i'm talking about this early, because i feel like it's something i need to remind myself of often.
sometimes it feels selfish, you know, taking care of yourself. giving yourself permission to do something totally for you. but it's not selfish at all.
i've been home about a month and i straddle this line of feeling like i might burst into tears and being absolutely normal. i've spent a lot of time trying to figure out what life is going to be now, because i had plans to still be in cambodia right now. but i haven't really landed on anything, but just ideas without steps. answering the "what happens next?" question is incredibly overwhelming and really hard to answer. i can't just shrug my shoulders and that satisfy people. you get met with "but you have a master's degree!" "can't you find a job?". insert eyeroll. people mean no harm when they ask, but there are very few people who understand that not everything is known and there aren't always clear steps to each decision.
the move back to louisville has been a process, not bad or good, just a process. i find it hard to answer questions and have conversations because i haven't fully processed everything either.
there are parts of what i experienced that i don't want to share, because they need to stay with me. and some stories that people want to hear are what i call 'tragedy porn'. it's the sad stories about what all the girls that i've been working with, and a lot of people aren't focused on this bright future ahead of them. the sad story creates a screen over the girls that people can't unsee. i'd rather tell the story of the girl who is going to go to university and change cambodia, or the girl who has a healthy baby, and a good job. i understand that these stories make money for organizations, they highlight this growing problem of sexual exploitation, but it's not my job to tell those stories. it's my job to be part of solving the problem.
there are the times when people try to relate to the experience when they take about "trips" they've taken, or when they want to hear about my "trip". disney world or the grand canyon are "trips". cambodia wasn't a "trip", it was my life. i left my house, a job, sold my car, left my friends and family, not for a "trip". to me, it kind of belittles my experience and my time there. it sounds like "amos' little adventure" and not this career changing, life changing experience that it was. yes, i made friends. yes, i went out and did things, i joined a gym. because that's how you make a life some place.
another one that gets me is "welcome home" (or some varying form of that...except 'welcome back'..that's fine..). what is home? is it my hometown? where my driver's license is from? where your heart is? where you sleep? tell me. i feel like i'm living in this state of limbo, where i'm just existing here. the feeling of i'm just visiting has faded and i know that america is where i'm supposed to be right now, but it doesn't help me feel any more settled. also, don't ever say "welcome back to the real world". where do you think i went, candyland? cambodia is real. i still smell it in my clothes. i lived in a house, with a/c, i had (spotty) wifi, i had a real toilet. it was all very real.
all of that is to say that i have noticed this real lack of taking care of myself. i may have needed to take more time in between there and here. or i need to take moments to myself to just breathe and process. and it's okay to allow yourself that time to do that. just like education extends beyond the classroom, the skills you learn in therapy is to extend beyond your therapy sessions. i have a hard time remembering that one for myself.
i believe that once i am more settled into a space, i will be able to focus on self-care. i haven't settled into a gym, i don't really have a social circle, or my own space. all of that is important to developing your self-care routine. what tips and tricks do you have to taking time for yourself?