When we woke in the morning, there was that awkwardness that follows conflict. And with four people on different paths with different needs can be interesting.
We chose to take a day off. To just go do something. It wasn't my type of thing to do. I mean, it was fun enough, and I enjoyed it, but it took us to a place full of people. My mind is too busy in crowds of people and I can only take it for a limited amount of time. When I am emotional or stressed, I do a lot better with nature and space than crowds. I like to walk, to sit by lakes and throw in stones, to climb hills, to climb trees and sit blowing in the wind. Crowds of people irritate me.
So while I did enjoy parts of the day, as it wore on, I got more and more agitated. I began to feel like I would go nuts and hit someone or snap at them for no reason. All I wanted to do was hide. Finally, with no peace around me, I will let myself walk away in my mind from all that is happening around me and just daydream for awhile. That helped me a little, but it is not an answer. I sat on the ride home with something covering my head, looking asleep. It gave me a brief time to get away from people.
But when you have four people and four different needs, you have to watch others and see what they need. Because of the conflict, I went into watching mode. Watch and be silent and see when the stress levels will go down. It was a day I survived. Some brief parts of it, I enjoyed, but survived was about all I would say.
While we were in the crowds of people, we waited for others to catch up at the end of the day. We sat on a cement block and were still. The pigeons flew around searching for any crumbs left and vendors packed their carts. My eyes followed the birds - something live and moving. One pigeon hobbled up with an odd gait. When he got closer, I saw what was wrong - his feet were missing. He had one toe on half of one foot, and the other foot was gone altogether. He hobbled around on the swollen stumps of what was left.
I wondered what happened to the poor bird. Did he land on a hot wire exposed somewhere? Had he been caught in some trap and managed to get free? I watched his tortured limp around the sidewalks wishing I had some way to help him. Even a piece of old bread that I could feed him would have been nice. But I had nothing. No way to ease his pain. No way to make his suffering easier. I could only sit and watch.
How odd, I thought, too, for a bird with wings to be stumbling around at a limp. If only he would stretch out his wings, he could move so much more freely. But he didn't. He limped around looking for crumbs.
I felt like that bird that day. Knowing I have wings, but unable to use them. The pothole had damaged my feet, hurt me, and I was unable to open my wings to fly. So I stumbled through the next days limping.
I was so often confused. What was happening was not what I expected to happen. It was not what I thought should be happening. And I was with people who knew better than I did, so I was following, but... but... where did this path lead? It seemed to be going in circles. Endless circles.
I wanted to talk, to listen, to hear. And no one was talking. Silence and more conversation about the weather. I watched and waited, waiting to be told when it was ok to talk. Not today. Today, we are supposed to relax.
How can I relax when I can't talk?! I do not work like that. So the frustration began to build. Frustrated, tired, irritated at crowds, feeling like a shaken bottle with a tight cork, I sat down with everyone that evening right before bed. Someone wanted to sit quietly and pray and thank God for all that went well.
Not that I wasn't thankful. I was. More than I could say. But, I needed to talk, to cry, to be able to feel what I had not had time to feel during the whole time. Here and there the first day or so, we had heard bits of the men's story, but little at all of the women's. I couldn't pray. If I took the cork out then, I would explode. And no one could understand that.
So I cried myself to sleep one more night. Asking God why I even bothered to come over here - everything is awful and I could have at least stayed with my kids and comforted them. Now there is no comfort - not for them and not for me.
Don't ask me to smile when you don't let me cry first. Joy comes in the morning after the tears, not pasted on a night of unshed tears.
And again, my sleep was broken by nightmares, awful horrible nightmares. At least this night when the nightmares hit, I could reach out and wrap my arms around my husband. He wasn't ready to talk yet or listen, but he did wrap his arms around me and hold me in the night. Poor man - he is always hot, and I am always cold. During the first weeks after the crisis, I could never get warm. It was as if my entire heating system shut down, and I shivered constantly. He held me in the night when my teeth chattered from the cold and the nightmares, but that was about all he was able to do for me then. He had his own stress to overcome.
This journey was a lot harder than I ever expected it to be!