Bear with me through this lengthy, long overdue post!
I hope my small personal revelations can inspire you to think and act on intuition rather than expectations.
“Are you crying?”
“… Ya, I am!”
I shot back as I finished wiping the sweat from under my eyes. It was 4am and I was unsuccessfully attempting to coax some corrupt airport check-in workers to allow my overweight yellow suitcase aboard the plane. I wasn’t actually crying (yet), but the damsel in distress card was the third trick I was willing play, following the I-don’t-speak-french and the I’m-going-to-pretend-I-don’t-understand-what’s-going-on act. The problem was I needed to pay 100 euro for my overweight bag when I only had 30 USD, 25 CAD, and 20 000 XFA (about 40 bucks), the check-in counter had no VISA machine, and the cash machine wasn’t reading my card. I had just returned from the cash machine, sweating from the ‘Africa hot’ weather and my sticky dilemma, when the man asked if those were tears I was wiping from my face. Eventually I did start crying, completely surrendering to the role of that emotionally unstable girl you don’t want on your flight.
After wiggling my way out of having my large luggage inspected upon arriving at the airport, persuading the check-in crew to take my overweight bag charge-free and parting with a “God bless” (just rubbing things in you know?), being denied before passport control because my carry-on was “too heavy” (I am still in tears here – possibly karma for bringing God into this), having a nice young man calmly coo the lady into turning a blind eye and paying her 50 euro, having my carry-on bags inspected twice, being asked by an inspector if I was “going to eat this” as he held up a granola bar from my bag, along with other demeaning enquiries about who would be wearing my earrings, being pat down, almost having my carry-on taken away by another inspector as I claimed to have “payed 100 or 150 euro already for the bag to come with me – I can’t remember how much it actually was because it’s been A LONG F*CKING DAY” (definitely could have handled that situation better but my energy and white lies seemed to override his), and finally boarding the plane after the man from baggage drop off/check-in looked over my boarding pass, then slyly asked for 10 dollars for letting me take my bag on the plane.
Good bye Cameroon. Thanks for wrapping up my impression in such an appropriate manner.
The rest of my flights were fine. I had to go thru security again in Casa Blanca and was never questioned about my carry-on. I flew over the Mediterranean Sea beside an old jolly moroccan man. We bonded over our shaky french, the only language we shared, and he offered me his seat by the window. I walked off the plane in Malaga and had the overwhelming emotion of “home”. Considering I had never been to Spain before, this sense of home caught me a little off guard, but was such a missing light in my heart. It was the first thing that just “felt right” in the last six months of my life.
It’s sad how obvious the choice to leave is now that I am outside of the situation, and how much stress and energy this whole adventure stole from me. I use the simple word ‘sad’ because it literally makes my heart heavy with guilt how poorly I treated myself and my well-being.
In Cameroon I was so worried about letting others down, leaving them without a replacement, feeling guilty for abandoning the kids and my coworkers for, what seemed like, such an egoistic reason, and not ‘finishing’ something I had started. I was afraid those anchors were going to sink me further into the depths of self-blame as time passed post-Africa. I never imagined the opposite happening. The kids will go on. The school has, I am sure, already recovered from my departure. And here I am, with at least a year of physical recovery, and a sh*t load of emotional and psychological healing ahead of me. Understanding that I am to blame for this, that I chose to drag myself through everything in the name of pleasing others, is hard to swallow. It makes me sad. I would never in a million years treat another how I treated myself in the past six months.
I am beginning to come to terms with my own self-worth. I am not here to bow at the feet of anyone but myself (and neither are you). I feel as though I am kicking up dust on my own path again. The one I want to be on. Opening doors to places I want to go and be, because I believe it’s what I need, not because it’s what others expect of me. Cameroon wasn’t me. I knew this, but I am just starting to believe it. And that is okay. It’s okay Cameroon and I didn’t work out. It is not okay I abused my own intuition and cries for help. I knew for a long time I wasn’t meant to be there, but I stayed in the name of others. I created these choices in my head (do I stay, do I leave) when the next step to take was clear. I knew what needed to happen way before it was put into action, which is why I am dealing with the guilt of creating an abusive relationship with myself. My guilt isn’t about leaving and ‘quitting’ like expected, it is about how I treated myself and how I let that happen. I was trying to “tough it out”, keep my word, adapt to a lifestyle that contradicted the one I created in order to stay out of darkness. And finally I am beginning to accept: I am not Africa.
I could have stayed in Cameroon until June. I know I could have “toughed it out” to complete my contract. But for what? To prove to myself I can keep my word? To please others? To fulfill a contract? The reasons to stay were so far below the screaming signs to get the hell out of dodge. I had no family with me, no other half or kids, I had no reasons to sacrifice putting myself first, I had no intentions on staying in the international teaching circuit. If I can leave a situation that was slowly killing me, why wouldn’t I? Why stay somewhere toxic (literally and hypothetically) when I have the option to move on? Why do we put ourselves through hell when the solution is so obvious? Why do we make things complicated when it can be as simple as saying no, this is not for me? I have time to take risks and learn from my actions. We all do. It’s a matter of taking the first step into the unknown and out of your comfort zone without making excuses.
Being here in Spain with Jobey is easy on the outside, still a little grey on the inside. I can feel a weight still heavy in my thoughts and I haven’t been able to feel like myself yet. Obviously, I am not the person I was six months ago, but I am struggling to feel like Chloe. Maybe it’s because I’m procrastinating any deep thinking required to lift that weight, consequently unleashing suppressed emotions and the need to recognize everything as real life.
Revelations from the healing process thus far:
Listen to your intuition instead of allowing your ego to split the obvious into choices.
You are simply a passing to others. Your expectations of yourself do not compare to their expectations of you.
Your self-worth defines the relationship you have with you.
Abusive relationships are not only with separate individuals. Respect who you are.
You are not here to bow at the feet of anyone but yourself.
Sometimes it takes being anchored to rock bottom in order to realize you are worthy of being where the sun meets the horizon and the horizon meets the sea.
All my heart,