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ABANDONMENT ISSUES
One of the things that I have found most difficult, especially as I grow older, is the transitional state of friendship in my life. As a military brat, YOU are the one who is moving, and everyone else is moving as well, so you're all in the same boat, and you grow quickly used to having to make friends fast. No one has to bear the stigma of being the "new kid in school" because EVERYONE is the new kid in school at some point, or most of the time, and as long as you stay within the military-dependent circle, none of it matters.

However, it IS a strain and after awhile, a hardship, not to be able to keep friends longer than 3-4 years. I managed it with one person but even so we struggle to keep in touch and have no daily context to float our friendship in any longer.

As an adult expat no longer cocooned within the military community, it's even harder. Now I'm settled or, at least, settling, and each time someone that I've invested time and friendship moves on, it's crushing. Sometimes it's just a little crunch, but other times I can feel my heart contracting, and wonder why it hurts every time when people leave. Like they're leaving ME personally. I can almost feel that little snap as the invisible connection between us retracts and pulls back into my heart.

It's not like I don't understand or even sympathize with the reasons. People DO move. They move on. They move out. They get new jobs or get tired of it and go home. I can hardly complain about others moving considering how many times I've moved in my life and how many people I have left behind. I suppose a great deal of it has to do with being the one left behind, and the envy that goes along with it.

A good friend of mine has been having a hard time in Sweden lately and is making plans to move home with her children for 6 months. Her husband is staying here because of work but will be visiting them several times. She hasn't lived in her native country for over 17 years and is sure that this is the best time to do this, before the kids get any older, while all the pieces are in the right places. Her kids will go to an English-speaking school for nearly a year and be close to her family and have a chance to see what life is like on the other side. I think that she is incredibly lucky to have this opportunity and to seize it. Frankly, I'm envious.

She knows that she and her family have a really good life here, but she wants her children to experience a year at home with HER traditions and HER culture and HER family and friends. When she said that she had something to tell me, I knew immediately that she was leaving, and could not stop myself from thinking, no!...no, don't leave me. I've gotten so used, throughout my life, to being the one that is doing the leaving, that I don't know how to be the one that is left behind.

Any time that I or the children mention moving to the States, I can see panic in my mother-in-law's eyes. We have no plans to do so, or to move anywhere else, for that matter, but the thought is always sort of in the back of my head, a military-brat legacy that I cannot root out and am not sure I would root out even if I could. I can understand her fears; they are getting old and the language and the distance are huge issues. I can't help thinking that it's not fair that MY mom doesn't get a chance to live closer to her grandchildren, though. Or that my children have such few chances to get to know their other cousins, my sister's children. There are no easy answers or easy choices when you are married to someone from another country. The alternatives are just as difficult on the other side. Someone always has to be the expat.
 okay
mood: okay
music: Sammy Davis Jr—Candy Man


Comments

Well, it is only six months, but I do understand what you're saying, having done a fair bit of leaving myself, and having been left too.

I'd ask who it is, but I'm not sure I could even place a face to the name! :)

:) I've promised not to say who it is until the plans are firm, anyway. The 6 month thing is a relief, although I already have at least 2 other friends who moved home for "only a year" and ended up staying permanently.

I understand too. Dunno if it's any consolation, since I'm still kinda far from you, but I'm here for the long haul. And I'm planning on coming to visit again!

That's what's so nice about LJ and all my online friends. You are HERE in a way that is sometimes more real than the real-life friends I have here. I "talk" or interact with you nearly every day, and even if you DID move, you'd still be HERE, if you know what I mean. But it IS a consolation, and I appreciate it, and I can't wait to see you again! We will be planning a trip up there some time too, just don't know when at this point. I hope you'll consider coming down for the AWC Regional Sept 10-12, too :)

I think I'll be in Idaho visiting family right then, but if not, I'll try. :)

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

The only nice thing is that these days it really IS so much easier to stay in touch...online journaling like LJ, IM, email is an amazing help to long-distance friendships, even though you both still have to be committed to keeping up your ends. :)

the first line of the song i've been listening to for the last couple days non stop is:

Leaving is the longest word I've ever learned.
in the time it takes to say it, the whole world has turned.

change is always traumatic... but more so when it's beyond your control. *hugs*

Who sings that song? Maybe I could use it for the regional I'm going to sing at. Change is traumatic, even when part of me craves it. Thanks

it's by Alison Krauss ... Deeper Than Crying

here's the lyrics:

Leaving is the longest word I ever learned
In the time it takes to say it, the whole world has turned
If a heartbeat lasts a lifetime then I've lived before
`cause I remember standing at this open door

This path is not the one I'd choose to travel
Even as we watch what tied us unravel
And the tears fall like rain
Deeper than crying, the loving still remains

Neither wants to be the one to say goodbye
And neither wants to be the one who's left to cry
But in our secret heart of hearts we both know
That the time for patching up has passed and it's time to go

This path is not the one I'd choose to travel
Even as we watch what tied us unravel
And the tears fall like rain
Deeper than crying, the loving still remains

So I'll be the one to pull our tangled lives apart
I won't dodge the angry words that hide a broken heart
And my calm fare-thee-wells cannot obscure
That deep inside, my heart is also hurtin' so

This path is not the one I'd choose to travel
Even as we watch what tied us unravel
And the tears fall like rain
Deeper than crying, the loving still remains

thank you! I'll have to see if I can hunt down an MP3 online.

just emailed it to you :)

YOU are a darling dear!!

drat it. mail returned. i think it might be too big for your box...

did you send it to my LJ or hotmail address? try this one instead: lizardek at lizardek dot com

looks like it went through this time :) you'll have to let me know if you like it. it's not my usual style, but i really enjoy it. somehow it's hooking into my "creavite zone" this week.

It's never easy to be the one "left behind" and as you say, it happens a lot when you live as an expat. I've lost count of the friends who have moved back home - and some of them I was really close to. It leaves a hole that is hard to fill. No answers here, but I do empathise.

The point you make about your mum is a very valid one. While your MIL panics at the thought of you leaving, what must it be like for your own mum who is missing out on that same contact.

It really sucks, because she's missing out on SO much :( I hate it that she's so far away. And even though she's younger, being in her middle 60s while Anders' parents are in the middle/late 70s, that won't last much longer :( I'm just grateful that she HAS been able to travel as much as she has to visit us. Otherwise, I don't know what I would do.

It does feel strange to see people come and go in the short few years that I've been here. As for friends that I left back in the US, I've been through the moving and having to start all over with friendships enough times to know that it wasn't ever going to be the same once I moved here so it hurt a little less than some people who've never been through it. I can't imagine having children without access to both families. It seems horribly hard to sort out emotionally and to accomplish gracefully without strong pulls in both directions.

It IS horribly hard sometimes, you are so right. There is a lot more conscious effort involved in keeping absent family members familiar to the kids, through stories and photos and phone calls. But none of it really replaces BEING TOGETHER.

I think living away from your family period is difficult. When we flew 2500+ miles home to visit out family I was struck by how different the east coast is from the west. My mom laments often about how much she is missing with her only grandchild and I now agree with her. You can only cram so much into them visiting us for 1 week and we visiting them for 2 each year.

I can't even imagine how you feel when one of your friends moves back to the US- it must be devastating.

It really sucks, that's for sure. My best friend here moved to Sydney 3 years ago and I STILL miss that connection we had. I have another good friend that will probably move back to the States within a couple of years because she wants to be near her family when she has kids, and the thought just kills me even NOW. 2 weeks a years is just not enough, you are so right.

When my older sister moved to MN from California two years ago with her family (4 children + husband), we all went through serious with-drawls. It's still quite painful, not to be able to see her face...and to miss watching her children grow up. What is nice though...we talk more now over the phone now than we ever did. Distance has brought us closer in that sense.

I could only imagine it would be a 100x harder if it were a cross continent move.

You're right, the distance DOES bring you closer in some ways than ever before. My siblings and I have always lived far away from each other but the phone and email connections keep us really close. I think it bothers me more having kids that THEY won't have the close connection to MY family that I would like them to have and that my sister's children (and my brother's potential children) won't have a close connection to MINE. I suppose that's natural in some ways, but it still bothers me.

I've always had my bestfriends move away which made me not want to be close to anyone. I mean I do want to, but I choose not to for the most part. And then when I have finally let my guard down, the people end up being completely strange making me wish I'd go back to my guarded ways. Ho-hum.

heh :) I know what you mean about not wanting to be close to anyone for fear of them moving away. People ARE strange, but sometimes they're worth it. :)

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