I wish to put something of a disclaimer out there at this point, dear readers. Emigration for the brave hearted and free of spirit is not an issue. They will embrace the differences easily, seek out things to do and fit in well.
However, this is not their story; it is mine. I can speak only from the perspective of someone who had taken this brave step in the belief that they were one of those bold, fearless souls. I found out that I was none of those things, and it is only honest for me to share that fact with you before you read on. I don’t expect sympathy, I do perhaps expect some shaking of heads might happen but I do assure you that I don’t feel sorry for myself.
This is the truth and yes, it did hurt.
Three weeks in, three out of the four of us had something to do that resembled a structured life. The Husband was working and had been earmarked to go to Adelaide on business already. The kids had started school and were coping admirably with the huge changes to their lives.
“And what of you?” I hear you ask. “How did you adapt from your busy life where you had a job, friends and something to do?”
Well, I didn’t. Not for a long time.
If I was to write down the pattern of my early days in Australia, there would be many blank, white pages here stretching ahead for you to admire. However, bear with me dear readers and I’m sure we can find something to talk about instead of staring at our shoes in uncomfortable silence.
The first thing to note is that the belongings we could not carry were sloshing their way through the seas on a slow, seemingly interminable journey on a container ship from the UK. This meant that our little band of intrepid travellers were currently sitting on fold-up deck chairs and, later, a much-appreciated borrowed sofa. The day that sofa arrived felt like being showered in sheer luxury, I can tell you.
We each had one cup, one glass, one knife and fork, and a plate. A borrowed washing machine from a lovely colleague of The Husband also appeared one day, along with a bed and a TV that was placed on the shelf otherwise known as “the floor.” The sheer lack of belongings echoed around the house whenever one of us sneezed or coughed….or breathed.
It is nothing short of amazing just how little you actually need to survive. We bought beds for the kids to sleep on, but they had no personal stuff to keep them occupied other than some hand-held computer games.
All three of my family members pottered off out of the door every morning to their various daily commitments, leaving me alone with nothing but my thoughts. This is a very dangerous place to be for someone so used to having company and familiarity around them.
We had settled on a house not far from the friends who had initially offered us shelter when we first arrived. They both worked full time and were the only other people we knew here.
The days stretched out for me in that empty house so badly that they felt like they would never end. I was consumed with doubt and fear over what we had done, and the apparent finality of it all.
If I’d had unlimited funds available to me, I could have at least been a Lady Who Lunched (albeit one who had to do it alone). But the experience of moving to the other side of the world takes every last penny or cent that you have, then unashamedly comes back with its hand outstretched like a greedy toddler, demanding ever more money.
I will admit straight away that I am the baby of my family and have always been looked after by someone or other. In the UK I was surrounded by a small circle of of people I trusted implicitly that I had invariably known forever.
I had never driven a car on the motorway, or ever lived more than ten minutes away from my mum or my sister. I was supported, loved, respected – even cosseted – to some extent. In short, I had never really had to stand on my own two feet before.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t had a perfect, skip-through-the-daisies existence up until this point. I had experienced the deaths, serious illnesses and heartbreak that life throws around its stage to prepare its actors for life’s long-haul challenges and sorely test their resolve.
But when I look back, I really had no idea that this would be one of the biggest ever challenges for me as a person. It has held up a powerful magnifying mirror to my every foible, fault and weakness.
It has forced me to evaluate everything about myself, outside of the comforting blanket of those who will love you despite everything – because everything is exactly what you are to them. When those people are not around every day, well – you’re on your own, kid!
In those first few weeks by myself, I would go for long walks to clear my head and hope to find some passing pedestrian who I could even say hello to. I craved the company of other people and counted the days down to the weekend when I could spend time with my family.
I cried. A lot. I missed my family so much that it hurt physically for me to think about them. I am sure that I did a terrible job of pretending I was fine when I spoke to them, as much as they did a terrible job of pretending their lives were fine suddenly without us in it. It was all very false, but absolutely necessary to get us all through such this emotionally turbulent time.
Hopefully, you will walk beside me as I begin to recount the highs, the lows and the in-betweens of the amazing and exhausting times that our emigration has presented to us.
Please feel free to comment on this blog entry – I am always delighted to hear what you think, whatever your viewpoint.