Slow Healing

It was a broken hearted family that left San Francisco, we all took turns feeling overwhelmed and sad. After four amazing days in DC, we are healing. Phew. DC turned out to be much cooler and more exciting than we had expected, one of our most interesting vacations in years. On our second night as we dined at this outdoor cozy restaurant with a sleeping baby and amazing food, I felt bubbling happiness rising in my chest for the first time in months. Visiting DC has been the perfect distraction; It has helped us detach more emotionally, I think, I hope. Next stop is Santa Cruz, where good friends will visit and hang out with us, which is a perfect combination of transition and vacation.

For the longest time, probably five weeks, I kept pushing away my feelings. I felt that if I gave in, sadness would take over. Organizing moving out of our house upset me. My husband believes that sleep deprivation was the main cause. He’s probably right, the world seems overwhelming, when you’re feeling exhausted and foggy. That said I also now understand that I had grown more attached to our home, friends, and expat life that I had realized. The whole family had.

Uprooting the kids after nearly five years is heartbreaking because of their sadness about leaving their friends. We understand. My heart also aches every time I think about leaving our closest friends, our community. It hurts that we won’t be as close and able to support each other. Distance breaks those tight bonds, it just does. At the same time I know that the second we reunite, we’ll rekindle our connection, because that happens every time we reconnect with Danish friends in person. I’m so thankful for the people back home who have reached out and let us know that they are excited about getting us back home, it was the only thing that kept me going.

For us adults, as a couple, the last two years have in many ways been our happiest. Expat life either breaks or strengthens your relationship, because you have only each other to lean on for better or worse, until you forge new deep friendships. We have never felt stronger and more united. We have cherished our family time and the fact that we didn’t have many responsibilities in our weekends, including towards other people. There was plenty of room for spontanouity, when the kids’ soccer games were over. 

We are excited about moving back to our “village”,”our people” in Denmark, who are a huge group compared to our small community in San Francisco. After nearly five years’ exile the size of our Danish community feels almost overwhelming. Returning to Danish culture will be “hyggeligt” (cozy), we can’t wait, but at the same time Denmark’s homogeneity suddenly feels intimidating. The U.S. is a melting pot, people are different, have diverse values and traditions, and do things their own way. You never stand out, everybody blends in on their own terms. Diversity is appreciated. In Denmark we’re going to have to get used to more scrutiny and less elbow room. With less free time we won’t be able to be as spontaneous, we’ll have less family time with just the five of us. On the other hand I’m looking forward to us all being more independent; We’re trading in freedom for a stronger community.

For me personally, going back to working in the legal field is awesome. I’ve missed the law. At the same time, I dread how we will handle the kids’ sick days, which we have many of, much more than average. In the U.S., I was always available to stay home or pick up if school called, now we’ll have to share this responsibility, both in new jobs. The Danish weather will aggravate our situation. Before moving to the U.S., kids’ sick days were a huge stress factor. This time we plan to hire a nanny to help a few hours here and there, we just need to find the right him or her for the job. The nanny will not be for the baby, who needs his parents, when he’s sick (I feel :).

Ok, enough worrying! It’s done, we’re repatriating. We’ll handle the bumps along the way. I can’t wait to reconnect with my favorite people back home, it’s been two years since we were home. Writing this, we just arrived at the most perfect Santa Cruz beach cottage with a beautiful ocean view and vibe and plenty of space to have our friends sleep over. The energy is changing from sadness to excitement, I think, I hope. The worst part about the move is over, NOW is the time for new adventures, before the big changes in our everyday life begin.

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