There are people in this world who are not refugees.
There are people in this world who are not celebrities.
There are people in this world who are not making the headlines.
Those people have a roof above their head and can eat to satiety.
Those people have some money and a family.
So? They should be happy, and grateful, and fulfilled.
And yet, they’re in quiet despair.
They’ve lost themselves.
Who are they? The followers.
The ones who moved abroad for their partner’s job.
The trailing spouses.
In search for more flattering names?
Call them ‘STARS’ Spouses Traveling and Relocating Successfully
or – if they’re male – ‘STUDS’ Spouses Trailing Under Duress Successfully.
Whatever the name, if this is your reality, then you know.
On your visa, there is written ‘dependent’.
In your house, you’re an ‘approved occupant.’
On your tax form, you’re labelled as non-working.
But if you’re absent, the family stops functioning.
Once you were a lawyer, a teacher, an engineer, a lecturer, a doctor, a researcher.
Now you’re Sam’s wife and Laura’s mother.
Once you managed a team of 10 people, a budget of 10 million dollars, 10 classes of 40 students, a practice with 100 patients.
Now inviting 5 mums for tea is for the month your brilliance.
Once you juggled work, hobbies, children, husband, extended family, and friends.
Now you agonize for 3 days to tweak your shopping list.
Don’t get me wrong.
Nobody forced you to go.
You were excited to discover new languages, cultures, and customs. You still are.
You were thrilled to go on adventure. You still are.
But now the dust has settled and you are scared…to live someone else’s life.
A shadow behind your family.
The pain is crushing, the anxiety creeping up.
Dear accompanying partner,
You are talented, passionate, clever,
You’ve got so much to offer.
But who understands? Who cares?
You can’t stop people in the street to ask.
In a desperate attempt to find answers to your condition,
You skim the internet.
What terms should you google?
Foreign homemaker? Skilled migrant?
Desperate housewife? Unemployed immigrant?
From articles to forums, from blogs to social media,
Your search is like Sherlock Holmes’ latest enigma.
Your sanity is on the line.
And then the magic happens.
Two words – Expatriate Connection — and you’ve found your place.
You reach out and someone answers.
It feels good to know that someone cares. That someone understands.
Thousands of km away, you’re heard.
That was a tiny act of love.
Is this the end of your struggle? No.
There’s still some way to go.
But now you’re not alone.
You were not crazy. Just incredibly human.
This story is told in more concrete terms in Tiny Buddha’s 365 love challenges, a book written by Lori Deschene, the founder of Tiny Buddha.
Expatriate Connection is one among 70 other contributors of stories with tiny acts of love.
‘A journey of thousand miles begins with a single step’ Lao Tsu