Monday, May 7, 2012

dark days ahead?

About 6 months in to an overseas post is when the "honeymoon" phase is over and things start to take a turn for the worse.  Everything that seemed interesting and new about Addis Ababa is starting to be annoying and frustrating and heartbreaking at times.  This past weekend was the first time I wanted to hide in my house and at the same time felt suffocated by the four walls around me.  I wanted to pack the kids up and take a walk to a park, drive to the Mall and get a burrito, go to the movies with my husband, hug my sisters and parents.  It was the first time since we've arrived that I looked around and thought it would just be better if I went back to bed and didn't get up the entire day.  We all know that didn't happen, but I wanted to.  I knew I was in trouble for wishing it.

When I counted on my fingers how many months we've been here, and saw four digits wagging at me I thought it was a tad early to feel down about Addis.  Maybe it's the rainy skies or the isolation.  Maybe it's the spring air I miss in the U.S.  I'm sure a stomach bug making the rounds among our family the past few days isn't helping my feelings about this country.  Then Eneye tells me that she found a man who had hung himself on Sunday.  She was so traumatized by the experience she couldn't eat or sleep the entire day and night.  This man apparently had a wife and 5 children, who he couldn't feed from lack of work.  After being hungry and a failure too long he wanted out.  His wife had to give her children away to other families yesterday so they could eat and be cared for.  This story is every day life for some Ethiopians.  It's absolutely, crushingly heartbreaking for me to hear stories like this.  To experience things like this.  I see at least twenty naked, sick, malnourished babies on the streets every day.  At some point I have to close my eyes.

I make a assessment of where I am mentally most days.  It's just what I do.  Admittedly, motherhood makes me feel a bit weary some days.  Weary, but in a busy raising my daughters and happy about, it kind of way. If I'm feeling off or down I feel guilty.  There isn't much I should feel off or down about.  I recognize the greatness in my life.  I recognize the contentedness and peace I feel 99% of the time.  Every day I'm presented with a situation that makes me thankful for my health, my husband and his hard work and my children.  Living and experiencing this third world country is a startling wake-up call (even more so than Manila, Philippines)  as to how lucky we are for the comfortable life we are living.  I recognize these things on a daily basis and yet some days I can't help but feel down lately.  Bottoming out in Addis Ababa about 6 months in is something I am prepared for.  We felt it in Manila and I will feel it here.  I know it won't last long.  I know we will reach a healthy plateau of livability that will require some filters being set in place so I don't tear up every time I see a desperate woman begging while her baby suckles her breast ("that could be me" and "my children are so lucky" runs through my head incessantly).

So maybe I'm on the downward slide to the bottom.  The positive in all this is that I recognize it.  Today I got busy and found a few things that I'm grateful for.  Beyond the obvious stuff of course.  Every heard of 365 Grateful?  I heard about it a few weeks ago and thought it was such a wonderful way for this woman to turn her mental well being around.  I'm going to try to notice something every day that I'm grateful for in the hopes that it will help the "bottoming out" be a quick one this post.

Today I am grateful for the beautiful green lettuce I found at the store this morning.  The lettuce here comes with the roots still attached so you can see the earth it was growing in.  I like getting my lettuce this way.  I like only buying lettuce when it's beautiful.  In the U.S. you can have a salad every day if you want.  Salad comes in a bag.  It's a ridiculous concept really.

I am also grateful how happy these light green flowers made me this morning.  Carnations usually bring to mind ugly prom corsages but this monochromatic selection could stand up to any lily.
 I think I'll be getting through this low point with an apron on.  Here's to cooking and baking through any problem.  


A said...

Is there any other way to get through things? I always cook and sew my way through.

Rhodes Family said...

Hi Sara, So nice to hear from you on my blog. I just read this one and had to smile because I felt like this just a few months ago and wrote about it myself. It is nice to know that we are not alone out there. :) My post was called, Reality Bites (ha) and Smelling the Roses. :)