resounding yes. 

A few relocation opportunities came Mr. Deep's way over the years but nothing ever came to fruition. Meanwhile, I was working. I had a good job. I was well respected, I liked the organization I worked for. I made good money. But I also felt trapped. I had worked for the same company for nearly 20 years. I was very busy with work, business travel and such and I felt like my life was passing me by. I was constantly in a rush at both work and at home. I thought about other types of work that I could do but I was too scared to do something that would cause me to earn less money.  I saw no way out other than having someone take me away and give me an excuse to start over. And then Mr. Deep told me he had a job opportunity in South Africa.

I have written before about that conversation but what I may have left out is that I told Mr. Deep (and I'm pretty sure my teeth were gritted at the time and I may have even poked him repeatedly in the chest with my index finger while speaking) "whatever you need to do to make this happen, you do it. I want to move to South Africa." I realize this makes me sound like a combination of Claire Underwood and Veruca Salt. But the way I saw it, Mr. Deep was giving me the chance to have a whole new life and I desperately wanted it. 

It wasn't about not wanting to work anymore because at the time of this conversation I didn't even know that wouldn't be able to work in South Africa. But I was attracted to the idea of living somewhere else, filling my days in new ways, meeting new people, trying new food and living in a different house. I wanted to push the reset button on my life.

The other thing that makes my situation different from others is that we don't have any kids. And let's all be honest: EVERYTHING in life is easier when you don't have kids. Except when you're old and you die and no one notices for days. But that's a blog post for another time. In our new life in South Africa I don't have to worry about whether any kids are happy or adjusting and I don't have to worry about finding schools and all of that. Of course I care about Mr. Deep's happiness but I don't care about it any more or any less than I ever have no matter where we have lived. It's the same as it ever was. And I believe Mr. Deep is pretty happy. 

Sure, I miss earning my own money. No wait, I miss having my own money, I don't necessarily miss the part where you have to go and earn it.  But Mr. Deep has never once made me feel like a lesser part of our relationship. He makes no comments when I spend money, he doesn't come home from work and ask in a sarcastic manner what I did all day. He doesn't roll his eyes when he comes home and I am in my grubby gym clothes sporting obviously newly polished nails. You might think well good he shouldn't act in a disparaging manner but I can't say that I would be so kind to the non-worker. In fact I know I would not be. There was a point in our lives when Mr. Deep didn't work and I did spend plenty of time eye rolling and worse.

Yes, there are things that I gave up in order to move here. We both did. I was the one who gave up my job but we both have friends and family who we miss seeing and spending time with. But as the "spouse who came along for the ride" I have gained so much more than I have lost. Having said all this when Mr. Deep tells me it is time to move away from here he will have to drag me kicking and screaming. 

"Maybe it's true that we don't know what we have until we lose it. But it's also true that we don't know what we're missing until we find it." - unknown.

2 comments:

  1. Maybe it's true that we don't know what we have until we lose it. But it's also true that we don't know what we're missing until we find it. Very true saying words. It touches my heart and i am really impressed in your website .Blog entries are unquestionably my source of entertainment and you have astonished me with your writing.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment! I am so glad you are reading and enjoying my blog.

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About Me

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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have just moved to Geneva, Switzerland for a few months following a few years of living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two places could not be more different. I'm excited to share our adventures, challenges and insights with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.