As I wrote about in my last post, moving is difficult. Everyone who has relocated at some point in their lives knows this. The nuts and bolts and organization involved is exhausting, and I told you all about it.
What we’ll chat about today is the emotional side of moving to a new home.
People say that the emotional toll a move takes on you is right up there with the loss of a loved one. Yes, you read that correctly – the effect of relocating is similar to death emotionally. Apparently this is believed not only in my home country, the US, but here in Germany as well.
What I find interesting is that despite people knowing that relocation can be so taxing, we don’t – or at least I don’t – ever prepare for it enough. We prepare for a move by making to-do lists, organizing movers, packing boxes, and taking care of the necessary paperwork and change-of-address necessities. But we don’t really prepare for the emotions of moving, do we? I know I never do.
Growing up in a military / missionary family. I relocating became a very normal way of life. We moved every 1-2 years on average, so it was so normal to my existence that I only remember being really affected emotionally with two of the moves (if you’re curious – leaving Thailand was HARD – I loved it there and felt my family had given up so much to move there that leaving just didn’t make sense). But most other moves we made as a family were simply par for the course. It’s what we did.
Fast forward to adulthood, where moves were challenging, but not always emotionally taxing. Leaving Georgia for Germany was rough – because it was the first time I moved abroad with three kids in tow. Saving good bye to family and friends back home was sad but not devastating, but I had a purpose and a vision and a reason for moving which fueled me enough to sacrifice leaving the familiar behind.
But the roughest so far – and surprisingly so – was this most recent move Berlin. This threw me for a huge loop because we’re still in the same country. It takes about two hours by train to get from Berlin to Hamburg, so in terms of geography, this was not a big move. But the fact is, a move is a move is a move. You’re leaving things behind – familiar places, friends, maybe family, all the things you’ve know and moved and maybe even hated for years.
And that’s tough! Plain and simple. You’re leaving what you know behind and starting over.
For the first time I really understand why the stress of a move is up there with a loved one dying. I felt like someone died, and still do some days! The reality is, when you leave a place something does, in effect, die. Dying might seem dramatic, but life as you know it ends.
Even if a move is an upgrade to your life, and you are moving there with purpose, you are still leaving another life behind. So in all honesty, it’s taken me a few months to come to terms with the move I made. Months. And I’m still not all there. Some days I’m curious to get out and explore my new home, and other days I wonder what am I doing here.
But endings and new beginnings are challenging.