As a kid, I remember hearing snippets about stress points. Missionaries, at least ones in our mission, were given Re-Entry training. Basically they were told what to expect when moving in and out of cultures. Whenever we were leaving Africa or the US, I remember my mom saying that our stress points were super high–like that of someone dealing with a death in the family.
It kind of made sense to me as a kid but I wasn’t the one packing boxes to be exactly 50 lbs or making sure we had everything we needed for that time. As soon as we were actively in transition, we were quickly ushered into the joys of Heinz ketchup, new clothes and seeing relatives making transition seem like Disney World. Same went for returning back to Africa. After a year in the USA, it was great coming home and being back in the familiar smells and sounds of every day life.
I do remember it taking time to acclimatize to the new environment. We’d have boxes unpacked and the rooms decorated and organized within a few weeks of arrival. One of the best ways of creating sanity is getting the boxes out! It took a while to adjust to the “new” food, the home layout and the routine.
On Wednesday, Matt and I had a real date night. You know the kind I’m talking about –where you actually get dressed in clothes other than jeans and a t-shirt, pick a restaurant, sit for a few hours, drink a few great drinks and have good conversation.
He told me this, “Melody, you have just arrived on furlough and you need time to adjust.”
What you might ask, does that mean? For me, as a missionary kid, I knew exactly what he meant. My job was my work for the past 7 years. As I’ve moved into this new role as stay at home mom, it’s been a huge mental shift for me.
I find myself constantly moving back and forth between extreme exhaustion (I just need to sleep) to hyper mode (I just need to get all my list done NOW). I’ve been unpacking those figurative boxes and realizing I brought home more crap than I needed to. I’m having to purge some of the habits I formed. Those habits came from necessity–survival mode to sustain the pace–are no longer needed. I’m having to bring back some good habits–intentional listening, putting aside a task to focus on the person at hand because I do have time, later, to get back to it.
It’s hard to transition well. My stress points feel like giant claws that have me in a grasp that I can’t get out of. Little things bother me because I see them all the time now. As I sit here typing, I see dirt under the kitchen table that is begging to be swept. I hear a dog who is driving me mad because her spay surgery requires two weeks of complete rest (For a dog used to walking 8 miles/day, this is hell on earth!)
After our date night conversation, I revisited how to transition well and stress points. I’m working on a few simple things.
- Grieve my losses. I chose to leave work. I chose to accept less pay (stay at home mom doesn’t really have a weekly paycheck attached to it!). My worth doesn’t rest in the accolades of outsiders. My kids, love them to death, don’t give daily compliments. I have to be okay with all this.
- Be honest about some of the things I left at work. I have anger at how things were handled at the job I left. I realized this morning that I’m wrestling with seeing how people “got away” with things. I am not their judge. In my years of life, rarely do people get away with things for long. I have to trust that’s the case here.
- Reach out to people. I’ve found myself doing lunches more with friends. I’m working hard to connect and be honest. I find myself hearing podcasts and reading books and thinking, “Oh, this person would really love this…” For an introvert, this has been perhaps one of the most intimidating pieces in my transition.