repatriation - huge white clouds in the sky

Repatriation: how does one accurately describe its challenges? After fifteen moves, Naomi Hattaway is somewhat of an expert on the subject and has many tips on how to handle repatriation.

I am a triangle; no longer a circle and never quite a square. I will always be a triangle.

I’d never given much thought to repatriation. Move to London and live. That was the whole plan. Why worry about something two years in the future? How much time do we waste worrying about things in the future? Things completely beyond our control.

Instead, I chose to live. Live every second of those 730 days.

Repatriation Part I

And on the 731st day? The questions, the doubts, and the uncertainty begin.

Why did I have to leave? Why couldn’t I stay? Where do I belong? The place that had always been home – where you took your first steps, spoke your first words and first belonged – is now tilted, unsteady. Or is it you?

It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realise what’s changed, is you. – Eric Roth

This, is living in the aftermath.

A shadow of my former self; huddled away from the glare of the world, from the world in which I used to belong.

I was no longer a circle.

gates with sunlight and shadows

Repatriation Part II

Life after living abroad is something for which you cannot prepare.

You cannot prepare for the highs of being home and the lows that swiftly follow; for the familiarity and the now unknown. The future is so uncertain that you cling fruitlessly to the past.

I feared the friends that had so easily become family would soon move on, as though I was nothing more than a passing breeze. That the place I had carefully carved out for myself would be covered over, without a trace of the one who came before.

I feared that I was never really a square.

Repatriation Part III

Two and a half years. That’s approximately how long it took for me to discover the only way to survive life post living abroad. No, not just to survive, but to live.

Stability.

Things may not be as they were, but they aren’t supposed to be. Life is not a fixed time and place, but rather an ever-changing, ever-evolving stream, flowing over and under and around every obstacle.

Stability, however, is found in discovering and accepting a new normal. It’s about accepting that life abroad happened, and was pretty perfect, but life has moved on. You have moved on. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to forget. No, it’s impossible to forget. That chapter has made you who you are today.

What I learned in those 913 days was that living abroad was a great adventure, but it was never meant to be my only adventure. Every single day presents a new opportunity, another chance to live.

So, it’s time to embrace being a triangle.

toasting with sangria in glasses with friends

The Final Part / The Beginning

Almost three years to the day since my adventures as an expat came to a sudden end, it was finally time to return. The plane touched down in London town and suddenly, life became lighter. A weight was lifted. The weight of the days that had simply passed by, never quite able to grasp the life dancing before them.

The friends I feared had moved on, remained; always with their love and support. The place I feared would never release me, finally set me free.

Every second of every day there reminded me why I had loved this place so much, and why it will always be home. This time, however, something was different. This time, I would choose the life to which I was returning.

So, is it worth taking the risk? Is living abroad really worth all the hassle? Well, every adventure, every moment, every challenge happens for a reason. There is a lesson there, waiting patiently to be uncovered. So look closely. Find the lesson, find the silver lining, find the reason. Find your reason.

If you are not obsessed with the life you are living: change it. 

And now, I am no longer living in the aftermath. Now, I’m just living.

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