This month is my one year anniversary of moving to Australia. It crept up on me unawares and I can hardly believe it has been an entire year.
And what a year it has been.
If I was scared boarding the plane to move to Europe, (click here for story) I was absolutely petrified moving to Australia!
At least Europe was familiar to me. At any given moment I had only to hop on a train and I could be with family or friends. I knew where to shop, how to navigate the transportation systems, and I felt comfortable and at home in the culture.
Australia was truly a foreign country to me. I knew precious little about its history, nothing about its culture, and although they claimed to speak English, I soon found myself learning a completely new vocabulary after multiple queries of, “What in tarnation does that mean?”.
The few people I did know were part of friendships forged over long distance emails and phone calls, with only a short amount of face-to-face time. In my heart I knew they were safe, loving and true friends, but the time had come to see if what my heart felt would translate into reality.
Yep, I was scared, but under the fear was a deep peace, an unshakeable knowing that this was good and I was going to be just fine.
In true Krista fashion, the moment I stepped off the plane and saw my Bear, I burst into tears. Then laughter at the look of chagrin on his face.I hastily assured him that I was very, very happy to see him, and that the tears were for something else entirely.
All the months of trying to be brave, trying not to give into fear, trying to press through every trauma that threatened to crush me, they were over.
I was safe.
I was loved.
I was home.
So I crashed.Utterly and completely. It was like my body said, “OK, this whole holding on for dear life thing is stopping now. And you, dear girl, need to rest.”
Through no choice of my own, I went into hibernation mode. And if it weren’t for Bear and dear friends, I might have stayed there for a long, long time.
I had no strength left, and very little feeling. I would sleep 12 hours a night and still wake up exhausted. I was perfectly happy to sit on the back porch and stare off into the bush or get cozy in my big green chair and watch an endless stream of movies. Contact from people I no longer felt safe with made me instantly and violently ill. I had nightmares almost every night, waking me terrified, shaking, and sobbing my heart out.
Dear counselors assured me that however awful this state was, it was a perfectly normal reaction to the things I had gone through. They praised me for strength and courage I did not feel, and taught me to celebrate every little victory. Victories like sleeping through the night without a nightmare, responding to contact from my past with only one day of vomiting and migraines instead of five, making it through a whole day without crying. They told me not to force recovery, but to let it grow naturally. And best of all, they assured me that it would get better.
And you know what? They were right.It just took a while.
While the counselors helped me work through the bad things in my past, Bear and my friends helped me stay out of the Black Hole of Self-centeredness by giving me gardens to work in, animals to take care of, and encouraging me to keep cooking, taking pictures, and other things that used to bring me joy when I wasn’t in breakdown mode.
It was such good advice and I’m eternally grateful to them for giving me good things to focus on so I wouldn’t sink down into depression and self-pity. I’m even more grateful for the love they lavished on me when I had almost nothing to give in return.
Over the last few months I’ve seen a huge change in myself.
I fall asleep easily, hardly ever have nightmares, and wake rested and perky without an alarm clock. Even when I do have nightmares now, they are different. I fight back when the buggers try to rape, kill or torture me and mine – and they FLEE! That makes me grin.
I’m no longer ashamed of my past, or controlled by it. What happened, happened, and it’s all OK. I can think about the people who harmed me and it no longer makes me sick or grief-stricken or angry. They no longer have power over me, and I can see messages from them or pictures of them and not feel that gut-clenching awfulness. I truly wish them well and hope for their own healing, freedom and peace.
I feel alive and awake now, and that is pure bliss. I do NOT recommend zombie-ness.
The things I did merely by rote bring me such joy again. I feel my creativity surging on every front as a travel writer, photographer, recipe developer, website designer, and whatever else comes along. I look forward to waking up, and can’t wait to get out into my gardens or the kitchen.
One of the most precious changes is that I feel my own person again. Bear describes it as “standing tall.” I like that picture. There’s nothing cowering or frightened or weak about standing tall. But neither is there anything aggressive or angry or vengeful. It is a picture of quiet strength and inner fortitude.
I still have my “weepy days”, as we call them, but that’s OK. They don’t last long and I bounce back much quicker.And each bad day reminds me how lucky I am to have so many good ones.
In celebration of fresh starts, unconditional love, and second chances, I’m hosting a giveaway today. The giveaway will be a hand-packed box of Aussie treats and anything else I decide to throw in at the last minute.I will ship anywhere in the world.
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment here or on Facebook telling me one good thing someone told you that helped you through a difficult time. Bear will choose one name out of a hat and I will send that person a box of goodness. I can’t wait to hear your nuggets of wisdom.
The giveaway will run until Sunday, October 28, and I will announce the winner on the following Monday.
Wishing you a beautiful week filled with hope and the sure knowledge that it is never, ever too late to start over. XO