Removed…Once Again

Ellie Van Gorden - Senegal


September 23, 2018

As I sit at this squeaky, uneven table with the remains of a strawberry
milkshake at the only restaurant I’ve been to in Thies thus far, I watch
the world go by and wonder why mine was so suddenly stopped.

I was thriving in the everyday hustle of my neighborhood. I had become
accustomed to my morning baguette and Nutella. The flies became less of a
pest and more so an expectation. I had finally mastered the lock on my
door. Resting after dinner and talking about the stars had become part of
my nightly routine. I felt settled and grounded for the first time in three
weeks, and then it was ripped away.

One night has changed this year dramatically. What could have been will
never be, and I’m struggling to understand why.

I feel like I’m floating again. No place to call home. My possessions are
once again confined to silver, hard-top suitcases. I have changed beds more
than 6 times in the past three weeks, and I can’t quite remember what it’s
like to feel rested upon waking.

I’m struggling to kick the anxiety that’s been rushing through my head. I
don’t feel like I can take my guard down yet. Luckily, I’ve been very well
taken care of, and plans are in place to find me a new family, but I’m
hesitant to trust this process after what has happened.

I feel removed once again. I worked so hard on myself to become present and
focused, and now I’m back at square one. I don’t quite understand why this
had to happen. I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone, but I know that I will be
able to get through it. I’ve experienced many a situation where my
benevolence and approachableness were abused, but I never imagined that
these types of situations would continue to haunt me here.

Many fellows that I’ve spoken to keep telling me that “these kinds of
things happen for a reason”, “sometimes the bad comes before the good” or
that “this is just making me stronger”. Part of me wants to ride that
positivity train into the sunset, and the other part of me wants to loathe
in self-pity…I’m currently searching for a middle ground in between those
two extremes.

One thing that I’ve learned over these past couple of weeks is that in
order for me to fully process an event, I have to allow myself to feel and
experience whatever thoughts may be going through my mind. If I’m feeling a
negative emotion, then I am feeling a negative emotion. I must give myself
enough respect to not try and fight my emotions. Right now more than ever
it is important for me to realize that if I need time to lay on the floor
and stare at the ceiling while listening to the same song for 3 hours, then
I should give myself that time. I would much rather feel and be comfortable
with it, than attempt to bottle it and hide it from everyone else. I wear
my heart on my sleeve…or so I’m told, and it just doesn’t make sense for me
to try and live an unauthentic life now.

~

For now, I am living with my friend in HLM Thialy, a lively neighborhood a
few minutes from my old home. Her family is so very welcoming, and I feel
like I’m wanted there. She took me up to the unfinished rooftop, and we
watched the sun go down as we looked out over the orange-tinted, sandy
soccer field, and I was able to take my first deep breath after three days
of feeling like I needed to conserve my air.

I’m not sure what the future holds at this point, and I look forward to
becoming more comfortable with that.

Ellie Van Gorden