So I’m lonely. Again. There you are old reality – lingering in the corners of my heart waiting for the life noises to dim so you can slip right in through the cracks. These last five years have brought a great many things and likely more than I can consciously count. God is beautiful and faceted like that – His blessings and purposes are majestically obviously and yet so mysterious we experience them like oxygen. But one constant through these seasons of romance, marriage, babies, and love has been deep, unrelenting, reliable loneliness.
For five years now I’ve lived exactly 2,797.81 miles from the city where I find most of my history. The adjustment has been challenging in shapes and colors too impossible to have anticipated. Though still in the same country, I couldn’t be further from my origins. Frequently when meeting someone for the first time, I’m introduced with what would become quite conspicuous upon speaking to me for a few milliseconds: “She’s not from here.” This then leads to the next conversational bus stop: “Do you miss Seattle? How do you like it here?” The thing I miss the most?
I miss making sense.
I miss making sense in light of my surroundings. I miss that the way I speak, the way I think and the way I relate to others made sense to everyone and everything around me. I’ve considered whether it would be more difficult to move to Africa or London, but with that cultural transaction you have the luxury of the obvious: It’s going to be different here and you know it. When you transition between cultures in the same country it’s almost like a doctrinal blindside. You simply don’t see it coming and discerning between the many shades of beige and gray requires surgical discipline that is purely exhausting. And you don’t realize the daily drag has been draining you until you’re five years into the journey and you feel like a hollow shell.
My intention here isn’t to be dramatic. I’m simply a sanguine Type A oldest child with words of affirmation as my love language and what used to be a dynamic cavalcade of vocabular acrobatics used on the daily with my phenomenal layers of friends and acquaintances back in the 98117. Until finding this blog as my source of electricity, I felt like I couldn’t remember English, as though I’d lived in a foreign land too long to allow verbal recall of the familiar. Even my inner monologue was becoming uninteresting and one dimensional. Almost daily here I express myself and am instantly aware that the listener has no idea what I’m talking about and likewise, I have no idea what their head tilt, facial expression or tone means either.
I remember being newly married and one evening spontaneously bursting into tears. “What’s the matter?” he asked with genuine concern. My reply? “I’m just so tired of being new.” Even early in my days here, it was wearing on me. A dear friend comforted me in recent months with the truth that maybe it isn’t me, but that there are just some settings that are dissonant with our personalities and sensibilities. Make no mistake – I have lived elsewhere and enjoyed a relatively seamless transition into the new cultural petri dish. And I’m aware that a retreat to my home environment by someone else wouldn’t be perfect. My parents both moved to Washington from the East Coast forty one years ago and its only been in recent years that I’ve seen their comfort level in friendships and general setting satisfaction bloom.
I simply don’t fit in – I am the mayor of the Island of Misfit Toys. And for my personality type that’s intensely strange. On the Myers Briggs I didn’t score a single introversion point, but nailed every extroversion question. I’ve never been to a party, let alone a zip code, where I couldn’t find someone to relate to and later schedule a pedicure with. To be sure, I’ve known loneliness before, but it was temporary. Here its a reality.
Many stay at home moms experience loneliness – I know, I’ve googled it. You’re surrounded by little people all day, rarely physically alone, but lonely in your thoughts and heart. And typically this can be resolved by joining a local play group, library time, gym, or church group, etc. And while I’ve found tiny pockets of these options near me, the other major hit to my extroverted lifestyle is our location – we are about an hour removed from the nearest large city. Last year I was blessed with a mothers of preschoolers group that meets twice a month and attending is like coming up for air. It’s all too brief for me, but a sweet relief nonetheless. My smile is genuine however, when the sweet women there marvel that I’d willingly drive 52 miles. But wouldn’t you travel on horseback or barefoot even to receive fresh water?