Moving to Costa Rica: Emotional Adjustments

Costa Rica, FAMILY

Hola friends. Our life may seem like rainbows and unicorns in Costa Rica, but for those of you who have paid close attention, you know that it did not come easy.

“Follow your dreams. I am not saying it’s going to be easy, but I am saying it’s going to be worth it. – Moffat Machingura” 

Our first three months in Costa Rica were the hardest three months of my life and marriage. I am sure it looked very different from an outsider looking in, but inside these four walls it was incredibly difficult. After almost 15 years of marriage I found myself looking at this man across the table questioning who we had both become. Neither one of us were in a good place, actually it was the ugliest three months of my life.

I can look back on that time now and finally realize what happened to us during those months. We were lost and scared to death, both of us. We were trying to figure out our new role in the family, with each other and professionally. It took us a long time to find that new normal and respect the transitions each of us were going through. Don’t worry, this story has a very happy ending. We did it! Our new normal is so much better than I could have ever imagined. Sometimes you have to go to the dark side to truly see the light. It got very dark in our casa.

Now that I can look at it objectively, I want to share with you each of our struggles and how we worked through them. Let’s start with me.

First, I came to Costa Rica with the same amount of design work and responsibilities that I had in Boston.

Then I added worldschooling and a more active blog to my plate, but not more hours in the day. I am still trying to find a 30 hour day on eBay for a reasonable price (wink, wink). Before we moved to Costa Rica I had six daylight hours to accomplish my design work, plus another 3+ hours after the kids went to bed (and some weekends). Looking back on it now, I cannot believe I never even considered how this move and our decisions would affect my workable hours each day. In addition, I was used to working alone during that time. I had no distractions and no one else to consider for almost a decade. Fast forward to life in Costa Rica, and my schedule went from six workable hours per day to about two on a good day. Life got incredibly busy for me and there were never enough hours in the day for me to accomplish everything. I was burning the candle at both ends. I rose at 6am and retired at midnight for months. The idea was to slow life down in Costa Rica! I couldn’t understand what had happened and how to manage it. I was so lost.

Second, I started worldschooling Avalon.

I was new to this and overzealous to say the least. In those first months Avalon and I went through some really tough transitions, long days, and crazy emotions. I woke up every single day doubting what I was doing and feeling like I was failing her as a parent. I had days where my patience were short and I saw the ugly in myself. It was her persistence to make this work that kept me trying each and every day when I wanted to quit and run back to my drama free days of solitude. The days where I could create without distraction, occasionally have lunch with a friend and only multi task five things instead of 35.

Next, I was being pulled in all directions with the children, my design, worldschooling and the blog.

I am not proud to admit this, but it must be said… I had nothing left for Will, absolutely nothing, and that meant any patience or tolerance for what he was going through. The kids needed to be my focus and they needed me more than him. My responsibility as a mother is to put our children first, but I felt such pain about having nothing left for Will except anger.

Also, we refused to outsource any of our responsibilities, well, it was more Will that refused. I understand why, he was worried about money because he had started a new business, but for me that seemed like the only way this could all work. If we outsourced some of the worldschooling classes that I struggled with like French and Spanish it would free up time for me to take care of other responsibilities, plus Avalon could interact with other adults. In addition to outsourcing several school subjects, I wanted to hire a cook. Will and I were spending hours upon hours in the kitchen preparing meals from scratch when we could have put that time to better use. A cook costs $4 per hour in Costa Rica. We did finally hire a cook and you can read about her here.

What about Will?

I had to rely on Will for the language and this was tough. After 15 years of marriage, he had a load of responsibilities dropped in his lap over night. I did not like having to be so dependent on him, but with my language limitations, we had no option. I did my best to take care of most things on my own, but there was still a whole list of items that he had to handle. It was constant work in our first three months, CONSTANT.

Next, this man needs to be working. If he does not work he gets cranky and pessimistic. Although his days were full like mine it was mostly “to do” list stuff, nothing of real intellectual stimulation. The work that we all hate to do, but needs to be done. Unfortunately, each week he would be optimistic that he could focus more on his business the following week and then something would come up. If you read this post you know we had a lot to deal with in our first couple of months.

Will was going through so much professionally and I am sure it was tough. I can look at it now and be so much more sympathetic, but at the time I was not. I failed him in this area and I have no good reason, except that my cup runneth over as well. I had nothing left and I needed to save just that pinch at the end of the day for the kids if there was an emergency.

The conclusion is that we both bit off way more than we could chew and there was nothing left for each other, absolutely nothing. Our patience and tolerance was short and we were stressed out. So you ask where the silver lining is, well, we did it. We made some adjustments, worked hard on us and committed to this journey we signed up for. I can sit here today just four months into this adventure and say wow, what a ride. Our relationship was pushed to places it has never even come remotely close to before. It was scary. I guess we could have jumped ship and headed home to our old normal and everything would have went back to the way it was, but who wants to give up. Not us, that’s for sure.

After almost 20 years together, it is hard for me to imagine that we can still learn things about each other, but we did. I learned that this man has a lot of fight in him to make this dream work. He is in this for the long haul and he will work to make it happen each and every day. I am the luckiest woman alive to have someone just as crazy as me to take this road less traveled with.

“Follow your dreams. I am not saying it’s going to be easy, but I am saying it’s going to be worth it. – Moffat Machingura” 

I was very hesitant to share this post for fear of making it too personal, but I did promise to be honest on the blog and there was a happy ending. The only way I can help other travelers is to be truly honest about the launching part of what we did. It was hard. So here is my advice…. be kind, try to put yourself in each others shoes and remember how much you love this person. This is another bump in the road on the path to the life you always dreamed of, only a bump. Whenever you step outside your comfort zone it can get real scary. Whether it be a new baby, home, business or a move out of the country, it is hard. Don’t give up. It will be worth it, it really will. I am truly living a life that I thought was not possible. A life that I read about in magazines that “other people” did. It can be done, but it won’t be easy. Good Luck.

I am not one to profess my love on social media, but I am going to say it here and now. I love this man more and more every day. Sometimes you have to go to a really dark place to come out stronger. I love you Will. Thank you for this journey. Thank you.



2 thoughts on “Moving to Costa Rica: Emotional Adjustments

  1. Thanks for sharing so honestly, Jessica. Many of us choosing this different kind of lifestyle come face to face with our own shortcomings (along with our partners) which tend to exasperate us with all the other Newness in our life. Its exhausting, but worth the effort to work thru and arrive at the life we’d only been imagining in our minds before. We still go thru periods of extreme discomfort in our own relationship, wondered if it was worth it, or even if we wanted to stay together…..and we just celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary on Valentine’s, and have been on the road much since 2007.

    Be nice to Yourself, and your Mate.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing Karen. I do believe going through those uncomfortable three months strengthened our relationship, but it was a first for us and very scary. I appreciate your insight and support. Congrats on 29 years, wow, now that is magic.

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