Decision Fatigue on Our Way to Malaysia

We came home from the Philippines in December, after 2 years away. Our plan when we came home was that in 18 – 24 months  from arrival, we’d be returning to a paying job at a different school back in Davao City- same language, same grocery stores, same language, same menu, same friends (some of them, some have moved, and we’d make new ones), same customes and culture, same language, same church, same language, more money, same language, different house and neighbourhood, same language…. notice a trend here?

As most of my regular readers (I don’t really know if I have more than five of those anymore) know, for reasons that I have never understood and he doesn’t really know himself, the husband started looking at other jobs overseas in other places- and I mean, lots of other places, places on every continent (except North America) and more than a few islands, and asking what I thought of this or that place.  Some were a flat refusal.  Some were a grudging, well, I suppose we could do that.  I pointed out the language issue and suggested he could at least look at Spanish speaking countries, since I have enough of a head-start there that I feel confident I could pick up fluency if we were immersed in a Spanish speaking environment.  This does not mean anything to him since he can’t pick up languages at any level beyond yes, no, good, how are you, thank-you, and basic greetings.

I’m not putting him down for that, I think it is a knack and it may have genetic components.  Some of my kids can do it.  A couple of my grandkids have amazing accents when they copy other languages, more of them sound American no matter what language they are imitating.  My dad was a whiz. He picked up languages, cadence, rhythm, speech patterns, nearly effortlessly.  I’m more between.  I pick them up quickly and well enough at the beginning to be incredibly frustrated about 20 lessons in when I don’t plateau and don’t get better fast enough.

At any rate, the husband pointed out to me that he could go anywhere and fail to speak the language just as well as he did in Davao, which I did not find comforting or even amusing, to be honest.

While we were in Davao City he had been approached by friends from Malaysia who had moved to Davao, and then some friends of those friends who lived in Malaysia – they thought he was a good fit for starting a learning center which hoped to grow up into a school there in Kota Kinabalu on theisland of Borneo, and this is true.  His skill set for what they wanted is perfect.
I know this is a repeat for anybody still here who has been reading regularly for the last six months. But I need to go over all this in my head again.

I had a lot of work to do on the house, a LOT of work.  It was in a jumbled state of chaos.  SEveral bedrooms had been closed off and used as storage, some things we wanted to rearrange since all the kids who are moving out have moved out so we wanted to use some of the rooms in different ways than they had been used before, and then a series of houseguests were coming and not a single bedroom upstairs was ready to be used as a bedroom so I had to do that.  I had plans for something I wanted to do with the house during the two years we had before we moved back to Davao City.  I had plans for something I wanted to do with my time and life before we moved back to Davao City in two years.

I have written more than once that it’s important to have a schedule, or at least a rhythm to your days, but it is also important to remember the schedule is plan B, right.

And then the Godsons came, which changed some of my plans, and then we were going to Malaysia instead, in 18 mos, and then that turned into six months away, making it 12 months at home because we are going to Malaysia in December of this year, not to Davao city sometime in the middle of next year, or later.  None of my plans were going to work.  I had to spend my time on learning about Malaysia, doing very, very different things with the house and trying to rearrange things, get out what I would want to take to Malaysia, and then we thought we hit the jackpot on what would be done with the house while we were gone, but that jackpot also called for a radically restructured and altered plan of attack for purging, sorting, organizing, and storing and I think this was now something like Plan Z for my time home.  Also, we have to raise support for the Malaysia work, which we were not going to have to do to return to the Philippines.

So while my husband was gone for 3 weeks in Malaysia, I went through bedrooms and closets and bookcases, some of which hadn’t been examined in 15 years, and I purged like a dying woman. I purged things I wanted.  I cried over boxes.  I sobbed over baby dresses 36 years old.  No, 57 years old, because I have a couple outfits I wore that my kids wore, too.  I cried over notes from the kids when they were little, and over cards from my uncle that are 40 years old.  I died the death of a thousand decisions every single day.  The Jackpot required empty closets and empty drawers in the dressers and room in the cupboards and nooks and crannies and acccess to all the bedrooms, and so I purged.  Often I reached a point where I couldn’t even think anymore, so I either threw away things I wish I could have back or I packed up a box of junk and carefully put it in one of the totes to be stored at my mom’s house.  I started with the idea that I was straigthening up the house for an extended vacation and somehow without realizing how or why or when it happened, that transitioned into packing up the house for another major move.  I was alone in the house except for the Cherub (who doesn’t care) so there was no brake on the emotional bloodbath of loud wailing, sobbing, and gasping to the point of hyperentilating, exhausting tears. I hate crying. And I couldn’t figure out why I was so distressed and upset, either, which seems humiliatingly stupidly obvious now..

Change is always hard.    It’s stressful enough to pack for an overseas move of any duration.  It was a combination, I realized later, of many things.   Empty nest syndrome, since we became empty nesters when we were living in the Philippines, so the reaction was delayed.  My youngest daughter is getting married this May. I did not want to be packing and purging. I wanted to be playing with grandkids.  I didn’t keep those things because I hated them, but because I liked them, so I was making constant, daily, hourly relinquishments.  I hate decisions and I was making thousands of them every day. Decision fatigue is a real thing even if you don’t mind making choices all day long.  Lots of grief over lots of things stirred up by boxes of momentos and keepsakes.

The plans for what we were going to with the house are hanging by a thread and a few mountains have to be moved in time for a looming deadline before the fragile thread snaps.  I did a lot of purging and totally altered my plans for my time between the moves based on this plan for what we’d be doing with the house, and if that’s not what we’re going to be doing with the house then about 80% of what I have been doing was pointless and I could have done some of the other stuff I had hoped to do instead.   A few people (I was one of them) pointed out that shouldn’t I be glad at how far ahead I am with getting the things I got done?    Except much of that stuff would not have ‘needed’ to be done until after I’m dead, and definitely not *now*.  And because I was doing *those* things that didn’t need doing, I could not do some other things I wanted to do instead and I can’t do them from Malaysia. And, you know, I just had ten thousand tiny amputations of chunks of my soul and am still bleeding and the wounds aren’t healed and so no, I’m not glad.  There will be a time when I am going to be glad this stuff was already done, but now is not that time. It’s probably not going to be this week, either, and doubtful if it will be this year.


Here’s how stressed I am.  I sat down to write a post about things I was doing to try and learn some basic bahasa Malaysian before we move.  I had general links to share, some study tips that would work for any study, some book titles, and you see how many of them have made it into this post, which is just a bunch of therapeutic whining and whinging.

And now I am going to go stuff my face with coffee and Korean pastries and watch some Korean dramas and pretend everything is awesome.

It will be, later.

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