Life after London

londo 2In July we are coming up to our three year anniversary since we left London. I know. THREE YEARS.

Before we left I met someone who told me that it takes two years to resettle back where you came from after so many years living away. At the time I wanted to slap that person across the face in fury. No way was it going to take that long because I just couldn’t possibly be unhappy for that long living in a city I didn’t want to be back in and survive. Not for two whole years.

Anyway it turns out they were wrong.

It’s more like three years.

I loved every single second of my time in London. Our last year there was bittersweet as I had to painstakingly count down the months, weeks and days until we left to move back to Sydney. It was hard and painful and I was so angry we were leaving.

I’d found my true self in England, forged a fabulous life in my new home city and I was abandoning it to return to a city I couldn’t wait to get out of all those years before. It was just so unfair. Now I know that makes me sound like a total drama queen. I was hardly having to return to Kabul but nevertheless I grieved. Big time.

So much so that all my hair fell out and my weight plummeted. I am one of those people who never lose weight when they have gastro and even when my thyroid was making my metabolism work triple speed I didn’t lose a single gram like 99% of hyperthyroid people do. My body must have been in serious crisis to shed so many kilos from the stress of leaving my beloved London.

Anyway I had worked myself up into such a ball of anxiety and had convinced myself so much that I hated Sydney that there was no chance I was ever going to arrive back down under and enjoy it. Zilch.

To be fair to Sydney, I came back with a lowest of low positive attitude and I was extremely stubborn in trying to like it. I just found it so hard getting past where I wanted to be and where I was. On the positive side it made me a much better runner as for the first year it’s pretty much all I did.

So the first few months back I’d tell anyone who would listen that I wasn’t happy but it didn’t take me long to work out that Australians absolutely hate being told one of their own would rather live in England. So I shut up and saved my whingeing for Rob who I would frequently tell had actually ruined my life.

I think that year he spent more hours at the office than any other year in his career to avoid coming home to my constant accusations that bringing us back to Australia for his job had murdered my heart and soul. My drama queen status was stratospheric.

I don’t know what it is about moving home after life as an expat that’s so tricky. I understand that other people who haven’t lived abroad don’t get it and I probably wouldn’t have either had I not left. But something happens in the time you are away, a disconnection of sorts. Like your patriotism has broken into parts and you scattered these parts all over the world.

You don’t come back with the same level of love for your home country because that love has been divided up and shared with other countries.

My love for London is deep. I have an enormous emotional attachment to it. I had three of my children there. I made lifelong friends with incredible women who I shared the experience of having kids and watching them grow with. When you have to then leave them and you come back to a country where there is none of that it leaves you bereft. I learnt to run in London, to understand that my weird isn’t really weird, it’s just me. Then I learnt to accept that. It was a big, big time in my life and an extremely important one at that.

Friendships change. You change. They change. Who knows if you’d have all stayed the same people but the fact is that certainly for me I came back a very different person on a number of levels and people I had connected with once weren’t who I connected with now. I left Sydney a party girl, a big drinker, a non exerciser, a huge socialiser and a mother of one.

I came back years later a passionate long distance runner, a teetotaler who hadn’t drunk a drop of alcohol in years, I don’t visit pubs, I get up at 5am to train so I go to bed at 9pm. I now have four kids. I am passionate about fitness and speaking about depression and mental illness. I am so far removed from the person I used to be it’s laughable.

There is nothing wrong with any of this. It’s just what happened.

So where am I three years down the track? I am happy, yes. Am I settled? I don’t know. What is settled? We own a house, are on the electoral roll, our kids are all enrolled and happy in their schools, but settled?

I guess the answer to that lies here. If tomorrow we were offered the opportunity to go back to the UK, or to the US, would I go?


All I know is that the word “settled” is a stupid one. I think the question needs to be “where do you see yourself growing old”.

Mine would be London. No question. It doesn’t mean I hate Australia, quite the opposite, I love Sydney and it will always be my hometown. But I want to grow old in England. Absolutely no question about it.



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