I consider myself to be a rather resilient, adaptable person. I’ve lived in other countries for periods of a year before where the native language was NOT English, where I knew few people, if any. I think this is why I hadn’t stopped to recall the specifics of those experiences or think of what this massive change in my life would look like on a day to day basis. I’ve been here for two weeks as of yesterday, and that’s when reality sucker punched me in the gut.
It bore a clever disguise of a typical homework assignment which I didn’t blink an eye at initially. We were to audio tape a 15 minute conversation with someone with a given topic, select a 5 minute section, write a transcription, and bring it to class so we could all go over it. A girl I had started getting to know at the interview and then again at orientation had agreed to help me with mine since I knew few people here. Everything was going fine until she bailed on me yesterday. At first, I laughed about it. I have a handful of very good friends – it’s just that none of them happen to be here. As the minutes passed on, and I scrambled to try to think of a way to resolve my situation, though, I found myself confronting the fact that I felt very much alone.
As in life where juggling a variety of different stressors seems to resemble a game of Jenga, this was the one that sent the whole tower collapsing. I hadn’t really ever thought of how alone I was, how many changes to my life the move with which I was now faced in such a concrete way had created. In talking with a friend, I realized that the only things that have remained constant throughout this process are the fact that it’s my stuff in my apartment and my cat is here. Literally everything else is different. Furthermore, I have been deprived of my usual stress outlets – my kickboxing and karate classes. For me, those classes are not about violence or working out aggression. They are my means of focusing 100% on what I am doing in that moment and letting the rest of the world fall away. That break from thinking about the many other things going on in my life plus the exercise factor help me to calm down, and view my situation from a refreshed and different perspective.
I had a dream that an ex was in last night. This ex embodies many life and love lessons I learned through a great deal of pain and difficulty. Four to six years off and on that culminated in me successfully and permanently extricating him from my life (after a couple tries). We had beyond an intense connection. I identified numerous lives we’d shared previously. No one has hurt me the way he did, I have vowed that no one will ever hurt me that much again, but I have also probably never been as close to anyone as I was him. He has shown up in a couple dreams over the past few weeks, but last night’s dream had the greatest impact. Through the combination of just letting the dream float around in my subconscious and a discussion in class that acted as a trigger, I determined its significance. The discussion in class today was regarding how much we take for granted little things that are familiar to us. I recalled living in France as a student and taking a day trip to Germany with my roommate and another girl (none of us really spoke German), how difficult and completely exhausting it was on numerous levels, and how relieved we felt to get back into France where we could communicate, where we lived, where we were surrounded by things we knew. During some much-needed tub time this evening, I realized that I feel that way here. And then the connection was made that pulled together my dream, my feelings that this homework assignment provoked, and today’s class discussion. Shortly following that, a somewhat scary thought hit me: if my ex miraculously (and it really would be a miracle) showed up on my doorstep this evening, despite everything I’ve been through with him, I would probably welcome the sight simply because it is familiar. Because it is known.
And now I am faced with the question of, how do I adapt to a totally new environment? I know I can because I’ve done it before, but, unfortunately, I can’t remember how I did it – how I managed to get through the days until I was comfortably adjusted to my new circumstances. I am one of those people who has a few close friends – not many friends that aren’t close. And I don’t make those close friends quickly, either. Yes, I’ll figure it out. Yes, it will get better and “work out” in the end. But what am I to do until then?