I created this blog to celebrate life -- with all of its beauty and its trials (and hopefully lots of wonderful and hilarious stories along the way). I've disappeared again, as is my habit, but I'm also back...again. While I have mostly found my footing since returning home, I also know that rather than ignoring them, it's time to start tackling those personal demons. Overall, I am relatively happy and am in a relationship with someone who loves and supports me, but it's time I start loving myself again and that means making changes in my life and finishing unfinished business. That means making a few very important promises to myself (and documenting them here, in writing, to help keep myself accountable) -- so, I promise to…
1. Focus on my health.
That means getting my weight back down to a healthy level and establishing good habits. More specifically, eating healthily and working out five days every week. This also means focusing on my mental and emotional health. Being in good physical health will help with this, but I need to go further than that.
2. Ask for help.
I was going to say ask for help when I need it, but that gives me a loophole where I can tell myself I don't "need" it even if I do. So, for the sake of my sanity, even if I don't need anything specific I will express any physical/mental/emotional (dis)stress that negatively impacts me for more than ___ minutes.
3. Maintain relationships.
Cutting myself off and trying to cope on my own works only for the little things and for very short periods of time. Sometimes there are bigger issues or ongoing issues and I need the support of the people who love and care about me. Not only that, but being connected to people is critical to maintaining mental/emotional health. That also means reconnecting with people and reestablishing those relationships when possible.
4. Keep busy and stay productive.
Feeling lazy does NOT make me happy; it makes me feel useless and it makes me feel like a burden (particularly during this transition period where I cannot yet support myself financially). Doing household chores and miscellaneous busy work is only a temporary solution…which leads to thinking about all the things I don't currently have in my life. That leads me to the next two things on my list.
5. Focus on the present.
This and look optimistically at the future, but stop thinking so much. Overthinking things leads to feelings of being overwhelmed (at the very least) and that does nothing to help me -- and ultimately is probably the root of my procrastination. Visiting the past/past mistakes is okay once in a while, living there is not. The future will be bright as long as I do what needs to be done NOW and start taking better care of myself in all aspects of my life.
6. Start tying up loose ends.
I know that some of the "loose ends" I'm referring to are going to take a lot of work toward the previous five steps before I feel like I can tackle them -- but even if they're stupid little things, it will still give me knot tying practice when I get to the big things. Seriously, start with filling out some forms and an unfinished knitting project or something. And when I move on to the big things I STILL need to live in the present. Yes, lay out a schedule and goals, but then actually take them one day at a time.
7. Keep adding to this list...
There is always room for improvement and I know that there is more I need to do -- but I'll start with these and see where it takes me and how far it takes me. I am lucky to have some wonderful people in my life AND some new additions, including my boyfriend, Chad, of over five months and my cousin's beautiful baby girl and my Goddaughter, Eleanor!
Thursday, January 23, 2014
Ultimately, what I have learned is that it is much harder to come home than people realize. You would think that after a year of being homesick and trying to adjust to a foreign language and a culture very different from your own that it would be a relief to be home and be with family and friends -- the people you love. Instead, it feels just as much like leaving your life behind as it did the first time…in a way. In many ways you are very happy to be home, and at the same time it doesn't always feel like home anymore. It is an awkward and emotional process. Consider this:
After a year of struggling to communicate every single day and celebrating minor achievements, such as ordering your coffee in the morning, this becomes the norm. You would think that returning to a place where everyone speaks your native language would be a relief…well think again. Ironically, you go from eavesdropping on people in public just to see what words you can understand (or enjoying the ability to just block it all out) to feeling like you are eavesdropping on everyone, everywhere you go, all the time. You find that while you have no desire whatsoever to hear what they are saying, there it is...there's no escaping it.
We all develop our own daily routine. We have little daily, weekly, or monthly traditions that (for some reason) make us happy. We have those favorite spots like the coffee stand that we pass on the way to work or the place you go when you're desperate for groceries and all the other stores are closed. It feels like it took you a whole year to establish this routine and suddenly it is disrupted. You may be moving back to your hometown, but suddenly you have no idea what to do or where to go. The coffee at your favorite coffee shop doesn't taste the same, and you can't help but thinking that the coffee you drank while you were living on the other side of the world tastes better than this crap. Not only that, but you desperately want things to be normal again and they are far from it.
You need to constantly remind yourself that you have been gone for a year (even though you're trying not to think about it). After a year it would be logical to assume that your relationship with family and friends would be a little different, even with Godsends like Skype and email. However, expecting it to happen and experiencing it are two very different things. Not only have you been separated by thousands of miles, but you haven't had any shared experiences for at least a year. You feel self-conscious every time you start a sentence with "In *insert country here*…" or "When I went to *insert location in country here*…" because you don't want to be the person that only talks about their experiences abroad. Unfortunately, those are the only recent experiences you have to pull from so you just pray that you don't sound like a pretentious ass.
And to top it all off, you may actually have difficulty relating to people. Sometimes we experience things that the people we love won't ever fully understand, but the ones who don't pretend that they do and are willing to listen are worth more than you ever could have imagined. Things change, and sometimes it can be hard to take changes in stride. Things get disconnected and you have to figure out where things go and how to get things started up again (I'm sure the technologically challenged among us can relate). It's a long process and sometimes a slow process and it definitely has its ups and downs, but eventually you figure things out.