15 November 2015

Status Update

I am well aware that it has been [far] too long since my last post.

But there is good reason for that.

And it's not what many of you will think.

I got married about a month ago . . . but that's not why I haven't been writing.


Rewind that!

Deb. you did WHAT!?!?!?!  And you didn't tell us?!?!?!?

Boundaries, my friends, boundaries.

There's actually a lot more that I don't tell you than I do . . . but yes.  It's true.  I met a wonderful man in Galmi this past January . . . I tried to set him up with my dear friend . . . it took me a little while to catch on to where his interest really was . . . and, well, when you know, you know.  So, we got married.  And yes, we're returning to Niger to continue working at Galmi Hospital.

So not to worry, the cross-cultural mishaps will continue (in abundance, I'm sure) . . . this time as a wife.

But enough about that.  Let's get back to why we're here.

I stopped writing.  

And many of you spoke up and let me know that you prefer it when I blog than when I . . . don't.  And I can appreciate that.  It's nice knowing that someone other than my mom thinks my writing is worth reading.

But sometimes I just can't write.

It's not writer's block . . . and it's certainly not a lack of content.  No.  It's nothing like that.

So what is it?

Simple.  One little word:


Despite calling Niger "home" for the past (nearly) five years, I found that my stress level in the last nine months of my term hit a point which required that something give.

Living cross-culturally anywhere is stressful . . . but a place like Galmi comes with added layers that I still struggle to adjust to.

Layers like difficult-to-process grief . . . and feeling a loss of autonomy . . . and being exhausted from immense heat . . . and feeling constantly observed . . . and never knowing which language you're speaking (or in my case, botching!) . . . and thinking today that you've done something culturally-correct only to find out tomorrow that yesterday you screwed up big time . . . and your skin physically reacting to the humidity . . . and replaying in your mind the fatal accident you witnessed . . . and negotiating with a family to come back for treatment they can't afford with transportation they can't pay for either . . . all with a layer of dust that no matter how many times you scrub, just won't come off.

I could go on, but you're probably overwhelmed enough.

My stress level was even manifesting in physical ways . . . I become such a klutz when I'm living with high stress.  I trip on thin air and walk into door-jams.  I end up with cuts and bruises all over my body, with no recollection of how I got them.  I drop everything.

And then there's the cognitive signs too . . . word finding difficulties (yup! Especially in English!), memory deficits, and decreased attention span.

So that's why I stopped writing.  I just had to.  Coping looks different for all of us, and well, I just didn't have any extra space to process, share or be transparent.

I've been out of Niger since July.  And as maiguida (that would be the Hausa word for "husband") and I navigate a [crazy] travel schedule over the next few months, I'll do my best to catch you up on some of the highlights you missed out on.

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