Welcome to the series where I bare it all, exposing the tender spots on my heart regarding our most recent moves.
Monday, in the introduction to the series, I shared why I’ve had such a hard time getting these words from the draft pile into the “published” pile. Tuesday, in Part 1, I shared some of the reasons I had a hard time leaving Germany. In today’s installment I’ll share a bit about how I experienced a very real form of grief throughout the past few months here in the US.
I left Germany knowing that my transition wasn’t going to be easy. I expected there to be difficulties related to leaving a great place with great friends. I tried to be smarter than my heart, knowing that being in the States over Christmas might trick my emotions into thinking we were just visiting and would be returning to Germany after the festivities. I tried to predict when the grief would hit so that I wouldn’t be caught off guard. I left Germany expecting for my heart to be hit with a wave of grief in January, when it finally realized we were not going “home.” Back to the house we had spent so much fantastic time in. Back to the house we brought Parker home from the hospital. Back to the friends we had made and lived life with. Back to the chapel where we had baptized our bigs. Back to Germany.
January came and went with surprisingly little emotional upheaval. We were fairly busy getting settled into our new (though temporary) home. We were still enjoying the newness of America and all the options it offers… and by “enjoying” I totally mean we were still “in awe of and somewhat overwhelmed by” all these options. Culture-shock in reverse. We were still relishing being just a couple of hours away from our entire family.
February arrived, and I was not able to run due to my knees acting up, my heart started to miss “home” and the grief I had expected to hit me in January finally caught up to me. I threw myself into our schedule and loved it. I found much peace and solace in our schedule. I found myself able to ignore much of my pain because our individual days were going so well. School was being accomplished, kids were being cared for, our home was neat and tidy. Nothing was obviously wrong with my life.
March hit me like a ton of bricks. The realization that we were going to be moving to a very hot state in three short months was not helping at all. At. All.
And there we have it. A very strange imbalance of the scales:
On one side you have my grief: memories of my house in Germany.
On the other side, you have my dread: moving to a hot state.
Seriously, my whole mental state from March to about September could be summed up in those two things. They are complete and total opposites in my mind. My Germany house versus Texas.
April was spent building my endurance in running again and talking to Matt as much as I could. His classes at C-4 (Career Course) were challenging but he was able to be home every night. Nothing crazy bad happened. I just didn’t feel myself.
May was spent preparing for our upcoming move, finishing up the 2012-2013 school year, and enjoying a very relaxing week at the beach (minus Matt… he had school).
June was Matt’s graduation and our trek across half of the United States. Our entry to Texas was a hot one, with our van’s air conditioner dying. Bless his heart, a real Texan fixed the air conditioner for us and sent us on our way. So, while the heat was horrible, Texans are incredible! We spent a few weeks in hotels and apartments waiting for a house.. lots of hours in the pool trying to stay cool.
August was when I expected to be “better.” When I wasn’t I decided to go see a counselor.
My counselor challenged me to explore this… is it really the house I miss and is it really the heat that is messing with my mind?
1. She challenged me to explore what it was about that house that I miss: hosting Thanksgiving (and birthday parties, and Christmases, and farewells, and coffees, etc.); that Aimee would just drop by and use my fridge while she was running errands so her food wouldn’t spoil; Tuesday afternoon coffee dates; Christy’s sweet smiling face as she delivered very fancy-schmancy built-with-love cakes; Jessica’s margaritas; Evelyn’s stop-by-on-her-way-home chats; card games that went on long into the night; Miss Kayla using my massive closet as her very own room;
I could go on and on. Basically, what I miss about my house is having those I love in it. I can’t have those particular people whom I love in my house often (with the exception of Jessica, since she also recently moved to Texas… that’s for another blog post for another day).
2. My counselor also challenged me to consider why the heat bothers me. (I got the raw end of the deal here… my counselor is FROM Texas and is therefore biased. I had to get over that annoying fact.) How do I feel about heat? The heat in Texas is horrible. And it isn’t made better by the fact that it’s not humid here (BULL!). The heat is horrible and it most certainly can get humid here. I am miserable in the heat and can’t seem to get comfortable anywhere but in the cool of my own house. Walking outside into a blast of hot air as hot as a hairdryer or a clothes dryer and not being able to escape it is unbearable. But guess what!?! I have friends here who get it. Two, in fact. One hates heat the same way I do. One of them, Kari, even spent a few minutes telling me just how clearly she gets it. She told me of how miserable cold weather makes her. How it gets into her bones and won’t leave. How she can’t get warm no matter what she does. She told me that, when she hears me talk about how miserable the heat makes me, she thinks about how miserable the cold makes her and she is able to sympathize. Ahhh… validation.
This has been, by far, my most difficult move. Many of you are wondering why in the world it would be. That’s okay. For you, Texas might be the best place on earth. I’m not a fan of heat, so nowhere with a lot of heat will be my favorite place on earth. For you, Alaska might be the last place on earth you would ever want to go, and yet, that’s what we requested. Each family is different, and their definitions of an awesome duty station can be different. I think that’s the hardest thing about this: some have underestimated (and trivialized? maybe…) how traumatic this was for me since there’s nothing really wrong with Fort Hood or Texas itself. It has everything we could possibly need. It has great weather all winter. But we already miss the snow. Our friends in Colorado have a “first snow of the year” tradition in which they listen to “Baby it’s Cold Outside” and roast marshmallows. We won’t get that. You may be thrilled to be playing with Christmas toys outside in shorts and t-shirts, but we’d rather be on the slopes. Sure, we’ll be out there playing as if it’s spring, but we’ll be wishing that weather were happening in the spring, not winter.
A few of the other ways I found myself suffering were in a desire to coop up. I had little to no interest in my camera. Very little interest in writing. While we were in Columbia for six months I didn’t really try to build friendships, though part of this may have been more related to the fact that we knew we were going to be there for such a short time. When I would envision my Germany house, I’d cry. Actually this still happens sometimes. Poor Matt has been left out, ignored, and neglected, though he’s being very patient. He has had to remind me that the can’t replace my girlfriends. I think he misses Aimee, Jessica, and Christy as much for me as I do for myself. A lot of pressure has been put on him to meet needs that really God intended for girlfriends to meet. (Thankfully I’m making girlfriends here and they can help share the weight with him. Girls need girlfriends!!) To get real with you, after losing 38 lbs last year, I have regained 16 of those, slowly, sadly. My depression hasn’t been any easier when I’ve added the guilt and personal frustration of this.
These are some of the ways I knew I was leaning toward depression. The reasons I really felt I needed to go visit a counselor. I think too many people are bothered by the stigma that exists today that going to counseling means *__________*. Whatever you put in the blank is what keeps you from going. For me, I wanted to get better so I didn’t care about those things that I, and others, have put in the blank. I have heard myself recommend counseling to dozens of other women in various situations. Had I been having a conversation with someone who had described her feelings the way I have described mine to you today, I would have encouraged her to go for counseling.
I also went to the doctor and had a physical. I’m perfectly healthy from head to toe. I have no deficiencies and no problems with my thyroid. Just need to take the time to heal from the stresses of moving twice in six months – one of those overseas.
September I saw improvements as I followed the advice of my counselor. Write even when I don’t “feel” like it and take pictures anyway. I toted my camera around to a few events and snapped pictures that were not only to document what was going on but just for the beauty I saw around me. Things were looking up. Slowly.
And here it is. The last week in October. I feel like I’m almost back to my real-self. I still find it hard to write sometimes, but I believe part of it is knowing I need to get this series knocked out. I think once I have this one done and behind me I will enjoy sharing the other stuff that’s going on. The events I toted my camera around to.
Tomorrow I hope to share some of the encouraging words people have shared with me. I figure if they were helpful to me then they’ll likely be helpful for you.
Other posts in this series: