I met my husband in 2001 in the United States when we were both students. After a four-year long distance relationship, we got married and I moved to Brazil, where he is from. Finally, we were going to live together!
I settled in very quickly. I was already fluent in Portuguese when I arrived and working as an English and French teacher helped me adapt easily to my new environment. However, I encountered many challenges that I was not expecting. In time, I got tired of teaching and I started to feel homesick and lonely. I was missing my family and friends, my country and my culture. I was feeling lost and even started feeling like a stranger to myself. This is when I realised how much my move to Brazil had affected me at the deepest level of who I am, my identity.
Facing this crisis, I found myself experiencing a variety of emotions and behaviours that were not actually me . I was tearful, irritable, angry and frustrated. I needed to express my feelings and all those emotions and obviously, I first turned to my husband as my emotional support. However, it was tough for him to see his wife unhappy. Sometimes he was not available, or was not listening the way I wanted to be heard, or he could not fully understand what I was going through. The situation was putting pressure on our marriage so much that I decided to ask for help. I went to see a therapist and that was a relief. Finally, I could freely express my feelings and emotions, and talk about my fears and concerns.
At the same time, I happened to get closer to the expat community and started to meet and hang out with some expat wives. We eventually became friends. Sharing our experiences about what we were going through as expatriate spouses made me realise how much we had in common even though we had moved for different reasons. We were actually going through the same challenges, the same difficulties and I realised how much we needed support to face the situation. That was the moment when my desire to help and support expat spouses emerged. Still, I did not know how.
To follow my journey, read “From Brazil to Switzerland”.