Clearing the Trail – How to Survive Trailing Spouse-dom Part Deux

Kristi Remick
  • By Kristi Remick
  • September 30th, 2010

By Kristi Remick


Last April I wrote about blazing a trail as a Trailing Spouse -  tips designed to help the trailer find fulfillment and happiness.  What I didn’t take into account when writing this particular blog was that my Expat Self-Esteem (ESE) was at an all time high.  I thought I conquered the Trailing Spouse Blues but unfortunately more bad days, weeks and months were to be had.

This past month was pretty challenging.  I had scored a job interview and was called back for a second.  I was feeling hopeful that I would finally join the ranks of the employed. I started daydreaming about living in the real world again, making money and feeling like a productive member of society.  When I heard that I was passed on for the job, it sent me spinning towards dark places and my ESE plummeted to an all time low. This dark place made me feel like no matter how busy I stayed as a Trailing Spouse or how much I reinvented myself, it was fake and it was lonely.  How did I crawl out of this cave of despair?  In addition to a disgusting over-consumption of chocolate and Nacho Cheese Bugles, I did the following:

1. I let it out – I cried like a little girl, pounded my fists, threw a tantrum or two and sucked my thumb (but didn’t wet my pants while trying to do a hula dance).  A good cry sometimes cleans you out.  It is like a colonoscopy for the soul.  The trick is to actually let it out and move on.  Let’s be serious here, no one finds puffy eyes attractive.

2. I set new goals – After talking with my husband, I realized I hadn’t accomplished what I intended to with my gift of time.  I hadn’t volunteered like I said I would and I hadn’t mastered German.  It was time to be pro-active again and do what I said I would a year ago.

3. I got out of the house/apartment/flat/cave – Loneliness has probably been the number one challenge for me.  I do a great job of staying busy but I stay busy by myself.  This week I decided to get up, feed my mutts, go straight to the gym and study German at a nearby coffee shop.  This does two things: Eliminates distractions (TV, Internet, Naps, etc) and made me feel like I was part of society.

4. I read other people’s experiences/tips – My husband is the greatest.  He has the wisdom of a 5,000 year old sorcerer (the kind that have really long white beards) and does his best to boost me up when I am down.  The problem is, he has never been in my shoes.  I really like reading about people like me and what they have done to be successful.  Fellow bloggers can be a great source of comfort and inspiration. Knowing you aren’t alone out there can sometimes bring you renewed mental energy.

Blazing a trail is not the end to one’s journey as an Expat. Sometimes a tree falls over blocking your way or a horse did its business right in the middle of your path. Finding ways to clear the branches and horse poo is not always easy.  I wish I could say that there is this finite moment in time when a Trailing Spouse is happy all of the time.  I am afraid that isn’t the case but there are ways to pick yourself up.  Any other tips from fellow trailers?

When I am not busy stuffing my face with chocolate, you can find me over at From A to Z blogging about my life in Zurich Switzerland.

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