Feelings of failure, depression, wanting to go home, inevitable comparison with others

I’ll try to keep this short…

Came to work as an English assistant, reconnected with a French friend who turned into husband. After having to get married in under 30 days because of a working visa being rejected, my first “trauma” if you want to call it that is the feeling of basically being deported and the whole “wedding preparation” which was all but joyful. Never had any kind of party, or honeymoon, and our families still don’t know each other, three years later.

That being said, three years later I have only been able to work as a vacataire teaching languages, and my husband has had interimaire contracts and just got a CDI rejection, which we had been counting on to get us out of this dead end road. He got depressed, I suddenly decided the best thing would be to leave, and that made me realize that actually I just really am fed up with so many things here and I want us to have better options and jobs and even just a social life, among so many other things I’ve taken for granted. Now, he’s going through this type of identity crisis and seems to prefer the good ol’ French method of “waiting to see what happens” instead of actually DOING something about it, and it’s taking a huge toll on me.
It’s such a long story, and I’m sorry but it’s bringing me down bad and I wonder if I even made the right choice coming at all, given how we are stuck with no possibility to plan anything in the future, and how unfair it seems that everyone else seems to get ahead except us.
I just really need to vent and could seriously use some practical words of advice or encouragement. Thank you for reading…

As I saw in one of your recent posts, you said you were in Normandy. Very different from Paris, I think that's where Dewl was. A couple of factors make a person and a place a good match. Consider if a person is a city or country person, what about the weather? Is there anything going on in that place socially. Sounds like you were in a village outside the big city where they rolled up the sidewalks at 7 pm. That's just to name a few things. What about a support system? Friends, family? And if you're still working (and not retired), how much does one earn, healthcare benefits, cost of living, social life. The way you describe it sounds like you made absolutely the right decision. You feel better mentally and physically, have more opportunities/benefits, and sounds like a pretty happening social life. Later you might see the benefit of having lived in France, if even just having gotten through what sounds like a very hard time, (character building), and all that LOL

Good luck to you

Hello Dewi,

I definitely did think it over, but the decision was quite simple. My pay now alone is what we would make (on good months) as a couple in France, so that is a concrete definite improvement. I have 100% health coverage working for a state school, no longer need to be "attached" to spouse's coverage, so that's better too. I actually have a social life now because things actually happen here past 7pm and on Sundays, so that's better. I can't really even list much that I miss (which is sad in itself, but also true), and I definitely have no desire to go back to the same living conditions. I have made peace with the few good things, but it was not enough to make me have any regrets.

Thank you for your advice, I know it's important to take all things into consideration!

You need to think very carefully about your situation and how you are going to handle it. Living in France is very different to like me now, living in Wales. As I found out the hard way. When I came back to Wales I found things very different. I took a huge cut in pay and worked some very odd hours at first. I missed France,Paris, and my little home that I cherished, and sometimes longed to go back. So think long and hard make up your mind and go for it. I wish you well in what ever you do.

I have a sourcing business in China. Which means, I find anything clients are looking for. We did focus on home & garden, but since branched out into virtually any field, except electronics and clothing. Add to that my wife's gluten free bakery venture, both concepts did not find acceptance in rural France.

No news to you, but trying to sell something THAT exotic to a French entrepreneurial client was so beyond their comprehension. I lost a lot of clients States side during our three year stay in France, but America is always open and welcoming to a good pitch in business.

Funny enough I am from Europe and left long time ago for North America (Canada first). Every trip back to the old world is so much fun now, since I have left all negative feelings behind me and have learnt to accept Europe the way it is. There is no perfect country that I have ever lived in, as you well know this country here has it's warts as well. In the sum of all things though, it is hard to beat life in the US. Failure here is part of the path and when you fall, someone will help you up and encourage you to try again. Whereas back there if you fall, a boot is on your neck until you give up trying to get up again.

With all that is happening surrounding the current elections, I'm afraid there is no reasonable way anyone (except Drumpf himself) could even remotely argue there is anything "great" about it in ways seen by outsiders, but the underlying core of the US, which hard work pays off and you can be what you want if you set your mind to it and helping your neighbor in times of adversity should be more celebrated. I used to take those things for granted, and now I value them all the more.

That DOES sound great! It would be fantastic to feel free to go back on trips, which is probably going to be how it will play out, and enjoy that end of it. I just feel like personal realization and fulfillment comes not only for "vacation time" but also "productive time", and both need to be enjoyable.

I'm sorry you faced so many obstacles. I tried the "auto-entrepreneur" thing for a short time and even that was an insanely complicated and not conducive to WANT to start your own business at all... So what do you do now in Palm Springs, if I may ask? Curious to hear about other success stories :)

"It's not just you"... that is so comforting, though does not make that reality any less sad!

Tough times :(

Hello David, thank you for your words of encouragement. It may take some time to accept that the fault or cause was not entirely in me, but I'm getting there. The therapy helped mostly in the sense of verbalizing and not feeling guilty for feeling so bad.

I think the part about FR being a great place to vacation but not so much to live in applies to many parts of the world, but for some of us it's particularly true if our expectations and potential are not valued or encouraged in ways that we are accustomed to. I loved my day trips, visits, museums, festivals, and other travels when it was possible, but the day to day reality was not enough to make me happy.

As for all the "amazing benefits", if I take the health care, I'd rather not need it because I'm not chronically ill, than need it because my quality of life actually depends on being on allergy meds, anxiety pills, antidepressants and sleeping aids... I swear that the biggest argument people always used when I said I was leaving was "but there are so many ways to get financial aid here! and the health care benefits!"

I NEVER got any financial aid of any sort, and I'm glad, as it's just ingrained in my brain as "socially acceptable" because I've always believed to be capable of getting by on my own... granted that was not always easy, but it definitely was possible. It's a different outlook on life, and no economic or political system is perfect in either country or continent, but I choose to be in an environment where I am encouraged to be curious and take initiative rather than be passive and compliant... Not meant as a direct offense to anyone! Just my own personal experience.

3 lines perfectly sums up my attitude. USA the best country in the world. Of course Coors Light was invented there so how could you go wrong.

We really did enjoy our renovation experience in France very much. But when it came to actually creating a business in our commercial space, we realized all the pitfalls and obstacles were too ridic to even bother fighting them. Not going to write a long story, but now our mantra has become to "let's make our money here in the US and go back to France and spend it there". Many aspects of our french experience were too good to not keep enjoying them. But now, as tourists, not as residents. We kept the house and are going back for summers, work permitting.

You may have had more luck finding work in Paris or Lyon, but it's really tough here, and not just for foreigners. Unemployment is very high and employers are reluctant to take on staff because it's so difficult to get rid of them if things don't work out.

The job market is much less dynamic here so you're fighting a losing battle. Starting a business is a nightmare, and why do you think all the dynamic young French people move to London?

It's not just you. :)

Hello Sarah, I see what you mean, but where my hesitation comes in is when I consider my initial reasons for going (to be fully trilingual, grow personally and professionally because of that, have international experiences), it often feels like 5 very long, difficult, and so a certain degree, wasted years? Because in the end... I guess yes, I can say I'm trilingual, and yes I've grown, but not how I thought or really wanted to, and the goal of "overcoming all odds" and establishing myself as a global citizen didn't work out. It's hard to find peace with the concept of "wasted time and efforts", even though my brain says that it was not wasted at all because it led me to where I am now and to grow closer to my partner, my heart still feels heavy.

You are welcome Cristina. It would be easier to retire to France I think, but as a working person or starting a business it is quite difficult. I know I have been through it. You did the right thing. I think I may have done the same if I was a lot younger.

Hello Peter, you know, I never really was aware of just how different it is!!! If you only just compare job ads! On one hand, they will ask you for insanely specific mastery of mundane skills and a very specific diploma from one obscure specialty school, and on the other, they say "experience a plus", required: motivation, enthusiasm, interest in learning.

I was told once that a job description should actually be adapted to the person, and not that a person has to adapt to a job description. I agree 100% because how else can you grow and give back?

Staying true to yourself :-)

Thank you, this is encouraging to read. I guess when I say "failure" is because as the "immigrant", I wanted to overcome all of the language barriers and diploma differences and prove that I could "integrate" correctly. However, accepting that what that "correct integration" meant and how much of my own self I'd have to compromise to do so what a difficult internal battle and ultimately I guess I just couldn't do it. So is that staying true to myself (which is good), or not being able to adapt and adopt (which is bad)? I'm still not sure...

Hi Rachael, thanks for your encouragement. I come from a family where your career and contributions to society and personal fulfillments are very important, and I have come to understand that it's also just a huge part of the American continent culture (I say that because I am half American and half Mexican, and in both countries this is true) to always want to learn more and get better and give back more... where as the impression I got in France was "only strive for a CDI so that you'll know exactly what you are expected to do, every day, for the next 35 years, and be happy with that"... The majority of the job opps were just so dead-end, and I actually need variety and challenges to stay motivated! So yeah, irreconcilable personality differences.

It's also been a major improvement on my social life and even my health! I am no longer sick every day! I went to 3 allergy specialists and twice to an Ear and Nose specialist there, they could not find out what my allergy symptoms were due to, and finally the last specialist said that it was because Rouen was in a valley and had incredibly high humidity and was surrounded by petrochemical plants, so basically everyone had asthma or chronic bronchitis or in my case, chronic rhinitis, and that since thats how they've grown up, they just accept it as part of life... But I could not! It was miserable!

Greetings from Palm Springs and yes, you did the right thing. France is fantastic and will always be special, but one just can't beat the USA if you have any sort of ambition. Compared to that rigid and backwards system in France