I’ve been home nearly two weeks now and I wasn’t quite prepared for the level of emotions I would have once returning.  I spent the first few days in absolute emotional turmoil.  I cried a lot.  I’m not one who sheds tears all that easily and they were flowing freely and unabashedly.  I snapped a lot.  I felt useless and the days felt ordinary.  I felt really angry with the people around me.  I was irritated with my kids for selfishly fighting over a toy when they have hundreds more.  I was irritated with people asking me how my trip to Haiti was.  I mean, how do you explain that to someone and what are they really wanting to hear?  How do you relay the tragedies and stories of poverty?  In all honesty the person I am relaying it to probably doesn’t truly want to know the depths of what I’ve seen.  I felt angry with myself and with my country.  I was angry at the amount of wealth and comfort in my own home.  I was angry with my fellow citizens for their greed and apathy to those who are less fortunate.  I was irritated and angry with complaints from family and friends about things that are really trivial and unimportant and truly overinflated.  And then I was irritated with myself for being irritated with others.  Ugh…what an ugly cycle to be spinning.
Then I had a wonderful, perspective changing talk with DeRose, a nurse at J’s previous elementary school.  Her Sis-in-law lives in Haiti and has talked with visitors about these exact feelings that I was experiencing.  She briefs them on what they will feel like when they return to the states.  I wish I would’ve had that type of foresight.  I seriously began to feel a little crazy.  DeRose reminded me that Americans will never be what I need them to be.  And me being angry with them only does more damage than good.  She reminded me that I need to be the same love I was in Haiti to my neighbor here in the States.  She reminded me that I need to live by example and hopefully I will raise my boys to be that example in their generation. I need to be involved in my own community so I feel more useful.  She told me how she sews hats for babies in Ghana, delivers personal hygiene products to the homeless, etc etc.  Wow!  What a beautiful example of who I want to be.
After that conversation I was able to start processing my anxieties with a little more purpose.  I know what I WANT to do and I know what I NEED to do.  Mark and I started a non-profit called Endure to Give.  It’s in the very very baby stages but I believe it has potential and it’s something that we can stand behind and build together.  It’s a non-profit that encourages amateur athletes to raise money while training and use their sport to give back to their community.  As an initial fundraiser we will be planning an epic ride sometime in 2011 and hopefully tag a marathon on the end of that ride for me   Those monies will be used to directly benefit the needy in our own backyards.  Now that gives me hope and meaning in life.
I have also spent the last two weeks truly evaluating my life.  I’m not ready to uproot my family and move them to some desolate country like Haiti but I am ready to teach them the meaning of selfless love. I am ready to live in a less than perfect neighborhood, in a less than perfect house, with a less than perfect car and in less than perfect clothes.  I’m ready to think less about what people think about me.  I’ve worn less makeup, not replaced the clothes I donated and opted out of manicures/pedicures this past week.  I’ve thought about every dollar I have spent.  I have realized how rich I am.  I have realized how every day is truly a gift.  I am thankful for every mile I put on these legs because it means I have health.  I have realized how truly important community is.  I have learned to feel uncomfortable and put myself out there to make friends, to say an encouraging word to someone I don’t know, to build the gaps in relationships, and to appreciate my country.
I have spent long hours appreciating the men and women who serve this country.  Who have fought for my freedoms.   I have thought about the sacrifices they make.  I left my family and this country for one week and came back a different person.  To put it plainly, I came back somewhat disturbed.  Not myself.  Our soldiers leave for 12-18 months and see/hear things that are so horrific that I’m not sure how they ever recover from such tragedies.  I was not asked to kill anyone in the name of war.  I have not watched my friends die.  I was not asked to turn my back on the needy.  But our soldiers are.  I now can understand at a very small level how tragic their occupations are.  May each and every one of them receive many gifts for our freedoms and may we respect how we treat those freedoms instead of squandering them away with our self righteous behaviors.  It’s something we are all guilty of.  The world is not as large as we make it seem.  We are all in this together.
Lastly, I spend each day worried that I will forget the impressions that I brought back from Haiti.  Will I forget how badly the world is suffering?  Will I forget the eyes of those who are starving?  Will I forget the beauty in each of those orphans?  These are real fears for me.  I don’t want to return to my old ways.  I always want to remember.  My hope is that Haiti will never leave me.  And that all would experience a Haiti sometime in their life because perspective is everything.


About ThinkingWithVitality

Wife, Mama, Certified Wellness Life Coach, Certified Vet Tech, adoption and special needs advocate, adventure seeker, wannabe vegetarian, freethinker, knowledge hunter, secular humanist. Love writing, distance running, cycling, hiking, photography, nature, essential oils, natural medicine, traveling, RVs and tents, reading, adventures, organizing, authentic living, good beer, acoustic music and happy to have landed in Costa Rica for this moment in time.

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