authenticity / expat / learning / relationships / transitions

Day 17/28: Getting Blindsided

So, it’s March 1st, and technically I am 11 days behind. I set out the goal of writing one blog each day in February for my #1blogdaily project. Why am I not done yet? Well, I could tell you a plethora of excuses, but let’s get real here.

Here’s the truth. It’s my ego stopping me from getting into my creative flow. My ego wants my creative work to be neat and safe and closed in. My ego hates to see me make awkward, embarrassing, or failed attempts. Fortunately, through some gentle encouragement, I am kicking my ego in the face today.

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As a  yoga teacher, you come to expect a little cheerful banter and small talk with your students before you lead a class. Oftentimes, it’s just the latest news, perhaps an injury or a concern they may have. Never in my wildest imagination would I have ever thought I’d have a student blurt out to me in front of other people, “Before you moved here to Guatemala, your boyfriend slept with his co-worker.”

Realizing that your life is unraveling like a Latin American soap opera is pretty fucking tough. When this incident happened, I already ended my seven-year relationship with this person. I was already processing enough emotional turmoil and moving on to a new town.

It’s been five months since I walked away from this trauma and abuse. Even now that I’m back in Texas, I’m still getting emotionally blindsided from this person’s poor decisions. A woman who was my neighbor for 5 years finally felt the need to come forward and confess what she knew about my past relationship. Why would my neighbor watch me pack my things and move to Guatemala when she knew what was happening? What good does sharing your secret now do for me?

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Months Spent Being Awkward and Completely Clueless
In Guatemala City, there were so many days where I felt like I never belonged. It’s one thing to feel strange because a local  is impatient with my rudimentary command of the Spanish language. I have dark skin and have a Spanish last name. I get it. It’s another thing to feel uncomfortable speaking in your native language at a Friday happy hour with a other American expats.

I remember telling myself. Well, you’re different. You’re the foreigner. That’s what being an expat feels like. I also remember thinking I was being way too fragile. I oftentimes felt strange and out of place which is very difficult to accept when you are used to being a confident and well-liked and knowing you made a career out of making people feel comfortable.

I’d walk into parties hosted by his co-workers. I’d wonder, “Why do these people look at me like they feel sorry for me?” Even worse, after months of living in Guatemala City, people would ask me in a hostile or insulting tone, “I’m sorry. Who are you?  Have we met before?” Trying to repeatedly explain myself to a bunch of people I didn’t know very well became a pointless activity for me. I began to wonder what was wrong with me. Why do I feel like I have been hidden away? I’d often just dismiss the feeling believing I was being foolish.

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Finding Truth in Darkness
When you’re in something too deep, I think it is really hard to see things as they really are. Oftentimes, people ask me if I had any idea. To be honest, no. I also didn’t know that I was in a relationship with a covert narcissist who was slowly gaslighting me. Now that I’ve had time to reflect, I do remember being treated as if I was this person’s burden. The grumpiness and dismissiveness in his communication was not from being stressed about living abroad. It was out of guilt. I felt this pressure to assimilate to this new culture as quickly as possible. Being a new person in a new country really forced me to be more courageous and become more self-reliant.

As look back on everything, I can definitely say that life has always taken me on an adventure filled with random twists and turns. I’ve already seen so much, and this life has definitely not been a boring one.  Though I am fortunate to have the support of good people in Guatemala and especially now in Texas, I know that my climb out the darkness will truly have to come from me. In a lot of ways coming home has not been a cakewalk.  It’s hard not to think, “What else is going to be broken, ripped apart, and cracked open?”

I think it’s time for me to practice the art of kintsugi (just as I discussed in my previous post). Instead of recovering an old painting I kept hidden for years, the work of art I am reclaiming and rediscovering is myself. As I look at my past, I’m committed to finding the beauty in the brokenness.

That’s the remarkable thing about me. Despite the adversity and the pain, I’m a relentless force filled with optimism, mental toughness, and tenacity. My light will never fade.

 

 

 

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