Yes Yes, I know this blog is WAY overdue! I’ve been busy trying to integrate back into my old life and forget that this whole escapade ever happened, it’s taken awhile to get over it all. Well in saying that, we will never get over it I guess. But you know what I mean….
It’s been 6 months since our return (2 months longer than we actually lived there ha ha!) and we are almost back to normal, but not quite – normal will never be the same again. New Zealand changed our lives and the before that we knew, is no longer sadly.
What we went through last year in a matter of months, some people will never experience in their lifetimes. We moved across the world, then across islands and back home again in 4 short months. We exchanged our lives in our birth land for a life in a new foreign land that we thought we knew about, that we thought we could survive in, that we thought we could handle. When I got the job offer all we could think about was the opportunity, the excitement, the new life in a safer and ‘better’ country. We never for a second really stopped to think about everything we were leaving behind and what it would mean for us. The heady anticipation of an adventure cancelled out all reasoning and foresight. We could do this! So many have done it so why can’t we?! Well, we found out pretty quickly that we couldn’t or wouldn’t, and there was no shame in it either, despite the petty comments from the peanut galleries trying to demean us. In that instant we learnt who was on our team and who wasn’t. Most importantly we learnt so much about ourselves, we were at our limit, we had given up everything, we had nothing left but each other and the drive to make a fresh start back home. We realised that as long as we had each other we could conquer any challenges, as long as we worked together we could make anything happen. Not many people get to experience such a life changing journey together and we count ourselves blessed despite the outcome. If you are not challenged then how will you ever grow?
We grew. We grew so much that we thought we were invincible when we returned. We thought we had it all figured out. Life would go back to normal, just wait and see.
And so slowly the bubble burst as the novelty of coming home wore off and life returned to it’s usual less frenetic pace. The previous few months adrenaline rush of anticipation, excitement and new adventures eventually wore off. The bills started coming in, the debt started mounting up and we realised that it was never going to be as easy as we thought it would be. I was very blessed to get my job back at my old company and keep the job I had gone over for in NZ, but Ashley my husband has not been able to return back to his passion despite applying. The fire fighter who isn’t a fire fighter any longer is a sad sight to behold. . He has to wait for vacancies to apply to and until then I share my house with a man who is unsettled, a little lost and in dire need of his routine that he knows and loves. It’s been hard and we put on a strong face because we have to, that’s how you survive. That’s how you get through, fake it ’til you make it! But, it’s okay – we have each other and we know what life would have been if we stayed, he was never going to get into the fire department there anyway, so wait he will, because the right time will come. This experience has taught him just how much his calling means to him and how much he relishes the work he did. As for Lilli, she is the child we knew before New Zealand, she delights in every minute with her friends and family, she’s thriving back at school and settled in like she had never left. She is happy and for us that means everything. All of this has been for her, every step.
We’ve moved back to our same home but it’s different. Same home, new furniture, new things. It’s like living in a parallel universe lol. I keep looking for things that I know I have but then realise I had to give up or sell in NZ when we came home, it’s very weird. But it’s good, life is still good. We have our home, we have our friends and family who visit and spend time with us, we entertain, we have family time and we appreciate it so much more than before, we enjoy our life here and we make the most of every day. Every occasion is special and every moment makes us realise that we could be there and not here with the people we love and in the country we call home. It helps us to get through this bump in the road where everything is the same but not. I stand outside on my deck and feel the warm African sun on my skin, I listen to my daughter playing in our huge garden and I look at the beautiful treetop view and in that moment I know that everything is as it should be and everything will be fine. Because we are home and that’s really all that matters.
One of the hardest parts of our return has been the distressing state of our country and government and seeing so many people leaving SA. It’s not been easy and it has been worrying but for now and in this moment, we know that where we are is right for us and our daughter. Our decision was personal to ourselves and it still is, every reason why we came back still stands and we are happy to be home surrounded by family, friends and familiarity despite the difficulties.
I get contacted frequently by people wanting to make the move to New Zealand which is not easy for me. They know why we came home and they know our story yet the urgency to leave is so great that they don’t really take time to think about how their requests for assistance can be difficult for me. It churns up memories, memories of us in the same space a year ago – the dreams and ambitions we had, the determination we had to make it work. It forces me to remember the effort and work involved in getting to New Zealand, it opens a door to things I would rather have to not think about right now. The heartache of leaving everything behind, the money we lost, the friends and family we hurt in the process and and and…. Don’t they understand what that journey took out of us? That we need time to recover, to lick wounds, to bounce back. It’s like asking an Olympic Sprinter how to win the 100m when he has just tripped and fell and come stone last! It’s disturbing for some reason, it’s like a personal affront. Yes we didn’t make it and we have no regrets but we also have experience in the journey, we’ve been there, done that and yet people brush it off as if it’s nothing and that ‘they’ won’t possibly make the same ‘mistake’ and they will make it because they are better, stronger or more determined – so were we! And look JUST look. I look back now and see myself last year and I also know that if someone had told me the things I tell people who ask about our journey, I wouldn’t have listened either. You so desperately want out that you bulldoze any thought of it not working or how much you are giving up in the process. You don’t want to hear the raw truth about emigrating and you don’t care to know how much it will hurt because you are going to deal with it when the time comes. I know, I’ve been there. The time comes sooner than you think AND it hits ALOT harder than you expect.
For those who ask me how to get to NZ, I don’t have all the answers and I’m not even allowed to help you anyway – it’s illegal. I had to figure it out myself, it’s not easy, it’s time consuming, difficult, involved and intense! And no I can’t just tell you how to do it. It’s a big deal, it’s a lot of work and I certainly don’t have the time nor inclination to help you, I’m sorry – I’ve done my time. It’s not something I want to revisit. Please understand. Join a FB group, go onto New Zealand Now’s website or use an Immigration Advisor. I will tell you about my experience, I will let you know what it was like for us and I will tell you what to expect but I can’t help you get there.
All I want to leave with anyone who is thinking of leaving is this: Please do yourself this favour and make REALLY sure that this is what you want. Weigh it up, be logical be practical, be emotional, be realistic, be everything, feel everything – don’t ignore anything. Speak to people who have gone and come back and REALLY LISTEN to their stories. Speak to people who live there and ask them for an HONEST account of their journey. Investigate everything thoroughly and know what you are getting yourself in for. Make sure you know what’s coming and be prepared for it. I am not saying that everyone who emigrates to New Zealand will battle or not make it, there are many people who have managed to make it home and who are thriving and KUDOS to them because they have succeeded in doing something that we would not, I say would not because ultimately we could have IF we were prepared to sacrifice for it, which we weren’t. I take my hat off off to those who have gone through the sacrifices, suffering and angst of missing home and family and friends and stuck it out – your bravery and determination is admirable. But not everyone can do it and so you must understand this before you embark on the journey, be prepared for it. Plan for it. That’s all.
Anyway, everyone’s reasons and decisions are personal and THEIR story not ours so do what makes sense to you, follow your heart but just be prepared and aware ❤