mercredi 11 septembre 2013

Home alone

I'm home alone.

"Yeah, so what," you may be thinking. 

It's not very often that my husband goes out without me. Yes, that's right, we rarely go to any social event separately. 

I know, I know, it sounds clingy and needy. But this is the way things are done in France, especially out here in province. 

If you are in a couple, you attend social events as couple with other couples. If you are not in a couple, you spend a lot of time with couples. You tag along. 

At least, this is the way it works when you are around my age, 30. It's unusal to go out without your other half. I wrote another post about this here:

I can picture it now, my husband arriving alone at the meal, a meal where there are only couples, and greeting everyone with la bise and having to awkwardly explain to everyone that I stayed home because I have too much work. Only it's not because I have too much work (well, I do have a lot on my to-do list).

I'm at home because I can't stand another evening of being socially awkward and being ignored. 

Maybe it's my introverted side, but I just don't want to force myself anymore. I can't tell you how many times I've forced myself to go out with my husband to these "couples' evenings" when I just wanted to stay home. I know that the best way to meet people is to force sometimes, but if I am not having fun, then it's just not worth it. 

I was out walking today and reflecting on how I feel lonely in France sometimes. But then I thought, "Yeah, but so what? You're so happy alone in your den, avoiding people that don't really care to be with you." (If you want to know more about my "den", read this post: And you know what? I am so much happier here. I feel a bit guilty about him having to deal with the social stigma of being out without me, but I am just so happy to be back in my den.

My Den. Home sweet home. Author of photo: Den Nation.

Saturday I want to a bachelorette party. I hesitated to go - I didn't want past experiences to come back to haunt me. I went because there would be no in-the-street dancing and dressing up. I also wanted to get to know the bride a little better. I don't have any problems with people who do dress up and dance in the streets, but it's not my idea of fun. No, the programme was excellent, right up my alley. Spa, medieval festival, good food, wine bar - all things that I love to do. So what was the problem? 

These women knew each other quite well. So maybe it wasn't really a cultural problem, but my introverted side rearing its ugly head. They sang along together to girly songs in the car, talked about other people they knew and made jokes that I would never understand (some cultural, but some related to their past). They are nice women, though, but I wondered why they invited me. It's my husband that is friends with the groom. My husband says it's because they found me interesting and wanted to get to know me better. Now I wonder what they think...

It is very risky for me to go out with a group of people I don't know very well. At the end of the night, I went home exhausted and was in a bad mood. Every fibre of my being was screaming out for some alone time. And believe me when I say this, that bachelorette party was not the worst of it. That was actually a success compared to some of the other epic failures I've had. No, don't feel badly for me - I have enough experience now to "feel" the potential for a failed evening. And tonight I had the strength to say no! 

So I've come to the conclusion that, while I know I should force myself to go out more, I'm just going to accept that I'm an introvert and a foreigner and I need to stay home in my den when I don't like the social setting. It's better if I get to know people one-on-one first and not in a group setting. 

I sound like I'm ranting and maybe I am, but at the end of the day, I am not an accidental expat/immigrant. I chose to leave my comfort zone in Canada and I choose to stay here (my husband and I can find jobs in Canada, unlike other French/North American couples I know), so it's up to me to do something about my problems/challenges or like tonight, just accept that this is who I am and realise that I actually prefer being like this rather than fighting it. 

You know what? I think I'll go and make myself some tea, just like a good old granny. I'll drink that in my den while listening to some cheesy 80s music and eat some goodies from the Alps. I think tonight is the night to bring out crystalgoestoeurope's Bonnat chocolate (thanks again, Crystal, I was saving the chocolate for a special occasion) and Biscuits de Chalais (cookies made by nuns living in the Alps). Crystal also inspired me today to drink some rose tea. 


14 commentaires:

  1. Despite what people may think, I'm not very social and I tend to skip invitations because... well, I'd rather be alone. I rarely get to be alone these days, but you get the idea. I like people but I also need time for myself and this is often a priority over social commitments. And I would rather hang out with one person than with a group!

    1. Yes, I know exactly what you mean when you say you'd rather be with one person than a group. When I was younger my peers would often want to go to nightclubs. Just the thought of going to a nightclub made me break out in a nervous sweat. I've always just wanted to get to know a person one-on-one rather then in a group of people. It's just to hard otherwise.

      I initially thought you were very social as you travel a lot, but one thing I've learned since starting a blog is that there are more introverted bloggers than I thought.

      My husband is always up for meeting up with people. He is the opposite of me, he craves and needs to be in social settings. I want to skip invitations, but he tries to get me out all the time and sometimes it backfires. I've got to learn to say no more.

  2. This post really struck a note. After more than 25 years in Italy I have never felt so isolated - it is a very long story (too long for here) but what it comes down to is that as much as we can feel 'at home' in another country, sometimes the cultural differences are just too great - and the field of 'friendships' is one. I have been happy here but we are now seriously considering leaving (when my youngest finishes school in 3 yaears) and going back to my home country (UK) or my husband's (Canada) ..... we feel the need to be around people who 'get' us and who we 'get'. And somehow I think you would 'get' us.....:)

    1. I can't imagine living in Italy for 25 years. I already feel so disconnected from Canada and I've only been gone 11 years.

      It is a combination of cultural differences and my personality that is holding me back. The thing is, though, I don't know anymore if there really is a place for me now. I think that I would feel like this anywhere I went - even if I went back to Canada. That's probably why I've been jumping around from country to country in Europe. Only now that I'm married I can't really keep on jumping and I have to face my feelings and challenges here in France. Is there anywhere I truly belong? Maybe in my Den?

  3. It used to be like this to me but after some of my husband's friends went to Malaysia with us, we get along well and I consider them as my friends. The fact that they have seen my country helps as we have a shared experience and they understand me better.

    Now, some of us have young kids, it is nice to see our kids play together while we are enjoying our meals.

    1. A lot of French people visit Canada, but they often only visit Québec so they don't really understand what Canada is all about.

      From what I've read on your blog, it looks like you had a difficult time at the beginning, but you seem well-adjusted now. I've never been to Nantes before, actually I don't really know the North-West very well. It seems that your husband is very connected to his hometown. From what I've seen on Zhu's blog, it seems like a really nice place to live. Maybe one day I'll finally make it up there...

      Sometimes I wish I had small children to help me make French friends, but I am childfree. I am glad that thanks to your daughter, your relationships with French people have been strengthened. I am more and more aware everyday of the importance of having children in France at my age.

  4. UMM YES. This is so true for me, it's scary. I USED to tag along with Max to all his social outings when we lived in the north of France, but as the years went by, I found myself telling him to go out and I'd be happy to stay home. (Many of those times were also because we had a barking dog we couldn't leave home alone...)

    You know what? I think I'll go have some rose tea too and raise my teacup to you (and our multitude of similarities)!

    And I hope you like the chocolate! I need to go get some for myself :)

    1. The chocolate made it final appearance last night. It will be sorely missed. The rose tea was excellent as well. The tea I drank was a "present" from a French friend. "Present" meaning it was a gift from his mother that he off-loaded onto me. I just don't understand what's wrong with rose-flavoured tea? Anyway, I may have danced around the Den alone singing to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun while drinking some rose tea and eating my Alps goodies. Or maybe not.

  5. I can definitely relate to the "being socially awkward and being ignored" part, especially being ignored. Even though I don't speak much French, I understand the majority of what people are saying, but they just look right past me, like I'm not there. It makes it difficult to try and be a part of the conversation.

    Btw, your den looks cozy :)

    1. Hi and thanks for reading my blog!

      I know what you mean about people not looking at you when they are speaking. Sometimes I feel like jumping up and down, waving my arms, and screaming, "Hello, I'm here, I exist too!" Often it feels like they are just talking to my husband even though I am sitting right there. I ask them questions to try and involve myself in the conversation, they answer politely, but they usually turn around and keep talking to my husband. They say "vous" so I know they are addressing me as well, but they just won't look at me (this is with friends).

      Luckily this has tapered off somewhat now that I speak French well. Just give it time, once you start arguing politics with them they will stop looking past you! haha

      Welcome to my den.

  6. I'm still learning new words while reading your blog. Den is a "tanière" in French. So yeah, Den nation Blog has a new meaning now. lol

    Social gatherings in France make me awkward too. It is ok to not always tag along with your husband.

    1. Believe me when I say that even I learn new words everyday just from reading other blogs - even blogs written in English by non-native speakers! Once I have learned the new English word, I make sure that I learn the French translation. I'm still learning English, too!

      It's difficult to know when an evening is going to turn out good for me or not. Now I try and trust my intuition as I have a number of good and bad experiences under my belt. Thanks for the reassurance that I'm not alone.

  7. Great pics, I would actually love to just stay in that den! I am not social either, but I don't care because there is nothing better to me than a cup of tea, dinner and corrie. Oh and the boy and the pickle. That is where I am sat right now writing this and I don't care about not going out or worrying about it overly because I am so happy here! I get too fed up of comments about being English to go out anyway! People always want to mimic my accent or ask me the same old questions about home, which are hilarious and interesting to other people but boring to me!

    1. I'm glad you like my den and that you can connect to it virtually. I've just got to accept that this is who I am and just stop trying to be something I'm not. I am the happiest here, like you, so why try to fight it? A lot of people in this world would give anything to be able to sit in my peaceful den, seriously.

      I'm sure you already know, but Canadians (well, English native speaking ones) just love the British accent. As in, gaga love. British people grow up with American films so I wasn't treated as a novelty when I lived in the UK.

      I know exactly what most Canadians think Britain is like: double-decker buses, high tea, fancy accents and the British gentlemen. If they only knew the truth... that the 1950s Britain they are dreaming about no longer exists. (I still love the UK, though!)