Winter can be a bitter lonesome time in Azerbaijan. The dull yellows and browns of the earth reflected from gray sky make the landscape gloomy and uninviting. Marshrutka trips become very boring without nice scenery to stare at and let your mind wander. During March Novruz came and went. That’s the sign that warmer weather is upon us. Surely enough, those dulls have vamped up their enthusiasm by becoming dark rich browns covered in lush green and spotted colors. With each and every trip out of Shamkir, the grass has gotten greener. The trees have sprouted more blossoms. Signs of life have come out as I spotted potted plants in my bazar and as people come out in public spaces to meet. Yes, the winter has truly gone. Spring is in full control as my days are filled with peaks of lilacs, daffodils, and poppies. I have taken off my winter undergarments and have declared them to be unnecessary. I only sleep with 1 blanket covering me at night. Spring has come and brought with it fun, laughter, and joy; out of necessity, I have awakened my willingness to continue on and have taken control.

All the talking and life advice can’t get me out of the funk I’ve been left in. Even though I’ve been stripped of something I had leaned on and considered important—almost vital, I’ve tried my hardest not to wallow in my despair. Despair and vulnerable is not a fun place to be, so I got to get out. The end of March was the beginning of making that first step, and April was the escalation near normalcy (on the surface anyway). I wrote on pieces of paper “don’t dwell” and “take control” and hung them on my wall to constantly remind myself that I can do this. Every time I was home and just wanted to give up on what I was working on, I looked at these papers and said “you gotta do this Morgan. You can do this. Just keep working.” This might seem silly. Sometimes it takes little, silly things to get you one step in the right direction.

In March I stopped canceling my commitments and picked up some new activities. I continued to write grants and expand the grant search for GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) summer camp—which I am head of the finance committee. I even made a grant training and started working with two Azerbaijani women to write grant. I stopped cancelling my English classes or my classes at the IDP (Internally Displaced People) community. I started lesson planning again and once again becoming more creative in my lesson. Instead of just teaching from a book, I would pull interactive lessons from online or we would watch movies and then talk about them. During Novruz, I made myself go guesting. If someone asked me to come over, I said “yes!” I need to get out and talk to people, and this was my way of doing it. I even started eating again. I went to the bazar to buy food. I would eat 2 meals a day. It had become a struggle to even eat for a while. I wasn’t back to cooking complicated meals and experimenting with food, but I was back to cooking basic things like noodles and rice.

Since March was going better, I made a goal to pick up more activities in April. I finished the activities my director had asked me to do in months earlier. I reviewed grants for him. I started having regular meetings with the new English teacher. I started my Frisbee club, but still only have 3 players. We are searching for more. I went through my backlog of e-mails and planned environmental lessons in coordination with Earth Day for my English class and IDP English class. We had a wonderful discussion of litter and recycling in my English Class. In the IDP English class, we are doing an art project where we build bowls and vases out of rolled up magazine paper (pictures to come!). I started to mentor one student more, and he has become more of an asset to me than I think I am to him. He first came to me to practice speaking English, and I turned our focus to helping me talk to community members, find opportunities, and implement projects. We still have a class where we concentrate on improving his English. Him helping me with other things has been a wonderful incentive and opportunity for me to commit myself to returning to be a more active volunteer. We have met with other organizations and have come up with a list of projects we could implement. Hopefully this summer will be a very busy time!

People have even commented that I seem better—happier, more filled with life. I feel a bit better. I don’t want to stay in bed all day. I have energy. I have goals. But I’m still healing. I still think about my ex, the situation, what happened, what could I have done differently, how did I not know, etc. Now I cry less. The feeling of hurt and the mix feelings of wanting what I had with him but it not being attainable because he is not the same person are still there. Yup, I’m nowhere near over it. I’m trying to figure out how I have changed through this, is what I wanted before still want I want now, and how can I plan my future. I’ve gotten my COS (close of service) date. The inevitable question is asked, “What will you do after Peace Corps?” I’ve never not had a plan for my future. I love planning. I love that I usually replan my future at least 5 times. Although this is an opportunity to plan, I feel lost. Who am I anymore? What do I want?

I’ll take the next few months to figure out (really search and analyze) the “new” me and what my future holds. Even though I’m nowhere near the person or the situation I wanted to be in, I’ve at least made progress. I would consider myself no longer in depression. That is a feat in itself.

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