Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Re-Entry"

In January of 2007 I flew several thousand miles away from my home and lived in a tiny one-room building while working five days a week for a missionary family.

When I arrived home I began dating and consequently married my boyfriend five months after my plane landed. A month after our marriage I found myself fighting depression. I can remember, trying, through tears, to tell people that I loved being married… it wasn’t that. I was just… depressed. I felt lost and confused. I tried in vain to convince my husband that it didn’t have anything to do with him. I knew it didn’t. But I didn’t know what the problem was. So, he felt like he had ruined my life. He hadn’t. It wasn’t him…

Then came the doctors visits. Now I had my answer! I was depressed and confused and lost because of a medical condition! It was hormones! I was almost excited when I found out… finally an answer! My husband began to understand that it really wasn’t him! It was just, well, being a woman. I tried drugs. They made it worse. So, I immersed myself in trying all different types of non-medical remedies. Some helped. Some didn’t.

Then in January of 2009 my husband and I flew to Haiti. We spent seven months there. Working. Crying. Talking. Learning Creole. Becoming best friends.

It was hard. Horribly hard. Harder than any other cross-cultural trip I’ve ever taken. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Mainly because, after three months… praying, fasting, praying some more… I felt better. I felt like God touched me. I felt…whole. It was so wonderful. So beautiful to wake up in the morning loving it. I felt like I had found my real self again.

We had planned on staying for a year, but the work was finished so we started packing our things to go home. I can remember this horrible dread that began when I pulled out the first suitcase. I wanted to go home. Didn’t I? Home was where my family was. Home was where my friends were. Home was… Why did it scare me?

Then I realized that the last time I was home, I was still waking up in the mornings with headaches and tears. The last time I was home, I felt lost and confused. Some of the time, I just wanted to die. The realization hit me that home was scary. I had found my healing in La Colline, Haiti. So, the prospect of going back to the place where the last thing I had tasted was pain… seemed terrifying.

I pushed the disturbing thoughts away. I was excited to go home! To kiss my nieces and nephews. To hug my sister-in-laws. To be swallowed in my brother’s bear hugs. To hear my Mama and Papa sing together again. To see Amos’s family. Maybe church still seemed scary. Maybe the fear of my depression returning seemed taunting. But STILL I was going to love. I decided. It was a fact.

The first two weeks flew by so fast I couldn’t even function. There was so much to do. So many people I wanted to see. Then it happened. My worst fears were coming true. I began to feel lost. I began to feel lonely. I would sit in the middle of our church full of hundreds of people who spoke my language… and feel more alone than I did in La Colline with just my husband.

I crawled to the foot of the throne and cried out my frustrations: “Why? Why, God? I had so many hopes. I was GOING to be fine. I was going to fit in this church. I was going to LOVE every minute of life. I was going to embrace all the things that scared me. But instead I am spiraling back into the same place… depressed. Lost. Confused.”

And God said: “Are you depressed?”
And I said, “Well, no. Not depressed. Just lost and confused.”
And God said, “What about Amos?”
And I said, “Well, actually… he’s been having a hard time too.”
Then it hit me. The depression was from my medical condition. That was hormones. The rest of it… was all re-entry.

I’ve known all about the struggles of re-entering a society that one used to belong to. But I never thought of it pertaining to my situation. But as I looked back over the past two years… it all made perfect sense. I never truly “re-entered” after being gone to Brazil. I just got married. Which can cause some adjustments in itself.

All the lost-ness… feeling like I didn’t have friends- didn’t fit in anymore- wasn’t really loved…. Was simply the repercussions of spending time away. Of course everyone loves you. Of course you are dear to them. But their lives go on without you there. They learn to find new people to spend time with. They figure out ways to get along without you and when you come home- you have to find a new place. You can’t ever just jump back into the old one because that one has disappeared. It’s been engulfed by other people or things.

The good part? Amos and I get to find our place together. The two of us. A family. I don’t have to do it alone. I don’t have to be left sitting at home by myself when friends forget to call me… I have a husband I can snuggle up with (or go visit in the shop!) How greatly God has blessed me!

When I think over the past week since God revealed this to me… I am amazed at his grace! I have made some new friends- rekindled some old friendships. And I think I’m starting to find a place again. No, not as the person I was before… after all, I am different. I’ve experienced pieces of life that will forever alter my world-view… my idea of a nice evening (If you get a chance to talk, why would you watch a movie or TV?)… my opinion on making a quick dinner (rice and beans, anyone?)… and my best friend (who is now my husband!) …my idea of a big house (I don’t care what anyone says, ours is HUGE!)… so on and so forth.

So, my encouragement to others? If you know someone who is “re-entering”… invite them over. Spend some time with them. If you know someone who just got married (or just moved to the area)- don’t worry about “giving them space” invite them over anyway! They can always say no. But if it so happens that they are feeling lost… without a place… lonely- you just might help bridge the gap for them.

2 comments:

lizzykristine said...

I've been back stateside for almost three years; in many ways I still feel like I'm in re-entry....

During that time I've lived in three states, been part of three churches, gotten married, had griefs and trials, gotten very ill and now am beginning to get better, and haven't really made new friends yet.

Still, God is good and everything has been beautiful in His time. There is beauty in the ashes, you know. ;)

Titmoss said...

Hey thanks for dropping by my blog and commenting. :) I wonder how you found me...?

I read this post and was surpised, but encouraged too. I never thought that persons re-entering daily life here could experince so much--like you did. It made me want to make sure I do go up to those folks and help them!

Also, another 'condition' might be "never-having-entered." Often this is where I find myself in the post-highschool, 20-something circles...I just never jumped in on all the activities and friendships in HS, so now I feel a tad lost...

Hmm. Good thoughts. :) Praise God for the sharing of wisdom & experiences for other sisters & brothers to learn.