I realized that there is another piece of this puzzle, another part of moving to a new place – a new life – that has affected me (us). If you didn’t see part one, you can read it here: http://www.hsadventure.com/ramblings/risk-losing-it-all-without-losing-yourself/
We did not just come to a new country to live, we came to a place that was highly perceived as “dangerous.” A ‘terrible risk!’ In moving to Mexico, we risked being killed, kidnapped or held hostage… at least that was the perception. We did extensive research and talked to authorities, we knew that the place that we were moving to held a very low risk factor. However, that didn’t eliminate those who loved us pleading for us not to go, and that created it’s own sense of worry. Of fear.
Now let’s be honest, fear is a funny thing. It’s not rational, meaning you can’t reason with it. It’s not something you choose or deny. It is simply a part of our nature – it’s what protects us. It’s going to be along for the ride despite you reasoning with it or your attitude about it. You can send all the good in the universe out to surround and engulf it, but it’s not going anywhere. It’s simply there. Even if you choose not to let it drive, it’s not going to give you the option of just sending it on it’s way to hitch a ride with someone else.
That meant that we moved here along with fear in our pocket.
Because of that, we were cautious and extremely aware. This kept us safe. In many ways, I am grateful for that fear because it got us all the way to our new home without incident (God giving us safe passage!).
Leading up to coming here, fear was also a part of our lives. While we packed, fear was hanging out with me in the room full of boxes making suggestions from his corner about what clothes would be the most inconspicuous, what we should and shouldn’t bring that might make us look like we had money, which things would be better left at home or sold. I had a conversation with fear about every single thing that went into the car… “will this make us stand out or blend in?” … “will we look like rich Americans if I take this, or is it ok to bring this along?” … “what do you think, Fear, should this go into the sale pile or do you think that I can take it with me?”
Fear also kept us alert once we arrived here. It didn’t just dissipate once we arrived here and go “poof!” It was still needed. Needed because even though everything had been safe getting there, we didn’t know if something would happen once we arrived and settled into our new home. What if someone tried to snatch us from the streets? What if someone came into our home? Everywhere we went, we went with someone – my husband or family. We never left the house alone. That was stifling, scary, frustrating. Eventually, we were able to relax that but still we watched everyone carefully and walked quickly.
Crazy, you think? You wouldn’t act that way if you were in my place? I thought the same of myself. I welcomed this new experience and had travelled quite a bit. I knew how to be careful without being afraid. But, what I didn’t account for was… everyone else. Everyone I knew back home was on pins and needles waiting to see if something would happen to us. Every time I spoke to someone, you could literally hear the fear in their voices when they answered the phone – waiting to hear if I was ok. Here, it was no different. All the way here, people were checking up on us all the way (which I am grateful for) and if we didn’t call in at agreed times (because of cell coverage or weather issues) we got phone calls to make sure we were still alive. Even once we got here, the family protected us and we were like baby hawks… with someone flying by our side all along the way. All of that, I truly appreciated and felt very safe because of it, but what even I didn’t recognize is that it created this sense of living with fear in control.
Now, as much of that has leveled out (not all of it, but most), I can see the difference. As we have been accepted as part of the community here and safeguarded by that welcome, we are able to walk freely about town. I no longer look over my shoulder or hurry to get home. Although we are still aware of our surroundings at all times, we are not fearful that something might happen. We still get in trouble from family if we aren’t where we were expected to be at a certain time (even my husband’s mom and dad call him still if he’s not where he’s supposed to be in the allotted time). The difference now is that we aren’t waiting for something bad to happen. We accept that we have to be smart, but fear got put in the back of the minivan.
Ok, ok, .. why is all that important?! Because it is part of your identity.
If you are worried that something might happen, you find yourself looking in the mirror and asking yourself “Do I look like I belong here or do I look conspicuous?” … “Do I look like I have money?” …. and … “Is there anything I need to change today to make myself invisible?!”
That’s the crux of it. You survive by trying to be invisible.
Someone who’s invisible has no identity. Nobody sees them. Not even themselves.
I didn’t realize that until this week.
Now that I have started to find some freedom from the fear, I am recognizing that I lost myself somewhere in all of that process. Nobody asked it of me. Nobody stripped my identity from me. It simply happened out of self-preservation. I forgot to see me, because I was so busy trying to blend in. I’m like a spy who’s gone undercover and lost herself in her undercover identity… but now, I need to reclaim me. The cool thing is that now that I can see that, I have the chance to redefine myself and whatever identity fits my passions and my life, because I am no longer the person I was a year ago.