Updated: Nov 18, 2019
I don't know how I find it, but I do!
What is it that's within me, enabling me to keep moving?
The love of my long time friend and husband of three decades? Yes, I guess so.
Am I at the end of it? Pretty much, yes, yet here we are, looking at rentals for a local move in January and also planning a long distance renovation in France for 2020. With all that has gone before, I'm very excited about finally finding, a bit of solid ground in France, from which to build a REAL life.
I do find myself having to breathe very deeply these days and as soon as he mentions either a job change or house/country move, I pretty much loose it for a few weeks. Who wouldn't?
Whilst reading our newest recruit, Leah Wong's inaugural blog about the spouses that give up EVERYTHING, to blindly follow the 'career' person in the relationship, I found myself recognizing a kindred spirit! It was so refreshing! I found my self nodding along in agreement and wanting to give her a huge hug! Thank you Leah for opening up the conversation about the shadow expat spouses. Resilient folk, aren't we!
Women and Men like us are quite frankly SELFLESS in the extreme. The choice isn't really a choice and the moves don't come with an abundance of gifts initially, in fact they do cost us greatly. They cost us our friends and family, of course. Jobs, hopes and dreams, often. These moves do eventually give us something back, of course, but the in-between times are very unsettling. I agree. It takes a year or more to start settling and possibly another two years to feel at home again. We get there in the end.
When I had my last child nearly 18 years ago, my man and I agreed a pact. I would end my civil service career and bring up the baby at home, along with the other two by myself. Often it was by myself as he was soon back abroad working for a crust!
Giving up work meant finally, giving up the stress of balancing work with childcare and all the problems it was causing our little family. There was also the cost of childcare to consider, of course. I don't believe it's gotten any cheaper and is a problem all families, especially women, face.
When I found myself surprisingly pregnant for the third time (still don't know how that happened!), I found myself not wanting to try and 'have it all' anymore. I just wanted to be present for my children and influence how they developed and I did. No regrets there, but one year turned into the next and many moves later, I found myself left behind in the career stakes. Yes, I've always managed to keep myself very well occupied and busy, sure, but now the kids are grown and the nest is very barren, yet his career, still takes centre stage. I've honestly invested a lot of me in him, to the point of near exclusion of myself.
I found writing and blogging a great way to de stress and I know my blog platforms have also helped many folks settle in abroad, find friends and move forward positively. My 'warts an all' approach is what people need. They need to know it's not easy for everyone and they don't want me to gloss over the difficult bits. Not everything works out how you would have imagined and there is no one more surprised than I, that my journey to France and back again has been so full of drama.
When I arrived in France with my newest blog, Clare was the first to contact me. She had been in France just a few months and also needed an anchor. Then Sheryl joined us and the dye was cast. I've made many good friends under the UnFrench banner, many I have yet to meet!
It's really good to take stock and remember where we started and how far we have come, together. UnFrench hasn't lost its attraction and has established itself as a community hub for EXPATS and MIGRANTS from all over the world. This makes me very happy and eager to keep going and I now know my moves have not been in vain. My purpose is to build communities. Thats who I am.
We have together launched many fledgling businesses into the lime light, who would otherwise have struggled to get a foot hold in France. The team continues to build with Clare now my partner in crime and next March, we will be 3 years old! It's gone so fast!
We've now added a Group to run along side the main Facebook page which also seems to be doing really well. Many people asked me what the 'UN' stood for and finally we settled on 'United' or 'United Nations' of expat and migrant France, which I feel really is what we are about. Inclusive not exclusive and very much open the dreamers and of course our hosts, the French. Most of all, UnFrench has given me a wonderfully wise friendship circle in France and there's no greater gift than that, eh?
The next year will whizz by, so if you are new to France and struggling a bit, give yourself the gift of time and reach out to our community asking for help! They just love to assist each other and will point you in the right direction, I promise you!