A Life Half-lived
It isn’t uncommon for people who are married to be living apart for months, people in the military often have to deal with that sort of separation (I know, because I was a military wife for several years.) Usually when happy couples are separated it’s due to a job. Then there are couples like us. Couples that some would prefer not to think about, or who some feel somehow ‘deserve’ the separation. For those of us separated due to our partner being deported, or not allowed in this country it’s harder. We don’t see an end in sight. We don’t get the comfort that after this assignment or this job that we will be reunited. No, instead we worry and wonder if we’ll ever be able to live with our partner. Sure, it might be possible for us to go and live in their country – maybe – but then that would separate us from our loved-ones here. We might not be able to find sufficient (or any) employment. We may have difficulties learning a new language. Living in a country that has different values, beliefs and customs may also limit our ability to find new friends.
I was one of those who tried to live in a new country and build a life there so I could be with my husband. I quit a fairly well-paying job, sold my belongings and moved down to Mexico. I knew practically no Spanish when I moved, but I was determined to learn. My husband and I searched for ways to earn a living and finally opened a cafe with what was left of our cashed-in retirement plans. The first year in Mexico there was so much to learn: how to get around our section of town, where to buy things, how to speak Spanish, the food and ingredients that were and weren’t available, etc. After things began settling down, reality began to sink in. With the amount of money we were making and how expensive travel was becoming, the chances of seeing my father, children and grandson more than once every year or two were remote. So, we started making inquiries about any waivers to get my husband back sooner. We were told there was a possibility of a waiver, so I moved back so I could pay all the fees (over $4,000 between the waivers and the lawyer.)
Now, it feels like I’m living some sort of strange half-life. I’m sleeping on my daughter’s couch, borrowing a friend’s truck, living out of a suitcase, and working a job at about half the pay of the one I’d left behind. I’m married, but I don’t have the comfort of my husband’s embrace. I have no expendable income, so my life consists of watching my grandson when my daughter is at school and going to work. I have been away for only a year and a half, but I feel distant from my friends. Most of that distance is due to my lack of funds. After all, who among us feels like going out when it’s hard enough to keep gas in the car? Another part of the distance is because I feel disconnected. I don’t wholly belong here because of my living situation and because it feels like half of me is missing.
Right now my life feels like I’m living it in a series of vignettes rather than a complete movie. Allie at work | Allie babysitting | Allie talking to her husband on the phone. Everything in-between is somehow truncated or glossed over. My life appearing and disappearing like when you’re trying to read a book in the back of a car at night… moments of illumination when the streetlamp is overhead, fading to darkness only to be thrust into the light again. This keeps me from wanting to take part in my usual hobbies, which only furthers that feeling of not fully living my life.
I have not lived a particularly hard life by the standards of many people around the world. Many people have lives that are far more difficult than my own. On the other hand, I’ve had a lot more difficult experiences than many people my age. One at a time, they’re not so bad.. I woke up to mortar shells hitting outside the housing area we were living in down in Panama. Postpartum depression after child #3 (yeah, many women get this, still it’s not easy.) My third child (at 15 months) waking up one morning unable to move her legs & two days later not being able to breathe on her own. She was in the hospital for three weeks. When we came home, our upstairs neighbor went off the deep end and started threatening us with hammers, and tormenting our family (she was later evicted.) A year later, my husband (now my ex) had a neck injury and was put on workman’s comp – while child #4 was on the way. Fast forward a couple of years, in the middle of a move to another state – surprise pregnancy – no insurance! Major financial troubles (spurred by the medical drama of the past years.) Then, just as things are starting to get back on track – my mom was diagnosed with Lou Gherig’s & I had to have a hysterectomy. Two weeks after my surgery my ex started a job in another state and I was left to pack and take care of five kids by myself. Two months (if that) after the move, the marriage disintegrated. Single mom, five kids, minimum wage job *fun*. As things start getting better – three deaths in the family (grandmothers and mom) and a major medical problem with one of my kids. Then, just as life straightens out and I marry the man of my dreams, he gets deported. *UGH*
So, people hear all this, or friends see me live through this and ask “how have you not lost it?” The answer is “I don’t know.” or maybe it should be “I already went crazy just so I could stay sane.” That said, there are times in this latest bit of ‘excitement’ that I feel like saying “enough already!” I am thankful that my job isn’t a stressful one (even when we were busy over the holidays.) I’m just hoping that I will once again reach an equilibrium and that I will stop feeling so disconnected. I’m wishing for something to go really right so that my husband and I can be together again soon. I want to get back to feeling like I actually belong where I’m living. I want to get back to doing my hobbies and seeing my friends. But first, once he’s back, I want to go to the beach and go visit my dad, because I know those things will make me feel alive and IN my life.