When ‘living the dream’ goes pear-shaped

Pear-shaped is exactly how it feels, some days.  A sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  A sadness that won’t be pushed away.  No matter how many times I might repeat ‘get a grip!’  Get a grip!  It’s 18 months since we sold our UK home and renounced life in England, in pursuit of ‘the dream‘.  And yes, we found it.  A world of sunlight and smiling faces.  But often now, I wonder, at what cost?

Of course, we discussed the ‘what ifs’ before we made the move.  What if we’re seriously ill over there, or worse, the youngsters are?  Easily dismissed!  Portugal has a health care system.  Flights are cheap and easy.  Stop right there.  You can see the flaw in the argument now, can’t you?  Why didn’t we?  Hindsight, such a wonderful thing.  It does no good to say, as both children have, ‘but you’re safer there’.  It may well be true.  There is far less density of population here, and steps were taken in good time to help prevent the spread of infection.  But I didn’t come here for safety.  Far from it!  And I definitely didn’t come here to isolate myself from my family.  The dream included happy times shared with them, in this lovely place.  Was I greedy?  Wanting too much?  You can’t have it all, never was truer.

The clock ticks on and there is no real comfort in sight.  Flights can be, have been, booked, but there is no certainty that they will operate.  And what of the quarantine measures that may be applied?  Which employer is going to say ‘go, have a good time, and take an extra 2 weeks when you come back to self isolate’?  If there is still a job available.

The pragmatic view.  All things must pass?  But in the meantime I feel like I have betrayed my children.  Deliberately distanced myself when help, both physical and emotional, might be needed.  Hoodwinked, both them and me.  Overreacting?  Maybe so, but that expression ‘a heavy heart’- I know just how it feels.  Gradually things are starting to normalise here, and I can’t deny spontaneous joy at walking on beaches again, and meeting with friends.  But the future feels precarious, in a way it never did, ‘before’.

160 comments

      1. Exactly! And I am sure you have learnt so much about yourself, your family, and continue to learn more compared to someone who hasn’t taken such a big jump as you have. I hope all goes well for you, JO!

  1. It’s hard but I am glad that you are well and so are your family in the UK. I try not to think too much about what will be, or the what ifs, but I have had moments of despair, indeed panic, about when I might see my daughter and my family in Australia again. We will find a way through this, with or without a vaccine. In the meantime, keep yourself strong and well. And weep into your pillow if it helps. 🙂

    1. I felt I needed to write it down, Ann. I know many of us are in a difficult situation. I’m especially sad because my son should be here this week and the weather is perfect for the beach but I have to accept what I can’t change. Sending hugs darlin 😕💕

  2. I guess all people that have moved to another country face these questions and doubts when they take the decision. In these weird times, I often think about this, as almost all my family lives in Spain, part in England and we are in Switzerland… But I try to rationalize. If we were all in Spain, it would have been almost like what we are experimenting right now. With the strong lockdown, even families that live in the same street in Spain couldn’t see each other for more than two months!! So there’s no really difference, at least in our case…
    I hope your children are safe and healthy in the UK, Jo! And that you can see them and hug them soon!!

    1. No real difference other than the time factor, Mercedes. So far as I can see the UK aren’t handling this at all well. And I just have to be patient 😕💕

  3. Oh Jo have been caught up recently and have just come back to the blog and seen this. Sending you heartfelt sympathy as I can empathise – never when we moved to the other side of the world nearly 30 years ago did I imagine not just being able to pop on a plane if I needed to fly back to see loved ones in the Uk and vice versa. None of us could have foreseen this – it is truly a once in a century scenario. I honesty don’t know when I’ll be able to see my dad again for example (in his late 80s) and it’s really hard even chatting to him on Skype twice a week. He lives independently but the residents committee in his block of apartments are strenuously opposing any visitors so not even my brother has been able to visit him – we have won the battle to get his cleaners to come back in as there is no legal prohibition. I’m trying to be optimistic but it does get me down at times especially when I read articles about what flying in the future will look like – more security checks, medical checks at the airport, full body santisers (!) designed to make passengers feel safe but in my view would make me feel more anxious so it’ll be easier to stay at home 😦 Not to mention 14 days quarantine at every port of call including for the foreseeable future here on arrival in Australia (though that’s the main reason our numbers have been so low especially here in Western Australia which has also closed its borders to the rest of Australia). On a happier note our elder daughter and family have been adopted by a stray cat who had six kittens this week so it’s all fun and games here and I’ll be kitten sitting when she works this week! Hope you can at least enjoy walks on the beach again, look after yourself, virtual hugs from Perth xx

    1. I know it’s the same for many of us, Rosemay. You feel guilty enjoying life sometimes but what else can you do? I’m in a beautiful place, the beaches are open again and I’m meeting with friends, all with respect for social distancing. James should be here this glorious week and that makes it worse, but he’s not a good communicator so I just have to guess at his feelings and hope he’s ok. Awful for you and Dad. Just have to hope and believe that the world will become sane again, if not safe! Sending hugs. The kittens sound a wonderful distraction. 🤗💕💕

      1. Yes it must be especially hard this week Jo. I know my friends with boys say they are not always the best at staying in touch – we have always had a female dominated household so it’s been good for Monsieur! I also find I feel a bit guilty when I realise how much we can do here compared to my UK family. We have never been in full lockdown and have always been able to walk by the beach and get takeaways and now we can sit down again in cafes and restaurants albeit with social distancing of course. The kittens are providing a wonderful distraction they are so cute! Enjoy the glorious weather – cold and windy all next week here but we have had a wonderful autumn and can now rug up in front of the wood fire. Hugs and stay safe xx 🙂

  4. I’m sending you good wishes. Life’s changes–whether we choose them or not–can be difficult. God love you.

  5. Sending you hugs and lots of good thoughts, Jo.

    I know that”pit in the stomach” feeling all too well. Cheering you on towards brighter and better days as we weather out this very challenging time.

  6. Oh Jo. I’m sure your children don’t feel like they’ve been abandoned and even if you were there, with the way restrictions are you wouldn’t have been seeing them any more than you are now on a virtual platform of some sort. The world will return to some semblance of normal one day, sooner if we all follow guidelines now and stay safe. Sending love and hugs to you.

  7. I’m so sorry to read that you’re feeling like this, for a while now. This situation could not have been predicted by you or your children. One of the reasons I never doubted becoming a world traveler was the easiness of air travel to reunite with loved ones. I know exactly how you feel about being cut off from your family – it has been two years since I saw mine and it doesn’t look like a visit is possible this summer, due to the pandemic. But the world will have to find a solution. Too many friends and family members have been torn apart. Some nomads I know are stuck in places without being able to return to their home country, without being able to go ashore where they are anchored. It’s tricky. Once a vaccine has been developed, things hopefully return to normal, to “the Dream”. Of course that might take a year, or longer. 😦

    1. I don’t have much faith in a vaccine, Liesbet, and a year is a long time when you were used to seeing someone every few weeks. I’m well aware that my situation is far from unusual, but I didn’t chose to wander the world. I just found a space that I could call home, and overlooked the penalty clause. I try to remain optimistic.

      1. Yes, I’m from UK based. There are some answers but there are more to come! We just have to believe that this will be over soon x

  8. Life will become normal. humans are social creatures. We can’t shut down the world for long.. In some cases sadly but the world will carry on as before.. Just like after the spanish flu..

  9. A very honest post, thank you for sharing your thoughts and as the comments show, we are grateful to you for doing so. It is such a hard time, life has changed dramatically for us all, but it’s something that you could never see coming when you made your decision to move out there. Hopefully you will be able to reunite with your family soon, in the meantime look after yourself.

  10. Sending virtual hugs to you, Jo. It’s such a different world that no one saw coming. Thank you for so honestly sharing your thoughts with all of us and starting a dialogue that so many of us are only having internally as we debate the choices we’ve made. There’s comfort in knowing we’re all feeling similar emotions and this may bring about great opportunity to adapt and adjust how we live our lives. Enjoy the weekend!

  11. Jo I likely have no good words to bring you comfort. When making life plans I don’t think any of us were thinking of the ‘what if there is a global pandemic?’ scenario. Your decision to move a completely reasonable one based on the information you had at the time.
    I likely can not even imagine how hard it is to be separated from your family. Even though your head can see that it likely is a safer location where you are, the heart has trouble being convinced.
    I am sending hugs across the miles. Hopefully soon some travel restrictions will ease, as it sounds like they are in Europe. XO

    1. Thanks, Sue! I have tried to stay clear of the subject throughout this period because, as you see, it’s hard to find positives in it. But I’ve had so many wonderful responses, I’m almost convinced we’ll find a way! Meantime, let’s keep that virtual hug going 🙂 🙂

  12. Oh, Jo, I hear you loud and clear! One of the things that has occupied my mind since the very beginning of our isolation has been how far away my children are. All I can think about is where we can move (some day) to be near(er) to them … or at least one of them since they are scattered in three time zones here in our enormous country. As you know from my post, I did get in my car and drive to one of them at a momentous time in our lives, but good grief – what it took to be able to do that! It shouldn’t be this hard! And yet it is right now, and I will fight through it, but I am re-thinking all sorts of things about our lives right now. I’ve been very down also (our daughter’s wedding had to be canceled/postponed, and so many other things have also) and we have not seen her or our other son, nor my parents, for months. It’s so unnatural. I hope you can hang in there and await the day when you can fly or they can fly, and that you and we all can make the most of those times when we get them back.

    1. In the States you drive huge distances, which frighten us Brits to death, but flights are an option to make it easier. A more dangerous option? Well, probably. It’s possible to drive from Portugal, via Spain/France/Channel tunnel and make it a holiday along the way. We’ve never done it because I don’t drive and it’s not my husband’s idea of fun. Both Spain and France have been worse affected by the virus than here, so when the borders open we risk picking the infection up at some point and taking it with us. 😦 Our son and family should be here this week. The flights were cancelled but we’ve rebooked them for the end of July, and are just living in hope. What more can we do? 🙂 Have a hug, darlin, and have faith.

  13. I feel for you! But without a crystal ball… goodness, who would ever have guessed we’d be in this position? Skype isn’t as good as a hug, but what a great invention! It sounds as if you’re doing the right things – focusing on enjoying the beach, the beauty and reconnecting with friends there. The rest will work itself out, we just have to give it time.

  14. You could not have known that COVID-19 would happen Jo. Though it doesn’t feel like it, this time will pass Jo. In the meantime breath, enjoy your space, and FaceTime plenty with your family. As they say in South Africa “vasbyt” (which means hang in there).

  15. Reading your post gives me so many different feelings. Firstly, a sadness because you feel trapped and guilty, even though none of what you’ve been going through is under your control (not just the virus, but Brexit); secondly, admiration that you have been able to write down your thoughts and share them with us; thirdly, hope that some of the things people have said and the love and concern of this community will help lift your spirits and give you a boost of strength.
    When a crisis or a tragedy happens, for most of us not insulated by wealth, there is no easy way. A lot of us fear we might explode if we addressed the issues that secretly worry us and you’ve shown that’s not true.
    One of the things about blogging is we decide when to engage with others. We read something that we aren’t able or ready to engage with and we pass over it and on to the next post. ‘Real life’ companions don’t have that choice – we speak when we are ready, but they may not be ready to engage. I imagine quite a few of us are being told by their companions that they want to think of something else if they try to talk about their feelings and fears. My nearests and dearests don’t want to talk about the virus at all. I actually find it reassuring to read this post and the comments… or bitter sweet might be a better term. A good blog is a safe space and I appreciate spending time in this one.

    1. I have had some wonderful comments down the years and this is as good as it gets. Thank you very much. Your presence here is appreciated and your thoughts will always be welcome. You can imagine, I had a fair bit of indecision before pressing Publish but I’m so glad I did. We walked on the beach this morning and I’m meeting a friend, at a safe distance, this afternoon. I am a very lucky lady 🤗💕💕

  16. We are a wanderer generation, living far from home, parents and children and who would of imagined this to happen❤️ It’s good to talk about our thoughts, get it off our chest and understand we are many now making the most of our dream. Not sure how it’s all going to end, life is changing and much is going on behind the scenes. One thing I feel happening though is more and people are appreciating their family and friends we are now isolated from. AND thank goodness for Skype❤️ take care, much love Barbara x
    Take care

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