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Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Reason

It is Saturday morning and I am enjoying some text chats with a couple of girlfriends while sipping on my fourth morning coffee.   

I am aware that there is nothing particularly unique about that, however this has become an important part of my morning start.

One of the best things about family is that they know you in a way that most people do not.  There is also a great deal of comfort in that. You have the freedom to be exactly as you are - without judgement. 

As an expat, you miss that.  Family is far away and often the time zones make communication a challenge.   The opportunity to be with family is not as easy as it once was so the potential to be lonely is prevalent.  There are many an expat event.  You see the guys and gals mingling and chatting, enjoying the momentary intimacy that these events provide.  Sometimes people win the jackpot and connect with another similar soul, but more often than not it is only temporary.  Still, these events are essential - for without them we would be starved.  And I suppose even though intimate relationships are not so common, there is still a kinship amongst us all.  We have similar challenges, needs and lifestyle.  

I've been living abroad for over three years officially.  Unofficially it has been over four.  Enough time to strain the friendships I enjoyed back home.  Enough time to get used to not celebrating special events and days with family.  Enough time to crave a deeper type of intimacy in my now familiar surroundings.  

As I am texting back and forth with my girlfriends I am comforted.  They know my deepest and darkest secrets.  They know my fears, my desires.  I know theirs.  The veil of pretence has long fallen.  I share this type of communication with a guy pal too.  When he met my son for the first time, he said it was like meeting an old friend since he already knew him through me and my countless stories.  

Yesterday I read an editorial on how as humans we crave intimacy - but we also fear it.  It touched on the fact that many of us turn to social media to satiate our desire for a deeper connection.  That is something that I simply cannot do.  I need the banter, the shared laughter and the sometimes needed hug that can only be experienced in person.  Yet, I do not know of many people who are more fearful of intimacy than I.  In the past my family served as safe zone. Outside of that, was a crafted facade that was years in the making.  However, this whole experience forced me to change.  A little anyway.

I have not lost the connection with my family, it is in many ways even deeper than before.  Something I am grateful for every moment of every day.   But the distance of the comforting arms of my family was too far away in moments I longed for something more than a superficial intimacy.  I had to take a chance or live with the ache of loneliness of being alone.

So here I am.  In my pjs, sipping my coffee, texting with those that know me best.  We share our mistakes, our heartaches, our successes.  I am a happier person as a result.  Unburdened.  Some people manage this without being forced.  I didn't - or couldn't.  I cannot help but consider the irony of it all.  There are few things more rewarding than intimacy - yet as much as we crave it, we also run from it.  Me included.  I don't profess to have mastered it - its simply a reflection on something this journey abroad has forced me to try.  And I am glad I did...

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