I did not know I needed help…until I did

I didn't know I needed help...until I did

I didn’t know I needed help…until I did.

Recognizing our need for help in relocation, before we end up on the floor.

One of the most challenging things about relocation is realizing, “I didn’t know I needed help.”

A few years ago I had a friend who was the “Welcome lady” in my local area.  She would stop by shortly after someone would move in with a basket of goodies and coupons from the local businesses as well community information.

One day she rang the doorbell and when she joyfully announced she was the welcome lady,

the woman crumpled to the floor in tears,
crushed by the weight of her move. 

Carolyn was overwhelmed and distraught by her move to the area.  She had no one, no support system, no one to call even for a cup of coffee.  Her husband was at work and putting in 60 hours a week on the road and in the office to get his new position going.

She told my friend that there was so much to do.  It wasn’t what she expected.  Truly in that moment the overwhelm had taken over.

Sometimes, it isn’t until we are collapsing to the floor in the foyer in tears that we realize, we need help.  And by then we REALLY need help.

We think we know

In relocation, we believe that we know how to do this and everyone around us assures us that we can.

However, none of us are trained to move whole lives across the country or around the world.  The responsibility we feel for those in the family to survive and thrive  in the new place double or triples the pressure. 

Every miss step, every child’s tear is our fault.  No wonder many of us end up here.

…“Trailing Spouse syndrome” is a real thing.

I talked to Juanita Ingram last week, a Lawyer/Actor/Docuseries Producer of The Expat: International Ingrams show, she said that she lived in London for 4 years before she learned that the “Trailing Spouse syndrome” is a real thing.  Depression, despondency, isolation.  She had gone through the whole gamut without realizing it wasn’t just her.

If you want to see a real relocation in action, check out her new Prime Video series “The Expat International Ingrams” it with your Prime Video subscription. 

This series follows the Ingrams’ 3rd relocation, this time from Indianapolis to Taiwan.  It is one of the best depictions of the EXPAT/Relocation journey I have seen.  It is an entertaining docuseries that shows both the benefits and the very real challenges of relocation and being an EXPAT.

By the 3rd episode you start to see the excitement wain as the realities of moving whole lives sets in.  And when the moving trucks arrive with the wrong things and the broken things…it gets real.

“What we don’t expect”, Juanita says in Episode 3, “is that though we expect things to go wrong, we don’t’ expect all of them to go wrong at the same time.” 

Those blown out of the water expectations, this is what really causes the problems.

Once here, isolated and alone we scrounge and muddle through…though not well.  Definitely not at the top of our game.

As I tell my clients, there are far too many hands in the cookie jar
 for a cookie… or twelve not to get broken.


Ultimately, when we relocate, we are looking for an adventure.  We are there to support a spouse or expand our careers.  We look to learn something and how to really live in a new city or country.

We look ONLY at the upside, not realizing that everything we carefully plan, will not go according to our plans.  As I tell my clients, there are far too many hands in the cookie jar for a cookie or twelve not to get broken.

Truly accepting and expect the possibility, even making the unexpected part of the plan, this keeps us from ending up on the floor in tears.

Acceptance without fight or resistance, is the secret sauce that allows us to “handle” unexpecting situations in the most efficient manner.

Think about it.  When a contractor fails to follow through or a project fails or a person is offensive, what happened?  I imagine there is a period of time, at least for me when I stew and ruminate and even go to second guess myself on THIS and anything else I may be responsible for.

That self-judgement, those accusations, the fight and even avoiding looking at the situation until we “gather ourselves”, how much time is lost?  If we make a decision or take an action how is that clouded and not as precise in this state?

Acceptance is not Condoning

The reason we fight with ourselves and others is because most of us have an old rule that says if I accept this situation, I accept that this is “OK” to happen.

That is most certainly not the case.

When we stand in judgement of others and the situation,
that keeps us from seeing our options…all of them.

Acceptance here is about acknowledging the situation and being brave enough to see it as it is.  See the implications and consequences as they are.  Not judge it right or wrong…just see it and accept it as is.

This is the strongest place to stand when something goes wrong.

Working to see it as it is, without judgement of the situation, ourselves or others, allows us not only to see what has happened but what options are available.

In times of trouble, we need options!

Acceptance without energy spent fighting or fussing, leads us to seeing them. 

Expecting we need help

Expectations are what help us to thrive or
…knock us to the ground.

Setting good expectations is the key to keeping this relocation train moving.

The challenge lies in the fact that we do not really know what kind of help we need.  In addition, the employer and the relocation management company only provides a small part of the solution typically.

Focusing in on the big ticket items like homes and moving household goods, they do not provide assistance in the areas that count the most in relocating whole lives.

So when we expect we need help, where do we turn.

Where to Turn….

Who and where to find help has been the greatest challenge in relocation historically because when we land in a new town, chances are we will not meet someone who has walked the path we have.

In addition, calling “home” also put us in front of people who have not walked this path…and now our call home, perhaps in despair could mean that they are now worried for us.  Their worry just adds to our pain.

So where do we turn?

We seek out other relocated women.  Whether they are just new to town or have been there for years, both know the path we are walking.  It is like running into someone who graduated from your same school.

An immediate knowing.
An understanding and far less to explain.

There is such comfort in being in front of someone who just…knows.

And now in 2021 and well ever since the advent of the internet, we can connect with people all over the world who have relocated.

One of the most vibrant communities I have found on Facebook is Two Fat Expats.  Groups like this one talk about real issues and real life.  From the posts and the answers to questions, you know you are in a community who not only understands but cares about the path you walk today.

You’ve got this

I know the path is not smooth and a number of balls will drop unexpectedly.  Even this part of the journey leads us to be more of who we can be in this life.

Asking for help and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable helps us to become all we can be in this life and show the way for others.  I love Marianne Williamson’s quote from her book A Return to Love,

“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give to other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others!”

Isn’t that amazing?  As we show who we are at any given moment, we give others permission to be themselves as well…needing help and all.

Have a wonderful week and remember to ask for help early.  Find those who have walked the path and do not be afraid to be without all the answers.  You will find them or create them

….my courageous ReloWomen friends!

Want to learn more about relocating well?
I can help.

Download  “a Sense of Home” guide

The journey is easy.  Begin here.


Sneaky Relocation Grief

Sneaky Relocation Grief

Sneaky Relocation Grief

Grief is the last thing most of us expect in relocation. 

The kids are looking forward to making new friends.  The paycheck bump is AMAZING! And you have always wanted to live here.  What could be better?

Grief though sneaks around, especially for those of us who look forward to relocating.  I love a new adventure…and yet, I will be the first to tell you that relocation grief is real.

Because of my unwillingness to learn how to walk through the grief, I never truly experienced living in London. 

My first adult corporate  relocation was to London.  My husband had an opportunity that would take our little family across the ocean to a part of the world I had always hoped to live, London.  We had a great flat that included someone else washing the towels and sheets. On the underground circle line, all of London was at our finger tips.  Life was fantastic.  It was fantastic for about 9 weeks. 

By 12 weeks, I was lonely and isolated.  I was missing my mom and everyone back “home”. John was at work all day and I had explored as much of the city with a 2 year old that I wished to explore. 

My routine of going out and then writing about our adventures, emailing them back home only entertained me for a few hours a day. By week 12, I was asking for a ticket home.  Just for a few weeks… but, nevertheless, a ticket home.

I thought that would help me ease in to this relocation.  So that I could live in two places at the same time, kind of like a commute.  However, that is not what this was.  This was a relocation.  Learning how to live in a new place.  Not in two places.  And with most things, trying to do two things at once…fully, does not actually work.

Because of my unwillingness to learn how to walk through the grief, I never really experienced living in London.  AND I was distracted and didn’t really live when I was back home.  Neither was normal and neither was home.  Two years where I lived two half lives…and those two halves did not make a whole.

I didn’t know at the time what I was dealing with because it didn’t come as sadness.  It did not present itself as pining for who I didn’t have.  It came in ways that I never connected to grief.

And that is the sneakiest part of relocation grief.

When we do not recognize grief, it infiltrates many areas of life.

When we do not recognize grief,
it infiltrates many areas of life.

Grief’s Many Masks

What makes grief so sneaky is that it shows up in places we are not expecting.  Sure, we expect to be sad or lonely at major holidays or at time of annual events we cannot participate in.  But we do not see it when it shows up at snappy with our spouse or doubting our decisions.

Grief appears in many different ways.  These ways look like emotions which can appear in life for a variety of reasons on their own. However, during times of grief, these emotions become grief’s acceptable masks hiding the grief itself.

Mayo clinic defines grief simply as a reaction to loss. In relocation, we have loss in so many areas of life. When you think about relocation in entirety, it is not surprising that it shows up like this.

Grief’s masks include:

  • Homesickness
  • Numb
  • Loneliness
  • Doubt
  • Loss
  • Overwhelm
  • Frustration
  • Confusion
  • Outright miserable
  • Regret
  • Snappy
  • Explosive
  • Angry and more…

Pause…Taking Time to check in

When you react in a way that slows down a process or causes strife it is time to look back and see if grief is clouding the situation.  Yes we may get angry when a relocation partner fails to do their job, but how angry are we.  And if we were not in the middle of relocation, in regular life, would be act the same way?

In the midst of relocation the busyness can hide grief, especially when it comes in so many different ways.

It is in that pause and an earnestness to seek the truth, that we find it hiding behind one of its masks.  Behind that mask is not as scary as you may believe.  It is only grief that want attention and still wants to hide at the same time.

When we take time to see it without its mast that is when we can begin to move forward.

Why all the emotional masks?

Grief outside of death is something few of us have regular practice with. It is something that many of us avoid looking at or discount with personal judgement.

“I shouldn’t be feeling this way.”

“Do you know how blessed you are?”

“This is a good thing.  What’s your problem?”

All of this personal judgement pushes grief underground. But like many things we push down it doesn’t stay there long.  The more we push, ignore and fight…the more we feed it and the bigger it gets. This is when it appears in the many different ways listed above.

It has to come out, and one of those ways is more acceptable to many of us than the grief itself.  And with that mask it is allowed out.

Allowing Grief

Once grief is identified, then and only then, can we allow it and then begin to walk through it.

On Thursday’s ReloWomen podcast, how you walk through grief will be discussed in detail.

For the remainder of this blog we will spend a little time talking about allowing grief. 

Typically, a painful emotion will be pushed down, avoided or even fought.  Have you ever tried to be calm or tried to be patient?  It is like holding a large beach ball under the waters.  At first it is kind of fun to try and hold it there, but soon we get tired and POP! It comes shooting out of the water not to be held down.

Grief is like that.  It will not be ignored.

To avoid the pop the most effective strategy is to allow it.  Allowing grief or any negative emotion is best done by almost stepping outside of yourself and observing what is going on within you. Imagine sitting beside yourself and providing compassion and a guiding hand.  This 3rd party observation will lessen the sharpness of the emotion and allow you to really see the grief…all aspects.  What it is tied to. What it means to you. What it means about the future.

It is in the allowing that we can even find peace.  It is funny thing about us humans we can experience multiple emotions at the same time.  By experiencing the grief and also compassion for ourselves we can then find peaceful moments.  This is where energy is regained so that we can face the prospect of another day.

Grief does not mean anything has gone wrong….

Grief does not mean anything has gone wrong. It is representation of a beloved season that has passed.  All is not gone.  Life has only changed, into something new.

Join me on Thursday’s ReloWomen podcast for the conclusion of Sneaky Relocation Grief.  Learn now to walk through it and in that, create your dream life in your new community.

If it is time to NOT relocate alone.  If you are looking for tools and guidance to relocate and finish strong, tryout WholeLife Relocation Coaching today! 

I so look forward to meeting you!

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