It was coming. It was bound to come. One cannot avoid destiny. Being a person of a somewhat “crybaby” or as I prefer “sensitive” nature, it was only a matter of time before the tears released themselves in front of a captive audience. I was hoping to make it to at least the first month before I openly wept in front of my new husband’s entire family but alas, sometimes you can’t stop a flood with a sandbag. The last of the English speakers left this morning leaving me alone in a sea of French. My brain was fried from my flashcards and trying to learn too much too fast, my body tired from jetlag, unfamiliarity and possessed farm animals. The perfect conditions brewing for the perfect storm to come….
At lunch I sat with my painted on “foreign wife” smile. I can’t help but feel like an Asian mail order bride, politely smiling, not understanding a word on the outside and on the inside all I see are knives and a noose. Is it just me and my impatience at not being able to communicate? I wonder if Asian mail order brides often contemplate such dark and violent thoughts?
However, when I try and brush those thoughts aside, I then have to fight the urge to go to sleep. Something about the French language is so soft, so musical, so dreamy….it makes me want to go sleep immediately instead of actually concentrating. Not only am I fighting to understand, but now I have to fight narcolepsy as well. Caught between violence and a quick nap, a miscommunication happens between FB’s mother, myself and FB. How can one have social graces when you only understand “the” or “and?” I am at a disadvantage and as I desperately look around for guidance, I feel the tears spilling over the floodgates and I run to the bathroom in horror. Slapping myself in the mirror yelling “PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER YOU FUCKING IDIOT!!!!” does not work nor does hitting myself in the head with my fists. Nothing will stop this.
Defeated, I creep back to the table in the eye of the storm mumbling “allergies, hehe” and silently clutch my forlorn tissue in my hand and stare blankly into my French book. The minutes tick by. FB’s brother says in English “It will get better, do not worry yourself” and with those simple and thoughtful words, the skies open and the tears REALLY present themselves in all their glory. I try again to excuse myself but choking with tears in the kitchen, his sister-in-law and mother come in to give me a hug. I try and say in French “I cry all the time, no worries” but it comes out as “it snows all days”. His young nephews just look at me like a dinosaur they don’t know how to feed and his father comes in to give me a kiss and tell me they will speak English for me all night which promptly sends me straight into another wave of tears.
This family is so sweet to me, so kind and so giving. I want to be perfect for them right now. I want to speak French fluently and make them laugh. I want to talk with them and find out all about their lives. I feel just plain stupid. I didn’t know how hard it would be to not understand the language. I feel cut off and afraid. FB and I go outside and he calms me down. He is the best husband in the world and we are just figuring out how to deal with all these new circumstances one at a time. I know I need to relax and stop worrying that I won’t be good enough and that it’s OK to let some kindness in, I won’t owe anything in return but being myself.
OK, I officially sound like an ABC after school TV special.