Maybe the universe is helping me out with somewhere to start. The post prompt just asked me the question, “Have you ever lived outside the country you were born in?”.
The short answer is yes, I have lived outside the country I was born in.
I was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa…and my dad still lives in the house that I was first brought home to. My mom lived there until she died less than a month ago.
And let me tell you, when you live in the same house for such a long time…you accumulate a fair amount of stuff.
It took me about 4 days to clear out a portion of the study that she shared with my dad…and my mom hoarded paperwork. There were papers that still contained the list of moms’ that shared the tuck shop duty when I was in primary school…which I finished over 10 years ago.
I “ran away” from South Africa to Costa Rica with my husband when he got offered the opportunity to come work here for a while. I abandoned the profession that I trained for and came to live on the outskirts of a small village in the mountains outside of San José.
If I am entirely honest…I ran away because I could not face staying close to my mom…I ran away from a nervous breakdown, which I am not entirely sure I did not have in any case.
I ran away from the fact that abuse started again. And I ran away because it seemed easier. I am glad that I ran…I needed the solitude. I needed to get my head straight. I think it has made me a stronger person and what’s more I am not sure, if I am entirely honest, that if I had stayed I would not have done something incredibly stupid and hurt myself.
So I am pleased that I ran away.
Since I left I have been back home twice…Once for my sister’s wedding about 3 months after we left. And then just this month…when we went back for my mother’s funeral.
I never expected not to see my mom again after I said goodbye to her at the airport when I came back after my sister’s wedding. The last time I saw my mother was on the 15th of February 2010.
But when I chose to live in a foreign country…so far away from the land of my birth I never ever expected to have to go back and deal with my mom dying suddenly of natural causes.
Her death hurts…and it hurts when I see things in Costa Rica and realise that my mom will never see them or hear about them. My folks didn’t have any plans to come and visit us…and especially since we are heading back to South Africa at the end of September in any case, but I think somewhere in my fairy tale…at some stage I was going to show my mom and dad central america.
Our relationship at that stage was incredibly strained still…And one of the worse things looking back is knowing that there was nothing that I could do to make it less strained…that a horrible toxic old woman, L, had managed to poison my mom so badly that there was no way for me to fix our relationship.
But I still wonder…what if I had tried harder to find a way…what if I had figured something out to make our relationship improve again. (My mom and I had a good relationship from 2000 to 2005).
I know that there is nothing that I could have done…smart, perceptive people have told me as much. But still, I wish that we could have had a better relationship towards the end.
I am glad that I had a long conversation with her in the time that I went home for my sister’s wedding…I wish that conversation could have helped more…but at least we had “reconciled” to a degree, and the abuse lessened. Granted this was helped by the fact that I moved far, far away. But we were both trying to improve things.
Our last conversation was a good one…but I had been avoiding my mom (using excuses of time zones and dodgy internet connections)…but it was one of a few good conversations…we were keeping everything superficial, avoiding inflicting new wounds and scratching open old scars.
From the books that my mom was reading I think that she was healing (and perhaps she even healed…I will never know) from the horrible abuse that she survived as a child. And I suppose that is something that should give me peace and hope.