Oh, hi.

So it’s been a while… like a year and a half or so, but I’m hanging in here – until recently, like the last month or so, I would have added “barely” to that statement.  I feel like I’ve been hibernating and it’s now time for spring to get here.

I’ve got lots of reasons for my absence, but the biggest one is I don’t know how many ways I could say I just can’t function or even more, I don’t have the words to explain why I couldn’t function.

In the past 18 months…

I returned to America.  Not by choice, but at, what I do think, was a good time for our family.  And turns out many people had expectations of what this would mean and I found that very overwhelming so I responded in ways that could and did damage relationships.

I got a part-time job at World Market – great store, but also overwhelming to work retail at the holidays.

Then I spent Thanksgiving with my immediate family.   Michael arranged for Chan and Aly to make it to Colorado.  And there were friends there.  It was good. It was probably the first big positive in our return.

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And somewhere in this time, I discovered that I brought a great big ol’ helping of social anxiety with me when I returned to America.  I don’t know where or when I picked it up, but man I caught a massive case of it and it seems like it might be a permanent part of who I now am.

Christmas came.  Parts of Christmas were good.  When we heard we’d be returning to America I thought a few of the positives that would come with that would be time with friends and time with family.  We had a great Christmas with some awesome friends.

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We made it into the New Year – 2017, I was determined I would get things under control.  I didn’t.  But I didn’t give up.

In January of 2017, my older brother died.  It was devastating. Not because he died.  But because I’d wished him dead for many, many years and his death changed nothing other than to cause me more pain than he’d caused me while he was living.

The holidays were over, New Year was over.  I needed to do something that felt like forward motion so I got a job at Caption Call.  It was also part-time, so between my two part-time jobs, I had a full-time job.  And what’s the best thing to do when you have two part-time jobs? Find a temporary full-time job.  A temporary full-time job that is a Monday – Friday kind of job.   The kind of job that makes you quit your two part-time jobs.

In March of 2017, I started working at Compassion International.  Yes, the same place that Michael works.  The reason we were in Asia.  It was just the kind of job I needed.  Set hours and responsibilities that didn’t extend past the hours I was required to be at work.  In May of 2017, I was able to turn my temp job into a permanent job.

About this time Sam came to us and wanted to know if his graduation trip could be to Thailand.  He’d taken his GED and passed with flying colors with college credits and all that jazz.  When Chan graduated we took a family trip to Japan.  When Aly graduated we took a family trip to New Zealand.  Sam wanted to return to Thailand to see his friends graduate high school.   Michael and I thought this was a great idea, but it couldn’t be a family trip.  Finances and jobs wouldn’t allow for it.  So it was a Sam and mom trip.  It was a healing trip.  It was the first time I heard Sam speak of Thailand as his home and not as a place he’d never wanted to live.  It gave him an opportunity for closure.  It also gave me an opportunity for closure.  I saw friends.  I made my way along roads that for years had been home for me.  I saw life had gone on without me.  And that it was okay.  I returned from Thailand knowing Thailand was no longer my home and recognizing that I hadn’t made a home in America, either.

Life was painful.  Interactions with people hurt.  And that makes life very difficult.  When you want to put your best foot forward and make a really good impression, but every single time you try you fail, it doesn’t make life easier.  It’s caused me to mess up relationships with some neighbors and to not even try to have relationships with other neighbors.  It caused me to mess up relationships with friends and it’s caused me to mess up relationships with family.   It’s hard to navigate life when you feel like with every hello you say you owe that person an apology.    And when you see all the failed relationships around you and you see that the common denominator of them all might be? could be? is?  you, it’s crushing.

But that’s where I am. And the funny thing is that I do feel like I’m turning a corner.  Every day no longer feels like a challenge. I don’t think the tension of finding my home will ever go away, but I now know that I can live with that tension and thrive in that tension.

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making a home

one of the things i’m looking forward to in colorado is making a home for our family.

i currently have three things hanging on walls in my house and they are all in odd locations because that’s where the nail or screw just happened to already be and that got me thinking…

when we moved to thailand we assumed we’d be here a long time.  a really long time, but we’ve never had a timeline.  we didn’t really know how long we’d be here when we arrived and each year came with either the promise of another year or the threat that we could be moving.  that makes it hard to create a home.  i’ve never put a nail into a wall here.  if something happens to be hung it’s because there was already a nail in place to hold it.  for christmas decorations we used temporary tape type things.  nothing permanent.  nothing that left a hole that would require filling in when we left.  we’ve lived in three houses here and i’ve painted one room.  the kitchen in the current house.  but it still doesn’t feel like my kitchen.  it’s just a borrowed kitchen i’ve painted yellow.

a while ago (while i was cooking christmas dinner) michael and i had a fight over a ladle.  i was cooking and i commented that i would be glad to not see this particular ladle once we moved.  he said that we should take it with us, a new ladle would cost money that we didn’t need to spend.  his statement might be true, but my only thought was that this ladle belongs in a kitchen that is in a house that’s never been our home (i also thought ladles are cheap and if i want a new ladle i’ll get a new ladle.)  i think it might have been the first time we had to think about our return being more than just a move.  while a lot of the steps are the same as the moves we’ve made in the past – making to do lists, packing boxes, arranging logistics… all that fun stuff – there’s something different on the other end.  something that i’m not totally ready to embrace, but something that i know will be good.

i’m looking forward to making a home.  i’m going to paint walls (lots of walls, but not all the walls) and i’m going to hang pictures.

 

 

 

 

making plans, dragging feet

time marches on.  it just won’t stop and i’d like it to.  i’d like to pull back on the reigns and say, “whoa” and have time stop.  and wait until i’m ready for it to move forward, but it won’t.  it just won’t.

right now i count the days by the thens.  michael’s in indonesia right now.  he’s been gone for almost 2 weeks and has another week to go.  then he’s home for a little less than a week.  then he’s in africa for approximately 2 weeks.  then he’ll be home for close to a week.  then he’s in america for 4 days.  (yes, he’ll spend almost as much time traveling for that trip as he will actually be there and he’ll spend way more time recovering from that trip than he will be there.)  then he’s home.  and for some reason that’s when time really starts for me.  time starts in april.  not sure what my mind thinks happens between now and then (mid Feb and early April), but for some reason it doesn’t feel real.  it doesn’t feel like progress.  about the same time michael returns from america family starts arriving.  aly (i cannot wait to see her, it’s been so long!!!), her boyfriend (we’ve never met him), my mom, and my aunt will all come to chiang mai.  and i’m crossing my fingers and hoping against hope that chan will also be coming (that feels like a bit of a long shot, but also not impossible).  we’ll have two weeks of family and tourist stuff and songkran and time not stopping.  overshadowing everything is the weight of “this is it”.  this is good bye.  this is our last smokey season (miserable, but we’ll miss it).  our last hot season (miserable, but we’ll miss it).  our last songkran (not always miserable and something i will definitely miss).  and i think what makes it harder is that it doesn’t feel like there are any firsts to come.  it isn’t our first time to live in america.  it’s not our first time to live in colorado.  it’s not even our first time to live in the house we’ll be returning to.  it feels like too much.  but it can’t be stopped.

so, we make plans.  there are the we need to sort this plans, the we need to do this plans – the logistical stuff that comes with moving.  those are sort of easy (easy to see, not necessarily easy to do.)  but then there are the we have to do this plans.  and they aren’t the same for all of us.  michael is ticking off some of his through work.  i know with each trip he makes he’s saying goodbyes.  and it’s not easy for him.   the hardest plan of all is the final how do we leave chiang mai plan.   figuring out how to do goodbye isn’t easy.

it’s much easier to say late july is forever away.

i’ve held on until day 55 of summer

i’m taking a page out of leigh vs. laundry’s book – or maybe it’s a post off of leigh vs. laundry’s blog – whatever, i’m stealing her idea.  she had a nervous breakdown on day 43 of summer and i’m contemplating a nervous breakdown on day 55 of summer.  that’s 12 more days than she made it – woot.  (i know, competitiveness isn’t that attractive.)

i’ve actually only just arrived at the edge of breakdown, but i can feel myself teetering.  i know you’re wondering how i can go from doing so well to suddenly doing maybe not so well.  it’s a gift i have.  the problems go something like this.

way back when our mâe bâan’s husband gave us a puppy.  then he took the dog away.  the kids mourned the removal of that dog, but recovered.  i didn’t mourn.  i rejoiced.  then our mâe bâan’s husband, because he hates me, gives us two puppies. the children rejoice.  i begin step one towards the edge.  well, really this is step two.  step one began before step two was completed.  step one is two-parted.  part a) michael and c16 head to the us of a while the rest of us stayed behind and part b) in the 5 weeks they are gone i hear from michael maybe 5 times.  and the last one of those times was over a week ago.  that’s a general explanation of why i’m teetering, but i feel like maybe i should break it down some.

starting with the puppies.  i am no lover of dogs.  but dogs seem to be important in the life of my youngest son, so i figure what can it hurt to have a dog.  and by a dog – i mean one dog.  but i’m weak and my family knows it – we become a 2 dog family.  and dog #2 sort of softened my heart towards dogs a bit.  she’s cute and sweet and not too bothersome.  then the first gift puppy came along.  and she was bad.  bad bad bad.  and by bad i mean evil.  when khao said he was going to take her away my soul rejoiced.  and we discussed the fact that i wanted no more puppies.  no more.  none.  that the two dogs we have are plenty.  all we need.  we did have this discussion in thai, but i felt good about it.  and for several weeks i felt lighter.  until i didn’t.  because khao showed up one afternoon with not one, but two puppies.  and handed them off to the two kiddos who are still in thailand.  and i forced a smile.  and didn’t know what to do.  because with all of my being i don’t want these puppies.  these puppies have moved me from being not a lover of dogs to being not even a liker of dogs.  soon i’ll be a hater of dogs.  i need them to go away.  but how?  the kids will be crushed.  i’m sure khao will be crushed.  but the longer they are here the more bitter i become.  and as the days pass the direction my feelings of bitterness are aimed is changing.  it’s almost now pointed squarely at jim and khao (our mâe bâan and her husband).  and last night one of the puppies pooped out round worms.  gross, nasty, disgusting.  and i’m thinking that that alone should be enough to send me over the edge.

now the michael and chan being in the us of a issue.  the truth is their actual going isn’t really part of the problem.  i mean, sure, i’d love to be there and so would a13 and s10.  but we discussed it plenty before hand and knew this is the way it had to happen.  so, i’d prepared myself.  i knew at times i’d be a bit resentful and i was okay with that.  but what i wasn’t prepared for was the no communication.  i was aware that there would be a week or so of no communication.  there’s no internet at camp so i was counting on one week of not hearing from him.  and i knew that the times available for chatting would be limited, mainly to morning and evening, because of the 12 hour time difference.  so i made sure i was available almost every morning and every evening.  and by made myself available i mean i sat at my computer just hoping to see that he was online.  and frequently i woke during the middle of the night to see if he might be on midday where he was.  but i rarely caught him.  what about email you ask.  well, the only emails i received from him were in reply to mine and only answered whatever specific question i asked, no info about the goings on over there.  no email just to say he loves me, etc.  and i think i know why he hasn’t communicated much.  he’s been very, very busy and he hasn’t wanted to inconvenience anyone.  and – if i’m honest – that’s part of what has me bothered.  but the bigger part of what has me bothered is that we have, on more than one occasion, discussed how important it is for me to hear from him when he’s traveling.  not hearing from him turns me a bit scary.  a bit stalkerish.  it’s not that i think he might be up to no good, it’s just that i really hate the feeling that i fall into the category of out of sight, out of mind.