Okay, I know you're not supposed to do a post without a picture, but I just don't know what would go with this one. It's a post I've been debating for a while, and I'm going ahead. Please understand that this isn't the whole story because it's not all mine to tell, so please do not judge and call me a "whiner" or anything. But anyway, here goes.
After we moved in, I wrote this post about being tired, and frankly, it hasn't been getting any better. If anything, the feeling's gotten worse. It's not just a sleepy tiredness; it's a bone-deep emotional exhaustion. I'm tired of moving. It's hard to remember now that there is any fun to be had in it. Some people (like my dad, for instance) view pretty much every person in the world as a potential friend and so moving is a great adventure with the possibility for fifty new best friends. I am mostly outgoing and optimistic, but there comes a point, you know?
But more than that, I'm tired for my kids. I'm tired of signing them up for activities, hoping that they'll find friends, and then coming to pick them up and seeing them standing alone, ignored, even though I know they tried to talk to people. I'm tired of trying new things only to have them turn out to be absolute disasters. I'm tired of trying to figure out who to listen to and who to completely ignore. It's all been very costly, both in terms of emotion and actual monetary price. We've done this every other year for the past eight years! And I'm tired knowing that I'll have to do this again in no more than three years.
I know some military families make different choices than we have. The wife (or husband, but I personally only know wives who've done this) stays in one place with the kids while the husband moves around alone. That is a very brave decision, and I respect them for doing that. But we said, "Wither thou goest," and so on. For us, the emotional toll of being voluntarily away from my husband/ their father for months at a time is still greater than the toll of all this moving for my family.
Anyway, I've felt myself sinking deeper and deeper. You wouldn't know it if you followed me on Instagram or are friends on Facebook because publicly, I try to focus on the good, and enjoy the great beauty around me. But just as I'm fairly sure no mom ever said, "At least my kid is puking into a Hawaiian toilet!" when their kids had the stomach flu here, I'm also pretty sure no one ever said, "At least we're all lonely and worn out in Hawaii!"
Well, actually, no, I tried to say that. I really did. But I got to a point recently that was so low, it scared me. Everything that worked for us on the mainland was failing here. We haven't found a church we feel like calling "home" here, even though we attended one for six weeks. It feels like six weeks of mostly wasted time, which is so frustrating! We've tried two dance schools; the one in Honolulu ended up being a terrible fit for us, even if it is a high quality school, and the one they're going to now... well, it's not what we were hoping for. Not even close. For kids who love dance and have poured so much into it, this is has really been a bitter pill to swallow. We tried adding more activities, hoping that we could ease the sting of dance not working out, but those just made us frantic with our time.
When I wrote my post about being tired, a dear person commented that she had learned HALTS -- to just stop everything and make some changes whenever you are Hungry (in many different meanings of the word), Angry, Lonely, Tired, and Stressed. We were/ to some degree are all of the above. During my low, low time the other day, I got into my car and drove, yelling at God and saying a bunch of stupid, angry things. Thankfully He is big enough to handle it and grace-full enough to have open arms when I realized how sorry I was.
After I got some desperately-needed sleep and realized I couldn't get that down again because it was kind of scary, I knew we needed some changes. To try something new. I talked with Matt, and thank God, I have been given a husband who has amazing clarity when faced with problems. Here are some of the changes we're implementing:
1. God first. Well, duh. But since moving here, it's been easy to look at the hardships we face and fall into the trap of thinking those things were the important ones. The critical ones. They are not. So not. We are where we are because of so many things that were beyond our control -- but not out of His. We will seek Him first. Everything else after.
2. Limit my time with negative, critical people and spend more time with positive, uplifting ones. I think one problem was that I spent way too much time with someone who is critical without (I think/ hope) even realizing it. For instance, and just one mild example, she walked into my house the first time, took a look around her and sucked in a deep breath -- the horrified kind I would take if I just discovered that my dog had thrown up everywhere -- and went, "Ooohhhhh... deeeaaaar." This, after we had cleaned all morning!!!!
I truly don't think this woman means to be the way she is, but she is someone who literally can't open her mouth without sounding judgmental within three minutes. On the one hand, I think it's been a good eye-opener for me not to let myself become that way. And there will come a time, I do believe, when I can handle that criticalness without being affected by it. But in this time of, frankly, more emotional fragility than usual, I can't handle that.
But I need to spend time with people that I feel good around, the ones that make me laugh and say things honestly but kindly. I already knew almost a dozen women (besides Mrs. Judgement Day) when I moved here, and I like them all. I just don't make time to see them. Matt is encouraging me to find time for my friends and volunteering more help so I can do that.
Also, my mom is coming out here in just over a week to give me that little bit of extra TLC she's so good at giving when I need it. I'm so thankful she can do that.
3. Stop taking everything personally. This is one of those life principles that I'm not at all good at. (See preceding paragraphs.) But if anything, the past few months have taught me I take waaaayyy too much too personally. And the result has been borderline embarrassing sometimes. I'm re-reading parts of Beth Moore's So Long, Insecurity and various devotionals online.
4. Try new things. I have been trying to make our mainland life fit here in Hawaii, and I tell you, it's just like I'm hammering that stupid square peg into a round hole and cursing it because it just won't go in. Here, again, Matt's wisdom is so great. He kept insisting that we try going to the beach more and trying things like surfing. I had lots of excuses -- what to do with Wyatt, the cost, the time, etc. This week, Matt had two days off (all he could take off for a while, but you know, at least it's something), and he insisted we try surfing. He'd take care of Wyatt and regarding money... well, hopefully we still get paid next month. Oh. My. Goodness. We had such a good time. That's another whole blog post. But I'm so glad we did it, even if I'm scared that it's one of the things that will be hard to move away from when we leave. The older girls are also doing a homeschool watersports class (yup, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, snorkeling -- how's that for P.E.??) that they love. (Lilly's too young.)
Matt also committed to giving me more time to write. On Sunday, I sat with a notebook and a bunch of classical music playing on my iPad, and I think I wrote for three hours straight! I need this so badly.
5. Gratitude. Here's where I think I was doing things right. I just need to do it more. Snapping pictures of the sunsets with my phone or admiring all the different varieties of hibiscus. Breathing in the fragrance of a plumeria tree even if standing there, doing that makes me look like an idiot. At one point last year, I was doing Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts, but I stopped. I need to start it up again.
Please understand, however, if you see pictures I take, or read something I wrote, it's not because I'm bragging or trying to shove my fun in your face. It's because sometimes when you look through a new lens (which sometimes includes a pen), you see things more clearly, you know?
I don't know how all this is going to turn out. I'm really scared to click "Publish" right now because I'm scared of what you will think, but mostly I'm scared of how much I don't know. I don't know how this whole dance thing will turn out for the girls. I don't know where we'll go to church. I. Don't. Know. But I'm trying honesty because I think we all have moments like this... right????
And I'm trusting God (while struggling and wrestling and yelling at Him sometimes) because it's "Grace that brought me safe thus far, and Grace will lead me home."