Friday, August 30, 2013

The shoes that don't fit.

On the outside, it's been easy to fall back into step with the life that I lived here in America before we left.  Little has changed in the quaint community I live in, and with the exception of a few new jobs, new babies, new relationships, new homes (etc etc), not much has changed in the lives of our family and friends.  Heck, Josh even left a pair of shoes at my parents house last fall when we came home to have Piper, and they are somehow still sitting by the back door! :) I don't even know how that's possible but there they sit, just waiting to be welcomed back into my husband's wardrobe.

Similarly, very little has changed on the outside of our lives as well.  With the exception of Piper, we look very much the same as we did before we left.  Because of that, I think there is maybe sort of an expectation for us to still be the same people that left. The problem is, of course, that we aren't. We've changed.  In exactly what ways, we're still trying to figure out. I can say with confidence, though, that the changes haven't been entirely positive. (As referenced in this post).  We've come back to America earlier than we expected.  We are feeling a little disoriented, a little shell shocked, pretty aimless, aaaand unsure of our purpose and plan for our life.  The life and identity we adopted and had planned from the very beginning of our relationship is now null and void and we are left trying to re-start our lives at the age of 30 and 27 with zero belongings (we sold everything) and a 9 month old baby.  

So it's almost been a disadvantage to us that we look the same on the outside.  I would say that emotionally and spiritually, we're coming back with bruises and patches over our eyes and maybe even a lost finger and toe or two.   

The result of trying to get back into perfect step with my old patterns and my old life is that I can't seem to do it.  On a personal level, it has been very alarming, actually.  Situations that used to come naturally and normally for me before just... aren't.  For example, meeting new people used to be a strength of mine.  I was quite good at making strangers feel comfortable and becoming fast friends with them. However, since we've been back, I've met a few new potential friends and I have stumbled and fumbled my way through greetings, small talk, and getting to know them.  I couldn't think of questions.  I couldn't think of what I should be talking about or ways to make them feel special, important, noticed... things that used to come naturally to me. At the same time, glimpses of our life overseas hit me and I feel like have no one to share them with.  I see an image and get caught up in a memory or a moment or a face and I am momentarily mentally in Baku but physically in Michigan.  I am carrying a story and an experience that has forever altered who I am, and I have few people who can understand it on a level that I need them to. 

I told Josh last night that it feels like I'm trying to wear a pair of shoes that don't fit anymore; shoes I've maybe outgrown or they've shrunk or there is just a big rock jammed into the place my little toes are supposed to go.  The problem with wearing shoes that don't fit, though, is that no one else can see that there is a problem going on or that the wearer is in any kind of discomfort.  Everyone else just sees a person walking around wearing a nice pair of shoes.  

So I suppose this is me saying that I'm taking the 'old shoes' off and I'm going to do a little barefoot walking for now.  I suppose that means figuring who I am, who I want to be, embracing vulnerability, and setting up healthy boundaries and patterns in our family life. As a couple, we need to re-establish who we are and work on repairing the damage that's been done to The Shining Barrier that supported, surrounded, and sustained our love for the last 6 years. 

and hopefully, at the end of this, I'll be feeling comfortable in a new life and a new role and a 'new identity' (apart from my existing identity in Christ) that not only incorporates all of the positive things about the old shoes, but that also brings to the table all of the wonderful (and hard and refining and blessed) lessons I've learned over the last 18 months as well.


  1. Leslie, somehow, I understand what you are saying, even though I can never pretend to have walked in your shoes. I get the feeling when so much has changed internally, but no one could be the wiser because outwardly, there is no indicator of that transformation. Just praying for patience and guidance as you navigate your way through different worlds and that He never lets go of your hand as you find a restful place to dwell settle. blessings, sweet sister!

  2. Leslie, I understand your feelings. I went through a very similar thing when we came back (early) from Australia, complete with bruises, patches and a broken toe, as you so aptly put it. We will be praying for you guys as you go through the healing and adjustment process.