Today I’m a bit of an emotional basket-case. I mean while watching the news I saw a report on a young family who escaped being harmed in a car accident with a truck and I actually had to choke back tears. That’s not normal for me or anyone I know.
I think it began this morning when I was filling out an application for a volunteer position with a local organisation. The lady asked me for two character referees. It couldn’t be a family member and so after I wrote down one friend’s name, I actually drew a blank with whom else to write. I had to blink back tears and explain that I’d just left my community and world for the past 5 years. Even writing that makes tears run down my face. Leaving your community, close friends, favourite job in the world and life of adventure is just plain old hard and painful.
After I did a debrief in New Zealand a few weeks ago I made myself a promise that I wouldn’t clench my teeth and hold the tears back anymore, but it comes at a cost to my pride. The other day at work I was almost reduced to tears in a conversation with the other nurses and had to just tell them I couldn’t talk about it anymore, because we were about to start handover and I could barely walk into a patient’s room all red-eyed and teary.
The thing is, I just wanted to feel welcomed home after being gone for so many years. My family welcomed me home with open arms and a few friends, but I feel at a loss for the rest of my old community. It's gone. I grew up in this town and so I know a fair population and called many friends but a few years away have changed most of their single status’, not just to married but married with children. They all have their own lives and I've had mine, so far away from anything they can connect to. So instead conversations are about the now. ‘What are you up to now?’ ‘Are you working?’ ‘How long are you staying around for this time?’ And sometimes ‘Are you settling in?’ Which really just makes me want to burst into tears. How do you settle into a different world? I want to tell them that I don’t want to forget everything I learnt but I don’t know how to fit that into this world here in Australia, but it would be lost on them.
I'm grieving. I’m grieving so many losses. In fact the loss part makes me so introverted I'd prefer to stay home and when I think about what I'm doing here now I feel tired and just plain sad. So sad that I don't want to connect with people I used to call friends because if I'm perfectly honest, if they ask how I really am I'll probably cry and if they don't ask how I am, I'll go home and cry. I'm just at a loss.
Some day I will not feel overwhelmed so easily.
Some day I will not cry every time I sing in church.
Some day I will have community again.
Some day I will not feel like a foreigner in my own town and country.
Some day I will feel as welcome in church as I do at work.
Some day I will feel like I belong again.
Some day I will not be on the verge of tears or cry so frequently.
Some day I will have a job I love.
Some day I will realise it doesn't hurt anymore to see the Africa Mercy carrying on, not needing me.
Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for people and things here. I wouldn’t have made it this many weeks without my family and a couple of friends, but I have to keep a check on myself to make sure I’m choosing healthy ways to grieve. At least I know that God called me to be here and as painful and restless as it feels in the every day, deep down I know I'm following him.