vendredi 17 avril 2015


Scarry or tempting ?

One I had to get out of my system for a while 

« Repatriation ? The worst. »
Shared one lady to me one day.

I am a life coach, working with expatriates / repatriates for 7 years now, with some academic knowledge about migration.
Here are below a few sentences people shared while working with me. 
You probably will feel you could have said one or several of those !

“I am back home for one year now and I do not fit with all those people who have never moved from their home !”
“I had Post Traumatic Stress  Symptom Disorder for 3 months after I was back home.”
“My family does not work the same way as families in my country, so it is very hard to fit in for all of us.”
“I became a very different person while expatriating.”
“The first weeks back home were horrible.”
“I felt like disconnected from my old friends”
Etc … etc … etc … this could go endlessly !

I began to feel, more or less consciously, the issues of repatriating when my own family did. I was then a child and never even had the conscious we were expatriates. So repatriates …. Even less ! 
We were just moving. We were together, and this was all fine to me then.
It took me years to understand why my home (internal family daily organisation), 
my house (interior decoration), 
my family dynamics (conversation, references, very strong bond between us …) were so different from those of my friends at school. 
I have to add that I loved those differences ! 
That was very positive to me ! 
I felt special and I liked it; by the way, isn’t that a very specific expat feeling ? !
And it took me years to understand as well the dysfunctions related to the expat. / repat. history of my family.
Then I chose to work with migrants while I was a social worker / now as a life coach.

One thing is for sure:
When you migrate, the notion of return / repatriation comes in the game at the same time. 
Whether actually you repatriate … or not.
This, because the very first psychological, cultural …. bath of your home family, your home country represent your roots and your first life ‘trampoline’ you jumped from.

You cannot avoid that.
This is the migrant fate. 
The return is always there. Fantasy or reality. You cannot do without. 
So, better facing it. In its reality or in your dreams; or it may well lead you to pretty uncomfortable places. Or not. Who can know in advance ?
I am not yet a fortune teller ;o)

Repatriation or reverse culture shock; 
What is happening ?
First of all; Do not believe that you WILL struggle going back home ! 
Struggling, for all of us depends on our personality. 
And even the most cheerful people do struggle and have ups and downs. 
Some old psychological fractures can be reactivated.
It also depends on which life page we are at. What you have to face at that moment.
What does the return represents; is it wanted or not ?
If it is synonymous of “Yeah ! Great ! I am so happy to go back home! “ 
Because finally, I will be closer to my family / my old friends 
Because, finally I will get back that job I was longing to have ! 
Or it may be synonymous of “ Oh Sprountz no ! “
Because you were so happy in this host country, so many fab friends / activities
Because you do not want to face your family /old friends
Because your country will put you in a place of less freedom

I do not think it is possible to know in advance for sure. Though there are red lights to be aware of.
Be honest with the way you feel when thinking about your repatriation and the red warning lights will show naturally if there are. 
That is the very first step to get this ok.
The, seek help if needed.

Repatriates never get back to what they knew before leaving. This is impossible. Life is about change. 
You have changed, People back home have changed. Be real. You all have moved on.
You will not find back your old habits. They do not exist anymore. You will need to create new ones.

You may be disappointed to realise that actually people are not mad curious about what you have experienced here and there in the world.
They may show they are dead bored after 10 mn you excitedly talk about that beautiful place you have been to.
This was not their life. It is yours.
They are happy (or not) with their life, exactly the way you are with yours (or not)
People back home do not need to connect with you. Their life is already oeganised.

All parties will need time to (re)connect and truly feel each has a genuine interest in the other ‘s life. And this goes both ways.
That leads me to a feeling that an expatriate shared with me one day. I found it extremely interesting as so rarely openly expressed and I am sharing it with you today as I think it plays a fair part in the expatriates relation with non-expatriates, and more specifically in the repatriation scenarri.
This lady said that too many expatriates feel they know more than people who do not expatriate. They do judge and place themselves above.
And there may be a jealousy from the non-expatriates when thinking about all the travels the life the expat has done.
Both equations may blur in a very negative way the inter relation between people.
Check where you are with this.

I dislike advice so much !
I prefer listening to what people who have been through something say about it and then, maybe one , two or more or none may be useful to you.
Here is what I heard that I feel is interesting, to which I added my own views:
Approach your repatriation the same way you approach expatriation: 
Be open
Be flexible
Start again and again. Do not give up
Look for the positives. There are !
Be proactive and NOT hyper active; One very good friend instead of 50 / one self-esteem-boosting activity better than 50 boring-ish
Go out, get away from this house if not yet a home
Stop judging; this is your frustration that negatively finds a way out of your system.

And maybe one point that belong the prevention department, so probably the most important one: 
Do not cut yourself from home. 
One way or the other, do not deny your roots. 
This would mean denying part of yourself. 
Not beneficial to you. 
Whatever the relation you have with home – location and people – that are part of you.
If you keep t:he connection at the level you chose to have, it will feel less of a big – huge ? – adjustment.
This is true for adults and children.

The challenges always lie in the difference.
If you reduce the difference by keeping in touch with home, it will end feel smoother to be back.
And if you never go back you may well benefit from it by feeling a stronger inner-peace, guilt-free.

Hope this helps, one way or the other !
Keep sending me your thoughts
here on Coaching Pia FB page or at
Merci ! !
Have a great day !

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