If we had to compare this series about depression/blues to walking down a mountain into valley and then back up to another mountaintop, then we are now at the point where we’ve hit the bottom and are finally getting to climb back up.
In the first three posts I shared the story of the past few months, the struggles I’ve had in moving twice in six months, in leaving a place I was happy to call home for a while. In many ways I feel like I’ve been whining since there is nothing really wrong with my life at all. My family is whole and healthy. We’re safe and well provided for. But emotions don’t always care about those things… emotions aren’t always logical and they don’t always keep up with our fast-paced lives. Today I will share words that others have written that encouraged me.
I mentioned in the first part of this series that I have received unbelievable notes and letters of encouragement during this season of difficulty. I want to share a some of the words that have been passed on to me, because they really meant a lot to me. I am praying that if you have been struggling in some way similar to this that these words will also comfort your heart. (Underlining and bolding is mine.)
“Jen, I needed encouragement during those lonely years and it felt like the people closest to me that knew I was struggling kept their distance because I was a mess. I was in need and maybe they didn’t know how to help me or what to say. The Lord taught me so much in my climb from rock bottom back out of the pit. My breakthrough came in July of 2007 as I was reading a devotion in my quiet time, just the Lord and I. He showed me that He was teaching me perseverance through all of this. A fruit of the Spirit that I lacked. When the going got really tough I wanted to throw in the towel. He was teaching me to hang in there when I knew I was placed and positioned by Him. I had to learn that suffering was a form of faith. The Lord finally brought me through and a lesson or two or three was learned and my faith was fortified. I know that at the very least He will do the same for you as well.” ~M
“I can relate to what you posted last week about being in a funk trying to adjust back from living overseas. You have had many changes in a short amount of time. Even if you seem to be quickly “settling in,” it takes our mind/soul a little more time to catch up with where our body is. This is not an original thought. I heard it several years ago in a sermon I think. It was about the speed of life in these modern times. We seem to think we can keep up with our fast-paced life, but internally, our mind/soul/essence still functions at a slower pace. When we try to keep going, at some point our minds say no, I need to catch up with where my body is. Sometimes we really just need a break to catch up. Another thought, it is completely understandable about the time to adjust. You have a near utopian life in Germany. You had GREAT friends that you got together with regularly, weekly. You had irreplaceable relationships/friendships. I am not saying you will never have good friends again, but it probably won’t be the same. You also had a tight-knit overseas community that can’t be replicated here in the US. You can travel here, but there is also something magical about being able to travel around Europe and see and be a part of history. Also, the new people around you don’t share your past and your connectedness. Even when you make some new friends, there might always be a tiny little vacancy left from what you had, especially when it was something as special as what you had in Wiesbaden. You not only had your friends, tight community, and travel opportunities, you also had Parker and those sweet baby memories. Another thought: when we moved back from Germany it was extremely stressful. For months after getting here, I felt as if I had experienced some form of PTSD! It took months to feel at place in my new normal. I thought it was just me, and couldn’t really share what had happened, so I kept the thoughts to myself for the most part. Interestingly, last spring, my daughter’s friend’s family from Germany were in town so they came over for dinner. I had helped them move the summer before. It was a really stressful move for the mom. She told me about the difficult year she had adjusting and that she felt like she had experienced PTSD. I felt validated! I wasn’t the only one who felt like my whole international move was so stressful it could cause feelings like PTSD. I know that not every international move has as much drama, but an international move is very taxing, even under the best circumstances. You have also made two moves since you arrived in the States. The fact that you are still successfully homeschooling your kids in the midst of this is amazing! Three cheers for you!!! I am glad you have been honest in your posts about how you have been feeling. Moving affects us all in a different way. We can unpack quickly and appear settled physically or let a couple of boxes sit in a basement for a year. I think in the end, time and friendships are what help us feel settled and connected. We were made to be people in relationship. Isn’t that one reason God made us? So that He could have a relationship with us! We are made in His image. It seems reasonable that having relationships would be something that we desire and need. I would encourage you to keep up with your journaling. Don’t feel bad about not adjusting. Give yourself time! You have made two huge moves, one to a place you really didn’t want to go to! I have lived the Texas life once… You may hate the heat and the bugs, but dig in and make some friendships. I am sure your impression of (and eventual memories of) Texas will be fond. Time will pass and pretty soon your head and your heart will catch up to where your body is.” ~C
There were many other emails, Facebook messages, texts, and cards that arrived with a few common themes: the first was, “ME TOO! I felt that way too after moving back to the US (or after one particular move).” All of them included well wishes encouragement that time does make things better. Sure, time can’t make things just like they were, but I will find a new normal, a new look to my life, one that will suit me and that will feel comfortable to me. Thanks to all who commented on the blog posts I’ve written and let me know you’re thinking of/praying for me and that by sharing my journey I’m helping someone else.
I also read an absolutely amazing blog the other day, many of you have already seen it, but for those of you who might have missed it, I HIGHLY recommend it. It’s about repatriation (a word I had never heard before but am SO glad to know exists) and describes with amazing clarity what it’s like to have lived overseas and moved back home. Please check out Naomi Hattaway’s blog post entitled I am a Triangle and Other Thoughts on Repatriation.
I shared these three things with you today, two from friends and one from a fellow blogger, because they were full of words that encouraged a great deal. All of the other emails and notes reflected the same messages over and over… I am not alone, it will get easier, time will begin to heal. For those of you who are military spouses, moving all over the world in and out of different cultures, the stress can become overwhelming. Asking for help is not wrong, in fact, it’s absolutely the right thing to do. The Naomi Hattaway put into words just what I and so many others have felt but been unable to express. If you are feeling blue and it’s not related to moving, the encouragement to seek help is just as important. Maybe you seek help by sharing with a trustworthy friend, finding a counselor nearby, talking to your pastor, going to see a doctor to make sure you’re physically well, adding exercise to your schedule and reading books that will help you process the “stuff” you’re dealing with. Help can come in many different ways. I pray you will seek it out.
Tomorrow I will conclude this series and share with you a few of the resources I’ve found to be helpful in this journey. My prayer is that each of you find encouragement in what I’ve written and know that you are not alone.
Other posts in this series: