Back in America. What Now?

Today I’m linking up with some brilliant writers I met through the book launch team I’m on. The theme this week is “What Now,” and we’re sharing about transitions and changes. This is a good one for me to start with since I get to do a lot of transition and changing in my family.

So here I am, almost 10 months after moving back to the States from a three-year tour in the Middle East. It’s just enough time to feel like the major areas of transitions are mostly stabilized.

My focus for the first few months after moving into our new place was to get the kids settled. Find them beds, friends and routine and help them process all the changes from the only life they knew previously. The kids are by far the most resilient of us, but we couldn’t overlook what their little hearts and bodies go through.

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At one point, this was the furniture in our living room. Got iPad? Kids’ll be just fine!

As they were getting settled, I also worked to get our house set up. We received all our earthly goods in three shipments over the course of four months, so it was (is) a slow process. I took full advantage of neighborhood sale groups, Craigslist and rediscovered an old love-thrift shops-to furnish and decorate.

My husband jumped pretty quickly into his new assignment, a fast-paced job that requires long hours and frequent travel. These are not new facets of his job, we just had to get used to the differences of living in the D.C. area while dealing with them.

We had maintained a close connection with our church in D.C. and the transition to going back has been sweetly easy. Our kids are loved and thriving in the children’s ministry. John and I have found areas to use our gifts to bless others in the church, but mostly have been in receive mode for others’ gifts during this re-entry time.

Through all this, there was a pretty major area I mostly ignored in the way of being intentional about the transition. Me. Maybe this is something we do as moms or as women or humans, but I know I’m not alone in putting myself last.

Oh sure, I read plenty about putting the oxygen mask on yourself first and self-care and filling my tank so I have extra to give, but it’s much easier to read than do. I’m the last person who’s going to tell you how important all that is, because I’ve done a pitiful job of doing it.

Until recently.

I explained it to my counselor like this: I didn’t have much margin or resources to handle some of the hardships of being in the desert, so I stuffed them down to deal with “later.” There were babies to have, toddlers to raise, jobs to struggle with, home-preschools to start, husbands to support, home churches to run, Bible studies to lead, trips to take, bomb threats to wait out, sand storms to weather, and groceries to buy (a much harder task than you’d expect when you factor in scheduling drivers and stores closing for prayer).

Look, there are some good, beautiful things in this list. My kids had a wonderful time there and still talk about how much they miss it. They had a charmed life. My husband had a different kind of wonderful time, with an engaging job and living in what can absolutely be called “a man’s world.” So, I absorbed most of the “suck.” (I also had a very good life there, but that’s a different post).

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In a world where only men can drive, you have to start them young.

Now I’m here, in the land of the free, with so much goodness and green grass around me, but I’ve got all this stuff compressed inside.

My compressor is at capacity now. My “stuff” is leaking out and I’m flinching from my bursts of anger and stepping in puddles of depression. I don’t recognize my thought patterns and don’t trust my instincts anymore. It’s “later,” and I need help dealing with it. I need someone else with their oxygen mask on to help me with mine.

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To prove my point, here is a screen shot of a Google Image search for “airplane oxygen mask.” I GET IT!!

Help for me looks like this these days: Healing Prayer appointments, professional counseling (can I get a Hallelujah!?), membership at a gym with free childcare, and permission from John to take a morning every week to write and ignore the dishes.

What’s next? With the support of my family and dear friends, I’m going to get my Self unpacked and healthy again. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), there’s no time table for that, so who knows how long it will take. I’m sure it will give me plenty to write about, so hooray for you!

If you have a moment, please check out the other blogs linked here to see how others are writing about transitions and changes. Thank you!

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8 thoughts on “Back in America. What Now?

  1. Dear Anna,
    I’m so proud of you for recognizing that you’re important and need this time for unpacking what got packed inside these past few years!

    Maybe John will let you come out to visit me over a long weekend…..

    Love you,
    Aunt Paula

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  2. I was curious about your life overseas, often wondering how you handled it so easy-breezy. As is the case with most moms, there is so much more going on under the surface. I appreciate your honesty and openness here. It makes my crazy thought life seem a little less crazy. And thanks for linking up! I’m so happy to see you on #FridayFive!

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  3. So much good here, Anna! I love your writing, but even more your thoughts and who you are. This transition stuff is difficult. I know. Such good insights. Definitely learning from you and relating on many points. I’m so glad you’re starting to put on your oxygen mask.

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  4. It’s so conflicting to not be okay in the midst of a pretty okay life. I’m so glad you are caring for yourself. You are worth it! I’ve heard it said, and I think it’s very true, that repatriating is much harder than expatriating. Love you, friend. Would swim the ocean if I could to be able to hug you.

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  5. Thank you for sharing your experience and struggle. A lot of women (maybe moms especially) really have a hard time taking care of themselves. Perhaps it’s because we’re taught to be nurturers of others and feel like nurturing ourselves is selfish and unnecessary. I’m glad you have recognized the lies in those thoughts and are doing the good, hard work of healing. You’re brave and strong!

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  6. I totally relate to worrying about and helping others process before I remember I need help, too. Prayers for you as you settle into a new home and a new life. During one of my previous moves a dear friend prayed for me to have a “Holy, joyful move” because “no move is wholly joyful.” TRUTH. Beautiful words.

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