Wife feels ‘dis­lo­cated’ af­ter sud­den move

The Buffalo News - - LIFE & ARTS - – Dis­lo­cated Email Carolyn at [email protected] wash­post.com, fol­low her on Facebook at facebook.com/ carolyn.hax, or chat with her on­line at noon each Fri­day at wash­ing­ton­post.com.

Dear Carolyn: Last year, for my husband’s job, our fam­ily (with three teenagers!) had to move sud­denly and per­ma­nently, not just across the coun­try but to an en­tirely dif­fer­ent con­ti­nent. The

TELL ME A BOU T IT kids are adapt­ing rea­son­ably well but I’m hav­ing a hard time.

Our new location isn’t the prob­lem – it’s that I can’t get over what I’ve lost. I’m missing my good friends, so­cial struc­ture, our com­mu­nity and the house I loved. Be­cause our move was so sud­den, I also had to down­shift to a lower-pay­ing, non-man­age­rial po­si­tion.

I know with the right kind of pos­i­tive energy and just a lit­tle bit of en­thu­si­asm, I would eas­ily make new friends, re­build my ca­reer, dec­o­rate our new home and even­tu­ally feel at home again. I’m just re­ally strug­gling to find that pos­i­tive at­ti­tude.I feel I worked so hard to build ev­ery­thing that is now lost, I’m sad, re­sent­ful and burned out – as if I was too tired and old to start over (I’m youth­fully in my mid-for­ties). Can’t help feeling “trau­ma­tized,” while fully re­al­iz­ing it’s ridicu­lous to com­pare the move to a trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence. How do I get my “can do” spirit back?

What, please tell me, is not trau­matic about los­ing your friends, your home, your com­mu­nity, and your ca­reer, with very lit­tle warn­ing and for reasons you couldn’t control?

They still ex­ist in some form, so, yes, we’re not talk­ing about mass death or destruc­tion, mer­ci­fully. But hav­ing your cir­cum­stances fall be­neath that thresh­old doesn’t mean your feel­ings of loss are a frill.

So stop treat­ing them as if they are.

And stop flog­ging your­self for not buck­ing up or can-do­ing or bloom­ing where planted or clicheing where you think you’re sup­posed to cliche.

I’m not sug­gest­ing you wal­low. The point of re­spect­ing the scope of your losses is to al­low you to ad­dress those losses ap­pro­pri­ately – and their emo­tional symp­toms. Sad­ness, re­sent­ment and burnout aren’t go­ing to be shamed or ridiculed away by the part of you ac­cul­tur­ated to scoff at such pain. Or else they would have been by now, right?

And would you be as tough on a friend in your po­si­tion as you’ve been on your­self? Peo­ple with “good friends” sel­dom would.

So be that friend to you and nurse the pain. Ex­press your sad­ness, and get screened for de­pres­sion. Dig to the source of the re­sent­ment and see whether and how you can fix it.

Most im­por­tant, give your­self ex­tra rest, ex­tra self­care, and ex­tra pa­tience as you re­cover from this shock to your emo­tional sys­tem. If you’re used to feeling set­tled in af­ter six months, then set a goal of two or three years, longer even, be­fore you start to feel rooted again.

Carolyn Hax

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