Cliff Notes version for the newcomers: my husband took a job in South Korea, moving my family abroad for three and a half years. It wasn't easy, in fact, it downright sucked at times, and came to an all time head during our last year there. We'd spent the summer in the USA, and my children sobbed and begged me not to make them go back for the last school year in Asia. When we arrived, it was even worse than we expected. My teenage daughter's friendships became toxic and she suffered racism and bullying because of her religion. My son's struggled in their grade school as well. I pulled away from almost all my friendships, because of significant differences in lifestyles, morals, and standards, and was isolated and alone most of the time. We considered moving the children and myself back to the USA, and letting my husband stay in Korea to finish his contract, but ultimately chose in favor of keeping our family together, despite how inexplicably difficult it was.
I didn't mind sharing our experience. It was a lovely testimony in favor of staying together as a family, rather than living continents apart. I know that we made the right choice, as difficult as it was, because we came out of the experience of that last awful year, much closer and tightly bonded than we ever expected to be. My children know, without a shred of doubt, that their family will always have their back, and that they're never, ever alone. In the end, as we climbed on the plane to fly home to stay this summer, I knew that choosing to be together was better than being apart.
And more so than anything, I know now that...
I really can do hard things.
I mean, you would think I would have known that by now. I've seen some bumps along the road of life, some that tried really hard to break me, and I've kept going. But still....I think it took living in a toxic environment for those last 10 months abroad for me to really, truly believe that I can do hard things. That doesn't mean that by doing said hard things, they will be made easy. Nope. Our last school year abroad was awful. Literally awful. And frankly put, it literally never let up. The bad stuff just kept happening, despite having done the "right thing" and chosen to stick it out together as a family. But now I have a strong testimony that my children and I are fully capable of mucking our way through the crap life throws at us, and coming out the other side in one piece. Of this, I have zero doubts.
We are home now. We have a beautiful house in the woods, surrounded by moose and deer and a ruthless gang of turkeys that I go to battle against at least twice a week. The air here smells clean and fresh, and the people smile and shake hands and help each other. There is a hometown feeling here that I certainly didn't appreciate prior to moving abroad, and I know now that I will never take it for granted again. Sometimes you don't realize how good you had it, until it's gone. My children are still grappling with some of the residual damage that living abroad caused them--but also relishing in the incredible life experience they have that few other kids around here may ever have the chance at experiencing! I am slowly, but surely starting to appreciate certain elements of our time in South Korea. It's taking time. And I'm very bitter.
Slowly, I hope....that bitterness will wear away, and I will be able to look back with fondness. I'm not there yet, but I will be eventually.
But I am very proud to say that I....or more specifically....we can definitely do hard things. And you can, too.