Friday, February 25, 2011

Not in the Mood

I realize that it's been a number of days since I posted.   I have about six, partially completed, posts about our trip, but have yet to complete them.  I haven't been in the mood.

I'm not sure what's up with me.  I've been in a cranky mood since Sunday.  This is very unusual for me.  I'm an optimistic person not very often prone to bad moods, particularly not one that covers the span of days.  I've been trying to hold myself together so as not to take it out on those around me, but what I feel like doing is stomping around the house like a kid in a foul mood, slamming doors, yelling at people who bother me (and even the ones who don't), demanding things as if I'm entitled to them...all of that kind of childish stuff.

Emotionally I feel flat.  Uninvolved.  Distant and removed.  Expressive towards Matthew, but that's about it.  I haven't been returning emails very well, I don't feel like reading, and I just feel like crawling into my bed in the middle of the day and lying there.  I'm not particularly tired, but I just want to be alone to think...about what, I don't know.  The only time I've actually given in to my desire to be alone was on Sunday afternoon, when my mood crashed in on me: in the middle of lunch, I announced that I needed some space, and I abandoned Geoff and Matthew in favour of my bed...for almost two hours.  I believe some petulant stomping of feet was involved on my way upstairs.

I know that part of my bad mood has to do with Geoff's ongoing busy season at work (can a busy 'season' really be five months long??).  I'm tired of waiting for his time.

But it's more than that.

I have felt near tears pretty much perpetually since the day after we arrived in Ethiopia and, while I did shed a few of them after court (when sharing with my family the events of the day and its unsuccessful outcome), I haven't cried since.  It's like our trip has passed into distant memory and I can't let myself 'go there' emotionally.  I wonder:  did it really happen at all?  I went grocery shopping two days after we got home, and barely even thought as I walked through the aisles about the lack of access so many people in ET have to the food they need.  I've continued on with Matthew's daily activities, including his schooling, not in the least mindful of the countless children I saw in ET who cannot attend the free public school because they cannot afford the annual 300-500birr ($18-30) needed to purchase school uniforms and pay for nominal expenses, and not in the least thinking about how fewer than 65% of boys and 40% of girls are literate by the time they reach adulthood.  I threw out some old food from the fridge the other day without even giving a thought, until later, about how much I waste and about how very appreciated it was when, in ET, I gave our boxed restaurant leftovers to the guards at the guesthouse.  On the weekend, I went about catching up on our laundry accumulation, not once thinking about how lucky I am to have access in my home to an automatic washing machine and water flowing through pipes to make my labour trivial.  I've driven our van about the city with no thought to how relatively smooth and easy a drive it is on our road systems, and filled up with gas yesterday without even remembering that on the first day of the month in ET, the cars line up by the dozens (hundreds?) to wait for that precious fuel.  I've continued to plan, very logically, for the arrival of two more children, all the while feeling like I am already forgetting the face of our five-year-old and have forgotten what colour his pants were on the day we met him.

In other words, having been home for only nine days, I am already carrying on with daily life as if Ethiopia never if it was a dream.  I can't believe that I am so callous. What will it take to impact my life if not a trip such as the one we have just returned from?

I'm scared to let myself feel.  Even as I write this, I feel the tears behind my eyes, but I can't bring myself to let them go.  What if I never stop?


  1. oh Ruth, you have been on my heart much in the last days. Praying for you, thinking of you. I don't know...are you callous? Sounds more like to me, you feel so deeply that you have to limit what you LET yourself feel right now, and that's ok, i think...praying for you, girl..

  2. Ruth, I dont know what to say, just that my feeling says you have to LET it go and please let those tears come out! After all the heart ship you have been through, i think it is time to give all those feelings a place in your heart, so that you are ready when your beautiful kids will come home!
    I'm thinking about you.


  3. Hi Ruth. I've been thinking of you a lot. Reading your posts on Ethiopia it sounds like we had a very similar experience as far as the effect the country had on us. I was so struck by the poverty. I think I literally cried non-stop for 4 days. I was touched by the wood carriers. I admired the people and their strenght & dignity. It was a truly profound trip. I think you are just feeling so much that it's taking time for you to process. Plus you have the added disappointment of court. Please be kind to yourself and allow yourself this time to heal. Don't beat yourself up. These feelings & behaviours are normal. I shut down like a robot in order to come home. I was ok for a few weeks but for close to 2 weeks I woke up each day hating everything. I too would yell at people just beause they annoyed me, or weren't doing what I wanted exactly when I wanted them to do it. My level of patience was less then zero. I felt like crying all the time and I also just wanted to be left alone. I was sad, angry and empty. This too shall pass. You haven't forgotten the face of a little boy, it just hurts a little too much right now to see anything clearly. If you ever want to talk, send me a PM. Ange

  4. oh Ruth...praying for you.

    For that scene to impact you so deeply means that the trip did change you! It's the processing that will take time.

    Praying that you hear some good news this coming month and your heart has two new precious reasons to rejoice.

  5. Ruth,
    It's a very long hard road, and you have had a longer, harder road than most...I think it's perfectly fine for you to feel the way you do at this point. The emotional toll of traveling all the way to Ethiopia, meeting your children, and not passing court, is a rough one. However you need to cope and process at his time, is how you need to do it. I can not fathom that you are being cold and callous...but are trying to deal with the vast emotions that you are going through! Know that you are being prayed for, by many people, of that I am sure. Take all the time you need!


  6. Ruth, I think it is completely normal given the circumstances and disappointment of not passing court to feel somewhat "tuned out." We have to protect our hearts. I am confident it will get easier in time - be kind to yourself.

  7. Hi Ruth,
    I was a little worried about glad you posted. I agree with Darci..sometimes to cope we need to put up some walls, even if only for a short time. Be very very kind to yourself. Sometimes it's hard to process big life experiences, but that doesn't make you callous at all,. While I haven't been to Ethiopia yet, we are still waiting for a court date, and I echo your thoughts around wanting to curl up it a ball, to think about unknown things, etc....I'm guessing that makes all of us normal. Hang in there! Praying for you!

  8. I don't think it's callousness. It's self-preservation. To carry the weight of a country on your shoulders would bring you down completely, when you have a family depending on you it's just not a place you can allow yourself to go.

    Hang in there, I'm praying for you.


  9. You've described thoughts I have had since we've been home too. The tears will fall and you will feel again. It's just ovrwhelming and a lot to let yourself feel all at once. (I am too lazy to go over and add an "e" to overwhelming...what does that say about me?!)

  10. Thank you so very much, everyone, for your supportive comments. I am so appreciative!!



  11. I had been worrying about you as well. As everyone has said, you are in self-preservation mode because everything you saw was so real and so hard to come to grips with. I think you need to let yourself cry and feel all of those feelings...when you are ready, your tears will flow and you will feel better. Right now, your body just isn't ready to process so much information. Give yourself time...and lots of baths, good books and alone time.

    We are all thinking of you,


  12. You are a deeply sensitive, highly intelligent, justice-seeking person Ruth. Because of this, you are going to feel things, emotions, that are unpleasant and distracting and dark. The key is to harness that energy and use it for change. For hope. I feel like you do that every day, just in being who you are.

    “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty." Mother Teresa

    I was in a state of emotional poverty of sorts when you posted an invitation on my blog - do you remember? As a special needs parent I was feeling isolated and invisible to friends who's lives are so SO different from my own. I was looking for a village and you opened your door to me and invited me in. I have not really told you how much that meant to me in a time of emotional poverty Ruth. It meant a great deal.

    You and I live in relatively affluent suburbs and yet I am often struck at the level of emotional poverty many families around us are living in. They lack genuine connection to their children, their children lack geniune connection to their community. And I see you Ruth, using your energy to build a family that defies and defeats and rises above all forms of poverty - emotional, financial, spiritual.

    You could have averted your eyes, but instead you carry the people of Ethiopia home with you.

    Don't for a moment believe that it will not make a difference for them. They way you have written here about the people of Ethiopia, the way you thought of their privacy in your photos, the way you speak about their culture, every word you have shared with us here has been spoken with dignity and love. Every person you meet in your life, every person your children meet in their lives, all will be touched and changed in the smallest and greatest of ways because of how you honour the people of Ethiopia.

    You may feel powerless and depressed about the magnitude of hardship you witnessed, but every day you are making a difference Ruth. Never forget that.


  13. Caitlin, well again I am tear-challenged...your comment moved me so much. Thank you. And I'm very glad that your time of needing a village meant that you and I met! I'll be in touch soon so see if we can arrange another get-together!

    Thanks so much for reading and for writing Caitlin.