Can I Be Honest? This is not about being an expat, its about being a woman….
Can I be honest? Well, of course I CAN…but do I really want to? Everyone always loves to know the truth. Everyone always appreciates knowing what’s really going on, deep down. There’s something very appealing to us all when someone shares the raw, honest truth in life. Well, today, on this kinda gray, cloudy, windy morning, I’m feeling kinda blue. To be honest, this feeling has been brewing for a little while now. Just simmering inside, as I’ve been quietly trying to process exactly what is going on for me. I can’t say that I’m totally convinced that It’s just ‘one’ specific thing making me feel a little unsettled lately. I’m nearly 49 years old and entering into that time in a woman’s life when hormones are playing havoc with my head, emotions are crazy and ….who’s body is this anyways? I mean, sheesh! I look in the mirror and try to be calm about all these changes but, come on! Wasn’t it enough to have gone through adolescence….now I have to go through menopause!!! Crap! I hope you don’t find this post to be whiny, or annoying…but , if you do… well, then just stop reading right about NOW….cuz’ I’ve only just begun! Hah!
I’ve spent a better part of my life , 30 years to be exact, working closely with women. So, I’ve watched multitudes of women in my life go through this ‘change of life’ time. They all talk about it in great detail as their bodies betray them in so many ways. Some of my female friends find at a certain age, that they have to change many things about how they live their lives when they reach the age of Menopause. They all tell me to have my bone density checked because apparently our bones lose their ability to be as flexible as they used to be, making it easy to break them, Oh joy!. Some of my female friends have had to …GASP….stop drinking red wine! Yikes! There is apparently something in red wine specifically, that causes headaches and other unpleasant symptoms…Oh gawd!! I have dreaded facing the loss of my precious glass (or two or three) of red wine in the evenings! Not me! Noooo! I really, really don’t want to give that up…But…I hate to tell you, I’ve woken up a few times lately with a pounding headache! Ugh! In my life I normally very rarely have headaches…why is this happening now! It just can’t be my wine, please…I beg my body not to do that to me. And the crying…I seem to cry at the drop of a pin! Sheeeesh! What the heck is wrong with me! My emotions are a wreck. I swear! That and my tolerance for certain things that my favorite person in the whole wide world, Scott, occasionally does, just angers and annoys me to no end! This is not ME! I’m not fast to anger or to annoyance! Never have been…why now? Hah! And…the BIG one…The one symptom that I have witnessed every older girlfriend of mine go through….and I can’t even believe it’s happening to me….yep…HOT FLASHES!!!! Whaaaaaat! What is happening to me??? Is this my imagination or is it getting really really hot in here all of a sudden??? @$!?…. Scott is learning to say,” Yes, dear, it is kinda warm in here!” Lest I glare at him with a new look of disgust…Pfffffft!
So, yes, I know we all go through this. I know it’s all normal and natural. And I know I will have to begin to face the reality that I may have to make some healthier choices in my life. (and by ‘healthier’ I don’t necessarily mean giving up on my red wine!) I must say that compared to much earlier generations of women , I feel like we are so fortunate to be able to talk openly about all these unavoidable changes that go on with our bodies at about this time in our lives. It really helps to know that its not just me. And to hear all my friends talk about so many different ways to make all these things a little less intolerable. I’ve been expecting you Menopause! I knew you’d be coming, I just kinda thought maybe, just maybe, for me…you’d be a little less invasive. That somehow, for me….these changes would all be a little less severe. That I would be the exception, and my body would not change as much as everyone else’s! Hah! No, it looks like I get to go through all the same annoying things as all my friends who went before me.
And… you know that, “Honest” part I mentioned in the beginning of this post? Well, you see, the thing is…I’m feeling kinda sad and unhappy at the moment. Ugh! Okay…I said it… You gotta know how hard it is for me to put that out there. Now, I’m probably gonna get a bunch of worried emails and comments…don’t worry too much, please. I think I’m just having a bit of a transition period at the moment. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. You see, I’ve spent all my life being such a giving, helping person, surrounded by so many people who need me. My job provided me with so much gratification in so many different ways. I was satisfied artistically, socially, and emotionally. At the moment I don’t feel like I have anything quite so fulfilling in my life here . Something, some perfect opportunity will eventually come into my life, I know this. Right now it could just be that the universe is providing me time to think about myself for a change, instead of my usual tendency to give so much of myself to others. I’m very likely learning to provide for Holly and focusing on me isnt what I’m accustomed to doing. I’m not asking for advice or for answers to fix what I’m going through, I’m just sharing a moment in my life. I’m sure I’ll figure it all out eventually. I’ll find a way to find my purpose in this new life. Up until very recently I had just spent so much time rejoicing in my new, less stressful life. But somehow gradually and very recently, I’m beginning to feel kinda purposeless. Is this what it feels like to ‘drift’ along, without much purpose to your days? Well, it’s really not gonna last long for me, cuz’ somehow something will come my way that just speaks to me. And wham! I’ll suddenly realize, I’ve found my place…
Have you ever been in a place like this before? I haven’t, its new to me! I’ve always had something to focus on that had meaning and purpose. I had School, work, friends, clients, co workers, a book club, a garden to care for, a daughter, a husband, a business to run a house to maintain. I know I will soon have a house to care for, and I have lots of new friends, my cat, Scott…but none of these things really need much from me. And I don’t feel as though I have much to contribute in any substantial way that makes me feel especially useful. The most useful I feel these days is feeding the hummingbirds, the neighborhood dogs my cat, and Scott….hah! Its true! I’ve written about my joy and pleasure at not ‘having’ to go to work and not having the stress of the financial burdens of life in CA. Now that I’ve settled into this life of very little burden and stress, I’m also searching in my heart for ….now what. Sigh…Its not a matter of being bored, for those of you who had asked me what I would do and wondered if I might be bored. It’s not boredom that I’m struggling with , its finding a sense of purpose that fulfills me. Its not that I don’t have friends, because I feel so very satisfied with my circle of friends that I’ve managed to nurture here. I have so many wonderful people in my life here , people who make me feel so cared about and who warm my heart to no end. NO, this sadness and I’m talking about is not about boredom or loneliness. I do wonder if some of this period of transition is being exasperated by these hormonal upheavals that my body is going through…I’m much more emotional than I ever remember being in my lifetime.
You may also be thinking , “With that huge construction project, how can she possibly be complaining about not feeling useful?”…well, realistically the project is Scott’s passion, I mean, Its wonderful to build and design a house together but I’m just on the sidelines really. Its not my passion and I am not capable (or especially interested for that matter), of physically doing much on the construction site. I painted, and I make lunch, pick up the guys from town, take them back down the hill at the end of the day. I got to pick out all the light fixtures early on, and help in the initial design work…but it’s Scotts baby for the most part. Everyday he’s making decisions that I know nothing about. In the evenings he gets on his computer and researches all sorts of technical things about the project and sends off emails to different professionals about details I know nothing about nor do I especially care about . Scott is in his element, I am not. Scott enjoys the process, me, not so much. I mean, I love the outcome and I’m incredibly proud of him, but I don’t get much satisfaction from the day to day aspects of what he’s doing. I can’t imagine doing it any other way because its so incredibly rewarding to have created our home ourselves. But let’s be real, there’s only so much I can do most of the time.
In sharing my experiences of expatriating I’ve always wanted to be honest and real. I know I share more than many people would ever feel comfortable sharing. But, that’s just the kind of person I’ve always been. I mean, what the heck, I’m not really sharing anything so different. Don’t we all go through phases of our lives when we want to change and grow and who among us has not had periods of feeling unsettled? I don’t think what I’m going through is unique to expatriating or unique to retirement in general. I think I’m going through one of life’s many periods of natural transitions. I think it’s good to stop and look at our life on occasion and to say,”is this all there is?”. I see no harm in admitting to you that right now, right in this moment, I’m not especially happy or satisfied with what I’ve got going on in my life. Yes, I’m feeling rather unsettled and unsatisfied. Not feeling especially rewarded by much going on in my day to day life right now. But just because I’m sitting here with my laptop on my lap, talking about all this not so pleasant junk that is going through my mind today , that doesn’t mean that tomorrow I just might wake up and feel totally different. I mean….I did mention that I’m an emotional wreck at the moment, right? And….is it getting awfully HOT in here right now??? Ugh!! Someone open a window!! Sheesh! It’s sooo annoying! Hah! In spite of all that I just told you….Life is good! And I wouldn’t want to be anywhere but right here looking out my window at the majestic Volcan Baru, watching the gloomy morning turn into a bright, clear, sunny day!