To The Moon and Back

So my computer died back in June.  It came into my world with a bang, and out with a whimper. It was the first computer I saved up for, splurged on, and never regretted buying although it rang in at a whopping $1800. But I was beginning my second year of graduate school, and my second year without my Mom. It was time to start taking care of myself and giving myself what I wanted (because I realized then that no one else would)<— some friends called that irresponsible. But hey, I couldn’t afford therapy after my mom’s passing (weirdly, just a few sessions cost a lot more than I imagined without insurance), but I could afford new shoes and some nice nights out for sushi and movies here and then. Anyway, that was almost 7 years ago. Fast forward to now, and the circumstances have changed quite a bit.

I’m married to a German, living in Germany, speaking German albeit more poorly than I’d like, with a dual citizen baby running around causing mayhem. If you would have told me then what my life would be like down the line, I would have scoffed. I had big, fat plans. But plans change, and so did I. I’m a jobless weirdo with curly hair in desperate need of a haircut that I’m too afraid to get, with no real disposable income to call mine and mine alone, and I’m not as fat as I used to be, but not as thin as I used to be either. I may not have the wrinkles, I definitely cannot pretend to know it all anymore (wait, did I ever?) and the world has left a mark on me that will not, can not, be erased but I’m learning to cope.

You ever notice that when you resolve to be the best you possible, people tend to remember the old, developing you and try to make project that back at you again? I remember one friend telling me she could read me like a book she read twice. Now, she wouldn’t even know the book. I reached out to a cousin to explain a problem we had in communication, and she told me iStock_000020617874XSmall-352x198that I’m a self-victimizing and drama-ridden dullard and she would not be contributing to my hysteria any further. I spent weeks obsessing over that. Am I self-victimizing? Gooooood question. I felt like I was from time to time. I fell into a pit of depression over the past few years and couldn’t remember that the sun could shine through the clouds. Every misstep felt like a failure, and every failure felt like I was incapable of ever reaching success.

Germany has taken a lot from me, and given it back to me in a very different way. My confidence was never up to what it should have been, but here? It’s almost non-existent. I started to run that 5k and left it midway because people were calling me names and made me feel worse about myself. I’ve been spit on, pushed aside both physically and intellectually here, and have not been strong enough to push back. I’ve questioned myself constantly, and wished to be less sensitive…. ultimately less me. See? THAT’S my problem. I could never articulate it properly. I don’t feel like I can be myself here and because of this, I have lost my “me”ness, my Allie-osity, my inner joy with the world. I don’t know anyone down here that looks like me, and because of the depression, any possible friends I may have made up north in Berlin that do have dropped me like a hot potato, somewhat deservedly too. And I don’t know many people here that are interested in a deep, meaningful friendship complete with absolute silliness and spending time together doing nothing special. Perhaps it’s the age now, or perhaps it’s because people already have their best friends and aren’t looking to add to their circle. I don’t know but I understand.

I lost a few friends back home, and although I miss their presence in my life, I don’t miss the intimidation I felt around them to not say something stupid, or the constant judgment and outright bullying. That was just another way that I wasn’t being myself to fit in. And I can’t do it anymore. It’s not healthy and it makes me uncomfortable.

But I do want best friends, I do want to fit in and belong. I want to sing and dance, and laugh like I used to. And I can feel it inside me, wanting to come out. It’s not Germany’s fault that I lost who I am, it’s my own for not being strong enough to keep myself from drifting away despite different surroundings, people, culture and language. Am I self-victimizing? I’m stubborn, overcoming depression, maybe a wee bit dramatic sometimes but only for laughs, sensitive, and exceptionally honest. But no, to be self-victimizing you would have to blame everyone else, the world, anyone but you for your own failures. You have to believe that the odds are always against you, and that you cannot control your own life. That’s not me. Weeks ago, months ago, I may have said yes because I wasn’t sure of who “me” was, and I would take just about any insult thrown at me and internalize it. But I have to be stronger, I have to be me again. I know it’s the path to my happiness. I’m not hysterical, not blaming the world from my problems, and I’m certainly not a dullard. No, I’m learning again, breathing deeply and pursuing the future with a new interest in what role and purpose I might choose to play in it.

Anyway, super personal post aside, thanks for sticking by me everyone while I worked this out. New posts should be exciting, and heeeeeeey new computer!

Thanks!

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16 thoughts on “To The Moon and Back

  1. I started reading your blog because I am an american with a german husband and there’s always the chance we will move there someday. But I kept reading it because of your honesty. I really appreciate your willingness to put your real experiences and feelings out there. It sounds like there have been lots of difficult ones where you are too. I have two young children too and we moves shortly after my first was born. It was a lonely time and it took awhile to build up new supportive friendships. I know quite a few people, myself included, who had to reassess “who I am” after having kids. It also feels like an important party of the thirties- separating what’s real about me from what I’ve just adopted to fit in. These are just the thoughts that came up for me, reading this, but I can imagine all of these things take place against a different backdrop, with a lot more brought to consciousness, when you’re living in a different culture. Maybe it allows you be aware of things that other people can’t necessarily see.
    In any case, thank you for sharing so openly here. I look forward to reading more.

    1. Thanks so much for this comment! You get it— I turned 30 a few months back, I’m constantly chasing a toddler, I’m not working; which is something I’ve done since I was 14, and I live far away from home. It’s daunting but…. I think very normal too. It’s an interesting, frustrating, and challenging time in my life, and I’m grateful for it too. So thank you, and if you do end up moving here, keep me posted!!

  2. Hi Ellie! I have been reading your blog for the last few weeks. My husband and I are also Americans and we just got back from a 9 day trip to Germany where he was offered a job and he accepted. In preparation for the trip and the decision, I read your blog, as well as others. I appreciate the way you are so real and I can feel your experience to the extent possible through written word. My heart broke over the marathon day. As someone that finds it difficult sometimes to push out of my comfort zone, I was impressed with you! You seem like a beautiful soul and I only hope to meet friends like you when I move to Germany.

    Our trip to the Karlsruhe area was mostly lovely. We are an interracial couple and I was wondering how that would be viewed. I had read about how Germans love to stare at everyone regardless of who they are so I was ready for that. Actually we got many fewer stares that I was expecting. (I just stared back at the ones who chose to partake lol) We did have one terrible experience though. We were walking along the street and an older German man yelled at my husband to “Go back to Africa!” We were both in shock. Not to say that would be unheard of in the US, but it usually wouldn’t be that out in the open in blinding daylight on a metropolitan city street. I was angry and upset. My husband didn’t want to talk about it which I understood. We actually saw much more racial and ethnic diversity in Karlsruhe than we were expecting so that was a pleasant surprise. I know there are racists and xenophobes everywhere…..I just wish that wouldn’t have happened. It was literally our first day there. Luckily everyone else we met were either lovely or neutral. 🙂

    I am quite nervous about the move. I never expected this would happen to me! I am also excited. My husband will be moving in 2 weeks to start his new job. I won’t be coming for a number of months because we have many things to take care of in the States before we completely uproot and move.

    Thanks again for your blog! I have also started a blog to document my journey in hopes of maybe helping someone else in the future. 🙂

    Lorrie

    1. First, yay for making a big move abroad! It is totally exciting and overwhelming, but such a unique experience I’ve been very fortunate to have— and I’m sure you will too. My husband and I are interracial, and about 90% of the time, it doesn’t seem to matter to anyone at all, in fact— we had more people comment on it in the States than here. I looked up your blog and will definitely add it to my roster 🙂 You never know how what you write will affect someone, or if you can help them overcome this new phase in life. I hope I don’t scare people off….

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I really appreciate it! And very good luck moving and getting adjusted. If you need anything, please shoot me an email at aliedow@gmail.com

  3. Guten Morgen, Maedchen!

    Well, it seems you are in the middle of an intense search to find and identify yourself. It’s a scary but exciting journey, isn’t it? As one in the middle of a separation from a marriage of 41 years, I think I can identify with your feelings. We allow ourselves to drift into situations sometimes where “me” gets lost. It’s important to build relationships with other people and give of ourselves, but at the same time we mustn’t allow our selves to become only a vehicle for their needs. In the long run it doesn’t do them any good and it will almost certainly do a job on ourselves!
    I am struck by your flair for writing. Working on a new marriage and raising a baby doesn’t leave much time for developing a talent, but you might keep it in the back of your mind for the future. I think your writing is articulate and interesting.

    Jim

    1. I think we are at two new phases in life, Jim. I’m sorry to hear about your separation– that has got to be undeniably hard and I’m wishing you the best. You are absolutely right; if you aren’t paying attention, it can be so easy to go with the flow of everything and everyone around us that suddenly we lose sight of ourselves. It’s important not to get lost, and when you do, to know how to get back there. Hopefully, I’m able to sooner rather than later.

      Thanks so much for the compliment. I really enjoy writing, but I’ve never been too confident if it is something to pursue one day. I read a lot of blogs and I think, wow this or that blogger is just so much more infinitely better than me. But it’s so nice to hear this from you— you made me day!

  4. I’m not sure if this helps, but we are planning on moving to Nurnberg next summer and I’m so looking forward to finally meeting you and hanging out! As long as nothing big goes awry from now until then, we are coming! 😁

  5. Allie-
    I found your blog about a year and a half ago. I loved your honest and silly writing “voice” immediately!
    I was in a relationship with a German man at the time and your blog helped me to make the move. I’m living here in Germany now…although single haha things never work the way you plan. And I just want to say that your blog is great and that I find you to be a fascinating and strong woman!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Tayler! Your comment put a big smile on my face. I’m sorry things didn’t work out as you planned, are you happy in Germany anyway? Do you plan on staying? Thanks again!

  6. Hello Allie,
    my name is Carmen and I am german. I am reading your blog for some time because I was always interested in hearing from people who left their country to live abroad. And because I am still interested I found one day your blog. I always wanted to do it myself but one day I met my now-husband and I never realized my dreams because he didn’t wanted to leave Germany. So I am still living here and I can understand you how you feel without having friends. I am an introvert and I have only a few people whom I consider my friends. But they don’t live in the same town and although I always lived here in this region I often feel misplaced in Germany. I had times when I was depressed because all of this but I can’t change how I am and so I learnt to cope with it. I thought maybe you like to email and get to know me. It would be nice to get to know and become your friend.
    Feel free to write me, I am looking forward to hear from you.
    Carmen

  7. Just stumbled across your blog when I typed living in Germany:) It will be a month on the 17th, and I find your writings so helpful while I try it stumble into a world I’m so unfamiliar with. So thank you for your honesty!
    -Lacey

  8. For a language arts class we have been assigned to try to learn as much about a foreign country as possible, and I chose Germany. I came across your blog and had a few questions. Being an American, how did your personality change, and how did you change as a person while making the transition to Germany. What other challenges did this propose? Now that this blog is a bit dated, did you ever feel totally transitioned to Germany or did you always miss America?

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