Tuesday, May 1, 2012

To Be Alone

It’s happening. Every day takes me further away, making the desert my memory instead of my reality. Cindy, WOTH Editor, tells me that, “We write so we don’t forget.” And can I tell you something? I’d rather not document all of this, but… I don’t wanna forget it…because He’s so good. Maybe you’ve been here, too… or maybe you’re headed here. Either way: Welcome to the Uncomfortable.

So, I’m being totally awkward and withdrawn and people are reaching out to me and being mostly wonderful and I…. just stare at them. Like they’re the ones being weirdos. Inside my big, lethargic body, I’m squirming around in gratefulness and delight, but I can’t communicate it. I can’t give the right expression or say the right words. I can’t appropriately respond to their initiation because I feel imprisoned… just locked in a foreign language, time and space. Alone. Again. [Like I was in the desert.]

No other American shared my desert work experience. I spent HOURS every day in my head. [Trust me—you don’t want in there.] Surrounded by women cluck-cluck-clucking, playing with my hair, poking my stomach, examining my eyebrows, studying my clothes and talking about me… in Arabic. Bored, embarrassed, stuck, alone. I marveled at my days and friendships, at my unprecedented boldness and strength. I grieved my lack of language and style, my youth and my weakness. Even in the adventure, every day was wildly predictable: I’d be alone.
I’m approaching a full two years of not being known, of no one in my daily life being able to understand me. It’s not anyone’s fault that they weren’t with me in the desert—totally not. But I can’t fully articulate where I’m at right now, and I’m the one who is responsible for navigating these changes. These changes in me.

A wretched reality of the Shagra in TYD is that I’m [seemingly] strong. StrengthsFinder will tell you that I’m an outrageously empathetic-believing-wooing-developer of people who values connectedness and has a strong sense of responsibility. What StrengthsFinder won’t tell you is that I feel I’ve run out of these strengths. “New norms” have made me weak, but people around me don’t recognize that I’ve stopped interacting till I’m at the point of being fully recoiled and closed, if at all. Again: Not their fault.

I’ve also decided that the English language needs more words, too. Because I’ve been examining myself and wanted to say that… I don’t feel lonely. Not most of the time. The alone I’m speaking of is that of isolation and separation. Like I’m some steps behind… that I’m not included… like there’s something I’m not understanding…

I can tell you that my heart has been singing this past week—well, it’s been singing the blues, but it’s better than being silent, amen? Dear, dear photo book friend is in the States and I can reach her by text. So, of course, we skip the chit chat and go straight for the heart wrenching topics. Over text. But she knows. She knows the wounded parts of me—the depths that are silently sliced open when I don’t know what to say to a friend who wants me to “talk” or when a story actually finds its way out of my soul and past my lips and… then, no one knows how to respond. She knows because she shares this with me.  And as I was crying in a Starbucks in California [yeah, I guess it’s what I do these days], she found herself a side street in New York to mourn her own last desert days, anticipating her photo book…

It hurts—this coming and going. And, in many ways, I don’t feel like I know myself anymore. But in the past months, while clumsily finding my way, I’ve come to see these natural stages of reverse-culture shock as one more thing I’m willing to endure for Love. My alone-ness has caused me to talk to Him and want Him more—for Him to show Himself as Comforter. It’s given me words for those anticipating their own arrivals and departures. It’s opened my eyes to the reality of the Son’s time on earth—how He really had no one who knew Him.  

I’m embracing that fact that “I’m ruined” in so many ways. I can’t understand and have trouble managing much of it, but I’ve been wrapped in the joy in my aches and tears. I’ve found that I don’t want to forget how I avoid. And divert. And am grieving.


And so I write…
About how I’m okay with it.
I know I’m not always going to feel this way…
It’s just another valley He’s walking me…carrying me through.
So I’m taking an emotional picture
and thanking God for this season:
A time for me to be alone


  1. Sarah,
    I will so miss your candor and insight. All the best for your next steps! You write a lot about transitions, which I'm sure we can all relate to! Here's a post along the same lines (same song, second verse): http://tenfootfamily.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/vortex.html

  2. So well said, Sarah! I can relate to much of what you have shared. Thank you for putting words to the uncomfortable transition experience.

  3. Sarah,

    Thank you so much for writing this blog. I have been blessed and challenged a number of times. I can relate to a lot of what you have written since I live in a country similar to yours.

  4. Day #3 "back home." It's good and scary to read your posts... I'm so thankful to Him for someone who's able to communicate what so many of us feel and just thought was abnormal. Thanks, as always, for sharing b/c I know it must be painful sometimes. Really, thank you!

  5. Kimom: Thanks for sharing your post with me! I love getting to take a peek at my readers. Your family is darling!!

    Leanna: Thanks for reading and leaving a comment for me to know that my words can resonate with your own experiences. :)

    Suzanne: Holler for a similar country. :) Be blessed there, ya 7abibti! ;) Thanks for reading--really, thank you. I'm encouraged by your comment.

    LeahB.: Girl, what up. Been waitin' for you to get "back" already. Write it all down and treasure it up in your heart--the painful joys in the things we do for Love--totally worth it!! I'm glad He lets us share in these things. Welcome to... "the dark side." JUST KIDDING!!! ;)

    Love, Sarah.


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