Growing Pains

I had a small breakdown the other night. It involved tears, closed bathroom doors and small voices so that Luisa, David’s mom, wouldn’t hear. Maybe it was from the physical exhaustion of moving the boxes, maybe it was the permanency that the arrival of the boxes symbolized, maybe it was frustration from yet another day fighting to understand the simplest of sentences, maybe it was feelings of self doubt about whether I was doing my best to be the best daughter-in-law possible, maybe it was feeling far from home and the fact that being with David’s family makes me miss my own. And most likely it was the combination of all of that that made me surrender to a small moment of complete self pity.

It came like a wave and I couldn’t keep my head above the crashing water. I’ve only just recently understood what a big decision it was to move to Spain. The whole time leading up to the move, I couldn’t even imagine what life would be like on the other side. Having never lived in Spain, having never spent so much time with David’s dad and stepmom, having never been without a full time job to keep me occupied and my account replenished, the idea of moving to Spain was an exciting one but the actual reality of it was hard to grasp.

Now, two months in and with a second room full of boxes, the reality of it all is setting in. We’re not visiting, we’re here to stay. Learning Spanish is not an extracurricular activity, it’s a necessity. The number of times I’ll see my family will be reduced drastically. Being near in-laws is great but it’s different when it’s on a more full time basis than simply one week once a year.

And as the wave crashed over me that night, the tears came. And David listened. And he consoled me that he too had had some of the same feelings at times when he first came to California. He reminded me of the time that he got upset after we asked him to take a family photo for that year’s Christmas card. He wasn’t upset about doing it, but it did make him feel apart and far from his own family. And suddenly I saw things so differently because it gave me such a different understanding of that moment as well as all of the special holidays when I had been so happy to be with family and he must have been so missing his own. He had acted weird at times and I could never understand it… until now. Sometimes it’s not until you live through the same experience to truly understand the feelings and reactions of others.

And he was ready to pack the bags, put the boxes back on the boat and get out of here, but I assured him that it was a passing moment of weakness and that it’s completely normal. Moving to another country is bound to have its ups and downs. Being out of my comfort zone is certain to have its moments of difficulty. It’s experiences, challenges and moments like this when you grow as a person. I’m just in the middle of some growing pains. That’s all.

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9 responses to “Growing Pains

  1. Sara-
    You are so brave and strong to admit that life is not a box of chocolates at every moment! All of your concerns are valid. I am glad David took the time to carefully listen to you (in English, I assume!). You two make a good team. I hope life will quickly return to normal (no mother in law, no extra spending, no living out of boxes) very soon! Now, you just need to take a Spanish immersion class and practice those sentences!! I miss you! Call me ANYTIME!!!

  2. It certainly isn’t easy doing what you’re doing. I can imagine moving to Paris was easier simply because you had a grasp of the language. You’re lucky to have someone (David!) who understands what you’re going through. That way, you’re not completely alone.

  3. Oh Sara, first of all big hug to you! Second, everything your feeling is perfectly normal, especially considering the distance. Everything will work out friend! Its only been two months(unbelievable) your feet are just getting wet, in time things will change, no doubt, for the better. Hang in there!!! Call if you want or need to talk.

  4. Well it certainly doesn’t help to have a sister complaining quite loudly about a lack of attention from afar! Now I feel guilty for adding extra pressure but the truth is I have growing pains too -having to get by without the daily consultation of my sis (while she stays busy keeping her in-law from bingo!) I know I should say “stick it out” but I can be selfish so just say the word & I’ll arrange a ticket to your other home – first class 😉

  5. Hi Sara,

    We too want and need to hug you up! Your sad words made US feel far away friom you too. We can also fully appreciate how lonely and far away David must have felt when you and he were living with us in Laguna Niguel. Please know that we continue to be very proud of you for all that you are going through – it must be so very difficult, especially with the language situation.

    We send you much love and please know that you (and David) are always very much in our hearts!

    Love, Dad

    I wonder even more if I could ever bare my soul in a blog as you are in yours – so brave and genuine a soul you are! Of course my heart is bleeding with yours! I looked at your 6 year old photo hanging in Mama’s room today and wondered how you grew up so fast and so strong. I think I must have been going through a similar crisis when I asked you to mail me that Blueberry cereal when I was teaching in Shanghai.

    Love, Mom

  6. Andrea Henderson

    Hi Sara,

    I can feel through your words the homesickness, the loneliness and the fears you are facing.

    I am glad you are able to put your emotions in writing. It is so healthy for you to do this. Writing about your feelings is so cleansing for the mind and the soul and helps one to put their life in perspective.

    Through such intense feelings you know you are ALIVE & really LIVING LIFE. Change can be so scary and difficult. But the life lessons learned are to be treasured and shared, and that is exactly what you are doing.

    I feel humbled to be able to share with you your pain.

    I want to encourage you to keep writing and maybe you might be able to sell your short stories (blogs) to magazines like Reader’s Digest or Ladies Home Journal etc. Trust yourself & remeber the answer to all the daunting questions come from within.

    Peace Be With You! (and David)

    Lots of Love — Cousin Andrea

  7. Ah, I can relate to this so much. You are such a beautiful writer. I can see you two and hear the conversation. Man, I can relate to this too. I had so many breakdowns this this in Germany. Once I even lost it and balled my eyes out in front of one of my boyfriends’ friends. He was very understanding and we talked it out. But, oh, it’s so hard. I just love David even more for offering to pack up to make you happy. What a great guy!

  8. Sara,

    I can feel your pain as well… It takes me back to my first year in France, when I showed up and didn’t know even the most rudimentary French, and got stuck in a little village far away from civilization (AND people who could speak English.) Luckily, you are appreciating the help you’re getting, via David and others… And from the outpourings here, you have to know that no matter HOW far away you are, there are many of us who love you and support you. Keep your head up, girl.

    (BTW, I read once the ten (or eight?) stages of coping with moving to a foreign country… I think the feelings you are having right now are 100% on-track!) 🙂

    Love you, girl!

  9. Thanks for all of the comforting words and encouragement! I’m lucky to have such amazing friends and family and appreciate all the support from across the Atlantic!

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