I Don’t Want To Go Back To Africa

It all came spilling last night. The way I truly feel about returning to Uganda in a few weeks. And on my anniversary no less.

Hayden and I pulled out of the driveway on the way to the movie for our anniversary date and I quickly became pre-occupied with my phone. (because I’m a rock star wife like that.)

Him: Who are you texting?

Me: Brandi. (she’s the founder of Beauty for Ashes Uganda, the organization I went to Uganda with)

Him: Why?

Me: Because, hello?! She and I leave for Africa in 13 days and there is like 5,000 things to do!

Then came all his questions. Are you ready? Have you thought about this or that? What are you going to do when blah blah blah? Where are you staying?

All my emotions boiled up inside but masked themselves in anger and defensiveness. He could sense there was something wrong.

“Well, are you excited to go back,” he asked.

Simple enough.

And in my mind I felt like I should be saying Yes! I’m so excited to go back. I can’t wait. Because that was the right thing to say when you know how much this trip is costing. And not just monetarily but in sacrifice and balancing his work and the kids. But excited was far from what I was feeling.

“Excited? No. I’m not excited.”

And then the tears came. (always the tears…ugh.)

why i don't want to go back

“I’m scared. I’m so scared. I’m scared to leave my kids for 10 days and get on a plane and fly across to the other side of the world. I’m afraid something will happen to me. Or worse, to them while I’m gone and I won’t be there. I feel guilty leaving them for so long.

I’m overwhelmed with all that we need to accomplish before we leave. Preparations to make here at home and for the work we will do there.

But mostly, I’m just afraid to go back. I don’t want to see the pain of the mothers. I don’t want to hear the stories of suffering. It’s just too hard. It hurts too much.

When I went last time, I was totally blind. I didn’t know anyone, didn’t know what to expect, where we would sleep, what we would eat, what we would see, how I would feel.

But now I know. I know what I’m walking into. And it scares me.

I don’t want to go back. It’s too hard. But I know I’m supposed to.

When I was there, I loved it. I felt oddly at home. And the joy…there’s so much joy…and love…and hope. It’s just all messed up. It’s all mixed up together. It’s weirdest thing to be in a place and experience ALL the feelings. The pain and joy and despair and hope all at the same time. It’s hard. And it hurts. But I loved it too.”

Between the tears and the snot and all the big feelings… I think it’s safe to say Hayden was a little shocked. Or a lot. But…he said it made him happy to hear me express all of that.

And that’s probably because it’s the first time he’s heard any of it.

I know what you’re thinking. Don’t you married people communitcate ever. What kind of marriage is that? How do you not tell your husband all about your trip?

Well, it’s called a busy life, demanding job and oh yeah, four kids.

When I got back in mid-August, I hit the ground running. My flight landed the evening of my kids first day of school. (Yes, I missed my kids’ first day of school.) Hayden was on call the next night and then a few days later he left for a week for work.

I had four kids to love on and take care of and so I packaged up all my feelings into a nice little box and placed it on the shelf and went about my life. I didn’t dare open that box. I thought about it a few times, but didn’t touch it. I knew better.

Life was back to normal. Crazy chaos, yes, but normal to me. And that’s how I knew how to function. I didn’t dare add pain and sorrow and horror stories of rape and burning and stealing and hunger to my everyday life. There just wasn’t room.

So I kept it on that shelf, in its nice little box.

Until, yesterday.

But I’m thankful it’s out there. I’ve cried the cries. I’ve felt the feels. I’ve released the pain, making room for new experiences.

Now he knows. Now you know. Now I know.

I may have messed up altered how our anniversary date went, but it was worth it. But honestly, it wouldn’t have happened if Hayden hadn’t asked me if I was excited to go back. So really, it’s all his fault ;)

Happy Anniversary to us! And back to Africa I go…scared out of my mind but know it’s what I supposed to do.

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One Response to I Don’t Want To Go Back To Africa

  1. HC Metcalf says:

    Beautiful, beautiful you, Amber…Your emotion, your angst, your struggle. All this shows you’re truly alive and that you truly see. This is why He has YOU going to Africa. Praying for you, my friend.

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