Practicing one-hand writing after having had what seems to be a very common accident if you ask ER employees: the Avocado Accident. Cool name, not so cool incident. You know, sharp knife, slippery pit, soft hand (stupidly holding the avocado). Now this happened in the middle of packing a house and ending an expat life. Five days before the grand tour to say goodbye to each room, to the point of tearfully thanking them for good times and memories – including the basement! – and closing our heavy black door behind us for the last time. It is safe to say that timing is everything.
And if I wailed like a baby when that knife hit, I cried surprisingly little when the door shut. Granted, my stomach hurt as much as my hand, but I almost felt guilty for the lack of tears. Was it because I had prepared for it for so long? Or that I’m still the ostrich and the reaction will come when I at some point jerk my head out of the sand? Or that I’m too focused on changes yet to come? Or that I really wanted all the moving out stress to be over, especially given the one-hand packing?
Hurry, worry, multitasking and stress have been called the four horsemen of the accident prone. Tick all for my Avocado Accident. But how stressful is moving actually, scientifically speaking?
If you look at the Social Readjustment Rating Scale, rating stress caused by life events on a scale from 0 – 100, change of residence is rated as #32 with a value of 20. In comparison, death of spouse is #1 with a value of 100, and life changes related to family, relationships, work and health are in general ranked higher. But, following change in residence are new school and changes in recreational and social activities, which are all valid when a family repatriates. The same goes for changed living and working conditions. So quite a few factors on that scale enter into our life picture. Yet adding the values, the result still indicates a relatively low amount of life change and a low susceptibility of stress-induced health breakdown.
The scale doesn’t specify the stress factors of changing countries with children though. Like every expat, I’m well aware of the reverse culture shock and am expecting to:
- Find that my home country drives me crazy
- Feel alone & misunderstood
- Notice how much I’ve changed whereas others haven’t much
- Blabber on about Luxembourg to anyone who seems to want to listen. Most people probably won’t – boring!
- Not be a half-exotic foreigner anymore, hence not have the advantage and/or excuse that can be
- Be as moody as the Luxy weather
- Miss Luxy, except the weather
All right. Let’s cross that bridge when we get there. Leading the children across, suspension bridge or not. So far one step at a time has worked well. And let’s wind down first. Taking a holiday between moving countries is highly recommended. Waiting for the stitches to be removed, for potential reactions and for the next step.
In the meantime I’ll write with one hand and miss what we just left a little bit.