I write about transition a lot. Probably because my entire life has basically been a series of hello, goodbyes. A therapist friend of mine, who is also an MK (she wrote a fabulous book, you should check it out) once told me, after I had called her sobbing on the phone, "Transitions will be a trigger your entire life."
But maybe I should back up.
I called her after a day spent slumped over my kitchen counter. Literally. Well, maybe not literally, but all I remember of that day was wandering into the kitchen (to clean? Get a glass of water? Plug in my phone?), my feet feeling like they had been encased in fifty pound blocks of concrete, my body heavy, my ears muffled like someone had stuffed cotton balls into them then duct taped the cotton balls into place. My hands swinging and strange from my arm sockets. My tongue swollen in my mouth. My eyes puffy and itchy. By the time I got to the counter, I forgot what I had even gone in there for. Bending at the waist, I rested my chest down onto the cool laminate. My arms out like goal posts, anchoring me. My cheek heavy and slack on the scuffed plastic.
I closed my grateful eyes and slipped into a blessedly dark, quiet nothingness. When I was younger, I used to slip out sometimes to the lagoon and wade in to where the water lapped warm and gentle at my collarbone. I'd pull my feet up off the sandy bottom, close my eyes, and let myself float submerged in a world where the only sound was the distant tinkling of sand and the only feeling was the embrace of the Pacific. This is how it felt now. Except that it seemed my brain was also suspended, because I couldn't think. I couldn't feel.
But maybe I should back up.
It began with a stupid argument, one that we'd had a million times and probably will have a million more. But this time instead of our practiced and honed draw-away-come-back-together dance, I drew away and couldn't come back. For some inexplicable reason I backed up too far and found a cliff I had never realized was there, misstepped, and found myself tumbling over the dark edge, arms windmilling, hair slapping my face, clothing tearing against my body.
I landed in a crumpled heap on my bathroom floor. Propped against the wall. Sobbing and unable to stop. Unable to catch my breath. Unable to think.
I think the clinical term for it is disassociation. Or maybe it was a re-association. Maybe my younger selves had been there all along, waiting inside me. Because that's suddenly where my mind went. I was eight and crying and saying goodbye to my room on Devereux Street. I was nine and hiding from the laughing Islanders. I was eleven and confused at the middle school lunch table. I was fourteen and my Island sisters were rubbing their tear-wet cheeks against mine, as the boat slowly pulled away from my island for good.
And curled in a rumpled ball on my bathroom floor, I raised my wet face to the heavens and sobbed, "Why, God? Why? Why did it have to be MY family? Why break up MY family for YOUR gospel? It's YOUR gospel. Why did MY family have to suffer for it?"
I said it but expected my words to fall back from heaven around me. I expected empty silence. I expected a turned head and a deaf ear.
Jesus was there. He stepped in with me, into the ball of pain, and put his hand on my shoulder, and smiled in the most gentle way. "I know," he said.
"I'm here," he said.
"I'm sorry you hurt," he said.
And somehow, that was enough. Enough to calm my racing heart. Enough to settle a blanket of blessed numbness over my bruised awareness. Enough to receive the loving and worried ministrations of my husband. Enough to get the kids off to school the next day, and then slump in heavy release over my kitchen counter. Enough to call a therapist.
Enough to finally start facing the pain and the trauma and the anger and the joy and the loss and the love, to start untangling all the mixed up experiences and feelings, that had lain patient and waiting until such a time as this.
I want to encourage you, sister or brother, fellow TCK survivor, that you are not alone in your lonliness. You're not alone in the always-leaving. You're not alone in saying hello goobye with a smile on your face. This is something that every kid growing up between worlds, experiences. Therapy helps. A lot. Talking about it helps. A lot.
Finally looking at the anger and the pain, in a safe place, frees you up fully live and fully feel in other areas in your life.
Here's to holding the goodbyes and hellos with open hands and tender heart.