Monday, 23 March 2015

Asking for reassurance is no bad thing

I'll start this update on life-in-Spain by saying that on the whole things are going really well and I'm happy, which I have to say has happily surprised me since I was so apprehensive before coming here.

Last weekend I had my first 'large' blip since I came here, and even then at the time I knew that it would pass soon. That's a fair bit of progress considering how I was a few years ago and would find it hard to think clearly when overwhelmed or depressed. This time it wasn't caused by anything too big: on my walk home from school I suddenly felt really lonely, and was quite tearful for the rest of the day and the day after.

Things that didn't help:
- I still haven't found a regular social group
- Occasionally I'm not understood when I speak Spanish, or once or twice people have spoken to me in English since they think I don't understand, and I'm too embarrassed to correct them
- Alternatively I feel bad when I don't understand something, especially since I'm still getting used to hearing different accents
- For my second month in Spain I'd had a second job looking after three young kids in the afternoons: this became too tiring and I left, so I was still feeling sad about that since I really did like those kids
- I'm still not sure what I'm doing in Spain, where does this fit into the big picture?
- I miss my friends and family in the UK
- Having social issues and initiating conversations is difficult enough in my own language, let alone in Spanish!

On the other hand, I tried to think about the positives:
- Considering I have social issues and am not fluent in the language, I'm still here and even when I was down I wasn't tempted to come back to the UK, which really sets this apart from my four-month stay in Norwich a few years ago
- Some of the teachers in the school have been really friendly and have gone out of their way to help me settle in
- I'm still trying out different groups, I had a lot of fun with a board games group where we largely talked about the games we were playing, so hopefully they'll have another session soon
- The flat and my flatmate are still great
- I had no prior experience teaching primary kids and the school's happy to keep me on for another year, so I must be doing something right!

Even though I was feeling down and didn't want to leave my room (it was a Friday afternoon when this hit so I didn't have to force myself), I was still able to think rationally and objectively consider the positives. That helped me to not get too bogged down in the sadness.

What helped the most though, was remembering that in times when I have needed support, I've received it from my friends. I no longer feel that I have to hide my feelings, it doesn't benefit me and I trust that my friends don't think any less of me for struggling sometimes. So I put up a Facebook message, and soon I was getting reassurance and support from people back home. I felt a little bit bad that this might seem a bit needy, but I reasoned that I'd want to know if someone I knew was feeling down so I could do what I could to help. Feeling cared for is such an important human need, why does culture say that we have to pretend that we can always cope alone?

In the end, one of my workmates who saw my Facebook post invited me out with her friends and their kids for the evening, which did me the world of good. Another former classmate who lives nearby suggested we meet up another day. Little by little, I'm starting to get to know people and feel more confident living here, which is great so I'm not beating myself up as much when things aren't perfect. Things're good, sometimes I struggle but there are people who'll listen and just be there, which is what we sometimes need.

2 comments:

  1. It's always ok to need support Catherine. We all do at times. :) We're always eager to support you as much as we can from England. You're doing really well. Moving to another country is extremely scary.

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