Bali, Indonesia 2008- My avocado smoothie arrived, “terima kasih” I responded shocking the waiter by using their language despite my white skin. In Bali I wasn’t so exotic because of all the tourists which had come back after the terrorist attack that shook our home a few years ago. I was normally accustomed to the stares of being the first white person the people around me had ever seen in real life vs the movie theater. Today though, my fellow TCK and I blended in with mostly Australian vacationers, with no parents around, all grown up like the 17 year old I now was, I finally told someone about the tragic events of what had happened a few months prior and how my family’s world on another Island had recently imploded.
There was something freeing & validating about sharing it with someone outside the family. We all probably should’ve been in counseling as my parents tried to help emotionally triage the masses of hurt people post the calamity.
We were doing the best we knew how. My parents had brought the TCK lady to talk with me for a half hour during this local conference we were in Bali for, their best attempt and access to a counselor, but I didn’t even understand what I was really feeling. I’d told her some stereotypical answer that seemed appropriate, “I don’t think I trust men much anymore.” But it wasn’t really true. It would’ve been more accurate to have said… “being in community is terrifying, and I don’t trust myself.” But I wouldn’t get that second part until a decade later. We were just surviving the aftermath of what I’d understand later was called trauma.
I hadn’t even gone through much healing at the time but something was already stirring in me that it was a story that needed to be told. And the “wow” response from the friend across the table drinking her sirsak juice made it feel significant somehow. Like yep you’re not crazy that really is awful!
I wouldn’t see this friend again after this week. She’d graduated and done the year back in the states of higher ed I was headed for next year. It was helpful to chat with someone who came from a similar upbringing and had survived the transition back to the passport country. I was hopeful for this last year in the country that was like home and all the final last things I’d get to still do to say goodbye, but I had no clue at this table conversation that I wouldn’t actually get to do them. No, we’d be rushing back state side in a few months with just two weeks notice and an evacuation style exit shrouded in secrecy so we could afford the tickets. It sounds more dramatic than it was. But still abruptly leaving “home” is its own sort of additional mini trauma.
This is a story I will tell sometime in print but I’m reminded from Bob’s sermon at church today that healing from trauma has its timing. And I see that in my own story. Even drinking that avocado smoothie 15 years ago with that TCK friend had its part to play but God knew I needed to understand so much more first. So if you’ve ever had to process trauma be encouraged.
God knows the subconscious & the conscious effects it’s had on you and He has a beautiful plan and impeccable timing. You aren’t alone. Many have walked this road.