We Made It
It was a rough year, but we made it through to the other side
In Accepting the Unexpected, I step away from writing about travel to comment on the bigger journey of life. While the topics may vary, the central theme is always the same: living life means learning to deal with the unexpected.
A year ago, we made the first of many consequential decisions.
On a single, simple walk to the corner from our Houston home, I asked my husband a question that forever changed the trajectory of our family’s life.
Within two weeks I had a job offer, we had told our kids we were moving, we wrapped up plans to continue with our summer vacation, and we didn’t physically and mentally stop moving for the next nine months.
As I look back a year later, I am sitting in a Houston Starbucks while my children enjoy time with friends that they haven’t seen in nearly a year. I’m squeezing in plans with friends to reminisce about the past and look toward the future. And I’m experiencing the constant bittersweet that comes with moving regardless of the circumstances.
To be perfectly honest, it has been a difficult eighteen months, starting with six months of complete uncertainty and then several more months of the pain of watching our children suffer through the loss of everything that they loved and held dear, and then finally the growing pains that come with change. When we packed everything up and moved across the country to a city that had once been our home, we had no idea what to expect, but all we could hope for was an improvement of some kind.
I didn’t expect that I would rediscover a love for and purpose in teaching while also desperately needing out of a situation that was toxic for me and my family. I didn’t expect to land in a new school after the school year had started and fall in love with my students and colleagues and to feel truly valued, for the first time in years, for what I brought to the table. I didn’t expect to realize how much I really missed fall and snow and even the weirdness of Midwest “nice".”
I did expect it to be painful. I did expect to miss things and people. I did expect our kids to struggle with sadness and anger and the challenge of meeting new people and making new friends. But I wasn’t prepared for just how hard it would be for me to watch as a parent. I wasn’t prepared for just how much it would hurt to hear “I hate you,” “You ruined my life,” and the quiet and more devastating “My life is over.” I wasn’t prepared for painfully real conversations about running away, depression, and yeah, even suicide ideation.
But there was a lot of good that I didn’t expect also.
I didn’t expect to immediately feel so comfortable in the city we had left eleven years before, to have roads and landmarks feel so familiar. I didn’t expect to be able to return to our favorite Chinese restaurant, the Indianapolis Zoo, and our favorite Indiana state parks without ever feeling like we had been gone for over a decade. I didn’t expect to so easily pick up some relationships and to realize just how much I had missed having my sister a short car drive away. I didn’t expect to be so happy to frequently see our nieces and nephews and watch my own kids develop genuine relationships with their cousins for the first time in their lives.
Saying that we made it to the end of a difficult year doesn’t feel nearly descriptive enough. It doesn’t encapsulate everything that the past year has really held for us.
The last eighteen months have been rough. The last year has been a challenge that I didn’t think we could recover from. But we’ve made it to the other side. That doesn’t mean the challenge is over. I am prepared to have a backslide when we get back home, but this time at least it will be a return to the familiar. Our planned family vacation will be shorter than last year and actually planned and not thrown into the middle of a massive transition. And most of our family will have started a new twelve-month cycle after a time of friendship and memory-making and the important reminder that we made a mark on the lives of those we have missed in the last year.
Here is to continued healing and looking to the future.
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I'm new to your writing and I really enjoyed this. I haven't had a chance to go through the past newsletters as I usually do when I discover a new writer, so I appreciate the links to the newsletters about your journey. I'll eventually get to all the backlist, but for now, I'm hooked. Thanks.
I enjoyed this Sarah. Thanks for sharing and good luck for the next 12 months!