Early on in my service in Malawi, I experienced some deep, dark moments of doubt and wondered whether I had made a dreadful mistake. Emotional ups and downs seem to be part of this experience. They fortunately are balanced with moments of joy and satisfaction that appear in an instant, completely unexpectedly.
What I wonder is, how can one go from being in a fetal position, depressed, sobbing, and hurting to the core, to absolute elation 24 hours later. Is this a normal part of the human experience? Peace Corps? Me? Or all of the above?
As a sober woman, I walk the fine edge of balance 24 hours a day. Achieving balance and emotional sobriety has taken years of practice, self-evaluation, asking for help, and vigilance. It is put to the test almost daily in a position like I have here in Malawi. Additionally, several interpersonal relationships have called into question my faith in myself, my discipline, values, and courage.
Returning from a wonderful vacation in the US to another wonderful vacation in Africa was challenging and required tremendous patience and honesty. I arrived in Mzuzu to a living situation that was uncertain and potentially incredibly painful. Spending 24/7 with my 24 year old daughter was beautiful but also difficult as she challenged me on several fronts, about my behavior, choices and actions.
I finally arrived home Sunday to an empty house after a month of constant companionship with family and friends. Having made some changes in relationships, I was sad, depressed, scared, and hurting deeply. My faith in God is unwavering, but sometimes I wonder if I am heard, and what exactly is the hold-up on the relief?
Later Monday morning, I received some news that has drastically altered my life for the better. I will have my own house for the next 6 months, through the end of my service here. I found myself dancing, singing, and thanking God for mercy and an amazing gift this week.
When I contrast that to my day before, I wonder….by taking action on one thing, does that trigger another reaction, and so on. I believe that by taking a stand for myself, the universe, God, Spirit, whatever, follows by pouring into my life that which we deserve and need.
In the last 72 hours I have been on my knees, sobbing hysterically, dancing with joy, scared to death, indecisive about choices I am facing. The tears come out of no where, all times of day and night. I am in that wilderness of indecision, grief, and anticipation. It is uncomfortable and hurts.
During my meditation today, I played Returning, Jennifer Berezan’s beautiful chant. Once again, sobbing, I began to realize how far I have strayed from “home”; that my tears, my fears, the tumult in my gut, results from taking a stand for myself and being brought back to my center, with a subtle grace and a loving presence that I see glimmers of now and then. Most of the time it just hurts.
Through choices I have made, I have strayed from my core values, commitments, integrity, and standards. This is a slippery slope for a recovering person, but with my faith in God and support from my friends and family, I think I am returning home, to myself.
Today I am grateful to be crawling back to center, to be alone in my own house, to have friends and family I can count on, and an amazing job in a country that is beautiful, joyful, and mysterious. I look forward to the walk out of the wilderness into the light, with full anticipation that all will be well…