It has been eighteen days since I came here and my body has felt every single day.
Here, hours feel like endless days stretching lazily before me. I have tried to convince my self and my body that this place is our new temporary home but they have both refused to find home here. You know how I said our bodies know when we move? Well my body surely knows and she is not happy.
My body does not like it here and she has shown me in so many different ways.
I usually have soft, supple skin. I have many things to be proud of regarding my physical appearance and the skin of my body is right up there. Smooth like velvet. Soft like freshly baked bread. This is the first thing this place has taken from me. I cannot recognize the skin on my body anymore. What was once supple and smooth is now papery, scaly, with flaking bits falling off. This has never happened before. Even when I lived deep in the frigid winters of Northern England, my skin never got like this. I joke to my boyfriend that when next he touches me, it would feel like caressing sandpaper. On some days, I feel like this outward drying only mirrors what is going on inside.
I do not like it here. Full stop.
It’s not all bad. The landscape here is oddly beautiful.
Bwari is most beautiful at dusk. Just as the sun is retiring for the day, the town takes on such a poetic visage as the skies become a hypnotic hazy blue. Dusk is my most favourite part of my day because it means we have gotten to the end of another day. But there is only so much succor I can draw from pretty surroundings when I keep feeling like running away from this place as soon as I wake up. I like to think that I adapt quickly to new places and new challenges. I am a go getter; always ready to step up to whatever it is. But today, feeling disconnected from my loved ones and just feeling a little lost here, I started crying mid-lecture today. Luckily for me, the lecture was about to end so I went home to cry even more. I was doing okay. Moving quietly from one day to the next. Putting one foot in front of the other. So what was wrong? What is the issue? What is GOING on?
I know what this is. I know why this place bothers me so much. I know why. And let me tell you now, knowing is half of the work. It is so important to name things. Name your fear, name your worry, name your demons. When you can name what you are fighting, at least you know you are not wrestling with shadows. I feel unsettled here because nothing here grounds me.
Everything I know and love, everything that provides comfort and strength to me, is not really here right now(at least not physically). In many ways, I am quite literally finding my feet here. And even with my lovely friends that are here with me, this is still a lonely process because nobody can do it for you. More than that, they are all finding their feet too.
But here is the beautiful thing. I know I will find my feet here. I know it will take a while, I know I will cry but I know I will try again and again and again until I do.
I cried big girl tears today. On the phone with my Dad, the tears started. On the phone with my boyfriend they intensified until all there was on the line was my sobs. I took a breather and listened to Ed Sheeran’s ‘Photograph’ so I could cry some more but for whatever reason, at the end of that song I was smiling and singing the lyrics. I called a dear friend and we laughed, he spoke to me with so much understanding and care, I felt so incredibly blessed. This afternoon made me realise something. There is nothing wrong with reaching out and drawing as much love and strength as you can from those around you. I am so obsessed with being self-sufficient and everyone praises me for that but it’s also a long and lonely road. I’m going to try to stop being that way.
I am planted deeply in a garden of love and no one and nothing can take that from me.
I attract the best things. Look at me so deeply rooted in love and community. Everywhere I turn is soft and a garden of love planted at my very feet. Because I am in this desert, in this season of longing, it does not change the fact that I am planted in a garden of love where I will surely bloom.
If you’re like me, finding it hard to settle somewhere new, struggling with new challenges, first remind yourself that you do not have to do this alone. Your obsession with self-sufficiency will isolate you and wear you down. Take it from me. Learn to reach out. Utilise every single support system you have. Most of all, do not surrender to the nagging pessimism inside your head. A bad day does not mean a bad season. You can do this. Whatever this is. And any day you feel like you can’t, just do what I do. Cry. And then try again.
See you next time.