Sunday, July 22, 2012

Waiting For a Change That Is Nowhere To Be Found

Brace yourselves.. this one is a little intense..

Some things never change. No matter how much you wish they would.. they don't. And maybe that's where I need more faith- that things WILL change for me- for the best- when the time is right.

Going to Israel was TRULY and incredible experience that I will never ever forget. I needed to get away from the ship for a while- to give myself some room and space to breathe and not have to focus so much on ship life, but also it gave me space to think a little bit. Which... isn't always the greatest thing in the world.

Honestly, I didn't think I'd miss the ship as much as I did. I left unsure of what is ahead- not sure if I was  going to stay on board only until February, was was the original plan, or if I'd stay later, not sure what job I'd have... lots of uncertainties. The time away really helped check some of that into perspective. I realized how much I do love the ship- not always ship life, but I do love living in a community like this, I love what we do, I love Africa. It's tough right now because none of those things are really in play, but I do greatly look forward to the great return to Africa.

Being gone, I missed some friends of mine terribly. Coming back, however, was nothing like I had thoguht. It was exciting, but I kept thinking that when I got back, people would make time for me, I'd suddenly have friends I didn't have before, I'd get to know more people, I'd fit in, I'd be home. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening. It dawned on me last night how few of my friends are still here. There was a mass exodus both as I left and while i was gone- they're almost all gone. Mind you, I do have an extra confidence I didn't have before, more pep to my step, but as the days roll on, I'm starting to lose that. What happened? What clicked over to make this change?

I'm gonna let you in on something... The ship is a VERY tough place to be for single people... especially single people like me. I have a past- I'm no good at making lasting relationships and holding on to them- very few people in my life have been there through the rough times and stayed... I just never have been good at it. I'm terrible at initiating friendships, I am terrible at holding on to them... I am clingy, needy, and lonely. A recipe for disaster. I am so thankful for the people in my life who know me well enough by now to know how to help me through these things. But, it also means I am very alone much of the time.

Loneliness has always been a great struggle for me. Ever since I was a kid, if you asked me 'Michelle, what is your greatest fear?" It was being all alone. Yet, somehow I find myself in this place time and time again. The ship is great... but it can also be a place of lots of pain. If you allow yourself to get close to someone, you WILL have to say goodbye at some time or another- that's life, but when you do this enough times, it becomes hardening- you don't want to anymore. I came back excited to get to know people who are new and ready to hit the ground running, but the thing is- all of my reservations and fears are still where I left them...

Even in Israel, there were times I felt so alone. It seemed that everyone had a 'go-to' person and I was the odd man out. Really, I sort-of was... everyone was either married, related, or good friends... and I... wasn't... I sat alone 9/10 times on the bus, left to my own devices. I tried not to be bothered by it, but there were certainly days it took over and poisoned my soul- ruining the day ahead.

I am no good at having friends my own age... I either go younger or older- and normally I do great with people 5 or more years younger than me and people about 10 or more years older than me. I just feel I have a lot more I can relate to these groups of people. However, yet another recipe for disaster. On the ship, that means these people are either kids, teens or parents. See the problem? I sure do... I am close with families- which is a huge blessing... but... at the end of the day, they're not my family, and I"m not theirs. I may be their 'auntie' for a while, but I am not really family, nor do I expect to become family, so I'm not invited to family outings, dinners, movie nights, things like that...I'm still alone when it all comes down to it.

I have no home base here. Anyone I once had, has either moved on, or they are a part of a family or couple... meaning I am no one's priority. It seems harsh, but it is true. At home, if the family is in, I have people.. I have my family to have dinner with, if I am on the verge of a breakdown and I NEED to talk about something, I have my mom, I have my dad, I can go for a drive, play my guitar, I can cuddle with my nephew. Here, while on the verge of a breakdown, there's way for me to blow of steam, no one to just let me vent and to talk later... walks around the pond or 2am jam sessions . The only thing to do is pray. Which SHOULD be my default anyway, but it's not. Maybe that's a lesson to be learned, but I am not there yet..

I find myself around the ship looking for someone to invest in, someone to reach out to me, to be my partner in crime, my go-to- person, my side-kick... but unfortunately, that's not my reality. The reality is I am alone... it's time I take ownership of that and move through it... but, that, too never seems to work.

Sometimes I wonder if being home would make it all better, but really- the same problems would follow me there too...  I feel plagued by one of man's most lethal enemies.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Nightmare in Madrid...

So... I've been promising for a while to write a bit more... I thought I'd share a journal entry with you from the day I arrived in Israel. The flight from Madrid to Israel was a bit traumatic and I was not able to post about it until now, since Israel checks everything that is posted in its country. I didn't want to get into even more trouble.:)

I write daily- its a bit of a new years resolution to myself, but I had to break it due to this flight... I was annoyed to say teh least, but that explains the first line of the entry... enjoy;)

July 2, 2012
An unexpected turn of events prevented me from writing last night...

Sunday, I dreaded leaving. I think AGAIN I knew I was in for an innnnteresting trip... puilled myself together just in time, Airport with Matt, Margo and Sam, met up with Carol who bought us these awesome coffees, flight to madrid- I didn't realize I was flying in business class. EPIC. Great food:) I think I need it for what was coming next.

Got of the plane in Madrid, went to McDonalds, which I'm now grateful for, and made our way to our gate.We didn't realize we were really early- but again- a super good thing. I got my boarding pass, which they wouldn't give me in Tenerife... and so began the nightmare.

they asked us all kind of questions and seemedreally polit, so I answered nicely and smiled- but didnt give the most direct answers ever. They took my bags, then took me into a room where they patted me down, searched me, swabbed my clothes for bomb residue, checked my all felt very invasive. After a few minutes they let me get sorted out again and took me to another room, where I waited.

I saw them take everything out of my bags, swab all of my clothes, and sort through everything. One by one, my electronics came to me and I had to show them how to turn them on, take them out of their case and show them they worked. The Itouch case wasn't exactly helpful... it didn't want to come off and caused a bit of trouble... in the end I broke it a little, which is disappointing, as it was my brand new case.

I waited in the room for over 2 hours... I figured that at the end, they'd give me my stuff and i'd be on my way, right? Wrong. They called me into the space where my stuff was and showed me my things. All of my electronics in my duffel with clothes and everything from my backpack in a box, then my backpack with only my wallet and my face mask in it. They put everything else as checked luggage. I had to beg for benadryl...  I wasn't allowed my electronics, my journal(thus why I couldn't write), no anything.

I've NEVER felt so alienated and discriminated against in my entire life. I felt like I was being punished for being a kin,driendly, helpful human being. I got on the plane and cried. I had non of my usual coping mechanisms.... my journal, my music... It was a rough flight. It ended with me getting to see a MAGNIFACENT  sunrise:) We landed, got our stuff and money. I knew we should've gotten food and water, but no one listened to me.... got on the sherut(the Israeli bus taxi) and we were on our way to Jerusalem. 20 minutes into it, I felt like I was going to vomit and fought that for the rest of the ride. I made a full plan on what to do... it got very close.

Get got to the campus, walked up to the university. I was starving and dehydrated but decided just to take a nap and teal with the rest later... I woke up 3 hours later, ate a MASSIVE lunch then we went to the Old City for a walk:)...

I cut some things out and added a few things.. but that'd the gist...  Sam was with me the whole way. I think we were suspicious due to the fact we have passports that have all kinds of stamps in them, we are humanitarians which can sometimes be a red flag for activist, extremist what have you, and we were clearly Christians- we were studying about Jesus in Israel.. which I suppose we could've left out.. but.. yeah... we apparently had lots of the red flags... no one warned me beforehand.. just learned the brutal way. But hey- great story, huh? ;)

Oh... 1 more part... on the way there, I purposefully tried to carry everything on, because it was better to not lose things, right? Then everything ended up getting taken from me, as I was suspicious... then on the way back, they pulled me aside and asked me how I had so little for being there for 2 weeks.... it's called a laundry machine.. and no I didn't say that;) 

With that,
I promise that I'll get pictures going really soon- I took over 3,000 pictures, so I need to get them all edited, cropped and pick which ones to put up on facebook and which would be boring to you but fun for me to look back on one day;) Thankfully the professor had us write reports daily(which I got behind on but finished the last day), I collected brochures and post cards the whole way and fun things like that... so... Ialso have to get on my little scrap book my mom got me at Christmas.... looking forward to it... so much to do, but I get to look back on my whole trip through it...

Overall INCREDIBLE experience, met some people who have really truly been changing my life and my perspective a little at a time and I feel truly blessed for being so fortunate to have been chosen by God to take this trip at the time I did. Now to get my Dad there..;)