There is a wonderful word in the Dutch language – ‘ervaringsdeskundige’. It means someone who has become an expert through experience. My experiences include being the shy child of a Finnish-English couple living in Wales, being the introverted British mother of two exuberant Dutch children living in Holland, losing a parent long before I became a parent myself, and going through a mid-life crisis. Soon, quite against my will, I will find out about being a Brit living abroad post-Brexit.
Despite this, I find it hard to believe I deserve the label ‘ervaringsdeskundige’. In the four colour personality model, I am ‘blue’, which means I would prefer to have followed a set course of training, passed an official exam and had proven success at applying the knowledge for many years before I might consider regarding myself as an expert on a given topic.
In recent years, though, I’ve discovered how much it helps me to talk things over with others who are experiencing the same problem – and that talking to me seems to brighten them up too, even though I have no wise words or handy solutions to offer them. Simply discovering that you are not alone, that people you regard as successful, competent, well-adjusted adults are also having the same difficulties, works wonders.
The trouble is, talking has never been my strong point. The way I order my thoughts, reflect on things, and try to understand them, has always been by writing it all down. The reason I am writing this blog, then, is twofold. Firstly, as a way of thinking through what happens to me and trying to understand it. Secondly, in the hope that some honest openness about my own experiences may help someone else out there who, until now, also thought that they were alone. I hope that some small thing I write here may cause you to breathe a sigh of relief and think, ‘It’s not just me’.