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Here I am, there you are

  • 23-09-2021 10:20am
    Registered Users Posts: 10,527 ✭✭✭✭Frank Bullitt

    Finding myself in the midst of a existential crisis a bit here, so bear with me on this one.

    Been living abroad for the past 8 years now, have had plenty of trips home over that with each trip feeling a bit different etc. As it was for everyone, the past 18 months or so have been tough. Travel was restricted and as a result, this was the longest stretch I went without getting home to see family or friends.

    A lot has happened in that timeframe. Last year, my uncle passed away so I got one of those dreaded texts from home, one that I always feared. I was very close to him, he was my godfather so not being here to support my folks was ultra tough. Fast forward again, and I get the news that I chap I worked with during college also passed away, again very sad and even though I wasn't super close, the isolation I felt while away was tough.

    I have since gotten back for a long overdue trip. I booked it last minute and I am beyond happy right now as I sit in the house with the folks, working while I am here, and just readjusting to life in Ireland after being away for so long.

    I am in a 2.5 year relationship abroad, we are both not from the city that we live in, and it seems that recently this has become an issue for us. We talk about the future and where we could go etc, she visited her folks earlier this summer and I came over. I gave her a lot of space while she was there but that hasn't really been the case while I am here. Quite a lot of texting, questions, wanting video calls, and it has been interrupting my trip to the point of it almost being ruined. During my trip, my anxiety was really high as the days counted down to me going back to Canada. I contacted Expedia and I was able to change my flight, at no extra cost, to stay until next Wednesday. This really was something that made me happy and I felt a huge relief lift. The GF didn't take too kindly to it, as I will not be there for her birthday next week, but I explained clearly that I felt I needed to stay and be with family, and going back on the original date wouldn't have done me much good for my emotions. I was really clear and wrote everything out so I wouldn't trip over my words or say something wrong or off. That didn't seem to do much good, and I got the "this will take a long time for me to get over" and "I would never do this to you", there were a few other comments that implied a guilt trip for a while also.

    Our relationship hasn't been the best for the past few months. My homesickness has gotten in the way of us progressing in her eyes, and it has boiled over into arguments about moving in, getting a dog, marriage and leaving the city we are in. Her reaction to me staying a while longer has left a bit of a dark shadow on how I feel right now about the relationship and her, I have told a few friends what she said and all responded with "that is a red flag mate, do you think moving in would be the best idea".

    I am trying to unpack what I am asking here. I now feel really drawn home, I compare what I do in Canada and here, and there is very little difference now. I mainly do CrossFit, box and ride my motorbike, all of which i can do here. My career is now at a point where there is opportunity here and all over Europe for me, my current job is fully remote with staff here, so that is something i can benefit from.

    I love my GF, but this trip and her actions and words have really left a mark. I am already dreading the cross examination I will get form her when I get back about who I was hanging out with etc, her insecurities really don't make for great conversations and that generally leads into an argument about the future and so forth. I have actually posted in here before anonymously about this, and all said to get out of that. The bad is offset by the good at times, but this trip home, the draw home, my career and so forth, it feels like I am at a crossroads. She has also said she wants to move back to her hometown next year, which I am really not sure as I know no one there, and I would be quite isolated in terms of friends and things I can do on my own.

    I don't think it is the right time for me to commit to moving home to Ireland right now, this is my first trip back and I just want to enjoy it as best as I can. I can't, however, ignore the feelings I am getting while I am here.

    Thanks for reading, you can find me in the spot between a rock and a hard place anytime.



  • Registered Users Posts: 991 ✭✭✭Baybay

    Many of us have evaluated relationships, family etc over the past eighteen months or so. Some are strengthened, some not. Some things come to an end, sad as that makes us feel, it may be for the best.

    If a move to her hometown was to be a thing, would the cross fit, boxing & motorcycling that you could do here & in your current city be enough to sustain you while you settle in, get to know her friends?

    Is her job or holiday entitlement enough for her to come here for a bit more than a holiday to evaluate what her life might be like in Ireland?

    Only you know if either of those might be worth the effort. If not, maybe it’s time to call a halt. Heartbreaking & sad as that might be, would it be for your best, hers, both or neither?

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,527 ✭✭✭✭Frank Bullitt

    Thanks lads.

    The waves of dread about leaving Ireland, again, are pretty severe this time and they are coming in strong as well. I think some of it might be PTSD from know that when I was here last, it was the last time I saw my uncle, and that is playing tricks on me a tad.

    I have a lot to think on, my GF can be the best in the world at times, and then just say something that almost undoes it for me. I have second guessed myself a tonne as well with my actions and if I am living up to her expectations, or if it just means that we are not compatible. There is love, but sometimes you need that extra bit.

    I am trying to take t day by day. My anxiety is really high, so it might be a case of seeing a counsellor when I get back to Canada.

    One positive thing, I will be booking my flights at Christmas as soon as I get back.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,030 ✭✭✭Tork

    Did you experience anxiety before you moved to Canada?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,030 ✭✭✭Tork

    Also OP, a lot of your relationship has been lived under unnatural conditions. I don't know what restrictions were like in Canada but I'm sure you spent quite a lot of it being 'locked up' to a certain extent. So in other words, there weren't many opportunities for you to be away from your girlfriend for long. When you got the chance to finally see your family again, you got to see this unpleasant part of her personality in a big way. It has always been there but it was manageable or you ignored it.

    Your uncle's death has obviously hit you hard but I fear you are using the aftermath of those grief to paper over the cracks of what is really going on here. My guess is that your gut is screaming at you that you're flying back to something you don't want. You just don't want to admit it because of what it will unleash. You should break up with your girlfriend ASAP but I'm not convinced you will. You are making up excuses and talking yourself into staying. I hope for your sake that the therapist you talk to in Canada challenges you on this and teases it out. If you're someone with a tendency to be anxious, then she's an even worse partner to have. She's not helping or understanding it. Instead, she's making it worse.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,527 ✭✭✭✭Frank Bullitt

    Thanks for the comments.

    A lot of them are ringing true to me, as painful as they are.

    @Tork It was indeed me a few years ago that posted in here. I did actually try to move back to Ireland for a stint, but I moved back to Canada after 8 months. On reflection, I moved back on a whim and without a real plan, I also moved at Christmas which was a big mistake when I look back at it.

    On this current trip, I am back 2 weeks, i leave on Wednesday but honestly, this trip has been eye opening. Other than the over-the-top drinking that comes after a long time without good Guinness, I have been dong what I would be doing over in Canada. My lifestyle is very middle of the road in that I don't have exclusive pastimes in Canada like snowboarding, crazy outdoor adventure and so on. I will say also, my move back to Canada 3 years ago sent my career in a great direction and I am reaping the rewards for that now.

    On the relationship note, I can't shift the dread of some reactions that may or may not happen, I guess even thinking like that isn't a good sign though...I really find myself in a tough spot, but then there is a 3rd person view that I get that says "she probably knows, in her heart of hearts, that we are on the rocks".

    It does sound like I have 2 big hills to climb for my life right now, the relationship hill and the life hill. You never really get prepared for how different your life looks once you are away for a certain amount of time, but here I am (probably in a relatively good position) but I am not 100% happy at all.

    I appreciate the honesty in here too, I am only giving a snapshot of what is going on but you all seem to be on the ball with it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,030 ✭✭✭Tork

    In the position you're in, you can move or not move at any time. There is no set timetable or deadline for it really. That is something you can process later and make a decision on. Far more urgent is your relationship. Your girlfriend is pressing hard for commitment and I think that's cranking up the anxiety in you. She has a future all mapped out and that entails moving back to her locality and settling down. If that isn't what you want, then you've got to bail out before it gets hard to walk away. Before you get attached to the dog or get even more worried about breaking her heart. Or worse still, she has your child. I think the latter is a very real threat by the way.

    Post edited by Tork on

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,527 ✭✭✭✭Frank Bullitt

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,527 ✭✭✭✭Frank Bullitt

    Just as a note of interest, I was meant to fly back to Canada but I delayed it until Wednesday. The ol anxiety is up today big time

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,030 ✭✭✭Tork

    If your were to split from your girlfriend would you be lonely?

    Is there anybody you can talk to today or in the next few days? A family member or friend? Or someone from your job's employee assistance program (if they have one). Perhaps you could organise something over Zoom?

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,527 ✭✭✭✭Frank Bullitt

    There are, I have one friend who I have been talking with who has been very supportive in all of this, I should talk to them more often.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,030 ✭✭✭Tork

    You should. You're obviously very stressed and confused at the moment. Talking this out with someone will calm some of those thoughts that are bouncing around in your brain at the moment.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,527 ✭✭✭✭Frank Bullitt

    Thanks for this.

    My original plan was for 1 year in Canada, and that has turned into 8 years now.

    My partner as well, after her trip home recently, her tone seems to be very similar to mine now that I have enjoyed some time in Ireland. It may well be the case that we both just want something different for our lives. Even today, my Ma asked "so...what do you actually have in common", not that you need to be doing the same thing all the time, but there are gaps of course.

    You are right that my happiness has been on been impacted a lot. Outside of the home stuff, there has been other stuff that has had us arguing, so I think this trip home has made me reflect on some of our conversations more recently. When I told her I was staying longer, she responded with "I would never do that to you" followed by "It will take me some time to get over this". Those comments felt a bit red flag to me.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,030 ✭✭✭Tork

    For what it's worth - and this is all guesswork - I think you've reached the point in your life where you want to come home for good. You're muddying the waters because you have a girlfriend there and Canada seems to have been good for your career. You possibly have built some of your status around being an Irishman in Canada. But to me, you don't sound like somebody who wants to settle there permanently. Coming back to Ireland won't solve all your problems but I think you're making yourself extra miserable by staying away. You really need to get to the bottom of why you're so anxious about going back to Canada. You haven't figured it out yet but there is something very wrong with your current life. Is it your self-imposed exile in Canada? Is it your girlfriend? Do you miss your family when you travel back? My suspicion is that aside from the problems in this relationship, your girlfriend is the personification of something you don't want. Permanent settlement in Canada, with the return to Ireland option off the menu.

    I agree with a lot of what Jim2007 said above about not fully committing to your home abroad and the transient existence but I've been putting more emphasis on your relationship. I think that is the first thing that needs to be dealt with, and soon. I consider it to be a ticking timebomb and you need to think very long and hard about where that is going. Aside from that risk of her "accidentally" becoming pregnant and making your mind up for you, you're wasting her time. Maybe setting her free and giving her the chance to meet somebody better suited to her is the kindest thing to do for you both.

    Post edited by Tork on

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,527 ✭✭✭✭Frank Bullitt

    Thanks again.

    Have taken the last few days to think on a lot, and met some friends to chat as well.

    Plenty to digest, and it is very tough when you consider all of what is going on.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,363 ✭✭✭✭rainbowtrout

    If she decided to bite the bullet (no pun intended!) and rang you tonight and said 'It's not working, I want to end the relationship' how would you feel? Sad? Lonely? Regret? Relief?

    As most posters have said, there are two issues: the return (or not) to Ireland and the relationship with your girlfriend:

    Can you see yourself being happy in the longterm with your girlfriend whether that be in Canada or Ireland?

    If the relationship does come to an end, would you stay in Canada?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,527 ✭✭✭✭Frank Bullitt

    Well, after the last few days, I think relief would be the feeling.

    Things have really taken a turn during my trip home, and through talking to friends here (as recommended by a few posters here), a few have said I am in an abusive relationship.

    Now, not for one minute did I think i was in one, but the last day or so has shown that to be maybe the case. I won't go into the extreme details, but she was upset about me not calling, began to tell me never had intention to (I did, and did call later that evening), it escalated to some verbal abuse, anger, blaming me and so on, then turned to excuses as to why etc, and has no settled into the calmer phase. This was pointed out to me as being the cycle of abuse.

    I also was more open with my folks about it over dinner last night, and after explaining a few details of some incidents over the past few months, my mother said "Ah no, son, you have to look after yourself here". I almost cried hearing that.

    So now, I am checked into my flight back tomorrow, sitting in panic, confusion, anger, sadness, all of it. I have a tough time ahead of me I think...

  • Registered Users Posts: 984 ✭✭✭Still stihl waters 3

    To be blunt, get rid, go back to Canada with the intention to move back home within a time frame comfortable for yourself, good luck with whatever do

  • Registered Users Posts: 991 ✭✭✭Baybay

    A tough time indeed. But better now than later.

    Once the decision is made, you’re free to decide what’s for you going forward. Whether that’s booking another flight home for as soon as you’ve packed your stuff up or apartment hunting etc. And it’ll have downsides too no doubt. Maybe regrets but I think you saw the writing on the wall when you first posted. Telling your family was a big step towards realisation, I think.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,527 ✭✭✭✭Frank Bullitt

    Already looking at flights.

    There is a wedding coming up as well, so I probably have to act fast on that front. I legit feel terrible for even having these thoughts, but I can't get over how I have felt over the last few days.

  • Registered Users Posts: 21,414 ✭✭✭✭Tell me how

    If the conversation with your GF touches on what your thought process was and what made you change your mind etc. I'd go easy with the part about a lot of people on the internet advising you to do this. ;)

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,527 ✭✭✭✭Frank Bullitt

    I will probably skip over that part, just to be safe.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,030 ✭✭✭Tork

    Frank, if you think you're in an abusive relationship and decide to leave it, be very careful what you say to your girlfriend. Do the groundwork for your split in the background and don't give her a heads up that you're thinking of leaving. That'll give her too much scope to escalate things, manipulate you or "forget" to take the pill. She really doesn't need to know that you've been talking to people on boards or your friends or your mum. That'll just open up the lines of communication and make it harder for you to leave. You need to present the break-up as a done deal and something that's non-negotiable.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,363 ✭✭✭✭rainbowtrout

    Also, no decisions have to be made instantly. I guess the first thing is that it is likely from the sounds of it that you will get a frosty reception on your return. How things pan out with your girlfriend after that is your decision. It's not something to be passive about and just go along with for a quiet life. Assess how you feel about her and the relationship and if you decide to stay with her how things might pan out in the future.

    If things do go pear shaped and you break up with her, then you can take time to assess the staying in Canada/move to Ireland and how it leaves you work wise which will probably be the biggest change in all of it. It will be easier to make decisions when there is an end goal in sight.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,527 ✭✭✭✭Frank Bullitt

    I can relate to a lot of this.

    There is no real chance of me ever buying in Canada due to the insane prices. I am in Vancouver, you are all free to get a laugh out of the prices here. But I get what you are getting at.

    I do find I have less friends here now, there has been a lot of leaving lately of people I have known since I have lived here, some back to Ireland, and some to other parts of Canada and the province. That has had an impact on me lately, and I can see it more and more.

    You are probably right as well with the traits my GF has/is displaying. There is that mixed with just how I am, she has made comments about me not being sentimental enough, or lovey dovey enough etc, I am who I am but those passing comments make me second guess who I am or who I should be a lot of the time.

    The time for hard decisions seems to be right here now, and I can't say I am looking forward to it in the slightest.