June 2006, Mpls: 2 Month Reflection

so i took quite a long time to finish the nigeria blog. and i have to admit that part of the reason i finished now is because i have other stuff to write about but felt like i had to finish nigeria first.

so forgive me if these last ones are not as well crafted. sometimes one just has to finish.

i wish i could put a word on what i feel today. it’s hard for me to discuss this because of my perfectionism and polarized thinking. i’m very much inclined to think perfect or worthless, just right or garbage. i had such high hopes about the way it would be when i got home. and i was highly motivated and highly disciplined in the beginning. the first couple of days were great. but pretty quickly i slipped back into the stagnation breeding lifestyle that i’d left behind 2 weeks before. something about the pressure to change my whole life, mixed with the inability to do everything at once made me paralyzed to move in any one direction. on top of everything i wanted to change, i found out i’d have to move in a couple of months. the amount of change i was facing was too much for me. i checked out. stopped writing or reading anything. started drinking and smoking the way i used to. i stopped taking care of myself.

i think that one of the things i’m most frightened of in my whole life is not learning from my experiences. so when i went back to my old patterns of drinking and smoking and hanging out just to be hanging out, i felt like a total failure and did anything just to not feel that way.

i don’t think i would have come out of that if not for the caring of a couple of good friends. natasha was in town and after making a really shitty bad dishonest choice that affected her, she confronted me and asked me if this is the kind of thing i do now, if living irresponsibly is my thing now. that stung. then last week lisa was talking to me and expressed concern about how i had been so happy and so motivated when i got back from my trip but that i was different now. i’m not sure of what her exact words were at the time but it was a wake up call that i’d lost my hope in life, and for what? for knowing that i have a lot of work to do but being too scared to face the possibility of failure again to even start? if i stay a failure why would anyone expect anything else from me?

so i’d been suffering some trip backlash.

i’ve talked to a lot of people about the trip. people are interested but there are very few people i know that can relate in any real way to the feelings i went through or the places i saw. it’s a little bit lonely. but that’s just my part of it. on the other hand i’ve been really touched by people’s caring and interest. i’ve even had a couple acquaintences approach me about reading my blogs and thank me for writing them. that’s more touching than anything i can think of, especially considering how self conscious i was when i was writing them.

i’ve talked to my dad several times. i just today received my nigerian passport (no more customs drama ever) and a little note from my dad. he said he’s been depressed since i left. i understand.

me and my mom are getting along much better. i just don’t take things so personally anymore and i more see her for who she is. the wonderful woman that raised me. shortly after i got home, my dad called to thank her, too. she didn’t know why.

i’ve seen little changes in myself that come out in my choices and expectations now. changes in my self esteem and what i will accept. changes in the honesty i show myself and the people i care about. i take slightly more risks. and i have more feelings now. the deadpan, hard shelled with a smile is breaking down. slowly. subtly.

i see my time in nigeria as a time when i was fully present, uncomfortable, scared to death, highly emotional, crying a lot, giving my dad a hug and a kiss on the lips and not believing it was happening. it was a time to go through the hard work of chipping away at the protective barriers between me and life that i set up as a little kid but that were stifling me as an adult. it was a time to have questions answered and to sit in the passenger seat and look at my dad in the driver’s seat… stuck in traffic… all day long… and not being agitated in the least. it was a time to forgive three very important people. it was a time to clean up the mess so i could get on with my life.

and now i’m home and i’m scared and i have hope. and when people ask me about my dad and nigeria, i don’t ever have to say “i don’t know” again.


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