I suddenly had the urge to write here.
It has been too long but I was wondering whether to continue or just stop.
I do still have quite a lot to say about life post Catalunya and of course there is the interesting sensation of being in my home country while my Catalan man is learning the ropes. I may be physically in Cornwall but a part of me is still in Catalunya, keeping that connection alive. I was planning to keep writing but when someone commented that maybe I now need to change the blog title, something in me sort of withered, as if perhaps I am no longer entitled to write under this name.
Do you know what I mean? Have you done that? Allowed outside opinion to deflate you?
Then I found this comment in my spam folder and it made me laugh. I want to share it here just before I delete it for ever.
“Count me among the distraught souls who miss your fantastic Catalan sausages. The fennel flavour and the half salami’ taste made them truly exceptional. I am now condemned to wander the earth in torment. Having tasted Heaven once and now lost it, life seems no longer worth living . Please, please bring them back. I crave redemption!”
So, just in case there are some of you wandering the earth in torment because you have heard nothing from the Catalan Way for months, here is my new post.
Reverse Culture Shock
I have only recently discovered this is ‘A Thing’
When you have lived abroad and then you come back home to a place that you have missed and kept alive in your heart, sometimes it isn’t quite how you imagined it would be. All around you is the familiar landscape, the people and the shops, the language that you can speak effortlessly. But something has changed. Partly you, and partly them.
People have been living quite happily without you and especially if they felt a bit miffed when you left, they are apt to let you know that you are not indispensible. I have a friend who regularly ‘forgets’ to tell me about events and when I asked her why she replied “Oh we got used to you not being here”
Changes within you mean that you respond to life in a slightly different way. This can give a feeling of awkwardness as you fail to slot back into your old familiar routines.
It can be hard to talk about your past experiences lest it sounds like bragging. “When I was in Catalunya blah blah blah..” So you learn to keep quiet and then feel that a large chunk of your life has mysteriously slipped down the plug hole.
It is so comfortable to be back in a well-loved and familiar place. You can settle down to watch the BBC news, eat in restaurants that serve vegetarian food as if it is normal, meet up with friends and how amazing – you understand everything that is said.
But, there is always something slightly askew. And you have a horrible feeling that it is You! It is subtle but disturbing. Like looking through a lense that is almost but not quite right. You feel like an outsider. You question yourself about how to behave and how to fit back in. Things have changed and because you weren’t here to change with them, you feel you are always caught on the wrong foot.
I found this list of things that people have described feeling when they return home after a time away
- No one wants to listen
- You can’t explain
- Reverse homesickness
- Relationships have changed
- People see ‘wrong’ changes
- People misunderstand you
- Feelings of alienation
- Inability to apply new knowledge and skills
- Loss/compartmentalisation of experience
Yes. I know those feelings.
On top of which people often ask you how it feels to be back. I have to decide what sort of answer they are looking for. Do they want me to say it is 100% wonderful and I will never stray away again? Do they really want to know?
And now there are a whole new set of people in a foreign land who have been left and who I want to keep in touch with but who I know are also getting on with their lives, perfectly happily, without me.
It is a weird floaty feeling.
Perhaps I just need to enjoy it. Rootless and more alone than before. At least I am free.