"You've changed." A phrase that has been thrown at me more than once since Haiti came into my life. People change... it happens. Life experiences change who we are, even if we don't recognize it. One of the hardest parts of going back to the states after living at GLA the year after high school was being able to relate to people. I have never been an emotional person or super good at really being able to listen to people, and since I've lived in Haiti that part of me hasn't gotten any better. The truth is, I could care less about so many things that I used to care about or even try to care about. When people complain about how tired they are or how long the line was at the store or the terrible traffic they sat in and so on I have a resentment toward them and toward their complaints. I think about an 11 pound 3 year old still fighting for life, or a 2 year old so dehydrated she barely has the strength to breath in-between vomiting worms and nonstop diarrhea; and 25 year old women with her limbs swollen because she couldn't feed herself and her children so she chose to feed her kids; and people who have lost everything and everyone and still have smiles on their faces to greet you, and the kids who died because they were just too far gone when they finally reached the clinic.
Sometimes I resent the US for all it has and for all other places don't have, and I try to detach myself from the "rich white girl" label because honestly, in my mind, it's embarrassing to me to be that (when I say rich I mean food/clothes/school opportunities/house/necessities have always been available and a constant for me). I hate that I have everything handed to me on a silver platter but at the same time I don't reject any of it. I love that I have options in life but the guilt I feel for falling short makes me defensive toward recognizing that; because I know how much others work and would kill to have what I have. I feel guilty for what I have been given and it's hard for me to adjust back into my privileged life in the states.
The worst part is how hypocritical I am in it all. I complain about stupid things all the time... I do the same things with my time and money that I get bothered by when other people do them. I fight with trying to lead a "normal life" when I go home and feeling guilty for everything "normal" I begin to do after a while. It's hard finding a balance between trying to get back into life in the states and feeling like Haiti is not being forgotten. My point in all this is: yes. I have changed. I will have a hard time adjusting. I will sound and act like I hate the US at times. Really, I just hate myself for not yet figuring out how to use my privileged life to help others. Last year was the hardest year of my life. Truth is, I am out of my comfort zone in the states any more. Socializing and being anywhere without a sick kid to take care of is hard and unrewarding to me. I have a hard time finding purpose outside of Haiti. Long term goals seem so hard to take part in when I have been blessed enough to be a part of the day-by-day fight for the life of some amazing kids. I feel like going to school makes me just another person to check the Successful Education bubble off the American Dream checklist; but I realize that if this is God's plan for me, to finish college, he will be able to use me even more than now. A good attitude is harder said than done.
I know a bad attitude toward life back in the states did nothing for me last year, and after the earthquake I anticipate it being even harder to leave where I feel completely at home. I want to make the best of what God has given me and work in and through Him wherever I am. I leave Haiti on Tuesday and it will not be easy or fun, but a good attitude could make all the difference in this next year. A lot of people think I don't want to share about Haiti or seem to think it is a sensitive subject. Truth is, it's my life- it's all I think about, dream for and love... I wish I could continue to talk the way I do here about things, but the culture and lifestyle in the states is so different that it's hard for me to share with people who have never experienced Haiti. Talking about babies dying as a normal occurrence is not normal in the states... the way I am with kids is different here than with kids in the states. The things I deal with on a daily basis here are things most people in my life have never had to think about... sickness, caring for kids whos limbs are so swollen from kwash that they are splitting open, maintaining IVS, cleaning up who knows how many diapers a day full of diarrhea, teaching(which I have loved), dealing with kids after they die, forcing kids to eat, trying to bond with a kid who has been neglected for years, waking up to feed kids every night and checking to see if they are breathing every time I go by them. These are the things that have become my normal- and I LOVE every minute of this lifestyle because God has given me a huge passion for the kids here.
I want to share that with my friends and family at home but at the same time I feel weird talking about my life here because it makes so many people sad or unomfortable- and then I feel like I am misrepresenting Haiti. Haiti is one of the most beautiful, most rich places I have been and I have been blessed immeasurably by my life here. I want everyone to know and see that but first I have to be comfortable sharing with others when they ask... I was not able to do that last year for many reasons but I am praying that I grow in that area. If you wouldn't mind praying for me as I adjust I would appreciate it so much. I am excited about what next year will bring and don't want a bad attitude to get in the way of whatever God has in store for me. I have changed, and I hope to continue to change as God breaks and molds me... it's just hard going back and being a different person in a life that in many ways is the same as when I left.