Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The emotion of leaving

As I wrap up my life here in Kuwait (countdown = 22 days!), each day feels like an adventure tangled up in a mass of stress. There have been very exciting moments (like when my friend and I signed for an apartment in DC!), and very hard moments (like realizing yet again that I am leaving people that I might never see again). This is the life of the global nomad. There are a lot of ups and downs, but God has been incredibly gracious throughout. I'm coming up on that time in transition when the "lasts" begin...last time hanging out with someone, last time getting dinner at the chicken guys, last sessions with counseling clients, and on and on. And it is hard, but it is also good. As much as leaving feels incredibly difficult, I also know that this change is right for this moment in my life. So I push ahead, try to take my to-do list one item at a time, and trust that God will provide.

During this time, I've also found myself struggling a lot with anger. I know that transition is always an emotional time, and I am also feeling excited, sad, stressed, and a whole bunch of other things that I can't even identify right now. But over the past few weeks, I have struggled on a daily basis with an anger that just leaves my body shaking and my eyes burning. As I have processed the emotion, I've come to realize that much of my anger stems from a feeling of powerlessness as I leave the place I've come to call "home." For anyone who has been reading my blog over the past two years, you know that there are many aspects of the country, the culture, the society, and even my workplace, that bother me. From the treatment of women, to the veneer of spoiled riches, to the hidden ache of so much family dysfunction, to the desire of businesses (such as my workplace) to cover up anything uncomfortable so that they always look good to the people heart just cries out: "this is not the way it's meant to be!"

As a counselor, I have the unique privilege (and burden) of stepping beyond the "always must look good" polish of this society and digging into the muck and mire beneath. And it so often leaves me reeling. My work at the Filipino embassy has brought this into stark relief. Every Wednesday, I sit with a group of women...all of them runaway domestic workers who have fled from difficult (and often horrific) circumstances. I hear their stories, and it breaks my heart. I just can't understand how people can treat other human beings this way...and on such a massive scale. Even though the embassy is constantly putting girls on planes to send them home, the shelter stays filled. Twenty girls leave, and twenty more girls show up at the gates. It never ends. And the same story is repeated at the Sri Lankan embassy, and the Indian embassy, and the Nepalese embassy, and more. And I feel so powerless to change anything here.

This week I was involved as a first responder and counselor during a very difficult incident. I won't go into the details because I can't, but suffice it to say that it was probably the most difficult day in my past two years in Kuwait. Thank God the situation was resolved and the person was ok, but it drained every last ounce of emotional energy from me, and again, it left me so angry. I am angry because this country has almost zero resources for mental illness. I am angry because seeking help is a sign of weakness, and will bring shame to the family. I am angry because if someone decides to hurt themselves, rather than get them help at the proper facility, it becomes a legal/police issue. I am angry because even those of us who want to help can't, because it's a "liability." And I am angry because even though we see the signs of people struggling all around us, there is so little that we can do to help. Shame is a powerful force here. Looking good is the almighty holy grail. And underneath, fractured hurting people try to make it through the day. I'm not saying that this is unique to Kuwait, but I am saying that it seems to exist on a much more pervasive scale here. And I can try (and have tried) to help people with whom I come in contact. I know all about the proverbial "helping one person at a time" is the only way to start making a difference. But I feel so overwhelmed in the face of my own powerlessness. And so, as a good friend (and soon to be roommate!) reminded me yesterday, that's when it comes back to faith. I must believe that even though this is not the way it was meant to be, God has a plan. I must believe that He cares about each individual person so much more than I could ever imagine. And I must believe that even though I am leaving this place, God has still used me...even if it was just one life at a time. And so I choose to take a deep breath, and hand over my anger to God...moment by moment. I choose to trust in His goodness, not only in my own life, but in this country that has been my home but also my heavy burden for two years.


Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing so openly, my heart aches with yours for all you are seeing and experiencing around you, and then it aches for you because as a mom I (still) wish I could protect you from knowing how broken the world is! You have made a difference and I know even in your last days there, you will. I love you more than tongue can tell! -mom

Anonymous said...

Hi Amy,

Thanks for sharing a piece of your heart and processing through your blog! I appreciate the glimpses you give of your nomadic adventures. I do pray that the Lord continues to meet you in this place as you wrestle with what still is... and also knowing by faith that hearts have been impacted through your sojourn there. Excited to continue keeping up as you head to DC! Rachel de G.

Anonymous said...

Amy, you need to write a book when you get back to the U.S. I know you have made an impact on many lives in your 2 years in Kuwait. I will be praying for you as you make your RAFT and say goodbye to lots of friends. Hope to see you when ever you visit Orlando.

uncle yale said...

Thank you Amy for opening your soul to us. I feel your pain and share your anger and outrage. In eternity you will see the fruit of what has happened these past 2 years. Between now and then......we wait to see justice. Love you, dad

Danica said...

Thank you for sharing Amy! I really appreciate your heart and your honesty. Praying for you in this last week.

Anonymous said...

hello...i just read ur blog... my boyfriend is going to work in kuwait and i would like to visit him. do u know if its allowed to stays in a hotel with my bf, coz i've read that staying in the same apt isnt allowed. can we also walk in public holding hands? thanks for ur help ^^