Two Separate lives?

Since I’ve been back from Turkey in this last week, it has never been more apparent to me that I am living two separate lives. One life here, one life there in Turkey, and the two rarely, if ever, cross over.  It’s quite an unsettling feeling, being pulled in both directions, feeling ties to both countries and never really feeling at peace or at home. This is my favourite quote and one that I feel will stick with me for a long time.

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” ― Miriam Adeney.

It’s 100% true and goes a little way to describing how I feel on a daily basis. Not only are me and Berkay currently living very separate, polar opposite lives, which thankfully is only temporary, but I’m also having an internal battle within myself, one that I think shall go on forever, whichever country we end up settling in.

I have friends and family in the UK, and friends and family in Turkey. The two have never met. My family has never met Berkay’s family and I doubt they ever will because neither really has the desire to meet the other, and even if they did, communication would be non-existant. This is always going to be awkward, because neither really has any idea how the other lives, and their lives are so totally different that any reunion would end up being like a terrible version of “meet the Fockers” or that Turkish film ‘ay lav yu’ (watch it, it’s hilarious).

The lifestyles I myself live in both countries is so different, it’s like I have two different lives, two different personalities, two different homes. In Turkey I rely on Berkay for a lot of things, he pays the bills, we do the shopping together, we visited friends together, got on the bus together… in fact when I lived there there were times where I’d go days or weeks without having a conversation with another person face to face (apart from Berkay, of course). This didn’t bother me, at all. We done everything together, I hardly ever went out alone, and I liked that. Here in the UK its the total opposite. I have to do things for myself, I’m always alone, travelling on the train, bus, going to the shop, buying things, I’m in a house surrounded by people but outside these 4 walls I’m alone, and that takes some getting used to after so long.

The whole mentality of people here in the UK is different – want something, buy it. Throughout my time living in Turkey I learnt not to be this way, I wasn’t fussed about the latest gadget, I wasn’t the slightest bit ‘into’ fashion and I really never bought things to treat myself, I don’t need to, nor want to. Being back in the UK though, I can sometimes feel the urge to splurge and waste money on stupid things, I find myself falling back into this habit, one I didn’t have for so long. For example, the other day I spent £9.50 on 3 bottles of fancy shampoo. At Today’s exchange rate this is nearly 40tl. When we were in Turkey, we’d walk to the furthest, cheapest supermarket and search the shelf for the cheapest bottle. Here I went online, ordered a ridiculously expensive one and had it delivered. A moment of madness, although my hair is thanking me because it smells amazing.

The most difficult thing I’ve faced since coming back, is learning how to fit in again, and it’s really not very easy at all. I spent 19 years of my life here, It should feel like home, right? It doesn’t. You see, I’ve spent such a long time away from home, from family, from friends, that when it comes to sitting around a dinner table with them it feels weird, like I’m an outsider looking in, that’s the best way I can explain it. I’ve been back in the UK for over 4 months and that hasn’t really changed. These people, friends and family, who were once all I knew, are now so distant from me because they can’t comprehend the life I had in Turkey, for them it was all one big holiday, they only saw my life through the photos I posted online and the things I told them, last year none of my family visited me in Turkey, and my friends never have, they never saw my house there, the things I saw and walked past everyday, the places I went, the things that were a part of my everyday life, and somehow that makes me feel very distant from them.

In Turkey, everyone sees us as ‘Dan & Berkay’ – we lived together, had a life together. The last time Berkay was in the UK was April last year, 2014. That was the last time he saw any of my family, so I guess for them instead of ‘Dan & Berkay’ they simply see me as just ‘Dan’, this was particularly evident at Christmas when I got cards addressed just to me. “Why don’t they write Berkay too?” I kept asking myself, it’s not their fault though, it’s a habit. He’s not here, not a part of my life in the UK so why would they include him?

Everything is different, from the places I go, to the people I see and even the food I eat. Walking in supermarkets is always a weird one for me. I remember moving back here from Turkey and going to Asda with my mum, I was totally overwhelmed by everything on the shevles that I hadn’t seen for months, years. Cadburys chocolate, British brands, salad pre washed, cut and in a packet. The same thing happened this time when I went back to Turkey and walked around Migros. Things that you’d never consider have a way of making you reminisce. “Aww, we used to use that washing powder. Oooo look, remember this drink? Oh, we used to buy that rice.” Really, really weird things that just jump out at you and say “this was your life once”.

When I got off that plane at Dalaman 2 weeks ago and walked out through the exit doors, I immediately became ‘Turkey Danni’ again, rather than ‘England Danni’, I once again had Berkay by my side doing the daily chores, going shopping together and walking hand in hand. I once again saw all the familiar places and faces I once saw everyday, and it was like I’d never been away. We went to friend’s houses for tea and they welcomed us with open arms and full glasses. We visited places we used to go to every week, the market, the beach, Fethiye. Then, a week later,  I got back on the plane, landed, turned the key in the front door, walked upstairs to my bedroom, unpacked and became ‘England Danni’ again. It’s truely bizarre, and really quite sad.

It’s something that will never really go away, I’ll always have ties to both the UK, and Turkey. Berkay will too. At one point in the future, one of us is going to have to ‘give up’ one of our countries, and both of us will no doubt miss something from whichever country we’re not in. Any future children we have will also be torn between the two countries, both sets of grandparents, families, lifestyles. As the quote above says, this is the price we pay.

Would I change it though? No way.

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33 comments

  1. Anne zar · · Reply

    Ahhh danni you have reflected and articulated my feelings exactly. I have just returned from fethiye today after 2weeks of my turkish life and I feel so flat and isolated xx

    1. Oh no 😦 not easy is it x

  2. Angela (Turkish = Melek or my friends call me Mel!) · · Reply

    I totally understand what you’re saying Danni and you too Anne Zar!

  3. Colette yüksel · · Reply

    Awwww danni this sums my life up completely. My husband has never been to England but has met my parents but both sets of parents have never met each other and I doubt they ever will. My family can’t comprehend me living in a Turkish village where the nearest town is 25 minutes away on the bus or by car. Using a hole in the floor to do your business, sharing a big meal from the same dish, never leaving home alone because my husband won’t allow it due to a language barrier. I could right a story about it haha. I return on may 4th to live my Turkish life with our new baby who my husband has yet to meet 🙂 exciting but scary times ahead as I prepare for our son to be Brough up Muslim. Please continue writing your blogs I love reading them and being able to relate to you. Best wishes Danni,Berkay and boncuk xx

    1. Its horrible isn’t it 😦 Oh no, using the hole in the floor, not fun lol. People think its one big holiday but its not at all is it, they just hear ‘i live in turkey’ and think sun sea sand. Aww you’ll be back there now, congratulations on the baby! Thank you, you too x

  4. Fab post Danni. I’m not sure I could do it and I applaud your strength. I’ll leave you with another quote “love conquers all” xx hugs and love to you both

  5. As usual an interesting read,you have the knack of making me see your life through your eyes. My advice to you is the same as I’d give my own grown up children (23 and 28,my youngest is 11) do what your instinct tells you to do. We can’t live our lives through other people and life really is too short. Wherever you end up living you’re only a relatively short plane ride away. Use your time apart to maybe going to College and get into teaching ( something you can do should you end up in turkey) it’s easy for me to make suggestions but if you look at the wider picture you will find your own answers. God I go on a bit don’t I. But Danni years ago I made the wrong decision and ended up back in the UK because I wanted to please everyone here and I’ve regretted it. I can’t tell you what you should do I’m sure you will make the right decision when the time comes x x x

    1. Thanks Morgan. Are you off to Calis this year? 🙂 xx

  6. Carol Sole · · Reply

    Hi Danni That was a lovely but sad really feel for you both good to hear Berkay is settled in the army time will go quickly. All I can say is follow your heart. And where would Berkay work in England there is not much work here really, you sound as if you miss Turkey so much could you not work in Turkey? your blog always sounds happy when you are in Turkey when you are in England I know you sound sad because Berkay is not with you but you will know when the time to decide comes follow your heart.and be happy if your family miss you enough they would come to see you. Lots of love to you both xxx

    1. Thanks Carol 🙂 He’d probably be able to work in a cafe or restaurant or something over here and i cant get a work permit out there 😦 Yeah thats true 🙂 xx

  7. Rebecca · · Reply

    What a fantastic blog! Well done Danni on being able to explain it so beautifully. This was exactly how I felt for 9 years before I married my Turkish husband and envitably decided
    To live in England. Now been here for a year and a half. Good luck for you future together. Whatever decision is going to be very hard for both of you, but I’m sure you will make the right one in the end 😊 x

    1. Thanks Rebecca, so hard to know what to do! x

  8. Rebecca · · Reply

    Sorry, wrote England above but was meant to say turkey 😊 see…. Even subconsciously you are still in both places x

  9. Lynda barber · · Reply

    You are a very brave and determined person Danni. Your life will be whatever you decide is best for you and Berkay. It will all fall into place where ever you are.

    1. Aww, thank you Lynda. I hope so x

  10. Wherever you end up, as long as you are with Berkay you will be happy 🙂 Thats how it’s going for me, at least. Good luck!

  11. Cris Carrington · · Reply

    Danni I know exactly how you feel, I have never lived there just spent long periods of time there. But feel there are 2 of me, Turkish Cris and Uk Cris. It’s where my heart is everytime I get off that plane I am home, Uk is where i exist to have the times inurkey

    1. Its probably like that for a lot of people who just work to have holidays, thats pretty sad really isn’t it? 😦 xx

  12. hoosewifey · · Reply

    Great post Danni, I can totally relate even though my husband lives in the UK with me where we live is not where I am originally from and it is so different when I visit home I sometimes feel like 2 different people also esp with friends that still live there. When I go to my home town people don’t really know my husband etc so its difficult. At least you know your not alone feeling like this.
    Mary x

    1. Its good to know im not alone in feeling like that, but its sad that so many others feel the same too! x

  13. dawn rayner · · Reply

    I found your story by chance and once i started reading it i couldn’t stop . WOW. If friends ,family miss you enough they can come and visit you . Married 29yrs grow up children ,but are familys have never met ,but we made it work for us. It your life and after reading your story i dont doubt whatever life throws at you . You and Berkay will face it together . I am not sure if you or Berkay would be truly happy living in England but when the time comes i feel you will make the right decision,. Xx

    1. Thanks Dawn, glad to see you like reading my blog! 🙂 Thats true, they can visit. Thanks, it means a lot. Im not sure we would be happy in England either, ‘grass is always greener’ and all that..!

  14. denizb33 · · Reply

    My sister and I used to get this returning to Montreal after long summers in Turkey. It’s an odd feeling but you’re right — I wouldn’t change it!

    1. Glad you can relate! x

  15. Yes Danni just me n my youngest this time,can’t wait. Will be trying tost it looks fab. Hope the days,weeks n months are going quick for you x x

    1. Enjoy! 🙂 The days are going, thats enough hehe 🙂 x

  16. I love this quote you started this post with, because I too can relate. I’m from the US and also have a deep connection with Turkey. It’s so difficult to go back to the “Western world” where our friends and family haven’t seen nearly half of what we’ve seen in the world (this world being Turkey of course). When we’re in a country like Turkey people matter more than things, and then suddenly back at home things matter more than people.

    But maybe there is a way to try and keep a balance between the two worlds for people like us. Maybe sharing stories and traditions and simple ways of life with our friends at home will make them appreciate moments and people more than things. And maybe, one day they’ll include some of those ideas into their daily lives.

  17. Hi Danni,
    I am new to your blog and I wanted to say thank you for writing this because it’s nice to know other people out there are struggling with the exact same things. Definitely one of the realest things i’ve ever read! And as I see in the other comments there is quite a community of us out there!
    Take care and best wishes,
    Julia (or as they like to spell it in turkey, culya)

    1. Hi Julia! Aww thank you, tough isn’t it? x

  18. Ciara Greeves · · Reply

    Thank you this was so well written and from the heart. ❤️

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