Wednesday last week I woke up from a fitful night’s sleep. My eyes were swollen and puffy from the prior night’s meltdown. Mr. AM and I did not talk about me leaving. We got up, I made coffee and talked and laughed with our friends and their young son. Life just seemed normal.
I am a first born, type A, overachiever. Guilt over not adding to the daily GDP is an ever present shadow in my life. I said to my friend, Tania, as we were having our coffee that I really should get ahold of Chantal and Ingvild, the two women who were planning our Thursday night fundraiser screening of our film. I feel guilty. I should be helping them. Tania looked at me and said, “You have (can’t remember the exact number) X minutes to feel guilty and then you’re done.” I know she did not give me more than 5 minutes. I took the whole allotment of time.
Tania had taken a day off work and scheduled a spa morning for us. There is an amazingly beautiful spa inPretoria we frequent. I normally love spa day, but wasn’t feeling it.
Our first “treatment” was the Flotation Pool. When Tania told me about it via email I thought it sounded a bit “foofy” and little too spa for me. I’m more the sport massage, pedicure girl, simply because I have permanent African dirt embedded in my toes.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
We entered a small room with a circular pool with a dark bottom, making it look endlessly deep. There were candles on the circular walls and lights like stars on the ceiling. The pool was filled with warm salt water causing you to simply float. As I lay back in the water, my ears sinking below the surface and listening to the music, the water enveloped me and lifted my tired body. I floated.
As I floated next to Tania, I let go. I let go of the stress, the anger, the sadness, the guilt, my tears flowing back into the salt water. I prayed. I tried to close my eyes and rest as the spa woman had suggested but I couldn’t. I just wanted to look up at the stars and pray. Tania prayed for me too.
I forget how important beauty can be in life. Simple beauty like the calmness of a spa. Beautiful, clean, tile and stone beneath my feet. Peaceful music. The expanse of land before us on the balcony of the spa. A flotation pool. Beauty can rejuvenate. Is that why the poor always look so exhausted? Because there is no beauty in their struggle for existence, in their mud huts in Africa, their children clothed in rags?
After a morning at the spa and a lunch of sushi and nice South African wine the weight around my neck began to feel a little less heavy.
When I talked to Mr. AM after lunch, I found out our cycling Federation president made a few phone calls and sorted the utility issue. He’s more powerful than E.F. Hutton!
I then sent Chantal and Ingvild a note:
I apologize for being "disconnected". I have been having a difficult time in Rwanda and the stress simply has reached the level of unmanageable. I have an acute case of compassion fatigue and I am literally hanging in there trying desperately not to leave. It's not any one thing but rather an accumulation of everything which has finally reached the point of checking out.
I knew when I asked you to do this Chantal and then having you join, Ingvild, that the team's fortunes were in good care. I know this event will be incredible and Jock and I and the team will owe it all to you. Thank you for picking up the ball and running with it when I was just too tired and mentally exhausted to go another meter
It's been a huge honour for Ing and I to work on this project. We've had a blast with it and for me in particular I've had a hard year finding my purpose with work - and at least for this month I have found it again... have some ideas for future contributions and we can chat about that when the time is right. We love what you guys are doing with TRC and TAR and it's hard for you to see it when you are so overwhelmed with daily tasks, but you guys have so many people who want to use their talents and energy to help you reach your goals - we are just two of them... but I'm sure you know that :-)
And there it is…..everything I needed to hear.
I have a very difficult time being taken care of. I am the caretaker, the enforcer, the soldier, the Mukeciro. I drink from a massive Wonder Woman glass and have some skewed view that being taken care of equals some bizarre completely off base sense of weakness.
I started letting people take care of me…Mr. AM, Tania, Chantal, Ingvild. I let go.
In order to take care of others, you must first be taken care of.
Wednesday night we had dinner with two of our board members who are also our dearest friends who always reenergize us. One lived and worked in Rwanda. He knows exactly what is extracted living and working here.
Thursday night we screened Rising From Ashes for the very first time in Johannesburg. I’ve said before in previous blogs, how much I love South Africa and South Africans. Thursday night proved once again why I love this place.
I have been to many screenings, many fundraisers for the film, and this event was top of the list. The energy, the vibe, the fun, the Burger truck, the wine/beer bar, the coffee bar, the volunteers, the sponsors…the night was electric.
As I was standing at the Burger truck I spotted Janvier, Bona and Patrick. They are in South Africa for a few months training and racing at the UCI World Cycling Centre. I melted. Janvier and Bona hugged me so tightly and Patrick, his first time in South Africa, had a smile which was radiant. They are good. They are happy. I am good…I am happy.
After a screening filled with lots of laughter and many people in tears, we all emptied out into the lobby of this funky Science centre venue reclaimed from an old Joberg warehouse, and continued the party. More drinks, more mingling, more t-shirts and jerseys sold…simply a lot more love!
I did not work the event. I enjoyed the event. Which was exactly what I needed. I needed to enjoy the moment.
On Thursday there was power at our new place.
Jamie, our mechanic, met us in Kigali when we arrived home from South Africa. He looked exhausted. While we were gone they held a training camp. Felix was also busy sorting out the move. He looked like me before I left.
Jamie said to me that when you take one of us out of the loop it makes it so difficult. Jamie said, “I know the garage, the mechanics. I do not know coaching and your job.”
The two weeks prior to leaving for South Africa, Mr. AM and Jamie were on a motorbike trip up to Rwanda from South Africa. For two weeks, there were two of “us” out of the loop.
I laughed with Jamie…..we cannot do this to each other.
Mr. AM and Jamie left two days ago for 26 days racing in Algeria.
Pray for me.
I am still here.