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.


  1. Self-reflection is a good thing, as ;long as you look up afterward for new direction.

    Love ya Shelly.


  2. Susan (Isaacsohn) BurkhardtFri Jul 27, 08:16:00 AM

    Michelle, I know you only through your dad, who became my FB friend, I agree with what he said about self-relection, been there, done that and still do it. Having said that, and I know your dad may not believe this, but I always felt myself as the third wheel in a group, always the last to be selected for a game, no real friends, not, but, yes I did have aquintances, but never was included their activities. On a blind date, someone felt sorry for me never getting my own date, BUT, that was okay, as this person saw me, not from the outside, but the inside for who I was. This man helped me come out of my shell, and now we have been together for 47 years, (2 as a couple-45 married), through thick and thin. Keep your head up girl, people don't know your inner beauty their missing!

    Susan (Isaacsohn) Burkhardt