Hurricanes like tailspins and whirlwinds spin and spin and spin until eventually they just....stop. As Hurricane Matthew continued its northbound spin leaving destruction and devastation in its wake, I was left to count my blessing and to consider how tailspins and whirlwinds are much like hurricanes of emotional devastation and destruction. They spin and spin until they stop.
As we were preparing to move almost nine months ago it was a whirlwind of activity. We had been in our house almost sixteen years. We knew most in our neighborhood and had many connections in our community. It took nine months to sell the house but once we did it all happened very fast. Packing, planning, preparing, and compartmentalizing every detail both physically and emotionally. An overwhelming whirlwind of activity with not much time to really process. Until we were finally moved and everything just ...stopped. Sure we unpacked after living a week in an empty house because we ran into holidays with the moving company but for the most part the spinning just ceased. Just the five of us in an unfamiliar area with no family, and four busy friends, and none of the comforts of home. We arrived to an empty house and not a home.
Looking back I think I truly believed it would be this grande adventure. That it would all be so much fun exploring and learning a new area and all it had to offer and what's more it would be warm. How much better could it be? I believed that there was nothing that the five of us couldn't do. That all we needed was each other. We would grow closer as a family. I thought all of those things and more. I thought we would have no trouble finding friends and integrating ourselves because, why wouldn't we? It's the south. Southern hospitality rules require people to just bring you into the fold and love you and offer you tea and biscuits or something, don't they? I thought many things and I thought many things wrong. We were an island unto ourselves...for weeks that turned to months. In retrospect you can think of all the ifs and what ifs and buts but time doesn't stop and it doesn't rewind. It doesn't care about your timetable and what and how you think things should be and how things were supposed to go. The reality is this: Being the ones that left can be harder than being left behind.
Do not misunderstand me. I know being left behind. I know it to the core of my being. But being the one that left is hard when you realize that perhaps you didn't have as much of an impact as you thought. Maybe they don't actually miss you now that you are gone when you were sure that the ones you left loved you as you did them. It is hurtful. It is raw and it is real. Maybe we had misconceptions about staying in contact with people. We thought people would call. We thought we would be overrun with visitors. We just thought..it would be different.
I love my new home nine months in. I love my messy disorganized house. I love that it is warm in October and my pool is still open. I love that I have found some of the kindest people I have ever met. I love that since coming here I have become braver than I may have otherwise. Nine months in and I can find my way around without fear of the traffic that I was once overwhelmed by. There is never a shortage of things to go see and do but I'm just as content to stay at home. I'm also not afraid to just walk up and talk to random strangers...ok maybe I wasn't all that afraid of that one before. We have had some grande adventures and for the first few weeks or so we were top notch in the family togetherness realm until our island unto ourselves started feeling too small.
The thing is that while it is hard to make friends as an adult it can be equally as hard as a kid. My son is the funniest, kindest, most entertaining boy I have ever met. He's also very calm and laid back. Perhaps being the youngest in the family he learned early to go with the flow. Maybe it is a trait that he inherited from his father. My husband is like that. His very nature is calming. I wish I could be like that. He has made some friends at school but he doesn't have his "crew," his "cast of characters" if you will. We come from a place where we are used to six boys running in and out of the house and that doesn't happen here. He misses that but acknowledges now that there are things that he does like about being here.
For the others in my family it hasn't been so easy. It has seemed that we have been in a tailspin at times. Not something that we haven't encountered before as it seems with life you will have your share of whirlwinds and tailspins. It also seems that tailspins like to follow whirlwinds. Reminders of what we had and what we no longer have tend to do that to you.
I'm not sure how men make friends really. As a woman I made a lot of friends through my kids at school functions. Not something that I have been able to do here as my kids are a bit old now for class parties and such. Men are a different species really in my mind. My husband had the same friends as he had when growing up with a few others mixed in and a few of those were made through the kids. What I do know is that men, like women, need people. They need other guys to unwind with. To have guy talk and play cards and watch sporting events and whatever else it is that they do. Finding your people when you word ridiculous hours and even when you are not scheduled to keep things running is hard to do. It takes its toll. One I hadn't anticipated paying.
I also didn't count on it being hard for my young adult children to find their people. In a generation full of people with their heads down looking at screens and no idea how to connect on a human level and I didn't think it would be difficult. Perhaps as a mother I am blinded by my love for my children and thought that people would flock to befriend them. The lack of interaction with peers has taken its toll. Another toll I hadn't counted on paying so highly for.
In life it seems when dreams come true they come at a price and you have to decide if it is worth the price. Whirlwinds seem to always be followed by tailspins. We had our whirlwind and we have slowly been entering a tailspin. It starts slow and picks up steam as time progresses. It doesn't care that you didn't sign up for the hard. But getting through the hard I believe is what makes us stronger and makes it all worth it.
I know there will be some who will read this and get it. They've been there. Maybe they are still there. There will be some that will read this and think "I knew it. I told you so!" Perhaps they don't know what I know. Perhaps they never will or maybe they just don't know me....or my family. Not like I do. My own family may not even know what I know. Maybe they have forgotten. Because what I know is that after every storm comes a rainbow. I have endured many storms and seen the other side knowing that I didn't get there alone. I can't get there alone. I'm broken. But I've tied a knot in my rope and I'm hanging on tight during this particular storm in this paradise. I haven't lost all hope. Those who will question have forgotten that God has said, He knows the plans he has for us. He didn't bring us down here to fail or fall in despair. I also know that His plans are better than my own. The plans I had.... well it hasn't gone exactly like I had planned. But what has? In the history of all the plans I have ever made well I don't think anything has gone the way I wanted or planned.
In the molding and shaping of the bundle of brokenness that is me, what can I learn if things always go the way I want them to? How do I learn to trust? How do I learn that I can't fix it. I can't fix anything. I have control issues. Odd from an only child, I know. I have trust issues...OK we can establish here and now that I have many issues. I get it. I am not unaware. I'm a work in progress. I tend to forget that too. I want to fix every problem that everyone has here and I can't. It is breaking me. I pray for God to fix it. I fall asleep in exhaustion from running "the complaint department" and not having the answers and not being able to fix it. I feel like a failure because I can't do it. Who am I? I'm the mom. It's my job to fix it. If it isn't my job then what is? I must have some purpose. Am I just supposed to sit and watch as everyone falls apart around me? It occurs to me that that is exactly what I'm supposed to do because it isn't really MY job. Not really. It might just be that just as I have to be broken in order to learn to trust God, my family may also need to learn a lesson as well and instead of trying to fix it I should take a step back and watch God work. Quite the revelation to have on such little sleep today.
I tossed and turned all night last night. Perhaps knowing that you will be more forgiving of this post with so little humor and probably many errors that I won't find when rereading. I once had an editor to keep me in check. I had dream after dream that didn't make sense to me and at the end of it all I'm wrung out and this is what was left. I have found my eternal summer paradise but seasons of life still occur. This particular season feels like a tailspin but like hurricanes they eventually subside and cease their spinning. My God is stronger than this tailspin and He has great plans at the end of this. I mean GREAT plans so you should all just get ready for it. We are a pretty scrappy bunch and God is on our side so....we might get knocked down but we will always get back up and keep moving forward. Hurricanes, whirlwinds, or tailspins....we are getting back up and when we do....
Watch out because I still believe there isn't anything the five of us can't do, I just believe we don't and we won't and we can't do it alone.