“Just shut up and take it” | How we Pass on Patterns of Self-Compromise to our Kids
June 20, 2018
Coming Home in a Foreign Country
January 12, 2020
Twice now, I have packed up all my belongings, said goodbye to friends and family, travelled across the world, leaving behind everything that is familiar to me, not really knowing what I am walking into, what my life will be like from now on or how long it will take for the foreign to become the new normal. The most surprising about both those instances is not that I made the decision to do it and that I actually went through with it – though, it still blows my mind when I look at it – “I DID THAT??” – Lol. The most surprising about my move from Belgium to South Africa 10 years ago and then from South Africa to Panama a few months ago – is that both times – as I was readying and steadying myself to walk into a FOREIGN country, into the UNKNOWN – expecting to feel unsettled, out of place, anxious, nervous and lost for quite some time – instead, it felt like coming home.
It’s a very surreal experience – to travel so many miles, from the place you have called home for so long – to then arrive in a completely new environment and go ‘I’m home now’. There hadn’t yet been a process walked of ‘making a home’, it wasn’t a realization that I could build a home here – it was a natural experience of having come home.
It’s funny how one of the things that comes up is then to ask myself: was I then not home before? Was I not in the right place? And almost, with feeling at home in a new country, feeling guilty, like betraying the old country, the old environment that I had called home for so long. Of course, this experience of coming home is not some divine indication that ‘this is where I am supposed to be’, that this is the ‘one place where I am at home’, nor does coming home in a new place invalidate any previous homes or my living and location then and there. The fact that it happened twice shows that.
So, I looked at what this experience was, and with having reference to the time that I moved to South Africa and right away felt that I had come home – and then that same experience being here again in Panama – I saw it wasn’t about the countries or the specific places I found myself in. Home is often considered to be a physical place, a house, that is ‘your home’ and that is ‘your spot where you are always welcome, where you belong’ – but in this instance of moving to a new country – the home I came into/came home to, was myself.
This is not to say that I was not at all myself in the previous place, or that I was suddenly completely and utterly just me expressing myself in every moment in the new place – like instantly self-realized, lol – no, of course not.
It’s more that with entering the new environments, they naturally supported and resonated with parts of myself that I hadn’t seen, that I hadn’t accessed, accepted or lived in a very long time. And suddenly with stepping into that new environment, those parts came to the fore, naturally supported by everything and everyone around me. And when I’d see those parts of myself, acknowledge them and embrace them – that feels like coming home, like falling into the embrace of a very old friend that I hadn’t seen in ages – in this case the old friend being myself, or rather those parts of myself that I had forgotten even existed.
In South Africa the expressions that naturally came through more were comfortability, silence, calm, but also power and playfulness. And my time in South Africa was really all about getting to know me, or ‘establishing me’. First almost realizing that there is such a thing as a me, and that within me, I am capable of quite a lot more than I thought I was, and this also means I had a lot more responsibility than I cared to admit. Learning what all this meant in practical living, is what my process in South Africa was centred around (in extremely large strokes, if I’d have to put a ‘theme’ on it). In South Africa, I had to let go of the outward focus in terms of fearing what everyone else thinks, patterns of compromising to try to fit in, following along rather than looking at who I am and what I see, etc. – I had to keep on refocusing on me, who I am, my self-honesty, my self-expression, my self-direction, my self-responsibility. Because none of that existed before, everything of who I thought I was, was so intertwined with relationships to other people, that it really was a process of finding out who I was as just me and to start actually directing and living my life for me, while learning to take responsibility for myself in a shared environment.
In Panama, the expressions that naturally came up were more of an outgoing nature, like wanting to connect with other people, rediscovering an ease in expressing myself and connecting with others, a passion for trying and experiencing new things, seeing and going to new places. All things that would be ‘out of the ordinary’ for me in South Africa or my life before that. I have memories of myself as a young child experiencing and living these points, but it had been such a long time, I had almost resigned myself to believing that these things were just not ‘a part of me’. So, with them coming to the surface, and greeting these ‘old and forgotten’ parts of myself, it was again a homecoming.
The fascinating point is that both times, in South Africa and in Panama – the beginning, the initial arrival would bring these expressions up very clearly, very defined, it was like ‘so here’ and there was this expectation or idea that ‘this is who and how I will be from now on’ – but that was not the case. Instead, after a month or so, old patterns started resurfacing and how I experienced myself initially started fading again. Then a process sets in of actually learning to integrate and LIVE those expressions as me. It’s almost like for a moment a veil was lifted for me and I could see the full potential of these parts of myself – and then the veil goes down again and now it’s up to me to birth myself as these expressions again in the physical. Which kinda sucks, lol – but at least, now I know these parts of me do exist, and that potential is here, so rather than giving up on these parts of myself, I am committed to bringing them back to life.