Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘United States Department of State

Virtually Friends

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When I first started this blog, I imagined that my only readers would be my friends and family- those who were curious about Pudding and autism, but didn’t like to ask.  I wasn’t expecting to become part of a community at all, so imagine my delight at becoming part of two: the autism-mama-blogger community, and the Foreign Service blogger community.  Pretty amazing for someone feeling the isolation of being a foreign-born spouse on a domestic tour, and the isolation of being a special needs stay-at-home parent.  I joke that blogging is the alternative to therapy for those who can’t afford it, but I can’t quite bring myself to laugh.

Both of my communities have their share of hardships, and I continue to be amazed by how strongly I can feel for people I’ve never met.  I’m often at a loss to know what to do to make things better; sometimes all I can do is read a person’s story, and sometimes tell mine.  My husband’s colleagues around the world and their families are going through some extraordinarily difficult times.  They aren’t my stories to share, but later this week when they are collated into a Round-Up, I hope to link you to them.  It is hard to imagine that in the midst of such turmoil and trauma, we don’t know if we’ll get paid next month.  Oh, and on top of this, there are moves to eradicate locality pay for State Department employees overseas, but not for any other agency of the US Government.  Our family is already living paycheck to paycheck, I don’t know what will happen.

Communities are not all about suffering and hardship though.  I’ve made some incredibly supportive connections as being part of these communities.  Another unexpected thing has happened, I’ve made some friendships.  A couple of weeks ago, I got to meet the lovely Jen for coffee, who is just as great as I imagined her to be.   It is quite surreal to meet someone in real life who you have only known virtually, but I’d referred to her previously as a friend I hadn’t yet met, and now I have.  We’re going to get together again soon, this time with the kids.

In May, I’m going to meet my sister-from-another-mister friend Alysia.  Every time I read one of her beautiful posts, I’m amazed at her ability to capture my feelings in her words.  Though I’m still a few months from meeting her, we’re already friends.  We decided a few months ago that we had to meet before I skipped the country.  I’ll also get to meet Varda, another awesome Hopeful Parent writer who writes incredibly powerful posts drawn from her life.  I can’t wait to actually meet these wonderful women in person.

That is the thing about virtual friends, they can become real ones too.  Our shared experiences bring us together.  My heart goes out to all those dealing with earthquakes, evacuations, drug lords and dictators.  Just as much it goes out to those who struggle to connect with their children, who are braving up to a new diagnosis that changes their world, to those dealing with the ongoing pain of watching their loved one fail to adapt to a world that doesn’t understand them.  We’re in it together, bruised but still brave.

I might get to meet some more of you, one of these days.  Until then I’m right there with you.  We’re virtually friends already.

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

February 28, 2011 at 7:14 am

Places

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“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (1990) Dr. Seuss.  Random House; Reprint Edition.

I don’t write much about being a diplowife, spouse of a Foreign Service Officer, or trailing spouse (vomit) as I’m sometimes referred to, but as we are going through the bidding process, this part of my life is very much on my mind.  We are still in a holding pattern, but it looks like we’ll be going to one of three posts, all of which are on new continents for me.  Eek.  Life will be different, but then, life has been different for a while, it will just be in a new place.

Last week I  submitted my Wordless Wednesday photo for the weekly State Dept Round Up . It is sort of a blog-hop for diplobloggers- go check it out.  I kind of cheated on the theme of where we are now, because I’m lazy developmentally we’re in a new place and I’m excited by it.

The Round Up this week was quite the experience for me.  Some of the places I’d never been to, but were interesting to look at.  Other places I had.  I taught English in Paris for a year during university, and I can’t look at photos without feeling the pang for my soul-place.  It just gives me sweet, sentimental memories though, and renew my vow to spend my 40th birthday there, having just as good a time as my 30th.  Just looking at the Eiffel Tower made me happy.  I’m English by birth, American by marriage, became a mother in Luxembourg, but I’m Parisienne at heart.

One of the bloggers posted pics of another place we’d been.  It was the temporary quarters we’d stayed in when Spectrummy Daddy had language training in between our move from Europe to Bolivia.  We never got there, of course, because it was while I was staying there that we noticed Pudding’s differences.  Even though the apartments have been remodeled, it was so painfully familiar.  Looking at the pictures was like being hit with grief all over again.  That was where I mourned for my little girl’s future, feared for her interactions with this world, and was terrified that autism would make her distant from me.  Somehow those feelings are tied up in that physical place, and I’ve moved on both literally and figuratively.  The remarkable thing is that while these apartments are just a couple of miles away from our rental home, emotionally it is very far away.

This brings me to this week’s Round Up theme, which is about what I never knew before Foreign Service life.  I guess that what I never realized before is that when you live a nomadic life, you begin to feel very passionately about places.  I knew when I got married into this lifestyle that I’d miss my family and friends, but I had no idea that a place could hurt so much, or make me smile like an old friend.  I didn’t know I’d care more for England as an ex-pat than in all the time I lived there.  I think that this might be why many third culture kids frequently move into careers in conservation.  You can feel as much for the environment as you do people.  And a location can truly make an impression, for better or for worse.  Places can hurt or heal.

We’re ready to find out where we’ll move to next.

Oh, the places we will go!

 

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

October 25, 2010 at 6:41 am