Homesickness trigger scenario: I locked the door. The morning rush is over. My husband went to work and the boys are at school. The chores are all staring at me. Clean me! Wash me! Iron me! As if all the appliances are screaming at me for attention. What to do? What to do?
I saw myself sitting in the hallway trying to stop myself from crying. I felt hopeless. I couldn’t think straight. My mind is telling me Snap out of it! You are better than this! Why are you so sad? There are more people who are suffering more than you so stop crying!
I didn’t. Cries turned into loud sobs. It was the moment that I do not like thinking about. It creates a feeling of despair, a sudden rush of sadness and feeling of isolation. I was homesick.
There are times when homesickness is triggered by someone or something. It sometimes hit me without preparation. I saw an old couple holding hands while crossing the street. It reminded me of my parents in the Philippines. I saw a plane while I was hanging clothes in the backyard. I felt lonely because I wanted to ride a plane and visit my loved ones. I craved for the food I could only buy in the Philippines.
I sometimes envy the mums going to school who have their mothers assisting them with a pram or a toddler. They have with them their mums for support and guidance. I am a middle-aged mum who understands more now why mama and papa were behaving that way in the past. It was so easy back then to be stubborn and believe that my way was better. Listening to them is important to me now. We talk over the phone or have a video chat. Sometimes it is enough to get me by.
However, there are moments that I badly need a hug or a kiss from mama. Living overseas is both joy and a challenge as a mother. I cannot be tough all the time. I sometimes break down. This is where the tricky part comes in. What do I say to myself?
Just keep crying Shirin. Let it all out. Cry… cry… You have a loving family who supports you. You have friends who accept you for who you are. You have food in the pantry. You have clothes and shelter. Life in Australia gave you the chance to experience events you only dreamt of before.
After finishing a bucket of tissues later, I realized that I forgot to appreciate what I have in the first place. Why am I focusing on the loneliness when I could focus on the life I have now. I do not have issues that are life threatening. I am alive which is GOOD! I should be mentally aware when this toxic feeling suddenly comes again.
When the feeling suddenly comes, positive self-talk is essential. Today, I choose joy! Yes… I am feeling sad right now but being miserable today is doing more harm than good! I believe there is a way of going out of this. I can handle this!
However, don’t get me wrong. I believe a good cry can also do wonders for my health and sanity. It gives me a feeling of release. It gives me a new perspective. Okay, I already cried. Now what?
Homesickness is a toxic feeling every migrant, overseas worker, traveler, and refugee will feel. Wherever you are, I feel you. I am with you in this battle. My intention is for you to be able to have coping strategies for it. Mine is positive self-talk. How about you?