Trouble is when I'm really low I don't even blog, which is not good as I find it a very creative outlet. I just lack the motivation to sit, think, create, edit. I feel lethargic. That's why I hypocritically argue against my children spending time on the computer, the Nintendo, watching dvds, because it's largely passive & solitary.
The cyber sulking was induced by email silence. From my friends. I get fed up sometimes always being the one to write, or I write to friends and a week, 2, 3 even 4 wks go by and I don't get a reply. Sometimes I never get a reply. You then wonder if they didn't get it, but you can't write & ask. If you write again it looks too keen. I was brought up always to reply to any letter sent. Maybe that colours my reaction to this silence. It's seems rude. A blogging friend (she's very wise) pointed out that perhaps I'm cross for needing my friends more than they need me.
Ah, how true. I'm cross that they are leading bustling, fulfilling lives & are certainly not sitting around waiting for me to write to them, & even less likely to spend time sitting around sending emails. Too busy leading real lives...
Trouble is it's hard not to feel needy, particularly where friendship is concerned, when you are living abroad, in an alien culture with an unknown tongue, amidst many frustrations, much loneliness, & a lack of emotional support and when you have been used to the ample and comfortable bosom of a strong support network 'back home'.
When an email does pop into my Inbox, I find I pounce on it, and then have to work very hard at resisting the urge to respond immediately, thus scaring off my friend, or becoming what this same blogging friend was herself called , a "dauntingly good correspondent" Speaks volumes doesn't it? It says in 3 words:
- You write too much
- You write back too quickly
- You write too often
- You scare me with your keenness
- I can't compete
- and probably 'I don't intend to try & match that'.
Or am I reading too much subtext?
I think Christmas is what did it for me. One of the things I love about Christmas is the post. Real letters & cards. It's the gold wrapped truffle in the Christmas chocolate box. for me. We have always sent & received a lot of cards. Increasingly rare in today's cyber world, & thus even more of a treat to receive. But I also love receiving emails (still a chocolate truffle, but maybe silver wrapped. You can't hang them on festive ribbons from the ceiling after all) People send greetings & catch up with you, sometimes a once a year occurrence only, but others more frequently, but always an annual dead cert.
Except this year it wasn't. We heard from fewer people than we ever have. And I wondered why, and then I went into a cyber sulk, as January slipped by & I realised we weren't going to...You try & make excuses by saying well, people are very busy, it's a hectic time of year, I know it is. You try not to come to the conclusion that people don't care, or aren't thinking of you, or have forgotten. And these are good friends, some of these are friends whose children are our Godchildren...(& I can write this here because I also know they don't read my blog. Too busy for that too.) But I can't escape the notion that you make time for what you want to make time for. People aren't too busy to clean their teeth or change their clothes are they? I wonder if it's because we're 'abroad' now. Gone. Moved on. I feel like saying "No, no, moved away, not moved on" Or am I supposed to move on? But then whatever happened to 'Forever friends?'
Communication is SO easy these days & so cheap, even free, yet no-one skypes, or even make the time to send a one line email which would be so easy. Shamefully easy. A cop out almost. Yet we would have been grateful. Pathetically grateful, and devoured the crumbs offered.
I will paint a picture for you. First of all we live in a street with no name, on the top floor of a villa with no number. We have no landline, no letter box, we live out of the city centre. I am sure, to a Westerner, not being assaulted by the phone ringing would be bliss, not having unwelcome callers would be nice, for a while. But picture day in day out being like that. It can get quite lonely. The phone never rings, no mail plops into our non existent letter box, people don't pop in when just passing. I can say hello & how are you in Albanian but that's about it with my neighbours.
I am reasonably o.k a year on, in this country, until my routine slips, the few regular fixtures in my week which give it shape, & then it's just me & I'm not so o.k. Several things have not started up again for various reasons this year. Also a driver takes my son & 6 other children to school. All parents do this here because the traffic is so bad & it's a cheap option. It does, however, mean there's no loitering by the school gate, meeting other mums.
I love 'busy-ness. In the UK, I was a part-time teacher, I ran the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, I ran a mums' group, I organised a parenting course, I helped set up & run arts & crafts at a toddler group, I was on various committees, we always had an a open house, had people to stay, people dropped by. It makes the contrast even starker.
My brother who has just returned from 3/12 yrs in New Zealand, & my sister, who spent 7 yrs in Canada & other friends, all say this is universal ex-pat abroad experience; surprise at who does write, surprise at who never does, the experience of feeling forgotten or neglected by people back home, people not being interested in what you do or what life's like. Out of sight out of mind etc. I gather there's a whole raft of similar stuff to deal with in reverse when you DO move back. But I'm certainly not going to think about that now.
I have come to the conclusion if you haven't lived abroad that people back home have no idea what it's like, but also little realisation of how so very little goes such a long way in making one feel thought of & connected.
So I haven't been writing, this is what has been on my mind but it's introspective & perhaps too honest, & let's face it, not hugely entertaining. But that's the stuff I write about.
You know what though, 4 things really cheered me up last week, and they all occurred in the blogosphere where I DO feel cared for, and have people to correspond with who know what it's like.
Wife in Hong Kong very kindly gave me an award last week, which says:
Blogs who receive this award are "exceedingly charming," says its authors. This award is a fine one because it focuses not on the glory and fanfare of blogging, but in the PROXIMITY to one another through this online-world. This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY--nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this clever-written text into the body of their award."
That's just what I'm talking about here. Iota has been corresponding with me, having virtual cappucinos, and has generally been cheering me up (& look at what she's just blogged about) & Reluctant Memsahib noticed I'd been very quiet on my blog and asked if I was ok.
That's why I keep going back to the 'blogosphere' because there's a community there which is, maybe in virtual reality, but they are real people who have offered me real friendship & support. And managed to bring me out of my cyber sulk. For that, and for them, I am grateful.