Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Beauty, Battles and a Boisterous Mutt

Since my last post, a lot has happened. I actually wrote most of this over the last couple months but then I’d get busy with something and by the time I’d come back to it, there was more to tell.  For one, a member of our board stepped in and the girls (3 out of the 5) went to the US for a couple weeks of debriefing and counseling. That left Alicia (who has since stepped down from leadership) and I here to run things and by the grace of God, it was calm and manageable; one exception being a phone call I got from one of our supervisors on a Saturday afternoon: “Aunty Stacy, Nancy is bleeding from the mouth.” She made it sound like Nancy was vomiting blood, so minor panic followed by a quick drive to find out it was just her gums. Never a dull moment… J

The girls have long since returned and I have been praying the time away really was healing and transformative and we will be able to carry on from here in a much healthier place. I know they have been equipped with some coping skills and a lot of good information and I’ve enjoyed hearing about what they’ve learnt and going through the resources they brought back with them. It is not an easy fix, though, that is certain. We have also started meeting as a group with one of the counselors they saw via Skype and it has been really, really good for us.  

Follow up on the compound: I have given up on the veggie garden because it will take far too much time and energy to maintain, neither of which I have a lot of when I get home from work. It was a nice idea, though…the thought of a lovely, manicured, abundant, communal garden…but the reality was an overgrown mess that would not likely have been touched by anyone but me…no thanks. Besides, produce here is delicious, widely available and cheap. The main garden in the front, however, is coming in nicely. It's technically Em' garden (her mom planted it when her parents were here) but, of course, we all get to enjoy it.

Also, Trey had a cement ping pong table built and it is pretty fantastic. We are anticipating some fierce tournaments in the near future, though given my performance so far, I will not likely last long in any of them.

Carter is eight months old now. My feet are still healing from his puppy teeth and will probably wear the scars of a puppy owner for some time. He is growing by the day and I am seeing glimpses of the sweet, obedient, well-mannered dog I know he will be; he’s also shown some pretty good guard dog instincts early on so that’s promising too. But shoot, puppies are a lot of work and require an immense amount of patience; and with everything else we deal with on a daily basis, he has at times been my tipping point. Who would have thought a dog would be the catalyst that would force me to deal with some pretty intense issues: control, anxiety, self-reliance, insecurity, to name a few… I actually consulted a lady in town who is a bit of a dog whisperer because of how much I was struggling and she pointed out the now obvious fact that he is a massive ball of energy with no good outlet as he’s alone on the compound all day. I have since started taking him for walks and it has made a huge difference as well as being a blessing in disguise given how little exercise I, myself, was getting. He is still having an issue with play biting but I believe the issue is that he’s bored out of his mind and spends too much time alone so I am looking into getting a second dog…but NOT a puppy.

The anxiety I talked about in the last post, the “just below the surface” type, is really insistent on lingering. Sometimes even the caffeine in a cup of tea can bring it to the surface. Fortunately this is very infrequent, but on a couple occasions, nothing else appealed to me besides crawling into bed and pulling the covers over my head. It’s a nuisance, to be sure, but I manage. I read an interesting article recently about anxiety. What I found particularly interesting was this:

“Anxious people will never hurt you because they know too well what it means to get hurt. Boy, do they ever know. They don’t want you to go through it. They don’t want anyone to go through it.
Anxious people tend to also be empathetic; they even care about people who hurt them.

People with anxiety are intuitive and great at listening. They also love fiercely; they love jobs, friends, significant others and, most importantly, life. People with anxiety know how hard everything is and do not take any of it for granted.”

Though I relate to this, I have never considered that it could be a byproduct of anxiety; I find I can’t help but feel like it’s not the worst trade off. I have always been aware of the fact that I feel things strongly and I’ve been grateful for the fact that although emotions like hurt, anxiety and regret weigh heavily, I experience positive emotions like joy, gratefulness and love with the same intensity. So for the cost of some time spent with a heavy heart and a burdened soul, I am able to live passionately, care deeply and love well…I think I’m ok with that.

To be honest, this year has not been easy, but I don’t suppose I would have ever chosen that word to describe this life God has chosen for me. I just pray we can always see situations clearly and with discernment so that we are able to recognize what is God doing a work in us and what is the devil trying to work us over and tear us apart. At the moment, I feel we have generally failed to recognize the latter but beaten and bruised as we are, I have faith we will come out of it stronger.    

On a positive note, I went on a little vacation with a couple friends (one who has since left Uganda for good and requested I join her for her last hurrah). I spent a couple days in a Kisumu, a small Kenyan city, and a few days in Mombasa on the Kenyan coast; my gosh, it was beautiful. I am so fortunate to live in a place so near (comparatively) to some incredible tropical locations. And to top it all off, I was informed after I got back that our board is footing the bill because I wasn’t able to be a part of the counseling and debriefing trip the girls went on. Just a thought, but I think a cocktail, a good book and a stunning ocean view have a good number of therapeutic properties, but maybe that’s just me. ;-)

I also got to spend a weekend at Sipi Falls a couple months back...beautiful place!

In other news, 2 of my best friends here, Brad and Erika, began dating a year or so ago and recently got engaged. It just so happens they are getting married in Nashville while I’m home for Christmas so I will be able to attend (and sing at) the wedding. It will be a little Jinja reunion as a few past volunteers and Jinjaites will be attendance as well as Emily and Emily. The whole gang will be there!! It will be so weird! Erika is currently my roommate so when I return, I will be living “alone” for the first time in my life. I put that in quotations because I share the compound with 3 other friends in the 3 other units but it will still be strange.


Sherri Piechnik said...

Hi Stacy! It was so great to sit down and read through you blog post. My heart goes out to you in your struggle with anxiety. I will be praying for you. God bless you as you serve Him. He is there with you through it all. Even when it doesn't 'feel' like it. Love you girl!!

Angela said...

Hi Stacy, So good to hear from you and see your pictures. So glad things with Carter are getting better. Exercise is also a good thing for mental and emotional health. It sounds like a lot has been happening there that has been difficult, topped off with your anxiety. It sure does sound like a double edged sword. Your understanding of yourself and acceptance of who you are is so good to hear. I think my favourite picture is the red star fish. May God continue to bless you and your team, provide for all your needs and keep you safe. Love, Angela