In 2005 when we started our expatriate life I was excited and sad at the same time: we were embarking on a new adventure ( if you can call living in the US an adventure) but I was also giving up my independent life. Let me give you a little background information. In 2003 the political blood that had been boiling in my veins finally erupted and I quit my job as Director of Youth (Jamaica) and ran for office as a Council Woman. Not only was I elected but it was as though a new me had been born. I had never experienced such deep passion for anything outside of my family before my foray into representational politics. The constituents whom I represented acted as stimulants of my existence. My political career and prominence were growing and I felt I could achieve anything I wanted in the political sphere. Truth be told though, my family was feeling the pinch of me being absent. My husband heard me more on the news than he saw me at home. No let’s change that: he also saw me when he brought our baby to be breastfed on the campaign trail.
Enough background for now – I think you have gotten the drift of why I felt that moving to the US was similar to giving up my independence. In the US I was lost in the midst of everything and everyone else. The novelty of ni there wore off in about a month (that is as long as it took for me to complete a real estate course). I was bored, I felt that my mojo had been crushed. There was no passion boiling through me, the place was cold, I wanted to work but couldn’t find a job. Life became miserable. I hated my new life as expatriate.
Talking with other expat wives in my husband organizations I came to realize that I was not alone: the US could be a tough posting. Forget the shopping and the bright lights and reality sinks in quite fast. Jobs for expat wives are difficult and while many do not want employment, many do. No matter who you were or what your profession was at home, in the US (more often than not) you have to start from scratch. If you were a doctor at home, in the US you have to go back to school before you can practice, a lawyer – same scenario. If your academic background was not from the US you were stuck waiting to get lucky or for something to open up in your Embassy.
For me it was sheer misery and I wanted nothing more than to go home. I felt depressed, I got miserable (or more miserable as my husband would say). To make matters worse my political party (Jamaica Labour Party) won the national elections in 2007 after 18 years in opposition and there I was stuck in a country that did not feel like home. It felt as though someone had imprisoned me but was allowing me to watch what I was missing. I got even more miserable and antsy. It felt as though there was no end in sight to my state of regret about leaving Jamaica.
We spent many nights trying to find a solution. What are some of the things that an expatriate wife can do in the USA if she is not interested in being a stay at home mom? I desperately needed to be defined as something other than my husband’s wife or my kids’ mom. I needed to be me and to be acknowledged as such.
In early 2008 I got a phone call that changed everything – I was alive again!!!!! This phone call brought news that began my journey of enjoying our posting in the US. There were twists and turns, ups and downs but I came unto my own. I grew into my role as Stephen’s wife and my kids’ mom because I found a way to also be me. My family went through the worst experience ever during this time but let’s talk about it tomorrow when I can tell you more about how to make the best of a bad posting if being a stay at home expat mom/wife is not your thing.
Until next time…..One Love!!!
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