For many expatriates, returning home is often the most difficult and challenging part of the overseas assignment. Cross-cultural experts warn returning citizens about the dark side of repatriation, which involves developing a deep sense of not belonging. Expatriates commonly feel disconnected from their host country and strikingly disconnected from their motherland.
When we moved back to the U.S., we were prepared to tackle this part of the experience head-on, but we never felt disconnected. In fact, we transitioned back to the Phoenician lifestyle in a way that felt like we had never even left. Our life pieces fell into place seamlessly.
However, as the weeks and months passed, we began to realize that our life pieces from Indonesia were rapidly moving into the periphery of our existence. Occasionally, they would surface, but only for a fleeting moment before retreating back to their hiding place. As much and as hard as we tried to make them fit, they wouldn’t. It became clear that we needed to let that part of our life go.
That’s the hardest part of repatriation – letting go.