Layers of Loss

layers of loss i am a triangle

It was New Years Eve in Venezuela.

My fourth country.

I had recently met a man who worked in the hotel business.

I am English, he Italian.

As he was the assistant F&B manager in a fancy pancy hotel we booked into the same hotel for the night. He didn’t invite me to the party because he would be working and we had just met so I didn’t know anyone who was attending. He put me in the most amazing hotel room I had ever seen in my life. Floor to ceiling windows overlooking the city of Caracas. The room was bigger than any apartment I had ever been in. The bathroom would have been a good sized bedroom and there was a separate dining room and living area – both enormous. I couldn’t imagine who would need this kind of space just for a night or two. It was breath taking to say the least.

I had brought my books and journals and planned to relax and enjoy every second of this luxurious experience. A bathtub filled to the brim with bubbles, a room service menu that would make anyone’s mouth water and a steady flow of knocks on the door… He had arranged smoked salmon and caviar, chilled champagne, fresh strawberries and the most decadent selection of deserts you could imagine, all being delivered intermittently throughout the night. I never knew what was coming next.

LAVISH SPLENDOUR is an understatement. I felt like a princess. Spoiled rotten. It seemed that anything I wanted was available on the other side of that door. I didn’t have to sign a bill or even look at how much it was all costing. It just arrived.

It was exhilarating and intoxicating (which may have had something to do with the steady flow of champagne!) … until it wasn’t.

It didn’t take me long. At about 11pm I began to pace the room. Walking up and down along the enormous windows, wondering who had to clean them! Looking down onto the city, thinking about what others were doing on this night of celebration and who they were doing it with.

As the clock ticked towards midnight I could see fireworks beginning to light up the sky. I thought about my sister in Germany, my mother in the US and my father in the UK…. I wondered how they were celebrating tonight and who they were with. This was long before Skype and Facebook, calling them wasn’t an option.

All that luxury and yet I was alone. Not just physically alone, but desperately alone.

I still feel the sadness of that moment. A moment that wasn’t lost on me because I was present to it. A moment were the exchange was connection for luxury. Happiness for pleasure. And, even though I had already lived in 3 different countries before Venezula, this moment marked the beginning of my “expat” experience. And I wasn’t impressed.

I did marry this man and spent the next 20 odd years traveling the globe in and out of 5* hotels. I went to many more countries and many more hotel rooms that were even more extravagant than that the one in Caracas. But since that moment had woken me up with such acute awareness, I always felt like an observer. As much as I was present to my life moment by moment and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of my traveling experience – the people I’ve met, and the places I’ve been – I also kept my eye on the loss. The loss that we talk about and the loss that we don’t.

What are we giving up in order to live this life?

We miss weddings and funerals, graduations and recitals. We miss birthdays and holidays and even broken bones. I didn’t get to see my niece grow up. I missed my Grandma’s wisdom as she reflected on her life towards the end. And not only do we miss out on these things ourselves but we also make the decision for our children to do the same.

Is it different because they don’t know any better?

A very close friend of mine lost her 7 year old daughter while she was living over seas. She had only been in the country for a few months. The loss of a child is unbearable under any circumstances but I couldn’t help but feel for the loss of support during this time. Yes, the expat community did everything they could to support her and her family. But that’s not the same. It’s not the same as parents and siblings and auntie’s and uncles….. anybody can see that’s not the same.

Another friend of mine lost her husband a few years ago. She had lived in his country for 30 years, raised their children there, owned a home and were for all intents and purposes “settled”. But the laws of the country were not on her side, and after her husband’s passing she was made to leave and go back “home” to Australia… losing so much of her life.

And recently another friend of mine lost her husband, totally unexpectedly.  Even though she has lived in his country for many years and embraced his culture 110% during that time, I can’t help but wonder; are the traditions during this time of grief, being so different to hers, comforting or adding another layer of loss.

These are extreme stories, of which I have many more,  and I am by no means intending to write this post to bring people down. All three of my friends here are doing very well and have very few regrets, if any. My intention here, is to bring your awareness to the exchange. What are you giving up in order to live this wonderful nomadic life? Perhaps your answer is nothing. Perhaps you are perfectly happy with the way things are and the exchange is totally worth it, you won’t be the only one!

But if you do have niggling doubts, as I did, and you feel the window of opportunity to do something about them drawing in … please take some time to reflect.

Be aware.

Be honest with yourself.

Be the observer while living this life and make your decisions from your unique place of being.

Then perhaps, you can minimise the layers of loss.

Author: Angela

Angela was born and raised in Liverpool, England and began her expat journey at the age of 17. She has lived in a total of 11 different countries in just under 30 years.

UK | Germany | USA | S. Korea | Venezuela | Taiwan | India | Malaysia | Vietnam | Malaysia | Tahiti | Malaysia | Jordan | UK

On her travels Angela came across her passion and purpose in education, particularly in understanding how we learn. She has an insatiable appetite for helping people of all ages unlock their unique potential. This passion led her to attain a number of diplomas and certificates in various nuero-developmental methods and healing techniques and ultimately in creating her passion project; Katie’s Readers – a community of volunteers whose aim is to “Scatter the love of learning around the world.” She is also a certified life coach and works primarily with {expatriate} mothers, youth and clients who work directly with children.

Angela recently returned to Liverpool, coming full circle to finally lay down roots while continuing to follow her own passions and inspiring others to do the same!

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