Recently, I read a Facebook post from Expat Housewife of Jakarta, a fellow trailing/expat spouse, who posted a photo showing her enjoying a visit to a hair salon. The salon was located within her apartment complex, which is not uncommon, and in the photo was the stylist and a therapist doing a pedicure. To misguided outsiders this image encapsulates the wonderful lifestyle of the trailing spouse. Spa days, boozy lunches, more pampering, maids, drivers etc.
Delve deeper. Firstly, remember that Facebook profiles show only the highlight reel of all users. Rarely do we catch a glimpse beyond the shiny, happy facade. The woman (most supporting spouses are) continued that while she enjoyed these pampering sessions they actually fill a void. It was here that things become very familiar to expat spouses. She states “..the reality is, I’m lonely and I need to do these kind of things to get through the loneliness.” And there it is, the true expat spouse experience. Many of our partners travel away a lot for work and must also fulfil week night work commitments – all of which takes them away from the family.
On top of this, in places like Jakarta, the notorious traffic makes spontaneous catch ups with friends virtually impossible; this limits your ability to socialise and impacts your mental health. And this leads us to the topic of taxis..
Expat Housewife continued that even the myriad of entertainment options on offer in this vibrant city, she felt trapped as she hadn’t asked her driver to work late that night and she didn’t want to take a taxi alone at night. Another very familiar situation for expat wives. Female expats, including myself, have experienced uncomfortable and down right unsafe taxi rides when traveling alone and so I refuse to go anywhere alone in a cab especially at night. Another inhibitor of spontaneity.
Don’t go feeling too sorry for us, just keep in mind that all is not as it seems on social media pages. Delve a bit deeper..