The Move to Germany
My first visit
In 2009, weeks after my late husband died, I visited a dear friend in Germany.
At the time, I was physically and emotionally exhausted, after 15 months of helping Jim fight a malignant brain tumor. Then helping him die. I went to Germany to get away from the harsh realities of life. And the immediate pain of my loss.
This was my first trip to Germany and to Europe. I spent three wonderful weeks with a friend, touring castles and other historical sites. The history geek in me enjoyed it very much.
While I carried the pain of my loss with me, I loved being in a new environment, meeting new people, and experiencing a different way of life. For the first time in years, I felt alive.
An unintended consequence of the trip
The visit to Germany opened my eyes to the possibility of living abroad.
I returned home to Raleigh with a strong sense of what I wanted to do with the next chapter of my life: live outside the U.S. for awhile, maybe in Germany. Or, at least, travel more.
I wanted to take my life in a new direction. To step outside my comfort zone and try something new.
My second visit
In 2010, I went back to Germany for three months. I wanted to get an idea of what it was like to live abroad. And not be just a tourist.
I also needed to confirm my feelings from a year earlier. Did I really want to move there? Or was this a fantasy I grabbed on to in 2009 to escape the pain of my loss?
I loved every minute of my time in Germany. Once again, I felt alive in a way I didn’t in Raleigh. The trip verified it: I wanted to move to Germany.
What happened next: nothing
There were a million practical reasons why such a huge move was unrealistic. I let every one of them have power over me. I used them as excuses not to move forward.
Truth is: I was afraid to take the leap and live the life I wanted to live. I was afraid to make a major change. I was afraid of the unknown. I was afraid of everything.
Jim’s death had turned my world upside down. I was grieving the pain of losing him – and of losing myself. The person I once was. My old identity.
It was easier to stay put, hang on to my dream, and do nothing about it. And that’s what I did. I allowed my fears, and other people’s expectations of the old me, to hold me back from living the life I wanted to live.
I wrote about this period of darkness in My Journey: the Big Picture and Turning Inward.
Fast forward two years
It’s 2012, and I’m in Germany. I’m writing this essay in my new home, in a village outside of Mainz. I live out in the country, in a wine-making region. It’s a beautiful area. The vineyards are down the road, less than five minutes from where I live.
Three years after my first trip to Germany, three years after Jim’s death, I’ve come full circle. I’m finally living abroad.
And I’ve started the next chapter of my life. With a new love.
Why it took so long
When you have something to do, life will not allow you to move forward until you do it. ~ Iyanla Vanzant
I wasn’t ready to move to Germany in 2009 or 2010, no matter how much I wanted to. I had unfinished business I had to take care of, before I could even begin preparing for a new life.
Instead of working on my unfinished business, I ran from it. I hid from it. I did everything I could to avoid dealing with it.
For two years, I stayed stuck, paralyzed in a limbo world. I didn’t move forward; I didn’t move backward. I went nowhere. It was a lousy place to be in.
Finally, I realized I had to get real, be honest with myself, and own up to certain realities, before I could begin to tackle my unfinished business.
I had contributed to the issues in my life that I needed to resolve. For a long time, I didn’t want to face up to that. It took me two years to finally get it. Two years to turn inward.
Once I took responsibility for my life and my actions, I found the courage to tackle my unfinished business. I spent a year working through the remnants of my old life, until the end, right before I left for Germany
What I learned
Once I faced my demons, something amazing happened: life fell into place. It happened slowly. There were often bumps in the road, but I was moving forward. The dream of moving to Germany soon became a reality. It was doable. And I was making it happen.
It was an incredible experience.
I learned that when you follow your heart, when you do the tough things you know are right, and you know you need to do, when you’re true to yourself, the universe will help you out.
When you work with the flow of life, instead of fighting against it, life becomes easier. And cool things can happen, if you’re open to letting them happen.
Like moving to Germany. And finding love again.
* Photo credit: Image from Flickr by Michal Osmenda