Re-Entry is Making Me a Horrible Person.

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Warning: This is going to be a re-entry post and it’s going to be emotion driven. If this offends anyone, please remember that I’m not trying to offend or scare anyone from experiencing another culture. I’m just hitting brick walls every which way I turn and I need an outlet.

When I made the decision to go overseas for a year, it was only going to be for a year unless God told me something different. Starting from basically last February when my original company went under, it’s been, I feel, very dramatic and tumultuous. So I’ve felt that it was time to come home and not go back. The last 2 days I was in Hungary, I keep deep sighing. Like this is almost over. Sigh. I have to travel and I’m not a great traveler. Sigh. I have made acquaintances and built relationships, which I was supposed to do being with a Christian non-prof company, and I have to leave them. Sigh. Where is my life going? Sigh.

I have been back exactly 12 days. Not home home but in the states for 12 days. I knew that there would be reverse culture shock, that I had to give myself time and that a lot of people wouldn’t really understand how overwhelmed that re-entry can be. I also knew that there would be an expectation that I would continue to be who I was before I left and that my reverse culture shock would be over within days. It’s not. I’m so much more angry now. It seems that I have more attitude, my sarcasm is out in full angry, bitchy force. Even my inappropriate, insensitive jokes have been on the rise. Being that I feel that this whole experience has been rocky, I can’t stop this from happening. No matter how hard I try, it’s happening. And depending on who I’m dealing with, these emotions and how I’m reacting to things, makes me feel like a horrible person and it’s been hard to dispute that I’m not a horrible person. I have been horrible to people who haven’t deserved it and I can’t help it. I start with good intentions and then end up being horribly sarcastic or having an attitude and starting fights. Then at the end of everything, they feel like the ass. This shouldn’t be happening.

But it is. And I have no where to turn to. I feel like I’ve complained so much in the past year to so many people. I feel like I have given up the right permanently to ever say anything bad about my life ever again. I’m not the person who complains. I shouldn’t be complaining how I’m having a hard time keeping up with conversations, how the words aren’t coming like they used to, how I can’t find anything or do anything normally anymore. I shouldn’t want to be back in a country where I’ve had probably the toughest year of my life. I shouldn’t be sobbing about how I’ve wrecked certain situations. I should be fixing them. But I’m not. It’s all building up and making me worse.

And it’s hard to cry with people. I’ve never been a crier. If I had to cry, historically it was in complete privacy. That’s just how my family works. To me, personally, I wasn’t going to have people see a weakness or see how silly some of the things I was crying over were. (trust me, some of the reasons were silly.) I cried a lot over in Hungary and it wasn’t always for me. I cried with people, in front of people and for people. Some tears were for me, or for a friend, or in mourning or for a relationship. I get home and where do I cry? Who do I cry with?

The last couple days, especially, all I have wanted is to be alone. No other people in any way. Not physically, phone, text, social media. Nothing. All I want to do is be by myself and exist. I know that it’s probably not going to help me any in all of this, so I’ve tried a little. It hasn’t been good. It makes me want to retreat more. Being a hermit is looking more and more good. For me and for others. Again making me feel horrible.

I have been trying to keep a strong front. I feel like it’s crumbling. All I want is normal and not to be a horrible person. I should be able to pull myself together and be a strong person for myself and for others like I usually do. My life isn’t that horrible that I should fall apart. But it’s not what’s happening. I have been having conversations with God lately about this whole situation. I’ve talked to Him about all this and asked other questions. I’ve asked why is this so hard. Why does it feel like You’re taking this relationship away from me? Why? So far, no answers.

But I am trying. I keep telling people that. I’m trying, I’m working on it. Sometimes it might not seem like it but I am. I’m a work in progress.

Late Night Post

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I can’t sleep. This is the first night since I’ve been back that I haven’t been able to sleep. There’s a lot of things going on that are keeping up.

Yesterday I helped my sister move to Fargo. I don’t necessarily like my brother-in-law. So on top of going through culture re-entry, I have to hold my temper. I didn’t hold my temper very well at the end and both my parents kind of reprimanded me. I’m sure my dad wouldn’t have but felt that I was being rude regardless so he told me not to be crabby. Today I have had the remnants of being frustrated and it’s affecting how I’m reacting to people. Which is unfortunate.

Some of this frustration is from re-entry. I don’t feel understood a lot. I’m not expecting total understanding but I want people to know that I get frustrated more easy now. And it’s for reasons that may seem silly. Things like going to church is a big deal. I need my distance. I want to be alone a lot of the time. I have a hard time being upbeat. Hugs (though I’ve never liked them) are a huge deal now, even from family members. All these things come so much harder now. People aren’t asking what’s going on. They just assume I’m okay. And they’re not seeing how I’m actually acting and picking up on cues. Which is frustrating. I recently got told during a confrontation that I need to heal and I wouldn’t have minded the comment but it was said like I didn’t know I needed to do it. I’m fully aware of a lot, healing being one of them. I think that another problem I’ve been having is that I am having a hard time telling people what’s going on and how to say it without it coming out bitch like. Even when not talking about re-entry things come out bitchy. It’s a hard thing. If I go away again, I don’t know how much time I’ll be spending in the States again. We’ll see how things go.

Weird Things

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I am back home. In an up-coming post, I’ll talk about how I’m feeling about everything but I wanted this post to be a little heavier because a lot of my recent posts have been a little heavy. And I personally need something a little less heavy. Heavy has been my life lately.

I got back into the country on Thursday and I’ve already noticed things that don’t make sense to me anymore. Here’s a list of that.

1. Bathrooms. Here, the lights are in the inside of the room and there is a handle. In the, I don’t know, million times I’ve gone to the bathroom so far, most of the time I have hit the wall outside for the light or tried to pull a string or hit a button to flush the toilet. Also, the actual flush sounds less violent here.

2. Tissues. They’re so soft here.

3. Browning hamburger smells so good. I’m sorry to vegetarians for that but it’s true. I was browning hamburger on Saturday morning and it was lovely. The meat quality in Hungary is different and I never bought it over there because it looked gross to me. For a cattleman’s daughter, that’s a big deal. So when I smelled good beef browning, it was great.

4. Americans are loud and talk fast. I had to jet out of church on Sunday because I was really overwhelmed. It’s not like there was a lot of people in church, there was maybe 20, but the guest speaker seemed to speak very fast, (it was actually normal paced) there were kids talking during the service and everyone speaking after. My parents don’t get how overwhelming that is. I’m used to blocking out a lot of language because I don’t understand. Now that all I hear is English, I pay attention and I get a headache.

5. Driving Uh yeah, I’m a lot slower and more cautious now. It’s been 10 months. It makes sense.

6. I don’t know any news Dad was looking at the news on Yahoo and was like this is the guy? I was lost until he explained the guy was the shooter in Charleston. I also didn’t know people escaped from prison 2 weeks ago. I should have paid attention to the news more when I was in Budapest.

7. So many Americans in America I know that sounds like a given but when you live in Europe, you don’t really notice if people are from other countries (except Americans, you can spot an American from a mile a way. See number 5.) and you move from country to country pretty flawlessly. Then you move back to the states and all there are is Americans. Ugh.

8. I’m immune to paprika We made homemade chicken nuggets (which uses paprika) and mom and dad were like ‘there’s so much paprika’. I didn’t notice. I like paprika.

9. Totally normal to sleep between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. My sleeping is still off.

10. Got way to used to the 24 hour clock How do you know if it’s morning or afternoon? I’ve seriously thought that since I’ve been back.

11. Doctors I went once in Hungary and it was very socialized. Not like here. Going to the doctor here will be weird.

12. Dryers I did not see a dryer in Europe and air dried everything. Yesterday I was trying to figure out when I need to do laundry for something to be dry. There’s driers. Never mind.

There’s probably more that I think are weird, but this is so far.

Few Thoughts on Leaving Hungary.

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I come back to the states in 6 days. There’s so much emotion that goes into that one sentence. But this year has made me more emotional than I ever have before. I think when you’re living overseas (especially when you’re a single woman), emotions are amplified by a million. I’m extremely excited to leave, completely sad that I’m leaving. I’m scared for numerous reasons and dreading traveling. I’m in the process of getting things done and getting the last few things. But sitting here, writing. I’m getting the anxious pit in my stomach. I know with how rough these last 10 months have been, a lot of people won’t understand my hesitation for leaving. But no one has really seen the whole story. No one has seen the little moments. Or heard the questions and one liners that were so perfectly spoken by my students. Or had the bonding moments (superficial or not) with the random people that have been a huge part of my life for 300 days. No one knows how many times I’ve asked myself why am I here or the times I’ve thought, this is why I’m here. Yes, I have consciously been aware of how long it will be until I go home in the sense that I will be going back to a place I’ve known my whole life. But now I am also consciously aware of how Budapest has a piece of my heart and that I will leave a little bit of me here and have that hole replaced with Hungary.

There’s still a lot of pain in me. There’s been big events that I’ve missed back home, I’ve practically ruined one of the best friendships I’ve ever had. I’m going to carry those things with me for the rest of my life. There’s a lot of guilt. I can’t change what’s been done or said. I get that. I wish I could change some things though but I knew that coming to Hungary meant that life was going to be tough and life was going to be real and I was going to miss things and relationships would change. Sometimes terminate. (None of my relationships have terminated. Don’t worry. Some have changed dramatically and you know who you are and I’m sorry. I’m trying.) But the thing is, I’ve never been a completely open person. I keep my emotions to myself so that other people can hurt. Until this year, that’s worked for me. I was able to deal under these circumstances. But this year, with emotions amplified, I can’t function like that. I won’t be able to function like I used to for a long time, if ever. I would have eventually come to that point without Hungary but moving here sped it up. I’m sure a lot of people have noticed a change in my blog. I’m writing a lot differently. I need to. I’m sure eventually I’ll get back to writing like I used to, but now this blog is more self-centered. Because I need to throw whatever is in me out into the universe. I can’t leave what’s going on in me inside. It’s why I’ve started journaling like crazy. It helps me get the emotion out.

I don’t know what people expect of me. I know some people will expect me to be the same Megan I’ve always been. I’m not. As much as I fake it, I’m not. There’s a lot more anxiety and much more insecurity and less confidence in some areas. There has been a lot of tears this year from me and there’s going to be a lot more. I’ve cried and will cry for other people and for me. But there will be people that understand. Mainly those who have experienced this themselves. Some others too but it will be harder for them to understand why more than one native English speaker is overwhelming or why going to a restaurant or going to a grocery store with more than one or two options is overwhelming. It’s a special circumstance I’m in, but I’ll get through it.

Yesterday was the last technical day of teaching. I didn’t do anything. One class gave me a picture of them and chocolate. They told me they loved me. I love them too. I didn’t expect to love these kids and this country as much as I do. I expected love but not this deep. It’s a reason I don’t want to leave. I have laughed and cried with and for these kids. How do I move on from that? How does anyone move on from that? I get told by people who have gone back after living overseas for a time and they tell me to give myself some time to heal and don’t put a time limit on it. Leaving in under a week, I realize that I will never completely heal from Hungary and I don’t want to. This country has helped shape me in a way that no one has expected.

True Feelings

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So this has been an awful week. If I wasn’t having issue before keeping positive, I am now. This is the closest I’ve ever been to being depressed. I cant keep my emotions in check and it’s kind of not good. It’s actually horrible because it’s affecting a very important relationship. But this isn’t the time or place to talk about that because it involves people, including me, that need this to be private.

Anyway. 30 days until I go home. That’s really exciting and really sad. I’ve had a rough year in Hungary, so that’s the exciting part of going home, but I have made some really good friends here and for the most part love the Hungarian people, that’s the really sad part of this. I don’t think a lot of people realize how drastic these feelings are. I was recently trying to explain to someone all the emotions I have and so I started listing them off. I didn’t even go into the magnitude that I have emotions. A lot of people don’t realize how strong you feel emotions when you are overseas. Prior to this experience, I was mellow. I was a rock that people depended on. I had emotions but I could push them away so I could move on with life. And there are very few people that saw the emotions that I was feeling. Forget that when I moved to Hungary. Let’s put you in a culture that’s vastly different from your own and a language you don’t speak. Not easy to begin with and then you start a job you are not properly trained for and member care you don’t here from very often. It escalates quickly. You feel like you have no where to turn and these emotions sometimes feel like they come out of no where, pretty much like an imaginary brick wall. That happened to me the other day at a really bad time. I always feel really guilty when that happens. The person that I’m talking to when these emotions come isn’t asking for me to practically run away from them because I don’t want them to know how scared I am of these emotions. But at the same time, it would be nice for people to know how scary these emotions are and understand how bad it is.

I was just talking to the other American teacher the other day about what’s going on in life. I don’t let people in my life very easily and I figure it’s mostly because of the fear of rejection or ridicule. I mean, a little because I don’t like some people but that’s not often that I use that excuse.

I know I’m going to go back home and there’s going to be some people that are going to expect me to be very similar to how I was before Hungary and be able to pop right back into fitting in and there is going to be a lot of pressure to be like that. But the thing is, I don’t fit in anymore. God has changed my heart and it will continue to change drastically in the months following my return. Knowing me, I’m going to push to fit in and give myself a time limit on when I should be ‘normal’ again. But I can’t. My old normal is never going to be normal again. Normal is changing all the time. I had a hard time with that when I came to Hungary and it’s going to be hard when I go back. Is my new normal better than the old normal? It’s a good question that I think shouldn’t be answered.

UPDATE! I’m not trying to give the illusion that I have the worst overseas experience ever. (Amanda Knox anyone?) I’m just trying to convey that there’s a lot people don’t understand when people go overseas for a year and not to try to expect much from that person. That’s all. I’m fine. Trust me. Whatever I’m feeling or how strong it is, I’ll be okay. There are people in their native country that have it worse.

Learnage

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I leave Budapest in 42 days. Done with school in 39. I have a lot planned fun and more business days. Here’s things I realized or learned.

1. I’m scared. I’m not sure how I’m going to react to “re-entry”. I’ve been reading some about this and have been talking a little about this with people. For those of you who don’t know what re-entry is, it’s when a person goes back to their own culture. Adjusting to Hungary was an interesting transition and though I think it wasn’t a big deal, it was. Re-entry will be a big deal too. I was talking to my boss last week via Skype. During this conversation I got a little nervous. I started to read articles about re-entry. This one is my favorite because it describes how I feel. I realize that I am going to have a hard time with family gatherings. It’s going to be a place in time that I feel like I’m going to be asked and feel obligated to tell everything and I don’t want to.  I also feel like my family is going to be expecting me to be normal and I’m not. I’m changed. But it’s a process and I can’t rush it.

2. I have a love/hate relationship with Hungary. I have 4 different days. 1. I love Hungary. 2. I hate Hungary 3. I could take it or leave it. 4. I question everything. It goes from day to day how I feel and sometimes how I feel differs with the parts of the day. Sunday I loved Hungary and Monday I hated it.

3. I have a passion for one on one relationships. I knew this before but it’s more in me than before.

4. I go inside more. I do that more now. Something happens and I go inside. And I feel myself pulling away from friendships more. It’s my defense mechanism. I did this before Hungary but I do it way more now.

5. I feel emotions more. Living over seas makes things more intense. That’s my life right now and I hate it. Back home, I’m usually private. To the point I get uncomfortable talking about my emotions and usually push emotions aside. Here I feel emotions 100% more than I’m used to and it’s not in my comfort zone.

There’s more and there’s more details. Obviously. I have spent almost 9 months here, there’s going to be a list. I just wanted to give people a short list or an insight on what I’m learning.

And let it be known that there are things going on in life back home that I am not comfortable talking about. It also deals with a person that I talk about regularly here on the blog. And it’s hard being here in Hungary when they’re back there hurting.

Crappy (literally) Teaching Moment

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Yesterday, my first class was my lowest level class. It was the first day after a 4 day weekend and our schedule is a little confused because the seniors are testing. Anyway. These kids have been talking about going to the doctor and I brought in a worksheet. Most of the vocab, they knew but there was some new stuff to stretch them. One of the new words was diarrhea. Then they ask me. “Miller? What is Diarrhea?” “Okay, this will be very non-teacher like of me guys, but you know when you poop and it comes out watery with chunks in it? That is diarrhea?” Confused looks. So I start thinking of other ways to describe it. “Miller? What is poop?” Ah crap I think. (Exact thought. I promise) “Okay, crap, shit. The chunks that come out when you sit on the toilet. That is poop and if it looks like water and has chunks in it and you do it a lot in a short time, that is diarrhea.” Of course that would set in. They knew the words crap and shit. It was then the light bulb came on and they were like “OH!!!!!” and they tell everyone who did not understand what it is in Hungarian. Every once in a while you just have to curse in class.