Lately I have found myself comparing the process of an international relocation to that of childbirth. You forget how intensive it is and how much it hurts. And so, months or years later you merrily embark on the adventure again.
I’m sitting in my car outside yet another apartment, waiting to go in for a viewing. I’m bawling like a 5-year-old. Shouting out loud to myself and the Fates that this is just too hard. That I’ve lost faith in myself. That I don’t really know what I’m doing anymore. Despite having viewed some twenty properties in the past six months, all perfectly adequate, some even more than adequate, I’m still waiting for that gut feeling that says: ‘you’re home’. Over the years I have learned to trust my inner compass and I know what happens when I don’t listen. Yet today, here in the car, I lose faith completely. Maybe I’m just a spoiled brat that wants a BMW for the price of a Fiat. Maybe I am making too big a deal of this ‘gut feeling’ and should settle for common sense. Maybe I really don’t know what I am doing, incompetence personified.
Through the noise of my inner questioning, I hear my father gently saying, “I trust you Lysanne, you can trust you too”. Helpful, yes, but I wish he was here physically to guide me. That’s how small I am feeling. And I know he would have loved the place I am about to view. But right now, I feel very alone and very single in this endeavor. I am laid low by the fear of not getting it right and time beginning to run away with me. While at the same time, fearing that this time pressure is scrambling my inner radar. And I am sitting with an overwhelming fear of experiencing yet another disappointment. And yet, as I told my son and daughter-in-law, I need to make this decision on my own, so I can be free to feel into it properly.
My friend and former husband used to tell me that I would be much happier if I didn’t have such high expectations. Because then I wouldn’t be so disappointed either. Spoken from the heart as he often felt he was the target of many of my expectations and subsequent disappointments! But his proposed worldview would break my heart, because to me, having no hope or expectation in life, spells a life that is bleak and stagnant.
Eventually I found the teaching that integrates his rather pessimistic view of life with my overly optimistic, the Buddhist teaching of non-attachment. You can hope, you can even desire, because that’s what keeps us moving forward, but you must remain unattached to the outcome. Relinquishing control. That way you don’t get in the way of the evolutionary flow, allowing yourself to float along with the tides in a manner that takes you to exactly where you need to be.
Pulling myself a little bit more together, I try to hold my fearful expectation and disappointment cycle and then reframe it. I express a gentle hope that when I walk through the door of this apartment, I might feel that I am coming home. But allowing for it not to be so. Holding it lightly to give space to the gods to point me in another direction. After all, the last time I moved country I was on my way to France to retire with my Swedish husband, despite the fact that my inner compass was pointing in a totally different direction. And sure enough, I ended up divorced on a houseboat in Holland. And it all worked out fine.
I try and reach back to the optimistic and ‘stupidly brave’ Lysanne from the beginning of this year.
Neighbour: “You’re moving to Sweden? Oh my God, you’re so brave!”
Lysanne: fluttering my arms about gaily, “Oh, I have moved so many times in my life, including international moves, it’s really no big deal. It’s not brave, I just don’t see so many dangers on the road.” Famous last effing words!
But it was that April version of myself that had stood at this very spot eight months ago, looking at the beautiful little castle in front of me and telling my daughter-in-law, who has an uncanny knack of ‘knowing’ before the rest of us do, that I would give my right arm to live in one of the apartments there. And then I understand the tears and the regression to my five-year-old self. What if, walking into this secretly longed for property, I will feel flat and lacking in enthusiasm? This is a big deal.
So here I am, another cycle, another roll of the dice. And now that the autumn storm of emotions has passed through me, I wipe my eyes, blow my nose, and walk with a steady pace towards what may be my new future. Holding it lightly. Giving plenty of space for head, heart and gut to align, or not, as the case may be.
Lysanne Sizoo, international Mental Health specialist
With over two decades of experience, Lysanne Sizoo specializes in assisting expatriates, international professionals, and global nomads facing mental health challenges. Her professional journey has taken her to the United Kingdom, Sweden, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. While her practice is set to relocate to Stockholm by the end of 2024, she continues to serve a diverse clientele through online consultations.
Living away from one’s native country comes with its unique set of psychological hurdles, alongside the everyday ups and downs of life. This holds true for global nomads, cross-cultural adults, and children alike.
In the upcoming months, Lysanne will share her insights through blog articles and by addressing readers’ concerns. She will also chronicle her personal journey as she returns to Sweden after a decade in her home country.
If you have specific topics or issues that you’d like Lysanne to explore in her articles, please reach out via the contact form on this website or directly through her personal website. Rest assured, your privacy and confidentiality will be upheld.