Thoughtful Tuesday – November 12, 2013

Fair warning, gentle reader and imaginary voices, this week’s entry is not full of roses and fluffy bunnies.
It is, however, full of truth. Feel free to skip this one.

This week’s blog was a bit of a struggle to write. My overall goal with writing these (Tuesday) blogs is to follow a nice little “template” in terms of content, exploring (exposing?) myself and the voices in my head to the ‘light of day’.

The idea being of course, to have a greater understanding of the path I’m on, so that I can learn for the future. The fact that I’m doing it in a “could be public forum” (i.e. I’m posting without privacy settings intentionally), serves to keep me honest about what I write, perhaps far more then had I journaled privately – but I also think it limits some of what I’m prepared to write out. I have seen first hand what it is like to have personal information used, abused and overshared. I read and rewrite several times before I finish and press publish, because once it’s out there…

All that being said, I also hope that if anyone else ever goes through a similar situation in their lives, were they to run across this blog that they might find some solace – or at the very least, get a good laugh out of some of my idiosyncrasies and stupidity.

Confused Chameleon

I at once feel as though I am caught at a crossroads with no signage in ANY direction on the compass rose, and yet as though I have been boxed into a cube of obsidian blocks. There doesn’t seem to be a way forward, backwards, up down rightleft… Well, you get the idea. I am simply well and truly stuck. Do I think I will be like this forever? Of course not. I will – eventually – figure something out. But knowing that and NOT making myself into an anxious ball of fluff at the same time as I watch savings get eaten up by daily living expenses is not the easiest pill to swallow – since it just won’t seem to stay down and get processed. I don’t mind being in a holding pattern at times, so long as I can catch glimpses of the way forward. I feel blinded.

I spent the majority of my early time in the USA trying to catch those glimpses, flinging myself into schoolwork at times in a desperate attempt to avoid the gnawing feeling of not knowing if I would be able to stay once school was done and I had to start looking for work. I have wonderful friends who assured me that all would be well, that I would get hired no problem, even as I watched the years go by and the gap in my employment record start to get larger. When my mother would bring up the subject of what would happen post-graduation (in 2008-09), I remember getting extremely panicky, short of breath and what felt like mental spasms because I simply had no clue what the realities of my situation were going to be. And they weren’t easy when they finally were revealed. During my time with the Enforcement team, I explored options with my contracting company who were willing to go fight the US government for a work visa for me – until we jointly discovered I wouldn’t get one because I didn’t qualify based on the work visa requirements (4-year degree or 10 years industry experience – and community leadership which boils down to “volunteering” doesn’t apply). So I went back to school again.

(For those of you whom might be curious, the United States prohibits any international student from working during their schooling. The visa we use, F-1, specifically requires that we provide financial records proving that we have enough financial support to accomplish our educational goals. Once you are done school, you have no way to transition into a work visa either: your options are then either get a job that WILL get you a visa through one year of ‘practical training’ which now must be proved to be directly related to the degree you earned, go back to school for MORE education or GTFO.) No pressure, right?

Making the choice to walk away this year was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I am still processing, and probably will be for a while. This does not bother me in the slightest.

Where The Hell Am I? I made the choice to walk away from everything I had in WA because I was so incredibly angry with myself, heart broken and homesick that I wasn’t living in my own country and the person it was turning me into was NOT someone I wanted to be. I was treating people that I cared about AND myself terribly, grasping at whatever I could to think to do to ‘just hold on’ – I realized finally that there was no way I was going to be able to do that AND survive with some semblance of self respect, to say nothing of what it would do to those around me who cared, and whom I care for in the mean time. Leaving meant I would not have a legal way to stay stateside (and to be clear, leaving the USA was part of what I NEEDED to do, for my mental sanity and for my soul), that I would walk away from an incredible supportive network of friends, away from a fantastic job and phenomenal team. For the complete unknown, with no real plan, just a great sense of urgency that I had to take these steps or else I would go mad, lash out or make a really bad decision I would not have been able to live with. I was so tired of living in a place I was coming to hate, and couldn’t come up with an answer to “why am I fighting to stay here?!” that didn’t just send me even farther down the path of anger. So I chose.

I believe I chose correctly. My soul is at peace living in BC. I feel as though I can breath again, as though I am not living under threat of being thrown out of the country on a daily basis – which would take a lot, since I am a Canadian citizen. I have rights and freedoms I didn’t have in the US (even if I have to wait until Dec before I can register to vote – I WILL be able to legally vote again), and would not have had unless I worked through many more years, documents, applications and sought dual citizenship. I won’t even go into my thoughts on THAT one at this point.

Was the threat of being kicked out an immediate one during my time in WA? Not really, I stayed within the lines almost perfectly during my time in the USA (minus a rocky start when I first moved – study hard kids, flunking out of college when you have a GPA requirement to stay in a country? Not a great idea), but the pressure and the stress of that threat never went away. I honestly have no idea how people who do stray outside of the legal system can cope with that pressure, with the knowledge that once they step outside of those lines it is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to get back to a ‘legal’ status within the US…but for me, that threat was enough of a pressure to remain constantly in the back of my mind for almost six years – it eventually just wears you out.

Don’t misunderstand me. I knew moving to BC was going to be challenging and problematic. I just had no idea what the problems were going to be.

Nov 12_4

Being back in WA for the last three almost weeks has been great in some ways, and incredibly painful in others.
Being in familiar surroundings while I recovered from the ‘death-cough of 2013’, having the ability to see and catch up with friends has been phenomenal. I have lost count of the number of conversations I’ve had with Kym which have provided small amounts of clarity, and I am gratified that I have been able to help her in any small way because of that. But it also brings back to the foreground former frustrations, the reality of my decision to leave and how that effected me and others here, and the utter helplessness I feel in not knowing what my next step will be.

A big breakthrough came in beginning to identify that I’m lonely. Seems almost silly in an age when we are so constantly ‘connected’ – but while it’s fantastic to be able to talk to a friend or family member in a moment’s notice (or choose to ignore them), that does not fill the void that I feel. I desire a variety of contact; social (in friends), what I’m calling communal (co-workers) and eventually, romantic. Suffice to say the variety is leaning pretty heavily to one of the three, and that isn’t anywhere near enough to balance me out. Working with ATA, I was just beginning to rebuild one of the other points – but with that cut-off, I feel as though I HAVE stepped further back then when I got hired on in September. Frustrating beyond belief.

And there is a however.

I have not hit bottom – nor am I likely to. Bottom would entail some form of addiction – and let’s face it, I don’t have the money for that. I have a cat who needs to be kept fed, and prefers clean litter.

I am incredibly honoured and thankful that I have awesome people in my life, who are willing to occasionally listen to my whining about what a tough time I’m currently having.

I have my retaliative health, discounting the ‘death-cough’, which has FINALLY moved on (although my voice is still doing too many funky things for my preference).

So I will start thinking outside of the box. Because if I can’t breakout of the obsidian cub right now, well, it’s going to have to sprout legs and move with me – because I’m getting tired of the view of this blank brick wall. It’s time to synchronize with a new viewpoint.

Interested in my other Thoughtful Tuesdays? Check them out by clicking the #ThoughtfulTuesday tag at the bottom of the page, or see the whole “Ambrosial Alliterations” blog collection. Enjoy!