Lost love and failed employment from my past life continue to haunt me in Asia. Did I make the right choice to work abroad?
by Jane D.
The goal before I left Gotham to live and work in Asia was to live in the present. People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) tend to suffer from a fireworks display of thoughts; thrilling, beautiful, and fleeting, and usually diverting our attention from the task at hand. I have been reading Psalms and trying so hard to focus on the here and now. I tell myself that just because I can’t see the future -- 15 years from now seems so far away, as does six months -- doesn't mean I'm doomed to a life of uncertainty.
It was in the spirit of trying to be in the here and now that a weekend trip to Wal-Mart felt like an adventure. It involved braving the public transportation in a city where the infrastructure consists of cracked, flooded, and crowded roads. I never imagined that so many live things could fit on one road at one time -- chickens, cats, dogs, and an amazing number of bicyclists who looked like they were carrying just about everything -- family, furniture, food -- all balanced on a single bike.
Yet here in this backwater industrial Chinese city, loneliness and fear have caught up to me. My Adderall supply is running low, everyone speaks another language, and it has been a great challenge just to get the SIM-card phone to work and figure out the string of numbers before dialing the area code to whatever country is out there. There are many days when I long for a place where everyone speaks English, where I can push around a cart at a Target, and where I am understood. Over the past few days, whenever I hit a kink in travel in this small city in China, I have realized that I am living like someone half my age, which is now physically exhausting.
My 35th birthday looms in the air like a coming storm. That day is exactly a month from now, and I am panicked. It hit me last night that it will be almost a year to the day that the ex-boyfriend and I celebrated my birthday together. He had taken a whole day off of work, driven four hours just to walk through Central Park and celebrate over a steak dinner, and somewhere between the hardships of travel, the bumpy traffic-tangled road to Wal-Mart, and the memory of last year's birthday, I cracked and burst into tears. This tiny city has tropical weather and is cursed with mosquitoes, which descended upon me and feasted on me. I spent a sleepless night wishing I were living a normal life and scratching frantically at the chain of red welts all over my body.
After crying myself to sleep, I awoke to a phone call from the father. He said that maybe after finishing up this gig, I should come back home and settle someplace. He could help with the mortgage for an apartment -- not the penthouse but some apartment around New York, maybe Jersey. I would have my own place, a mortgage, a home. He could not help or promise that I'd find a Prince Charming -- that is fate, we agree -- but maybe a home of my own would at least give me a sense -- if not a superficial sense -- of being a real adult.
"That is really kind of you," I said as I swallowed the lump in my throat. "But I'm an adult, and I really should figure this out myself."
Even though I have a supportive family and a career that I enjoy, I have so much trouble living happily in the moment. Does my ADD/ADHD contribute to my insecurities? Is that why I’m always looking for the next big thing?
If you struggle with the same fears about the future, how do you handle the anxiety? What are some of the ways you cope with feeling overwhelmed?