Thursday, 26 September 2013

My year abroad: Going backwards?

I should warn you now, I have no pictures of elephants, I'm living out of boxes instead of a suitcase, and... did I mention I'm still in the UK?

I've seen so many blogs created in the last few weeks, mainly from people on my course going on their year abroad or graduates having a year out. I've seen graduation photos galore - proud parents, cheeky siblings, hats tossed into the air - and felt a pang of pride and also loss at each one that comes up on my news feed.

I was supposed to be experiencing autumn somewhere else, a french city, one with coffee shops out of which to people-watch and new sounds and tastes and smells and people.

But unlike everyone else my age (or so it feels), I'm not about to finish my degree, and I'm not even in Réunion as I planned to be, or seeing new cities or exploring or... well, anything really.

In fact, I've moved back home. I've withdrawn from my degree. And it looks like I'm going... nowhere.

You may wonder why that is.

Scratch that. Of course you are.

Those of you who know me well will know that I started out second year in pain. And the pain grew, and I decided (because I am an idiot) to ignore it and continue working 15-20 hours a week on top of uni to support myself, and continued to be busy as I always am, and finally I realised that somewhere along the line I'd got to the point I couldn't walk more than a mile a day. Less than.

I have a torn pelvis, and a twist in my spine that means my discs don't stay put, so they prolapse. All of my joints are... well, out of joint (Psalm 22 seemed so on point this year.) Boo. I could have known this a lot earlier, if I hadn't been a stubborn plank and decided to soldier on and all that. And that isn't praiseworthy. It's stupid. It was foolish.

And I'm paying for it, because all of a sudden, everything was too much. If you've ever had the displeasure of living in daily pain, you will know that decisions suddenly become mental. They're suddenly skyscrapers that you have to climb up the outside of with only a pritt-stick to (try to) make your shoes sticky and two of those popper things that suction to a window.

You withdraw from people, because it's suddenly a lot harder to make the effort. It takes something that you didn't mind giving before, but now that reserves are stretched tight and you're using them to just get through to bedtime it's something that, quite selfishly, you want to keep to yourself.

Looks here like I'm praying to the sun or something. Awks.
I became a bad friend. I wasn't very good at being a grown-up, despite how fiercely I fought for my independence. And my original plans from last year of being up a mountain enjoying nature seemed very silly, because I currently couldn't climb a ladder.

Hmm. Cue a month of burrowing into my bed and finding that getting out of it once (or even twice!) a day was an achievement. My poor flatmates thought I'd gone mad. Where was the girl who force fed dozens and got involved at BISC and did three billion things a week and loved her course? I think they looked for her. But I know that when they looked at the always-tired girl presiding in her duvet throne they probably only caught glimpses... if that.

So I travelled home, got treatment, and yo-yo'ed back and forth to my beautiful Bristol for a good four months. I even got a job over the summer to pay the bills. God provided, incredibly.

And when I came home, I rested. And I cried. And I hid.

Westpoint happened. I jumped about with three hundred kids all weekend whilst thousands of adults were in the main meeting and it was good.

I came home. And it somehow hit me that along the way I'd moved home, and that the guest bedroom was my bedroom again. That I was thinking (well, only thinking, but it was a start :P ) of unpacking my suitcase and actually settling in.

Crazy. Mental.

Did you know I no longer have permanent blotchy ink shadows under my eyes? Yah, I know it was a good look. Arty, and that - the tortured poet or whatever. Mostly I just looked like a panda though, so it's good to have got rid of those. I'm sleeping again. I'm falling back in love with my sleepy Dorset, which occasionally smacks of all that's familiar and home-y but mostly leaves me bewildered and feeling like I'm on a different planet.

Degree? Yup, that's happening. I'm taking a year out, but I'm going back to it next september. Just got to decide where. Just got to decide how.

Blog? Yup, that's happening. No no, I swear. Besides, I have a little more time on my hands. A little, but that's a start.

And I'm falling back in love with God all over again. It's like I'm rediscovering little things about him everyday. It was so easy to be angry and listless in my relationship with him this year. Instead of grabbing on, I tried to twist out of his grip. And I'm a slippery little thing, so I can be.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, he is a hell of a lot more stubborn than even me.

I have no advice to give this time. I usually like to slip something I'd learnt that week or day into my blog posts, but I think I'm starting to realise just how much there is still to learn. The gems are harder to find, lying half buried instead of gleaming in the grass, waiting to just be stumbled upon.

But so worth scrubbing around in the dirt to find, you know?

Looking forward to this year, surprisingly. Feel free to join me on the journey, and that. It'll be as it's always been - a twist of humour, a sprinkling of pepper, and a rather large dose of

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