There’s this thought that I saw first out of the corner of my mind’s eye that has now grown to the point that it’s drawn itself up directly in front of me. I have to crane my neck to see past it. I’m getting a bit of a crick, so I’ve decided to look it in the eye and stare it down.
I’ve let myself go. Not in the sense that my inimitably blunt brother once suggested, but in a more degrading way: I’ve let myself become dependant. I’ve gotten used to being afraid, and I'm living small as a result.
This is absolutely not the me I tell myself I am, or the one I want to be. Hopefully it’s not how others identify me, but it may only be that they haven’t looked from the right angle.
Like anything, it’s come on slowly. Each creeping notch was justifiable, or at least justified. I was pregnant, so there was no sense looking for work when my contract ran out. My husband found work in a small town I’d never heard of in a country whose language I don’t speak, so I was stranded on a sofa without anywhere to go or anyone to go with. We have no car, little need and no funds for one. With a baby in the house I wasn‘t often out of it. But her world is growing now, and it’s time mine did too.
I’m in language school. There’s a car in our future. I’ve been offered a little bit of work, and recently saw a position advertised that I might just apply for – though I doubt my language skills are developed enough for the workplace. But the trouble is not the tick-list, it’s the mentality.
Imagine for a moment that you couldn’t call your telecom company about your account, couldn’t determine what was in a can if the contents weren’t depicted on the label, had to sit for hours in driver’s ed classes where the visuals were the only comprehensible part, just so you could pay a large sum to defend a driver’s licence you’d had longer than your classmates had been out of diapers. Imagine you woke up one day with all your memories and skills intact but found you were suddenly deaf and illiterate.
That is the fate of a new immigrant.
The danger is in allowing these practical incapacities and dependencies to spill over into your self-concept. The challenge is in finding ways to remain who you think you are, when all the old tactics are removed. The lesson is that the woman in mismatched floral prints cleaning the grocery store at 10pm; the one whose school-aged child translates brochures for her in the doctor’s waiting room; the one who left her homeland years ago for reasons that seem obvious but who is still not integrated into her new society (because it’s unbelievably hard and there were always other things to do first and now it seems too late) is me.
The line between migration upheaval and primiparous upheaval is admittedly rather completely blurred in my case. No matter how I turn it, I've never found a way to disentangle those two events or their effects. Regardless, until I figure out how to be me in this context I’m going to keep driving my husband nuts as I try to improve any and all other aspects of our family life to fill the hole left by the loss of my personal one.
If you’ve got tips, suggestions, experiences or encouraging words, please share! Community-seeking is the driving aim of this blog; without feedback I’m just another crazy lady talking to herself in tongues.