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Dr. Keane
Dr. Keane, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1315
Experience:  Clinical Psychology PhD, Licensed Professional Counselor with experience in marriage/family, teens and child psychology.
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My husband and I recently "retired" and moved to Costa Rica.

Customer Question

My husband and I recently "retired" and moved to Costa Rica. Not only is the language somewhat of a barrier, but I feel that we are just "filling" the days with grocery shopping, movies, etc. I am trying to learn the language with CD's. I am only 55 and my husband is 8 years older, and I feel like my life has ended. He wanted to move here because money goes farther and he doesn't like the current political situation in the US. We have one couple that we are friends with because he sold us the house. (and they are 20 years younger) And really no other way to meet or make friends. How do I get my arms around this move?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. L replied 1 year ago.

Dr. L :

Hello,

Dr. L :

I would like to help you with your question. I can understand the frustration you are experiencing with a move you did not want and now are feeling burdened by. I applaud you for the positive actions you are taking already...learning the language and attempting to make friends with the one woman you have met. No doubt you have experienced a culture shock on top of the alienation and lonliness of leaving your old life behind. It is important that you grieve the loss of that former life...saying goodbye to what was familiar, comfortable, and safe. This move is dramatic and you need the opportunity to address the pain, sadness, even anger you have of being uprooted. It is by grieving this loss that you will be able to come to someday embrace this new place and new lifestyle. Filling your day with grocery shopping, movies, etc. is, as you note, just a way to make it from day to day....it is not creating a new home or a new lifestyle. This will come as you are able to work through the emotional pain of moving to a place that was not of your choosing.

Dr. L :

What I would like to suggest is that you consider finding an English speaking therapist to help you deal with your grief. Let me know if this is possible.

Dr. L :

Once you are able to address your feelings, then you will find the energy and interest to build that new life. That can be accomplished through volunteer work, through joining a gym, book club, or even taking adult classes at a local college or even community education program. You might also see if your realtor can help you locate other American's in your community..or surrounding communities. If you are a person of faith, your church might be a wonderful resource.

Dr. L :

I await your reply to this initial chat.

Dr. L :

Thank you.

Customer :

I have joined a gym, but the gym here is so dark and depressing, not like the one that I belonged to in the States that was bright, and overlooked the water. And no church is not an option, and I do not have the desire to go to a therapist on a continuing basis.

Customer :

I have joined a gym, but it is dark and dreary and I find it depressing. Not like the gym that I belonged to in the States, that was bright and overlooked the water. Church is not an option, and I have no desire to go to a therapist on a continuing basis. I have a journal that I am keeping and that seems to help me "vent".

Customer :

I have joined a gym, but it is dark and dreary, not like the one that I belonged to in the States that was bright and overlooking the water. Church is not an option, and I have no desire to go to a therapist on a continuing basis. I have started a journal and that seems to help me vent. Thanks for your assistance, but you really didn't tell me anything that I didn't all ready know. I need to know HOW to work through my anger.

Dr. L :

I am happy to see that you have identified what you are feeling as anger...rather than not knowing what you are experiencing or having only a vague sense of what is going on.

Dr. L :

Okay...so you are angry. Can you identify who you are angry with? Is it your husband? or is it yourself for agreeing to this move? or perhaps are you mad at everything and everyone?

Dr. L :

And...what do you want to do with that anger? Do you want to hit, kick, yell, punch, scream, go silent, sulk, retreat, isolate??

Dr. L :

What do you usually do to cope with anger? Do you cry? Do you slam the door?

Dr. L :

Do you yell?

Dr. L :

What have you tried to do to deal with your anger over this move?

Dr. L :

So the gym is disappointing...even depressing. Stop going there.

Dr. L :

So church isn't an option. And you don't want therapy. Fine.

Dr. L :

Would you rather just be mad for awhile? And sit in the stew of anger?

Dr. L :

I'm glad that you are journaling...that's a wonderful way to get the feelings out of you and let go of them. What other things give you his same sense of relief? Walking? Exercising?

Dr. L :

I am going to leave you with an article that might prove beneficial:

Dr. L :

http://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control.aspx

Dr. L :

By identifying what you are feeling, you have taken the first step in addressing it. Your next step is to look at how you usually handle anger and see if those old ways of coping still work. You can think about it this way...when someone is drowning we don't teach them how to swim...instead we get them to rely on the survival skills they already have and get them to safe ground.

Dr. L :

Your survival skills is journaling. Great. Use this as your primary way to process your anger. Then add new strategies...walking, jogging, art, meditation, relaxation therapy, deep breathing exercises and so forth.

Dr. L : Here's a book to consider Anger: Deal With It, Heal With It, Stop It from Killing You
Dr. L :

I await your response to my posting.

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