Wednesday, January 11, 2012

An Invincible Summer

Sometimes life knocks you down. Sometimes you realize it, sometimes you don’t.

Nairobi reared it’s ugly head these past few weeks. It roared, gnashed it’s teeth, and left it’s mark. From seemingly inoffensive slights to blatant aggression and hostility, Nairobi let me know my transition was not over. Nor is the remainder of my transition going to be easy.

I have spontaneously cried more in the past few weeks than any time since we moved here. Kai stepped on my toe – I cried (he seriously only weighs 25lbs, not heavy). Chris said he would be home late  - I cried. I wanted to call a good friend, any good friend, and realized they were all asleep because it was their night time – I cried. The man who printed my photographs told me I was abnormal and unintelligent when I asked him to reprint my washed out photos – I cried. Mika decided nursing was a sport and not a leisure activity – I cried. My dear friend got married in the US – from here, I cried.

My weeks have been full of fighting the systems at large – traffic jams for 2 hours with screaming babies, allergic reactions to unidentified allergens, doctors offices an hour across town, carpets ordered the day they were meant to be finished, tiles for making coasters only being sold in boxes of 100 (yes, I now have 100 tiles in my house), the bleach needed for cleaning dishes also bleaching a favorite shirt. My table still has bugs. The carpenter who made it must have changed his number and I can't seem to get a hold of him. So, we have dinner with the bugs.

And in the middle of all these things, inundating me, knocking me down, and making me cry (many not worth my tears), I’ve continued to feel this nausea, this sense that I’m not in the right place. A sense that I’m lonely and need a friend who doesn’t have to ask if I need them, but just knows. There hasn’t been a time in my life, at least in my recollection, when the stress I felt on a daily basis was manifest through my physical discomfort – but now it is. I can tell when I am stressed because I want to literally throw up.

I’ve continued pushing through, because that’s what I do when things are hard, and what I encourage others to do. When it all feels overwhelming, the simple fact remains the dishes still need to be done, the children still need to be fed, and my husband will still have some hopes of dinner when he comes home from work. And I firmly believe the best way out of a feeling like the one I’m feeling, is straight through it. And I firmly believe the best way to get through something is to continue walking – sitting, I thought, never accomplished moving past something.

And I’ve made progress. Our home is fairly established. We have made some friends, who are quickly becoming good friends. We have almost settled on a church to attend. We have developed and routinely engage in leisure activities. Kai loves to play with the kids in the apartment complex, and no longer needs me right next to him. Mika is cooing, rolling over, laughing – amazing. Chris and I are enjoying being married – even more than when we first got married.

We have made progress, and we are coming ‘through it’.

But I came to a place today, where the feeling of nausea reappeared, and I again sat with two sleeping babies in my parked car, in front of my apartment, and cried. I cried because I came to a very difficult realization:

Chris and I moved here because we felt led here, because we felt like the passion we have as a couple was met in the job offer Chris was given. And we moved here – Chris didn’t move here, and I didn’t move here – we moved here. And as we made the decision to move here, we expected, largely due to our own misplaced ideas, an easier landing than we've received. 

Chris continues to love his job, and we're really stretching ourselves to adjust our family schedules and personal mindsets so he can thrive in his new position. It's a painful process for us. The craziness of the last 3 years of our lives seemed doable because we anticipated a slowing down after we moved. While our lives have in some ways slowed down, the amount of time we have together as a family has dramatically decreased and that is hard.

I've felt so much sadness, and with my husband gone the majority of our awake hours, I am struggling to find my own purpose in being here. We moved our family here because we do believe in the work 'his' organization is doing, but it's hard for me to feel like my only role is home support & management.

A very wise author (whose name I can’t recall) wrote about the importance of “standing respectfully at the border of another’s pain. Acknowledging its existence and allowing it to be.” I have utilized this concept countless times with those going through difficult times. And today, crying in my car (much to the amusement and concern of those walking past) I came to the realization that sometimes, we must also stand respectfully at the border of our own pain and acknowledge it exists.

I realized how hurt I have been by unmet expectations, and the subsequent loss I feel.  And I realized I needed to respectfully be still, to stop moving forward, and allow myself to experience my own pain. Because ignored pain turns into anger, which turns into bitterness, which ultimately turns into self-destruction.

So that is where I stand today. Mourning the loss of unmet expectations, mourning the ideals of somehow still working alongside my husband rather than 'behind the scenes', and mourning the plans I had for an easier land when I moved away from home to home.

There are already beginnings of plans for me to become involved in other things.  I can already sense that I was the one who misinterpreted the reason for my moving here – and I can already see a light at the end of the tunnel, and know that I will soon be aware of my purpose.

But for today, I stand respectfully at the border of my own pain – and acknowledge it exists. So that tomorrow – I am a better, wiser, and less angry, version of who I am today.

‘In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer’ – Albert Camus


  1. Wow, Sarah, this was extremely well written. I am so sad for you that you've had to deal with all of these disappointments. I will be praying God shows you his purpose for you there, and soon.

  2. A tough disappointment to acknowledge...and so far from home! But it sounds like, now that you have acknowledged it, you are in a position to move forward. You are crazy strong for even doing what you've already done (i.e., picking up and moving your everything to a different country!). I don't really know you, but I am in awe! You will find/create your reason to be there, even if it isn't easy. Good luck!

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