…I would have talked about my return to the U.S. from Africa, about what a blessing it was to see Connor the moment I stepped out of the terminal, how much fun it was to hang out with my family and friends, and how I enjoyed eating my mothers’ food, getting a hot shower, sleeping in my own bed, etc.

Then a few weeks later I would have talked about how shocked I was at my own new behavior in public situations, how I didn’t want to leave the house or see anyone, how overwhelmed I became over simple things like choosing an outfit to wear to the DMV, how I lacked the ability to make decisions like which shampoo I wanted from Walmart, how I sometimes cried myself to sleep, woke up and cried again….for no obvious reason whatsoever. I lacked my old confidence in social situations, and I had a critical spirit which I never had before.

Then about a week after that I would have expressed all of my anger and frustration over life in the U.S. One night as I lay awake in a fit of anxiety, I scribbled things like this in my journal under the heading “Things That Annoy Me Right Now”—

  • “People telling me what to do
  • people worrying over unimportant things like the weather and what to wear
  • people watching television for hours on end; people buying unnecessary things
  • explaining that Africa is a continent, not a country
  • people not caring like I think they should
  • people judging other people who they don’t even know….”

[Critical much?? Remember!: “My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry. If you are angry, you cannot do any of the good things that God wants done.” (James 1:19-20)”]

Then a few days later, I might have admitted that despite being constantly surrounded by people, I was feeling so very lonely. I had gained a different perspective and I felt like no one could possibly understand me or the experiences I had. I missed the girls and the children, I missed my simple life and the relationship I had formed with God, and I missed Uganda so much. The pain of that hit me deeply as I came to terms with the stories I had heard from the girls and how I was completely incapable of doing anything to change their situation. I felt so completely helpless, and I needed time to grieve that loss.

Stages of Transition...doesn't it look like a rollercoaster??

 

After that rollercoaster of emotions, I have to say that I am glad I didn’t make a single post this summer. To be honest, I couldn’t even articulate what I was feeling at the time. One of things that helped me to feel better though was something a woman from ChildVoice shared with me called “Back Home” which is a small book for those who are transitioning from life abroad. All of sudden, I realized I wasn’t crazy after all and that this was a perfectly normal cycle of emotions for someone in this situation. Whew—thank God! For a while, I wondered whether these feelings would be permanent.

Under ‘Day 21’ of the transition cycle, under the heading ‘Grief’, the author says, “You should be happy—you are back home! But you are feeling sad. Why do you find yourself on the verge of tears at the most unusual times? Why are you irritable and easily annoyed? Where are these feelings coming from?” Yea! Where? Why? The book answered those things for me.

In addition to lots of God time, another thing that helped in my transition was the start of my new job with an awesome organization called E4p, Inc. which will allow me to do projects that help West Virginians and will allow me to stay connected to our African partners in Uganda, Malawi and South Africa. What a blessing! More on that later though.

Long story short, the past few months have been a bit chaotic in terms of my emotional state.  I’m still not sure I have everything figured out…not sure that I ever will. Half my heart will always be in Uganda. I am grateful for the experience that I had there and the amazing people I met along the journey. I have a feeling this is not the last time I will feel this either because I don’t plan to end my travels anytime soon. Thanks to anyone who cared enough to hear my stories, catch me up on theirs, pray for me, support me, or distract me with ice cream:)…it worked!