Friday, December 08, 2006

Shutting Down

(if you want to skip the griping, start after the stars)

I’ve shut myself off and I’m just waiting to leave. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be around people. I just want to go home. I don’t want to greet anyone. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I don’t want to eat meat. I don’t want to see anybody. I just want Dave to come and take me home. I’m tired of living here and I have no desire whatsoever to live here ever again.

That’s how I feel right now. It will pass, I know, but that’s how I feel now. It’s such a battle. Why am I here? Why can I only handle a few months? Why did God put me here in this place and with these people? What is teaching me? Why do I get so frustrated with them? What in the world was I thinking to come here by myself?

Today, I’m just frustrated. I was tired already. I woke up at 5:45 and couldn’t go back to sleep because I had to go to the bathroom and my throat hurt. So I went to the bathroom, took some medicine and read for a bit. I did go back to sleep for a bit, but I had to get up and get ready for the day.

We had a meeting today with self-help groups in one location, and even though only 3 people came, it was a good meeting. I was just tired. So the director of the NGO whose building we were using starts telling me about how I shouldn’t be frustrated because this is just how community work is. I wasn’t frustrated. I was just tired. The meeting wasn’t quite like we expected, but it was good. I was only frustrated to get a pep talk that didn’t seem very genuine or needed.

So because not very many people came, we had some food left over – beans, uncooked rice, oil, tomatoes. So I took it home. The time I was riding my bike home was from 5:15ish to 6:00, so there were very many people out and they all wanted to greet me. I just didn’t have the energy for it. I just can’t be “on” all the time, even though people feel bad that the mzungu passed without greeting them. I just can’t be that for everybody all the time. I just wanted to disappear into my room and not come out for a few days.

But, because we had leftover food and because Aggrey and Rachel were in Kisumu today and we didn’t expect them until late, I went and bought potatoes and onions to cook with the beans for dinner. We had peeled and chopped the potatoes and had put water for the rice on the fire when they came home with meat. So I just told the sister-in-law to cook whatever they wanted and left. So they’ll probably cook the meat tonight and the beans tomorrow for lunch, when I won’t be here. We would have been done by now, but now all the boys are asleep already, so they’ll go to bed hungry. I just want to refuse and go to bed without eating, but the bad attitude has to stop somewhere. So I’m just eating chocolate and griping.

Okay, I feel much better. I don’t know if I’ll actually post this or not. If I do, and you’re reading this now, I’m sorry for complaining. I know that so many people are worse off than me and have much bigger problems. I know it’s all about my attitude and at this point it’s all about what I make it, but it’s so hard. Wow, I just ate 9 Hershey kisses in less than the time it took to write this.

So, anyway, like I was saying, I feel like I’ve just kind of shut down. There are way too many people asking me for help all the time. There are way too many people that want me to visit them or their group. I just can’t decide how to choose, so I’ve just shut down and said no to everybody. I know that’s not a good way to respond and I know it doesn’t really help anyone, but I’m just too mentally and emotionally overwhelmed to do it right now. (Okay, make that 11 Hershey Kisses, but they’re all gone now, so I can’t eat any more. It sure felt good, though!) I’ve gotten tired of working so hard and tired of being so far away from my husband and home that I’ve just kind of let myself turn off and I’m just gliding towards the end. I just need some refreshing. I feel like if I can just make it 2 more weeks, Dave will be here and it will all be okay. But that’s not how I want to live. At church last Sunday, when I was so frustrated about so many things, I just released myself to God, told him that I’ve reached the end of all the strength I have and am depending on him to carry me through. And he has. But I am empty again. I am at the end of my own strength, again. Please keep praying for me, that I would have strength to finish these last 2 weeks and to finish well. I don’t want to go through the next two weeks having just shut down and coasting through. But I don’t really want to face it either.

I really will be okay. I’m sorry to complain so much. Sometimes, those are the times I feel like writing more than when things are just fine. I’m sure I’ve driven some people away from reading. Hopefully others will appreciate the honesty. I know that after leaving here again, I will look back fondly, and want to come back, but right now it’s just tough. I think I’m becoming a stronger person, more able to endure difficulties. Although now, I can’t say that I’ve endured well. Just barely. Hopefully, I can take from this that it’s all about my attitude. I feel like this is a recurring thing, though. I go through things that are mentally and emotionally difficult and I just fall apart. Things that wouldn’t faze other people. They just knock me out. Maybe I need to know myself better. I think the times that are overwhelming like this are the times that there are many stressors, some big, some small, but all together. I know that there are many stressors in my life here right now. Most of them seem small, but all together they are significant. I guess I need to face each of them and not let them have so much power over me.

- It is stressful to live in someone else’s family, eating someone else’s meals and living on someone else’s schedule. If I live here again for any more than a few weeks, I need to find another place to live, by myself or with just my own family.
- I have dealt with a very stressful situation since the day I arrived, but I can’t say anymore than that about it.
- There is stress in living in another culture, always standing out and always using another language.
- There is stress and a lot of hard work involved in doing research, especially knowing that it is a very large part of your studies and that you need to do it well.
- It is stressful to have very many people place high and unreasonable expectations on you for how you will help them.
- It is stressful to be half a world away from my husband and not be able to share day to day things with him.
- It is stressful to be sick and tired when dealing with everything else.
- It is stressful to go, go, go without resting (enough or at all).
- It is stressful to have many cultural expectations on you everywhere you go.
- It is stressful to go many hours at a time without eating anything.
- It is stressful having very little control over what and when you eat.
- It is stressful not having familiar foods from home.
- It is stressful being so far away from home.
- It is stressful to not be able to go to church and worship in my own language.
- It is stressful not to be able to talk to my family when I want to.
- It is stressful not being able to communicate with friends on a regular basis.
- Everyday life has many stresses – finding food, getting around, waiting for everything.
- It is stressful to be in very many unknown situations. I never know when things will start, what will happen next, what the visitors want, whether I’ll even be able to make it home at night because of the weather.
- It is stressful to be in situations where everyone is speaking a language you don’t understand.
- It’s stressful not to be able to go to the bathroom at night.
- It’s stressful having everybody watch you all the time, yell things at you and tell their kids to look at you every time you go by, as if you were a freak.
- It’s stressful to be in another culture where people do a lot of things that don’t make sense but you don’t feel you can say anything because it’s not your culture and you would just be rude.

I guess that’s enough to justify being overwhelmed. I’m still not very proud of how I’ve handled things at times, but at least I can see that it’s reasonably tough.

They cooked the beans and meat together. I was really frustrated by that and I behaved about like a 3 year old. They didn’t cook the potatoes because they thought they were for the kids, so when the kids fell asleep, they didn’t cook them. So the kids went to sleep hungry, again.

I just feel like this is out of control. I just can’t handle it anymore. I just want to get out of here and go home. I’d better go apologize to my family for behaving so badly and go to bed.

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