Adoption | Motherhood

A Time to Mourn

September 20, 2016

Coming home after spending four unexpected months in Uganda was a lot like plunging into freezing water. I anticipated it to go one way, and as you might have guessed, it went another. None of those underlying things that needed to be worked on and dealt with in my heart and my children’s went away as I crossed continents and oceans.

Home was my desired and prayed for destination for months.

With it came the fantasy that all would be well again. That somehow with it would come the fresh gulp of air that I was seeking as a person drowning out at sea. That somehow by being in all that was familiar and dear to me I would be able to be the parent I wanted and have always pictured myself to be. That somehow the image of who I thought I was and who I have carried around for decades would meet me at the airport and life would be able to continue it’s normal and familiar course.

Well, it turned out I was just as human at home as I was in Africa. Big surprise. Except somehow it was.

When all the superficial excuses I’ve kept stored away of why my heart was the way it was, ran dry and I was at home with my people around me, the luxuries I have coveted for so long, neither satisfying nor changing any part of me, I crumbled.

Time and time again when I should have drawn nearer, I pushed back. Instead of reacting with patience, I yelled. Instead of embracing and forgiving, I isolated. (The list could become very long and tedious) This wasn’t who I wanted to be. This was not a person I have ever seen or recognized.

Yet this was who I now was.

The image I have carried no longer resembled the familiar reflection in the mirror when push came shove. All those years trying to volunteer at every place and serve every group of people I could find, solidified my false perception that I was okay, that perhaps I was better than most. That somehow I was one of the ‘good’ people.

When the weeks turned into months and not much was changing inside of me I felt trapped on a roller-coaster cycle of unhealthy emotions I felt I could do nothing about.

Instead of looking to the only place I knew; the cross and all that it signifies and is, I started looking further within my self.

What I saw plunged me deeper and deeper into despair. For the harder I tried to do better and unravel my tangled ball of yarn life, the less it worked; my ‘successes’ did not outweigh my ‘failures’.

It wasn’t an overnight regression of bad to worse. But somehow amidst living life and enjoying the good things while learning to balance all the new things I lost myself.

Perhaps it happened long before that, the moment I boarded that plane and started a new life I could never walk away or turn back from. Regardless, it wasn’t until months of being home that I realized I was going about my day in a complete numbing daze. I became a ghost of someone I could not conjure up to remember. A remnant of what I used to be.

I was trying to live in the moment, be present and attentive to what was happening all around me, yet I felt removed from my kids and the experiences we were making.

I didn’t feel anything anymore.

Not the real stuff. Not like I just spent an entire summer feeling. It wasn’t anyone or anything in particular bringing it about. In fact, this was the time most of our best days at that point were spent. The testing and defiance periods came to a close. We were making all sorts of new memories and adventures. I was getting into a new normal, learning how to make new special routines while managing all things around home. I was out seeing mom’s for play-dates, hiking, hitting up every playground, park and natural area within a 50 mile radius and in a way making up for all that we have missed as a family.

Yet, when the kids went down for sleep, and my day of activities would come to a whirlwind stop, I had no idea who or what I was anymore. My new normal didn’t make sense. It wasn’t because it wasn’t good, because it was. It just didn’t feel like ‘me’.

I kept thinking through the summer that if I could just make it home that I would reclaim some of what had been broken in me.

There wasn’t anything in me or around me I could point to or dig out that could be blamed, rationed or used to justify why I felt like I felt: numb.

We were making so much progress each day as a family learning the meaning of family, bonding, trusting and loving. Everything I did, was done with intention and care, but almost like it was an out of body experience. I was present, doing, caring, and loving; yet removed.

I knew something was wrong with me.

I felt broken. Not the type of ‘broken’ I have felt before.

This time it felt permanent.

It felt like this was going to be it; my new normal. I hated it. Not my new life but who I was in it. It’s like the summer was too much for me and I walked out with amputations I couldn’t figure out how to live with. There was no open wound or sore oozing it’s ugliness and pain at me anymore. There was just nothing, the aftershock.

This went on for a while. More then it should have… I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it with anyone. What would I say? I would sound ungrateful, or like I’m complaining, and I knew had absolutely nothing to complain about, nor could I find anything after thinking it through.

After running possible scenarios through my head and the reality that I wasn’t actually dying of any unknown fatal diseases (yes I thought that was a real possibility at that point) I made the decision that I was depressed. Funny how it’s so hard to recognize signs of depression when you are in the thick of it.

I didn’t feel depressed. I wasn’t feeling anything to be feeling sad, nor could I muster the energy to even care or dig long enough to what I was feeling.

Finally I sat down with my husband and told him I thought I was in need of some professional help. He very lovingly inquired as to why I thought that way, which of course I couldn’t pinpoint. The only thing I could articulate was that somehow I was broken, and although depression didn’t really fit the bill it must be that otherwise I was beyond help.

I remember telling him I cannot find a shred of evidence of the girl I used to be, that I didn’t know how to keep living with this ‘new’ me, a person I no longer recognized or identified with any part of.

I kept walking through the days looking at the broken pieces of ‘me’ that I used to see, trying to glue them back together or remember what shape they previously held before shattering and I couldn’t.

Lauren Daigle was playing a lot at my house during this season. Especially the “My Revival’ song. I must have had it on repeat all day, every day for weeks. I just knew God would revive me. That one day I would be able to dance and soar and feel it with everything within me.

I wouldn’t have to fight so hard to feel past the numbness and fog I was living in.

That one day I would be able to have dreams again, and see a familiar face that I recognized looking back at me.

That’s what God did to my heart. He broke it to rebuild it. Those things I thought as ‘good’ within me didn’t turn out to be the medals of honor I assumed they were.

Revive me He did though.

I came to terms of my humanity. The part I tried so hard to hide while striving to please Him and earn my way into His good graces. I learned to accept His goodness and love without doing anything in return. To come to Him with my hands held high holding my broken pieces of me without excuse, without a promise and without guilt. To take all that He was offering and giving freely and run with it.

I learned that my best mothering was not going to come from me. It was going to be me kneeling at the cross on daily basis and trusting that despite the failures and lack of abilities, He WAS going to make something beautiful not just out of my life, but more importantly my kid’s lives as well. At that place of complete surrender at the foot of the cross, I was resurrected again, into a new way of living, with my eyes wide open.

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