survival of the fittest

today i realized that i have been in colorado for just over a year. man, this has not been my favorite year. actually, the move to colorado was pretty much the continuation of the worst year so far. moving in good circumstances is tough enough, but top it off with a load of grief, uncertainty, and fear and you’ve got a recipe for potential disaster. this has not been a disaster though. and i kind of think that the story of my life these past two years can be a picture of hope and grace for those living through transition.

as i shared with a couple of friends that i’d been here a year and not my favorite year at that, one friend asked about the bombing in oslo. i’d mentioned the bombing in passing on a couple different occasions. it’s not something that comes up in everyday conversation, but it’s a big piece of my story. as i began describing that day, i noticed my voice was shaking and my thoughts were quite jumbled. i don’t talk about it much, but the events of that day are often on my mind. after telling the story, i was exhausted. it brought back the feelings of confusion, shock, the crazy loneliness after stepping on the bus back to skien. it has shaped the way i approach traveling, being in unfamiliar places and how incredibly aware i am of my surroundings. when i moved back to the states, i was eating dinner at a restaurant and mistook a loud clap of thunder for a bomb and promptly burst into tears, proceeding to cry the rest of the meal. talk about a downer for the suckers eating with me. i’ve had people tell me not to let it affect me, but i think that’s insensitive and dumb. so i don’t listen to those people. events like this, events that touch us at the core of our humanity, are supposed to affect us. they don’t need to rule us, but we do not have to be the same people as we were before. i am different because of the bombing. i experienced a new level of community and compassion with/from my friends because of this. i see that life can change in an instant – that we can make good decisions, be kind, caring people, do the right thing and bad things still happen. i believe God must have a plan for me and that He really did spare my life that day. i don’t think i “got” those lessons before.

in dealing with all this, i’ve realized a couple very important survival tactics for transition: 1) i have to compartmentalized my life in order to make this place, colorado, my home. part of that is necessary, part of it really sucks. as much as i want to, i can’t talk about norway every day – it alienates those around me and makes it really difficult to put down roots. 2) though compartmentalization is necessary, i need to talk about my life in norway. it is an important part of the total picture! moderation is key. 3) maybe this isn’t totally about transition, but talking about traumatic events is important. in making friends here, i so badly wanted them to see “me” – but i wanted to leave out the hard stuff. that was so draining and it wasn’t the truth. i truly believe that as we are honest and talk about difficulties/trauma, those things lose their power in our lives. perhaps one day when i talk about the bombing or other events that have affected me deeply, i won’t feel so tired and spent. perhaps i’ll have the words ready to accurately describe those moments. i don’t ever want to feel callous to trauma or injustice or pain – if anything, i believe making it through these past two years has made me a more thankful and aware person. and if i can do it, anyone can.

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