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  • Alice Rossetter

We used to have it all

Recently I've been spending difficult sessions with clients trying to decide between 3 or more not very good options. Many expats are faced with the decision between returning to their home country permanently to take advantage of the vaccination programmes and the freedom that herd immunity brings, or visiting their home country to get vaccinated, returning to their chosen country where fewer people are vaccinated and continuing to live through the lock downs and curfews, or staying put and waiting for the slower vaccine programmes.

Often the financial costs involved are enormous because of inflated air travel prices and government hotel quarantine. Frequently it involves risking not being able to get back to a carefully constructed expat life because of border controls. For older people and people with existing health problems every option involves putting their health at risk to some degree. Sometimes it involves leaving loved ones behind and living for an unspecified period of time in a place that never felt like home.

During these uncomfortable conversations what has become clear is not which is the correct decision. What has become clear is that we used to have better options and it's difficult to get used to not having them anymore. In fact many people have become completely paralyzed waiting for a better option to magically appear. Whilst this process has been frustrating and often unpleasant what we've found is that once the reality of the situation is there in black and white different ideas and resources start to appear. It can be very powerful to realize that all the options are pretty bad and that there is no better option staring us in the face that we just haven't seen yet.

Only then can we start to lower our expectations and accept that whichever decision we make (and maybe the aftermath) isn't going to feel good. Once we do this we can start to identify coping strategies to deal with the difficulties. We can begin to find ways to enjoy the smaller more insignificant things in life. Finally we can give ourselves space to not feel OK. Because there's nothing worse than judging ourselves harshly for our own pain.

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