maybe i shouldn’t have been so surprised. but we forget how much people care, how kind people can be, and despite its general toxicity, how great the internet is at bringing us all together in times of joy as well as in times of crisis.
i see so many friends getting engaged, getting married, having babies, having more babies. buying that house, that car, getting that promotion and more. and i love to “like” that stuff and send a message, send a gift if I can, and celebrate those big life moments with and for my friends.
and my life has published moments of pure, unadulterated joy: i danced with penguins in Antarctica this winter, i’ve roasted marshmallows over volcanoes in Guatemala, i have tasted wine in the andes, and celebrated carnaval in Brazil, and a number of ‘cool,’ enviable things. but somehow the things i celebrate with an online audience don’t seem to measure up (in my mind, at least) to what most people my age and increasingly younger ages are accomplishing as they fill out our expected life projection much better than i seem to.
the internet is a place where i
- read about the latest WH administration action that will burn the world down
- catch up on family and friends
- watch videos to restore my faith in humanity or animals, particularly unlikely animal pairings.
but mostly not where i
- go to read some sad things about how someone felt like they failed at something.
and so i didnt expect anyone to read my last blog about the disillusionment and depression (why is it so hard to say that? why have we made it so hard to admit something so common as depression?) that has been the last few months of me.
i’ve been cursing God, doubting the existence of God, retreating from all forms of social life, non-feeling through consumption, over-feeling through consumption, and more since about last September. all because of the actions of one person that i gave this power to and i wrote about it because writing is what makes me think and forces me to feel and publishing it makes it real but i didn’t expect anyone to read it because a. it was long b. there were no pictures c. it wasn’t a cute “the 27 most important hedgehogs of the year” type list and d. the title literally said it was depressing.
but i underestimated the depth and range and emotional capacity of my friends. i’m sorry. because you did read it. better than that – you sent messages, texts, hail mary prayers at me. i couldn’t believe or really handle very well how much love i got from people from all different places and moments in my life. Some people i haven’t even seen since we graduated high school picked me up to take me to coffee.
it’s incredible. as humanity can be.
The transition of living Stateside is still in process…i’m overwhelmed by all the English; by the idea that i can understand the words around me and the culture around me. ive missed out on a lot of important family events, friend events, and community happenings. there has been a lot of technology since i left. i’m scared to drive and i get lost easily as i drive around. i dont understand references to places or moments, even though i thought i was doing a good job of reading a lot of American news and keeping up to date on social media.
im hurt that in the midst of this, without saying anything to me directly, some people have ‘unfriended’ me or said unkind things about me. but in moments of crisis you realize who your real friends truly were all along, and what people are really like.
i’m in a bit of a numb or in between stage of moving forward – I’m loving being with my family and cold weather and the convenience of everything in the States. i miss my brazilians. i miss portuguese! i miss “tudo bem?” as the question and answer for everything, and beans and rice, and i find every hug to be too short now. no one kisses my cheeks or takes ten minutes to leave a conversation.
i spend a lot of each day just trying to understand where i fit. where am i supposed to effing fit?!@#$%
i miss a routine. i haven’t ventured out too much yet – the first time i went driving in my mom’s car was to take the puppy to get his man parts snipped and it was pouring rain so i was just saying “i dont like ANY OF THIS” through clenched teeth while trying to ignore the idea of how much pain i was about to be associated with.
parts of me are coming around towards okay again in weird ways – to say “healing” is probably appropriate but also sounds too serious and i have a hard time with serious.
reverse culture shock hits strongly when i errand to Safeway . . . if you’ve never spent a significant time living on a strict budget/living in a developing/third world country you might not get this but . . . grocery stores here are so pretty, so full of items in or out of season, so labeled and agreeable to all your allergies. and Americans condiment the h*ck out of things. i put ranch dressing on things that dont need ranch dressing like i might again have to live in a world without it.
i smile each time i remember i can flush toilet paper. according to my fitbit, i’ve gone from sleeping 4-5 hours a night to sleeping 8-9 hours a night. my resting heart rate is down over 15 beats per minute since the last three weeks. the stress-leprosy on my hands is completely gone. ive started brewing kombucha again. i walk 6 miles a day on the trail and listen to music that fills my soul and giggle at the guy who rollerblades while pushing his dog in a stroller. i take a picture of a tree i like everyday.
i’ve met up with a few people since coming back…soul sisters, mostly. People ive kept in touch with or have done a good job of keeping a hold of me since i first moved away four years ago. i reach out and they reach back in times good and bad and normal, and i treasure their nuggets of wisdom and approval and mostly just like to make them laugh with the funny story that is usually my life. but that circle of friendship keeps getting bigger, as circles can stretch and grow to include more loveliness and more old friends.
ive decided to get into metal jewelry stamping, and apply to be a missionary in Mexico, and create a website for my imaginary designer t-shirt business, and work on my youtube channel for teaching girls how to play female register versions of popular male voiced songs. ive planned a hiking trip to yosemite, and dedicated myself to teaching the new puppy 20 tricks, and googled a lot of recipes that basically make me healthy just by reading them. that’s how i feel, anyway.
i read self-help books across the spectrum while i take bubble baths . . . so many bubble baths. i always felt hot in brazil, but it was different than the ‘almost burning the epidermis’ hot of a finally-out-of-the-drought-california bubble bath. It’s a small tub; only the top or bottom half of me fits at a time, but i can sit and soak and scrub away at anything that doesnt feel good. i can feel nothing at all or everything at once if i want to. i recently figured out that every time i wasnt looking, the dogs were sneaking in and drinking out of the water glass i had next to the tub. but thats okay. thats. no yeah thats gross.
i sit a lot and drink tea and pet the dogs. i want to do everything and im also too tired to do anything. i spend a lot of time reminding myself that i am not crazy, that i did nothing wrong, and that to people who know everything that happened, and know the person that i am, it was absolutely the only thing i could do in order to walk away from the situation with my faith and my sanity still intact.
intact ish. because i am a hot mess.
but in the vulnerable space between when i wake up and when i go to sleep, im learning something lifelong and something difficult, i know it. im scratching at its surface. its bigger than i can verbalize at the moment, but i am learning to trust the idea of authority and leadership again and that people will be nice to me and can be trusted with my thoughts and feelings without turning them against me.
i am learning more about listening to wisdom from others. i am learning how soft and how hard my heart can and should be. and what it beats for. and im learning to try and feel it and understand it instead of making a plate of nachos and trying to forget feelings exist.
i want to say how beautiful, generous, and loving almost all Brazilians were to me. and how interesting and complex and sexy i found the country and culture as a whole. my hips will probably forever carry the memories of how good the food was. my skin will show the many freckles earned in your sunshine, Rio. and my students – oh, how i loved you.
despite all that happened in the last few months, the life i lived in brasil was worth returning to the states in a questionable faith state, relying on the charity of my parents at 33 years old, with zero idea of what im to do next.
all the soul sisters ive met with since coming back have advised the same things – “take it slow, figure out what you are really good at, and what you really want, and then run full speed ahead towards that. and know that you are worth it, whatever it is.”
okay. i can do. and you should, too. here we go, right? every day. here we go.
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best,
night and day,
to make you everybody else –
means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight;
and never stop fighting.
– e.e. cummings