To explain what happened next in this journey is complicated. I've thrown ideas around in my head, but it is just complicated. Up to now, I have been content to label people as "friends" or "team members" (not to say team members aren't friends, too!). But here it gets more complicated. We have a few groups of people. I've thought of giving them generic names, like Tom, Dick, and Harry, but that ends up sounding really funny.
So I will try, but hang in and pay attention. We have "team members" - those that are here with us. We have "over there people" - those that live over there. (simple, isn't it?). And we have a leader. He is not here nor there, but elsewhere.
Then of course, we have family - kids, parents, in-laws, extended family. We also still have friends - those near and far. And other participants in this. We can refer to them as the "other couple". Sounds more antagonistic than I feel! :)
So, all these people all had some part to play in these events. They all had some stake in it. It caused all of them some feelings. And the lack of free-flowing information made things confusing. So in the immediate aftermath, all these groups had things they wanted.
Unfortunately, people's wants and needs stepped on each other's toes.
We wanted some rest. We wanted to talk to each other. To walk. To drink tea. To sleep. To talk. To hear each other's stories. To be able to ask questions. To sit in silence just next to each other.
Team members wanted us home. Likely for the same reason. They also wanted to talk, to hear the story, to sit with us, to ask questions. To physically see us. They were very upset that we did not come directly home. They did not tell us this right off, so we were unaware of it these first days.
The "Over there people" were for the most part very wonderful to us. We heard only encouragement and concern from them. They did have their questions, but for the most part just encouraged us and let us recover. Of course efforts had to me made to communicate with them, and those efforts were made, but there was no great insistence that it be done immediately. There was one - there always is - who the leader said was wanting to know stuff right away. Other than that, the "Over There's" were the most gracious group. I'd love to gather them up and thank them - maybe make brownies or something for them all.
Our friends and relatives were wonderful. They waited, impatiently, but they waited for us to contact them. they respected our need to recover and refrained that first day from even sending e-mails.
Our kids needed us immediately. As soon as they arrived home from school, we spent an hour on Skype with them so they could see us and talk. They needed that. They also needed to see the other couple - to see, to believe. They missed us and cried, but they also laughed and giggled. We talked to them daily while we were gone.
It was the leader that was the biggest problem. For some reason, his need to know was urgent. Although he had talked to our group several times already and received all the information he needed for the short term, he still had an incessant need to ask more questions, even to ask the same ones over and over.
It doesn't work - a need for rest conflicting with an incessant need to ask questions. He was upset at us for choosing to meet where we were. It irritated him. This and the incessant need to talk ran headlong into our need for rest.
This is where being so spread out is difficult. I honestly try to believe that if he had seen the faces of the four of us that day, he would not have kept calling and calling. But he did not have that hint. He would have had to put himself in our shoes and think about what we needed just then. But he didn't. He also did not stop to look at time zones and think about what people who had been awake for five nights might want to do at midnight.... ie. SLEEP!
That caused conflict the very first day. Conflict, which because we had emotionally raw, totally exhausted people, went real ugly real fast.
The beauty, the peace, the unbridled happiness was gone. In its place was just raw sore nerves.
A pothole in the path... a huge, glaring pothole that no one prepared us for.
Who was at fault? All of us to some degree.
If I hadn't been so tired.....
If he hadn't called so often and so late....
If he hadn't said that.....
If he hadn't said this....
If she didn't do that....
If I didn't do that.....
Lots of "ifs", but we can't live in "ifs". We can simply go on.
But I cried long into the night. And when I woke up from nightmares during the night, I cried some more. A lonely cry - because when we hit the pothole, we took different detours around it. Never again was there the quiet joy of four people walking a path together.
I cried and cried. The first night of what should have been a happy time ruined by conflict. I didn't see it coming. I think what hit me so often during the journey to normal was this same thing.... I didn't see things coming. I think I was living with a "happily ever after" mentality. You know, story ends and everyone lives happily ever after. Someone needs to erase all those from story books! It would be normal to expect conflict, fights, stress, misunderstanding, and criticism after a crisis. Just no one was there to tell us that and no one was there who was not IN the situation to help us get out of it all.
So again, for the sixth night in a row, I sobbed myself to sleep curled in a ball. Sleep came only in fits, and every time my eyes closed, dreams started. I woke up at least ten times from ten different nightmares. And every time I woke, I cried myself to sleep again.