I Can Breathe Again, Away From The Queen’s Land

I only noticed how poorly I was breathing until I landed yesterday night in Lisbon. How did things become so heavy? At what point did I stop being positive and turned into a grumpy, annoying, all-the-time stressed, little gnome? When, exactly, did I stop being ‘me’ to become a human black hole?

In my early months as an expat in England I was told I was like the sun. My dark skin would contrast with my smile and warm energy. Adding to that, there was a certain feeling of bravery: a 26-year old girl moving to a foreign country by herself, with only one cabin bag and 1000€ in her hands. Left behind was a not so functional family, a broken relationship, and countless unpaid job opportunities. Things were definitely not great, but I had my smile on and a naive hope that life would start to be good to me at last.

Three years later there is almost no sign of that smile nor of that warm energy, except when I’m with my clients. It’s like I’m not even half of who I used to be, despite the good amount of life’s lessons I got. I grew old. My hair got even greyer. My bones got weaker. My eyes don’t sparkle so much and my heart went from broken to frozen and then to mildly absent at some point. Yesterday night, however, I felt my heart speeding up again. I felt the air going right to my lungs. It was like I could finally breathe again, after a long while. It was as if a war had just ended and I had made out of it alive.

Three years later there is almost no sign of that smile nor of that warm energy, except when I’m with my clients.

I allowed myself to die slowly in the queen’s land. I succumbed to the heaviness of the country itself, even though I tried to tell myself I was probably just crazy. England took a toll on me and I can’t tell if I was ever happy over there. It’s hard to be happy when your energy doesn’t fit. It’s hard to be happy when you loose joy in the workplace. It’s hard to be happy when you don’t have bonds. It’s hard to be happy when you are isolated from everything that resembles life in its purest form. These experiences led me, however, to the creation of this blog, a safe haven, where I write and try to remember myself and others of how a human being’s wellbeing is the greatest treasure of all. If everything else was a failure, I am sure this blog protected me from losing my last few bits of sanity and it certainly reconnected me with my purpose.

And in order to get my full wellbeing back, I knew I had to come home. Not to stay forever but to come back at least to life. I’m glad I followed the guiding voice which comes from I don’t know exactly where, but that kept telling me I had to come back so I could walk again with my two feet on the ground and my head on the clouds.

Be it my own imagination or not, the truth is that as soon as I stepped outside of the airport, I felt each inch of my skin gradually coming back to life. At some point, my heart was erupting with so much ecstasy that I opened up the car’s window and screamed out loud: I’M HERE, I’M HOME!  And home didn’t exactly mean LISBON, it rather meant ME. It meant I finally had made a decision that was aligned with my human needs and I was now executing it. From that point on, the heaviness and dreadness were over and a clearer chapter just started. 


  1. I am so glad that you made it safely there however, your post made me really sad. I don’t know if you are coming back to England or not neither does it matter for me. I know exactly what you talking about? America is my home but several years I couldn’t breathe here. Once I sat with my own self and talked to me that “Bushra I get it, it’s hard to be far from the place you grow up and from everything else but you got so many good friends and a great husband here. That’s the day I call the USA my second home and love it from the bottom of my heart”. I hope if you come back you find more positivity and good stuff around, sometimes when you stick around negative people you catch those vibes quicker than positive people would transfer. If you decide to stay in Lisbon then I will pray for you that you get all the happiness around. I work really hard in America and I grew up like a princess, I was a princess until I moved here. Yesterday, my husband said, “hey princess” and I got very mad and said, “you think princess have to work her butt off”. I felt later I should have not said that. I would have not taken my life any other way. I didn’t mean to write a book but just leave everything behind and start with a new beginning regardless of being in Lisbon or England. I am very pleased to find a friend like you via blogging. If any I ever could do for you don’t think twice and call my name. I mean it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s really amazing that you were able to have that talk with yourself! I think I haven’t had the right state of mind to do it over the past 3 years and not meditating hasn’t helped to improve it either. Thank you so much for sharing your own experience and supporting me with your amazing words, it’s really nice to exchange these thoughts with someone that went through a similar experience. I get why you got mad at what your husband said, sometimes a word is all that it takes to trigger some hidden emotion inside us… it happens more often to me in more stressful times and maybe that was the case for you. You are a very strong woman with an incredible level of empathy. It’s a lot of hard work, but that’s also what makes you the incredible being you are. I’m glad you wouldn’t change your way if you could. I think I would only change the fact that I could have had more courage earlier to go self-employed and accept that I might be designed for a different lifestyle than the one everybody else is used to… BUT if I changed something, we wouldn’t be talking now either, so life’s indeed funny… 🌺


  2. I’m feeling like ‘shouting’ myself, Vanessa; I am so pleased for you.
    Now it will be placing one foot in front of the other; getting on with being YOU!
    I’m so looking forward to reading more of your journey. You are an incredible woman; one I admire very much… 😘😘😘

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank youuu, I get all spoiled by you dear Carolyn 😀 I can’t thank you enough for your kind words, they always warm up my heart to the point I just want to hug you! 😄 One step at a time, I’m confident it’s a time for a different chapter in life. 😘😘😘 I’m grateful to have met and learn from you xxxx

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  3. I’m sad to hear that your time here hasn’t been as joyful as you had perhaps once hoped. I do wonder whether it is England itself, or something else. Back in October I had a week off work. Initially I had planned to travel abroad, but instead, I had this overwhelming feeling that I just wanted to go back home to the English town i was born in, where my family still live. As soon as I left the city for the Northamptonshire countryside, I felt a whole weight lift from my shoulders, like you, I could breath again. And I felt happy and content. But I love the city too. I think we need to listen to our heart and mind more. Maybe they will guide us to where we need to be ✨🧚🏻‍♀️💫

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ❤️ I agree with you Becky, I have been thinking about that too. I think the place might only have an impact of 10% overall – having our families and the places we grew up miles away are maybe the hardest part. Then not having the right people around, not being happy at work, and not having a significant other in my case, complete the remaining picture… I’m confident that by February I will be able to come back and make peace with my expat time though. There are so many places I want to visit! 🙂 But it’s like you said too, we need to listen to our heart and do more of what makes us happy. 🥰 (right now having some mince pies would be such a happy moment hahaha)


  4. Being an expat or shall I say “trailing spouse” to an expat… I also dream of coming home and be myself as I also lose my identity to where I am now. Though I experienced some perks and luxury things in life that I may not experience back home but yes I do understand you because I also feels that way… but oftentimes I just tried to act positive while we are here.

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    1. Hi Vinneve, thanks for sharing your experience. Losing the perks and luxuries that come with being an expat was definitely something holding back my decision to return. If I had a more creative job, better friends and a meaningful partner there I think I wouldn’t have moved back (despite the always longing feeling for home) 🌍 Once we experience multiculturalism is also difficult to stay in one place only… so I will probably be on the road again at some point haha 😄

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  5. I’m very grateful to have stumbled onto this post, not only it is well written I found it extremely relatable and very honest. Not many people write about the “downsides” of being away. I have been away for a year and I too sometimes feel like my high energy is being zapped out of me and often find myself fantasizing about returning home. Funnily enough I am from England and have to stop and remind myself why I left It’s lovely to hear the balance in what you achieved during your time away and you’re obviously are very strong to have found alternatives in making you happy such as your blog!
    I’m returning home tomorrow for a short break so will be in a position to compare. Thanks again for sharing your experience and hope you’re enjoying being back home!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey beautiful, thank you for stopping by and sharing your experience. I think the same as you, I see few people looking at or talking about the downside of living abroad. I hope you are having a nice break back home and that you can refill your energy. I hope I can write a few more blog posts on this topic in the future, it would be great to know more about your opinion and experience too. Hit me up if you ever need someone to talk about it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, I think with anything it’s good to have an awareness… perhaps now I can watch my energy/emotions and say ‘hey I think you need a trip “home”‘
        I look forward to reading your future posts regarding this topic and will keep an eye out!
        Have an awesome week 🙂

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