“Mrs. Kurt”: Identity Struggles on Manuscript Monday
I’m going through minor identity frustration.
In the 20 years since becoming Kurt’s wife, this is the first time I’ve ever felt entirely defined as only, “Kurt’s wife.”
Every person I encounter here asks what my husband does when they learn I’m an American. There has not yet been any assumption other than that I am a “trailing spouse.” And, reluctantly, I answer them, and am usually told the direction of the nearest spa, and shopping mall, or given tips on hiring a domestic.
Only one person here has asked me if I had a career before moving here, and what it was. He then dismissed it and returned to discussing Kurt’s work.
On days without my own car or community of writers here, I have to remind myself that I have value outside of being a spouse, regardless of whether or not I am allowed to have a job here in South Africa. I need to absorb everything I can in this culture, and even this sidebar identity as “expat wife,” and use it in my writing.
I’m down to my last month of revisions on the manuscript, which goes to my editor in August!!
I have decided to think of my non-spouse identity as my secret superhero alterego, and remind myself that I don’t need anyone else to see it, as long as I work hard at what fulfills me separately and what I contribute to life outside of marriage.
While the life of an expat wife might seem exciting and adventurous in a foreign country, and definitely these weekend outings have been incredible, there is adjustment to being known only as someone’s spouse. But there is also adjustment for the expat worker. There are new responsibilities and long workdays, and learning the politics of a new environment.
Kurt has always loved the unique blend of person I am outside of what makes us, “us.” He always has my back, and I have his. We’re best friends, and look forward to the end of each day when we are together. So the essence of “us” hasn’t changed, even if our location and supporting peers have.
We’ve talked about this strange life we’re adjusting to, and we will work our way through it. We’re looking at mountain bikes as a temporary solution to my being “stranded,” which will only be part of the month. I will find my rhythm to the days, and focus on the things that give me purpose.
And of course, I have all of you. Your comments always keep me thinking. I especially like knowing the things you focus on when you’re feeling out of your element.
And as a thank-you, I’ll leave you with another cuddly-wuddly lion cub photo. 😉