I’m leaving. What does it feel like when the decision is born? When you have to face the family to break the news? When you battle emotions to make them understand why you can’t stay? When you are really far away from them…?!
“I could never live abroad.”
With the subtitle I quoted myself at the age of 18. That’s right, I was so sure I would spend the rest of my life at home, in Hungary. If I never had the life-changing dream, maybe I wouldn’t have left into the unknown. I won’t deny it, it wasn’t easy for the first time to feel that I wanted to leave, to reach consensus with myself about saying goodbye to everything that I know; to all my friends and family, to hurt some of the people I love the most and to break an old routine – it was terrifying.
When I turned 19, life took me to Portugal for one semester. The first two weeks of my student exchange experience were a living hell. I cried day in day out and I wanted to run home. Then little by little this toxic, suffocating feeling started to wash away as I began enjoying myself. After the hardships and the initial excitement, homesickness tortured me again. But what did I miss exactly? My sister? My parents? The food? My regular bars?
Rather the habits and the feeling of safety. The comfort and routine. That I missed out on many big moments of my friends, I wasn’t there when my sister’s heart got broken, I couldn’t hold my mom’s hand when she got her first tattoo, no one called me to get the car and drive drunk friends home, we didn’t choose a random restaurant with my dad just because we passed one where we have never eaten before….etc. I missed the entire picture, the Hungarian experience. At least I was always a few hours flight away, so we could see each other 3 times a year.
Mom, I’m leaving Hungary 2 weeks before Christmas for a year
You will not believe how much stress was I taking on when I broke the bad news to my family. Of course they all asked the same question “ why can’t you just wait a few more days, then go?” The answer was just as simple as so complicated. I had to go. I wanted to go. I could not wait a day more. For me Christmas is not what it used to be as a child. It is just another day when we are together, only with more food and bad movies. It is like any other day with the family.
But for my mom and my grandma, it still meant something very special. So I practically stabbed both of them in the back when I told them my plan. It was awful to hurt them on purpose, but they had to understand that I make decisions for myself and not against them. I prioritized my own happiness; I did what felt right for me. So I left.
I didn’t expect them to understand it, or to support it, just to accept it. This was probably the biggest slap in the face I gave them, which could have left a mark for a life, but I still followed through with the decision, because I already stopped meeting others’ expectations, I only wanted to meet my own.
It is only fair if I add here, that I was going through a difficult time in my life. When I closed down the part of my life when I let others suppress me, when I sacrifice myself for others, so call it an overcorrection, but it did an excellent job of putting the self back together. I really needed it, I had to follow my stubborn mind to get over it.
8 years on the road
At this moment, it has been over 8 years since I started travelling. What I mean is, that I no longer keep a permanent residency anywhere for longer than 1 year and I left Hungary potentially for good. When I tell this story to people who have never lived abroad, they usually say, “I could never leave my friends and family behind.” Well, I probably gained much more then I lost. It might be a cliché, but distance can bring people closer. Of course this comes with age too, as a teen, the last people I wanted to share my life with were my parents, but now that we are more equal and verbal communication is the only way we can be part of each other’s lives, we were forced to learn to do just that effectively.
Nevertheless, their lack of physical presents never stops to hurt me. There are days, when I can barely feel the homesickness, and other days when my heart is in so much pain, it can hardly endure. So why don’t I just go home when it hurts so much?!
The world – Home, sweet home
The desire to go overpowers the desire to stay. The adventure of exploring a new place is more attractive than visiting home. The more I learn about the world, the more I appreciate that, fortunately, I do have a place to go back to, even if this happens rarely. But my family and I can share the joy of discovering the planet through communication.
We crossed paths with countless nomads who haven’t been home in 3-4-5 years. The way people sometimes are surprised about the way I live is exactly how I felt about how some nomads can go on without family for such periods. But of course, we all have different levels of needs and different bonds with our loved ones.
This is going to hurt!
I have to be brutally honest now to tell you the real reasons why I love to be away from Hungary. These thoughts are common, but no one dares to say them out loud, as we should not. They can hurt a lot. But my family is already very much familiar with them, therefore I don’t mind to speak up.
There is no perfect family, everyone has something to hide, something they are not proud of. When I’m away, I’m not involved as much in their personal problems, and I can control how much of an influence do I allow their problems to affect me. They will never ruin my good mood as I won’t let them. Being there for someone does not equal to stop prioritizing me. I’m always there when support is needed, but never at the expense of my own happiness. Call it selfish, I call it self-protection.
I don’t have to listen to the same complaints over and over again, I’m not there to take every single tear or negativity that easily takes away my smile. I don’t have to be there at family events if I don’t want to. I don’t have to look after children, which would drive me crazy. I don’t have to take the car to the semi-annual checkup, do the shopping in three different shops as prices differ, water the plants weekly, keep my room tidy, cook, drive to the end of the world because a family friend can give us fresh meat from farm way cheaper than in shops. I don’t have to do any of these.
And the most challenging part, I don’t have to be exposed to the Hungarian mentality. My country is not famous for its open-mindedness and optimism, so enough of that, I stay away from negativity.
I almost feel guilt by confessing the ugly truth, but my mom is way over being hurt about them. In my world, I play by my own rules, no one else’s and if I don’t live at home, obviously I don’t need to. I don’t complain about how much I hate ironing. I didn’t like it, so I left.
Despite all the pain I could cause my family by telling them my reasons, the bond stayed strong once they understood our differences. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger applies here too. My poor parents got so many slaps from me, I disappointed them too many times, I did things they disapproved of, sometimes I went against their teachings, but they grew a thicker skin almost at the same pace as I did. All their worries are slowly disappearing as they see that they did raise a woman who can fend for herself anywhere.
I miss you
I miss our family programs, the happy moments, the stupid pranks and our warm hugs full of love. I could never imagine being away for so many years without visiting them. But I also can’t imagine myself staying there for years.
So I had to learn to live with constant pain in my heart and unfortunately they had to do the same. I forced them into this constant ache and I always feel guilt because of it. But they see me happier than ever, living my dreams, so little by little, they accepted the never-ending soreness. Every parent wants to see their kids live a fulfilling life, even it that takes them far from home. And to live a fulfilling life, I must stay away from home.
My heart has been hurting for 8 long years now, but I have never been happier. I’m incredibly lucky to have a reason for pain, to miss people so much I shed tears and because I will always have a home to go back to when I can’t take the distance anymore.
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