The honest truth on my return home to England…

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, as old habits and old ways resurface on my return home to England. 

I hate goodbyes of any kind, that somber feeling of something coming to an end.  The last stroke of Eden’s silky fur before we left for the airport to return home to England pulled hard at my heart strings.  

return to england return to england
The last morning with Eden

I even get a tad sad when a good TV series finishes or I have the last bite of a really good meal.  That’s how much I hate endings.  So when it comes down to saying those words to actual people that matter, friends, family, husbands.  You can easily guess my high emotions. 

My flight back to Thailand was leaving two weeks later than Jmayel’s and I’d already decided before we had even got to England that I didn’t want to go with him to the airport to see him off. 
They are the worst places for goodbyes, so much so I can even tear up watching total strangers hugging their loved ones as they head off into the crowds, the longing look back over the shoulders and waving until the last second.  It’s all just too much.   

return to englandJ at the airport 

With an hour to go before Jmayel would be leaving for the airport, we stood on the top of the hill by his parent’s house in the late afternoon light.  I hugged him too tightly, muttered something about making sure he remembers to eat properly and with a last kiss I crossed the road, headed in the direction of my grans house where my dad and a Chinese takeaway were waiting for me.  

return to englandDeparture point

I got at least a few meters before I turned to watch my husband disappearing back down the hill. His lean body turning into just a bobbing head before vanishing entirely into the concrete.

Tears stung at the back of my eyes as I stood waiting for the green man to tell me to cross the next road.  The lights turning into colorful milky twinkles as the world blended into one big watery smudge before I blinked and cleared the path before me, a single salty drop fell from each eye and marked my cheeks with patches of cold as the breeze danced past my face.   And that was that, after spending each and every waking hour with him for the last 15 months, I was a lone ranger and going solo for the next couple of weeks.  

return to englandMe, Myself & I

I had every day left of my time in England filled with activities, meeting up with friends, lunches, dinners and coffee catch ups organized and in the diary.  I was going off exploring with mini day trips around my little part of the country and a 5 day family trip to Center Parcs, a forest holiday village, was all still to come. 

return to england
With some friends in Rye

I was a full 10 days into the adventure home, slotting in with friends, chatting as if we had seen each other just yesterday and picking up where we left off as if I hadn’t ever got on a plane to Thailand and moved over 5,000 miles.  It was great and positively refreshing, 15 months away and not one of my friendships had been affected.  Although however much I was enjoying being back, I slightly distressingly, noticed how I had begun to stream all too easily into my old ways.

I stopped exercising every morning, the person I had become in Thailand was slipping ever so gradually out of my grasp.  She was sitting there watching me, I could feel her with each workout I skipped and when my eyes fell on the high carb option on the many menus I perused, the sharp blue of her eyes bore into the back of my head.  Judging me in the harsh way that only you can judge yourself.  There were only so many times I could tell myself ‘I’m on holiday’.   I was very aware of what was going on, yet I couldn’t muster the full will power needed to stop. 

return to englandA slice of cake too far?! 

The reason for this isn’t just for vanity, I used to be 69 kilos at my heaviest/150 pounds at 5’2”.  I had ‘baby fat’ that never left, the ‘chubby cheeked cherub’ look that should not be worn on the face of an insecure 15 year old.  Slow metabolism, unfortunate genes, a penchant to store up fat like a squirrel preparing for winter, or just a greedy eye, whatever it was, I always knew it couldn’t continue. 

I got myself a gym membership at the age of 20 and started pounding the treadmills.  9 years later I am the happiest I have ever been with my body.  Have I finally found the answer to never allow myself a shamed retreat back down the full fat path?  In Thailand I was sure that I had, but in England I constantly felt the wire incredibly close to tripping me back over the lardy line.
Since living in Thailand I have lost a further 7 kilos/15 pounds in weight.  Resulting in a rather substantial loss of 15 kilos/33 pounds, since the early days.  We now eat healthier and we are happier.  Yet I found it all too easy to go back to old habits.  

Without my daily Thai workouts, my UK savior came in the form of forest runs, I adopted them the night before J left for England and continued after he left.  The summery hue through the trees and the silence of the forest around me as I ran became my friend.  The 8 times I ventured out with my trainer encased feet and lycra enrobed legs was a massive achievement on my part.  Before I left the UK, running was my nemesis, struggling to half-heartedly run to the bottom of my road, I couldn’t think of anything I would least like to do.  Yet here I was running 4.5km cross country through the forest and I was enjoying it.  Returning home red faced and sweating, the blood fiercely pumping through my body, I embraced the feeling as flashbacks to my weighty past glimmered in my head, smiling as I was no longer that person.

return to england return to englandCross Country Style

The longer I live in Thailand, the more certain I am that a positive change has happened in me, everything I had been fighting before seemed to not be an issue anymore, I feel like a different person when I’m in Thailand.  Yet returning home, would anyone notice this?  Would anyone care? Would the changes that are obvious to me seep out and smack everyone I met in the face or would they just see the old me, unchanged, unaltered.  

It’s not just the diet that I noticed.  I let people get to me.  The laid back, tolerant and accepting person I am in Thailand, turned edgy and irritable.  It was on just one occasion, unnoticed by everyone else accept me.  For me it was a cold hard check back to how I used to feel a lot more often when living in England.  And I didn’t like it. 

Being back in England for 3 weeks gave me a clear, streak free window into what life could have been like for us had we not left for Thailand.  The reality of what would have been in store was enough to show me that as a couple, we made the right decision.  I saw myself as who I used to be and I saw myself as who I am becoming.  I’ve grown up and I acknowledged things I used to dislike, as things I can now accept and appreciate. 

I enjoyed my time back home immensely, many tears were shed as I got nearer to departure, yet had I not had a plane ticket tucked safely in my laptop bag it may have been a different story and those tears would have been spilt for a whole different reason.   
I’m already looking forward to and planning things for our next inevitable return but I’m highly grateful I have Thailand to go back to and our little life of 3. 

return to englandReunited in Thailand

Sacha El-Haj 

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