semi charmed life?

I’ve been a blogger for over 10 years. Obviously, not always on the same blog. Personal blogs, come and go as the chapters in our lives start and end. I’ve had work blogs that only had to do with writing about my job. I’ve had personal diaries. I’ve had relationship blogs. All have come and gone with the fluctuations in my life.

When I started this particular blog, it was at a time when I needed to focus on more positive things. I was closing a chapter in my life and needed to focus on things that brought me happiness. This blog was intended to highlight the somewhat charmed life I lead. It was intended to journal my travels and share my thoughts on animals, since that is my career and passion.

I look at my blog today and it’s not exactly doing that. There has been some surprising additions, in that I’ve been documenting my cooking adventures since I’ve changed from being unable to cook, to tackling new and exciting recipes. There was a month where I took on an A to Z Challenge and did write quite about animals and animal behavior management.

Behind the scenes, I’ve had lots of traveling and have visited some fantastic places. Behind the scenes, I have also been miserable. The last few weeks have been completely dreadful, soul sucking and dark. Sure, I have somewhat of a charmed life. I live in the middle of Europe, I’m a housewife with no children, I get to travel from time to time, and I get to enjoy nature daily with my dog. Not everything is cupcakes and rainbows though.

Adjusting to living in a place where you have no friends and don’t speak the language, can be challenging, to say the very least. Three and a half years later and I’m no closer to being able to speak German, though I am understanding quite a bit more. Part of this is because we don’t have the money right now for me to go back to taking lessons. The other part is, when I am learning German in my classes, it’s proper German. Whereas the Swiss speak Swiss German. So, it makes it very difficult to go out in the world and hear what I have been learning. All Swiss can speak German, but they choose to have conversations in Swiss German. For those of you wondering if there really is a big difference, there is. In fact there is so much of a difference, that each region in Switzerland has their own dialect and even they can’t understand each other!

Learning German is a hurdle I have to get over, a huge hurdle. It’s a necessary hurdle, because as time passes and my job applications aren’t even considered, I’ve come to realize I most likely won’t get hired unless I can speak German and have the writing abilities to back it up. Sure, if you think about it, zoo keeping may not require much German and it’s most likely that most people do speak English, but when it comes to record keeping on the animals, well, that will most likely be in German.

The other reason I am having difficulties finding work in the animal field is that apparently the swiss have their own animal management certificates which they seem keen on me having. Doesn’t matter that I went to the the only school in the entire world that gives you two years of intense, hands on training in exotic animal training and management. Doesn’t matter that I have experience working with all species of animals. Doesn’t matter that I can do anything from zoo keeping, dog training, rescue and rehab, movie and tv training, and so on and so forth. The Swiss want me to have their swiss certificate, which I am told, I am far more qualified for than the actual education that people in my field get there in this country. You know what’s even more hilarious? Working with animals is somewhat frowned upon in this country, like it’s a low life job. Like all places in the world, you do this because you love it and not for the money, because you are over worked and underpaid every where you go. The advantage is, that because this is Switzerland, even the under paid get paid quite a bit here. So for something that’s considered a frowned upon job, they seem to care an awful lot about who does it.

The somewhat good news is, there is a process in which I can have my american certificates recognized in this country. Which I am currently doing. In fact, you know how I said I was overly qualified with my education and experience back in the states? Well, this was reflected when I sent the government my initial paperwork for consideration. They came back with their formal requests, along with wanting to see my radiology certificates. My only guess is that they think I am in the medical field of working with animals, maybe as a vet tech. I am not, though I kind of wish I was. Regardless, I just recently submitted my official paperwork, without a radiology certificate since that’s not required for my field, and now I have to wait the many weeks it will take for them to ho and hum and figure out whether or not I should be granted anything in this country. Mind you, regardless of the outcome of their decision, they get to keep the money I paid them. So I sit and play the waiting game for now.

My mind has been in a very dark place. I don’t like being “just a housewife”. It doesn’t suit me. It doesn’t settle well with me. I feel useless. In my mind, I can only feel justified being a housewife if I have children to go along with it. Somehow, being a woman without children who sits at home all day, is frowned upon by the world. I have moments that I am absolutely angry and others that I am just sad. I spend private moments crying. The though of never being able to do what I love doing really depresses me. I was 13 when I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Somehow, I always knew I wanted to work with animals, but growing up, the only job I was aware of was veterinarian, which at the time, was not something I was interested in. I’ve since, change my mind. One day, I went to Sea World and watched the “Shamu Show” and instantly, I knew what it was I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be an animal trainer and orcas were my dream. I carried that dream all through my childhood and all through high school and when it came to college I applied 3 times to that special school until I finally was accepted in. I graduated as top of my class and found a job almost immediately. A job that I would later find out would be the best job ever. I came to realize that I didn’t need to work with marine mammals in order to be happy. I just loved working with animals.

But now my life has changed. I’ve left me friends, family and job in California. Well, in truth I lost my job before I left California due to the financial crisis that hit. Without a doubt, I would have happily worked that job till I couldn’t work any more. The thought of having worked so hard at trying to become what I am today, only to not actually be working with animals kills me. The other day I thought that by the time I get a handle on speaking German and being able to work in this country, I might very well be 40, and who is going to want to hire a 40 year old when they can hire a 20 something year old? Truth of the matter is, I am extremely young at heart and active, so the physical aspects of working with animals, such as zoo keeping, are not an issue for me, but someone who doesn’t know me, may think differently. Discrimination happens everyday, and I live in a country where posting your photo, marital status, religious beliefs and age are part of your CV. Which is a primary reason why it is not part of an American resumé.

I’ve not felt like myself in a very long time. It’s hard to. I feel like an empty shell. I hate what I see when I look in the mirror. I’ve gained weight since moving to this country and I hate that. I’ve lost my confidence. I’ve lost my self worth. I view myself as an overweight, boring person. I mean really, I don’t have much going on. What do I have to talk about? The bigger question is, who do I have to talk to? The answer is… no one except my husband.

I used to be a very vibrant person and dare I say, I once thought of myself as sexy. Today though, I’m feeling very fortunate that I have one person in my life that still finds me attractive and still wants to be intimate with me. The sad thing is, I don’t feel the same way. This darkness doesn’t have me feeling like myself and thus I don’t feel sexy and confident which leads to a very big dip in my wanting to be intimate with anyone. Having sex is the last thing on my mind and yet, my not wanting sex is always something I think about since I know that is a problem.

Blogging has taken a significant back seat in my life. I don’t only mean writing, but also visiting, reading and commenting on other blogs as well. So, I apologize to those of you out there that visit this space and have noticed I’ve not bothered to come and visit yours. It’s not that I purposefully can’t be bothered, it’s just that, I’ve not had the energy nor mind space to do it during my funk. My 365 Project is the only thing I can keep up with because miraculously, taking photographs is the one thing I haven’t lost interest in doing and being able to schedule blogposts well in advance, helps me during those days I’m in a funk.

I know for the most part, that my darkness is something I have brought onto myself. My husband, is nothing but supportive. He goes out of his way to assure me that he in no way thinks less of me because I am not working. It’s me who thinks less of me. Eventually, I’m going to have to accept that this is my life now. Some things I can’t control. I’m doing my best to slowly make a life for myself in this new place, but it’s the agonizingly slow pace that is driving me mad. I send my CV out to every potential job, knowing I won’t even be considered. But at least, to outsiders, it appears I am trying.

People ask me if I am ok and I tell them what they want to hear, yes. No one has time to listen to my problems and above that, everyone thinks they have the solution. Some even have that condescending look in their eyes when they ask me why I’m not working and what’s the problem? The one question I hate the most, “So what DO you do all day?” The truth? I do what any housewife with no children does in order to maintain a household and then I sit on my ass and watch tv, open the laptop, play a game on my iPad, or write silly little blogposts such as this. But, that’s not what I actually say, I just change the subject after implying I keep myself plenty busy.

© Semi Charmed Life


4 thoughts on “semi charmed life?

  1. For what it’s worth, I don’t think you have brought the darkness on yourself. Emotional health is a very finely balanced interplay of so many elements. Even when things aren’t challenging we can have hard times. This post, and other things that you have said show how much of your identity was tied into both your work or vocation. You also prided yourself on your independence. Living where you are has put barriers up, keeping those aspects of you out of reach for now. Add on to that the fact the language is not only a barrier to work but also in socialising. The best way to settle is to learn the spoken language but if you can’t access the classes or immerse yourself with Swiss German speaking friends then the challenge is harder.

    I don’t have advice really. My life is different from yours in every way, but dark times still sap the life force from me in a way that I hate.

    My only question is whether there is a photography group/society that you could join. The shared interest could bridge the language divide and bring you new focus and acquaintances. I am sure that then friendships would grow from those acquaintances.

  2. Oh Sylvie, I wish I could give you a hug and company and support where you are. I’m so sorry to read what’s been happening 😦
    What I can tell you though, I am a housewife and I do have a child, and I get lost of negative responses to that fact, and I also get asked ‘what do you DO all day’!!! I don’t think the children factor makes any difference to peoples perceptions.
    Likewise, I wish I could offer a solution or make suggestions but I can only send you virtual love and support and hope that things get and feel better for you xxx

  3. While other people are giving you hugs and sympathy – which is lovely and feels good but probably doesn’t change much, I’m going to kick your ass – gently.

    I’m reading this, and we’ve talked, and there are a couple of things that stand out as flags to me. First of which is that there are a very fortunate few people in this world who get to work at what they dream of. It’s not the norm. And you have had the opportunity in your life to do that. Which makes you very fortunate. But the days of getting your dream job and having it last a lifetime are pretty much over. I certainly didn’t dream of teaching design in Vietnam when I was in my 20s, I wanted to be a rock star. 😛 You know my real name, google me. I had my little 5 minutes in the sun, and it was over. Yes, it was deeply depressing to realize that I couldn’t be what I wanted to be. But you move on, you have to find and make new goals and new interests. Sometimes you have to let go of old dreams to develop new ones. Otherwise, they become traps.

    The other flag, for me, is the feeling of paralysis. The sense of deep dissatisfaction with your life, yourself, your place in the world. Objectively, by most standards, you have a pretty fortunate life. I get a real sense of hopelessness and helplessness in this post.

    The third flag is the length of time you have felt this way. It’s okay to be blue for a while in response to real tragedy. That’s a natural response and you’d be a sociopath if you didn’t feel it, but this has been going on for you for a significant length of time now. That’s worrying.

    Depression makes people blind to their own possibilities. It saps their motivation, their optimism, their ability to assess themselves and their circumstances in any objective way. In a way, it turns them to stone.

    I’m not a mental health expert, but I’d like you to consider that perhaps you’re suffering from clinical depression. Luckily, you actually KNOW – he was at your party – someone who is qualified to help you, who speaks English as a first language and has a practice close to you. And luckily, there are very good, very effective drugs and therapies that work. Please consider contacting him, or asking him for a referral if he’s all booked up.

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