In my imagination I write this blog for some person out there who will be experiencing expat life in China soon after my experiences. I record things to help this fictional person get through. In reality I know this person does not exist, but I continue to have this inkling to record things that would help someone exactly like me.
I was not prepared, emotionally, for what going home for the first time would entail.
I just returned after spending three weeks in the United States. This was my first trip back, after spending almost five months in Beijing. I arrived a week earlier than the rest of my family. Of course it was a whirlwind of family, friends, food and fun! More posts about that later.
WARNING: this post is very dramatic (partly because it is 2:49am due to jet lag, partly because I am just dramatic).
When I arrived for my layover in Chicago I was overcome with clarity. Forgive my sappiness but everything was beautiful. Uniformed military soldiers were everywhere and I was overcome with pride and patriotism. People thought I was strange, I am sure, because I was grinning from ear to ear constantly.
Then I arrived in California, the Bay Area, my home. It did not feel like a mere five months has past. It felt like years. I thought of our brave missionaries who go out into foreign land for two years with limited communication back home and how they must feel when they come back. Immediately the roads seemed wider and I felt order as a result of drivers obeying traffic laws. Once again details were clear and abundant.
I continued to have these observations. What I had not predicted was that whenever I made these comparisons a negative feeling about China grew within me. Instead of appreciating the differences, I resented my new home far away and I let it show to anyone who asked. For me, these two homes cannot share a place in my heart for some reason. And so the anxiety began about my return.
I have always been the type of person who does not sugar coat negative emotions. I regret this in many ways, especially now that I am back in China. Looking back I can clearly see the affects of my opinions on my children and others around me. I am sure that I dissuaded several from ever coming to visit China and I could hear my children slowly change their opinion about China based on my negativity. As I said, I regret this. If I were in therapy this is where I would have my "ah-ha" moment of...I am scared to be even remotely positive about anything here because I don't want anyone to think I want to stay.
The anxiety about coming back was almost unbearable. Luckily our flight from SFO to Chicago was cancelled and it resulted in an extra 24 hours in Chicago. The kids and I had not ever been there and we had a lot of fun. However I felt the suffocating feeling build up inside of me. The daily things I had concurred in Beijing were scary once again. I yearned to stay inside my bubble and not go out. These emotions freaked me out because I had come so far once before. Will every trip home set me back like this?
Now that I am home...I am dealing with things one step at a time. Like always, it is not as bad as the anxiety of it. I went to church yesterday...and survived. And now that I am here, the greatness of home is just a memory.