We’ve all had ’em, but man, can they sting!
All this meditation is supposed to teach you to live in the present, but more and more, as my final departure from the U.S. approaches, I find myself overcome by waves of nostalgia and sadness, which the Buddhists would say stem from clinging and an inability to let go.
Yeah, well it’s easier to let go when you’re all alone in your meditation cave.
I’ve moved between countries essentially all my life. I was born in Nepal, grew up in Vietnam, lived in Paris for 10 years before leaving for the U.S.A. on my own at age 27-ish. My parents met abroad. Half of my siblings live abroad. We’re a scattered family, who, though we are mostly scaredy cats, still love to explore new places. That means there’s been a lot of goodbyes over the years. The hardest for my family was leaving Vietnam in 1999. I remember crying and begging my parents to let us stay, and my mother crying too, saying we had to go back to France.
Today, as an adult who (no matter how much I feel like a giant baby, and despite the complete lack of visibility in the near future) is independent and knows how to take care of herself on her own (growing up in an alcoholic household will teach you that), I am struggling to say goodbye to the life I made here. The life I ended up getting used to, though I HATED it for the first 3 years [Now I can see that what I really hated was myself]. Isn’t it crazy how the inner lives of humans change like the wind? A few years ago ALL I wanted was to get out of this horrid PhD program, out of this city, out of this country and go “home”, back to my French boyfriend, and my sweet, sweet French vegetables that actually taste good. And here I am, after a few years of self-care, hanging on to the familiarity and comfort of the nest I made on this other continent, reluctant to loosen my grasp.
I don’t know where my home is anymore.
My current American boyfriend-friend and I are getting along well these days. How ironic. Or should I say, classic. I’m stuck in that cognitive bias where you only see the good sides of the person/world and completely brush off the things that drove you crazy just a few weeks before. Now I’m the one crying and wondering how I can leave such a precious perfect gorgeous human being behind, just like that. We realized last night that we’ve been glued together for the last two years.
Like, literally seeing each other everyday, like a pair of siamese twins. There have been wonderful ups and (way too numerous) downs and saying goodbye is going to be heartbreaking. And that’s ok.
I’ve had my heart broken many times before, and I know that it’s not the end of the world – that hearts have an infinite ability to heal and replenish and that they are never really completely broken – just very tender – and that when they’re hurting, it’s a beautiful opportunity to love yourself and the whole universe, and that that pain also has its insane beauty. I know that what awaits me in the next few months will be painful, but I know it will also be a return to myself, my home country, my future life. The one that now, thanks to sobriety and the last few years of working on myself, I finally feel capable of bringing into existence. On the good days (on the other days I let anxiety unravel her negative thoughts and almost every scenario ends with me dying alone and childless, eaten by my cats).
This week I have to buy my plane ticket. I tried yesterday, but couldn’t. It was too real. I messaged my parents (very un-Anne-like) telling them it was hard, emotionally. My dad responded “we understand”. My mom didn’t respond.
I guess it has begun. The great Goodbye. I know that most of the pain is due to fear of fear, fear of pain. I know the antidote is to be here, now.
Still, I am feeling vulnerable, tender, and melancholic. I know that the antidote is to remember that that’s ok too.