While we live abroad, things back home change. People change, their life stories change, and we change too. For us, time stands still, as we are “removed from reality”, but for those left behind, life naturally moves on and changes.
Those changes can only be seen when we remove ourselves from the everyday life of the people in question. Friends and family change over time; they will have their own stories to tell, stories we are not really part of. We cling onto moments that we shared together, only to find ourselves repeating the old stories.
We hear the new stories, but we cannot “feel them”. We were not a part of them, and even when we really try to understand, it just does not feel the same. We do our best to describe our life overseas; to our loved ones, however, they cannot share our stories with us simply because they were not there. A loss of experiential connection gets in our way.
While it was difficult to adjust to a different culture once, it can be hard to blend in now, depending on how long we lived abroad. We are no longer an essential part of the lives of others. They learnt to exist without us, as we learnt to cope without them.
Awareness of such changes helps us to be ready for it. It is emotionally challenging to realise that life goes on without us; if we struggle to overcome it by ourselves, counselling is there to help us.
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