Our major life change was meticulously planned, the aim was for both of us to work less and for life to get simpler by living in Spain. Both of us had lost friends and family, and had our own health scares, so we wanted to live the dream whilst we could, without waiting until we got to retirement age. We’re now in our fourth month living in Spain, in the fortunate position that my husband works less hours than he used to, and I don’t have to work at all. We are what you’d say, “living the dream”. Physically I am much better off for it, with all the outdoor living, sunshine, exercise, fresh produce, healthy meals, less stress…. but mentally I’m struggling.
I can hear you now. “Why?” I can see those eyes rolling too as you say something like “Get a grip, you’re living the dream, I will swap places with you in a heartbeat. What on earth do you have to struggle with?”
My life has certainly changed for the better and I am loving it for sure, but surprisingly it hasn’t been as easy as I imagined it would be. Despite my Instagram posts of sunny smiley pics and quotes, my thoughts and emotions aren’t always in sync with those. You only see what I want you to see. Change can indeed be intimating and can induce FEAR.
Be in no doubt, FEAR can present itself at anytime, anywhere… even where the sun is shining, and the Sangria is flowing.
We planned the move itself down to the finest detail, planned financially, but nothing helps you to plan emotionally and psychologically. We have just been through a huge life event, during which I appear to have lost my identity!
My last daughter flew the nest a few months before our move, all girls now happily carving their own lives… my motherly role, as expected, was downscaled. Of course, I want them to be independent strong women, but equally I want them to still need me, but they are thankfully blossoming, and I'm no longer needed as I once was. Without a shadow of a doubt, I'm always there for them and would fiercely defend them, but I’m no longer the one who wipes their tears and hugs them to sleep. I underestimated what an emotional rollercoaster I was in for. It was only yesterday that my girls were smearing baby food around their faces and getting soggy rusk stuck in their hair. I’ve nearly fostered a dog ten times over, so that I can bestow all this pent-up motherly love and instincts. Empty nest is a real thing ladies! My focus is now on what we as a couple want from our lives. I know that I would probably have these feelings despite where I lived. This is what women around the world must learn to accept when their cubs have grown and are in the big wide world making their own dens. Moving so soon after my daughter did, just amplfies becoming the spectator in their lifes.
Although not having to work was excitedly anticipated before the move, it is rather difficult to adapt to after 30 years. Initially there’s a sense of freedom and I was ecstatic... then came the downer. Guilt popped by to say hello, as did anxiety and sometimes boredom. I got good at suppressing my emotions and tried to ignore the feelings that came knocking. I was once a committed and dedicated employee, with the last 8 years devoted to running my own business too. I felt I made a difference and that I had gained many friends from those years, some almost family to me. I felt like a large piece of me had died when that stopped. Who am I now? What do I do? How do I replace that lost sense of achievement? How can I contribute financially? I need to do something don’t I? Do I deserve this? What will others think? What’s my purpose?
I know. I can do anything. With my diary now empty there’s plenty of time to focus on what I want, right? BAM! There’s FEAR creeping in again. What do I really want to do? What am I good at, other than being a mum and working? What If I am crap at anything new that I try?
FEAR. I hate the way it stops you from growing as a person. It can make you want to hide away.
I trained myself to prioritise my day, becoming busy and quickly filling my diary just so I had something planned, a purpose, a plan. I couldn’t possibly have blank spaces in my electronic diary, that would have been a big no-no a few months ago, warning sirens would have gone off and I would feel like I was failing as a business. It’s taken until now and some wise words from my husband to finally become more accepting that I need to relax and stop planning so much. Can you believe that I have not read one book yet, and this is the first real writing that I have done! I haven't even sat long enough to drink a glass of wine and enjoy the view without jumping up and pottering in the garden, because I feel that I should be doing something, anything. I need to contribute. I need to be of value. I need to be something to someone.
I need to stop avoiding myself, stopping long enough to explore what I truly want and who I want to be. I am going to start by not worrying about what others think (I have always been a people pleaser!) and stop putting myself under pressure to be someone I’m not anymore. I have decided to relax in the-here-and-now and allow myself to experience the emotions I feel and develop the new me. It is time to focus inward and accept the new life that we have created for ourselves. I want to write more, walk more and embrace the contentment that comes from being true to me (even when I am scared)
Fear is a powerful emotion which is complex and very personal to the person experiencing it, I know that mine is from a loss of control. The loss of control as a mum; the loss of a daily structure; the loss of financial independence; uncertainty of the future. I can either let it take control of me or I can accept it and move on. Like the Ultra Challenges and Abseil completed in the past. I am going to Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway!