A friend of mine from high school recently wrote about homesickness. She is an American expat living in Chile, and her ideas about the topic really hit home to me because it is something I have been struggling with. I’m not an expat, but I do live 1500 miles away from my family and friends that are in a place I used to call home.
I never thought of myself as the homesick type. I figured that I wouldn’t stay in my home state forever (as most Michiganders do). However, even though I thought that I wouldn’t look back, I find myself often daydreaming about the scenario of moving back home. I think of all the people that I could see, the events I could attend, the babysitters I’d hire, and the playmates that Blake would have. Every time I miss a wedding, a birth, a funeral, a holiday, a family reunion, or even a simple night of games played by friends back home, the pain within me that longs for home deepens.
I often make the mistake of living my life in anticipation of the next trip back home; the next time I will be able to see my closest friends and family. I often choose not to form ties to people and places where I live now because I am still holding on to what is far behind me. I live vicariously through the stories and events of others that are living their lives back home, lives I am no longer apart of outside phone calls and email. I am no longer connected to these people like I once was. The hardest part about being away is that they’re all still deeply connected to each other.
I don’t want to live my life in anticipation of trips back home. The let down I experience when our trips are over and I come back to my real life is tremendous. It’s not a healthy way to live and it’s something I am working on. I realize that moving back home is not now, and probably never will be, a possibility. Every time I come back from a trip to my hometown, I have to remind myself that this is my life. While accepting the fact that life goes on without me when I’m not there to be a part of things kills me, I have to snap out of it and enjoy what I have here and now. It’s difficult to realize that I’m never going to be as connected to my family and friends as I once was, but I have to accept my life as it is and move on.
What makes the “moving on” process difficult is that I have never really settled in to where we live now. As Troy puts it, “You have just never seemed to click here.” I guess I have always viewed our time here as temporary, and haven’t tried very hard to establish any real roots. Well, I don’t know how temporary it will be anymore, and the disconnectedness is starting to wear on me. Aside from Troy, Blake, and my in-laws, (all of whom I absolutely adore and couldn’t imagine my life without), I don’t really have any friends. When I first moved out here, I was married soon after and was in the honeymoon stage. I wanted to spend every waking moment with Troy and didn’t care that I had left my whole life behind me. I still love spending time with him above anyone else, but we are beyond the honeymoon stage. No matter how much I love my husband, every girl needs other girlfriends to talk to, laugh with, and share ideas and experiences.
I was blessed with the best friends in the world during college. Friends that I still talk to several times a week and that will remain my best friends forever. Troy says that these friends are both a blessing and a curse. It is not too often that you find people that you connect with so deeply, that you can completely confide in, and that sometimes know you better than you know yourself. Maybe I just found these friends earlier in my life because we needed each other during trying times of decision making, but they have forever impacted my views on friendship. Now, my opinions on friendship are jaded, because I don’t think I can ever form friendships as wonderful as these. I do hope I’m wrong about that, not because I want to replace them, but because while phone calls are great, there is something to be said about having friends that you can see face-to-face. I feel bad that I have an attitude about starting from square one again. I already have my friends, right? But there is a void that I think every girl wants to fill with interaction with others (especially when your daytime companion can only say 10 words).
I feel childish even writing about my friendship dilemmas, but the truth is, this is one of the hardest trials I’ve ever had. I was what you would call a social butterfly when I was growing up. I was always hopping from one friend’s house to the next, my best friend had her own bathroom drawer at my house because she stayed there so often, and I filled every minute of every weekend with social activities. I realize that I’m married and have a child now. So of course, that lifestyle isn’t possible, nor do I want it back, but I’ve also changed a lot in the past five years or so. I know who I am and I know that I have worth, of course, but I am not the confident, bubbly person that I once was. I have grown more shy, more hesitant, more resistant towards new situations, more nervous to initiate activities, and more anxious when faced with new people that I have to create conversations with. The idea of making the first call or extending an invitation towards a friendship terrifies me. I can’t pinpoint what it is I am afraid of, I just know that this is not the social girl I used to be. It’s not that I’m suddenly unfriendly, I have just formed some boundaries that I haven’t gotten past. It also doesn’t help that there aren’t many gals that are in a similar situations as me in our neighborhood or church (my only social outlets).
There is no grand solution for any of these things (although my husband often tries to think of one). What I do think is that my homesickness and lack of friendships are related to and are affecting each other. I am working on the insecurities that I have and am resolving to try my best to “settle in.” No one should live their life only in anticipation of future events, and I just need to get over my own stubbornness and get on with it already. On the bright side, there is a certain sense of pride that comes from establishing your own life in a completely different surrounding than your upbringing.
The aforementioned friend that inspired this whole long, long thought train (which if you are still reading, I’m sorry for going on and on and on), put it better than I could:
“Eventually you’ll start to appreciate your life as is again, instead of wishing you were somewhere else. Life goes on without you – accept it. Sooner or later, you’ll plant your own roots wherever you are. You’ll live through your own births and deaths and weddings and divorces and happiness and sadness. Those won’t replace what’s going on with your childhood and college friends and family back home. But, again, it comes back to living your life in the here and now, as corny as that may sound.”
I am totally there. I keep anticipating that we’re going to move back to my hometown. I daydream about the playgroups I’d be in, the neighborhoods we could live, how often I’d visit my parents house… It all gets so overwhelming. I miss home so bad that it’s taken me a while to contemplate the reality that is us staying in Utah for a long time. It’s held me back from making friends, though mostly out of jealousy. See, the friends I’ve made have either moved home or closer to home and I’m just sick of it! 🙂 I feel so ungrateful for the good people around me, for the low crimerate, for the way the economy hasn’t tanked here, for Brian’s steady job. sigh. This isn’t easy, but I think we can totally adjust.
We could totally be friends. 🙂 I’d even let you teach me to be craft-y, lol
So… that has been my exact struggle for the past year or so. Every girl needs some awesome girlfriends to hang out with regularly, and when one of my close friends moved away, I totally lost that. And even though it sounds totally dorky, it’s real! I wish I could stay here and help ya out! You can come visit me 🙂
Funny how we can be so far away from each other yet have such similar experiences. I think my problem…more than missing home even, was just that I kept looking to the future…"when we leave Chile." It wasn't that I wanted to move back to Grandville, although I've considered a few times, but realized that in the long run, I'd probably be really excited to be there for a few months and then outgrow that feeling again. For me it was just that I kept thinking about when we were going to leave Chile. I mean, we've been saving money to take a trip for so long, so leaving is/was inevitable, but at the same time 1-2 years is long enough to put roots down and at least try to make friends. And now finally I have and I'm so much happier here. Granted, now it will be a lot harder to leave Chile when we do go.
Just wondering, why do you think the possibility of moving back to Michigan will never exist for you guys? Is it because of Troy's job?
Oh, and I totally understand about the social butterfly thing too…I don't think it's that becoming adults changes our personality, but I think that really getting lifted up out of your comfort zone is what does it. I felt the same way in Chile for a very long time.
I <3 you, Nashy 🙂 I hope you and your family can always find happiness wherever you end up.
This was a really well written post Linds. And though I knew most of it, it helps me understand you better. I definitely never thought you would struggle anywhere you went, I never pictured you staying in MI at all! And while I would give anything to have you back here, and I don’t want to be “replaced” I hope and pray that you will find friends and more reasons to love Utah.
Though it wasn’t the reason your post was intended for at all, you’ve given me a good reminder to be grateful for all of the reasons I’m glad to be in MI. It’s not easy to be the one always “left behind” as others leave to go pursue more exciting lives. I really hate it when people ask, “So, do you think you’ll stay in MI FOREVER???” as if that would be the most horrible option on earth. I guess there are pros and cons to all of our situations.
At any rate, I can’t wait to have some good ol Michigan fun with you this Summer! You know I’d give anything to have you live here too!
Wow, you are a great writer Linds! I’m only 45 minutes from my home, but I feel like I have no friends here. Sometimes I wish we could just have a grown-up version of the LC! Your post made me realize so much about myself, thanks! Not to bring it back up to make you long for your next trip, but are you coming to Michigan again soon?
Thank you for writing such a beautiful honest post. All I will say is that I can definitely empathize with your situation…
Not trying to be like a guy here and fix your problems…:)…but I think you should start a craft group out in your area. I think it would give you the perfect opportunity to meet people and get to know them better…and maybe even make a few friends. You would be great at it.
Linz you are a beautiful writer.. We so love you.. You are a beautiful talanted women who I look up to a bunch. To be honest with you it took me a while to get adjusted to living back in Michigan again after moving back from South Carolina. Even though I had two sisters and a lot of women that I already knew it was very hard for me to be back. I think that you will have to put yourself out there and jump in with both feet. It will be hard at first but totally worth it in the end. I love you Lindsey and know that with the Lords help all things are possible. Take care and I hope to see you soon..