Culture Shock: My Emotional Return

This morning,  I was awoken at 0315 by a jet lag laden toddler who was very happy to be here. Yesterday can best be summed up by ‘jumping a plane.’ My faith in the prospect of us all getting on a space a flight together was nil, but it happened. Therefore my return to the U.S. happened much more quickly than I was emotionally prepared for. I truly believed I’d be returning sometime this month, but closer to next. There wasn’t time for tears yesterday, just a brief flash of relief that I would have Greg’s help on the arduous 9 hour non-stop flight home. The morning light finds me in a different state. Today, Greg is spending the day at the National Aquarium with the boys. Their last full day with dad until Thanksgiving. I am spending some much needed time alone with my books, computer and coffee. My husband is expecting great joy from me over this day, but really it’s self-care of the emotional sort. 

I wandered onto the Barnes and Noble steps this morning so excited to be surrounded by books and quiet. I was instantly cornered by two men preaching the words of Jesus to me and asking me how I was spending my last days before his return. . .I didn’t miss this. I knew this return would be difficult for me. Although the children were with me each step of the way, I was entirely alone in my experiences as the adult abroad. The protector abroad. The provider abroad. The logistics officer abroad. The chef, chauffer, grocery getter, entertainment finder, pleasure seeker, educator, alone. It’s like walking on the other side Neptune and expecting to view your world with the same eyes. 

I walked into Barnes and Noble and burst into overwhelmed tears. I have searched shelves for 8 months for an English book to capture my heart and now I’m surrounded by millions. Yet the loudest emotions were gratitude and absolute despair. I want to write, but how can I stand out on shelves with millions of people doing similar things? How can I do well enough in a country of constant perfection? Where do I start now? At the same time I felt pure relief at having anything and everything I could ever want at my fingertips. The U.S. is a country of pure convenience. Everyone around me in this store is searching through a ridiculous amount of options for something perfectly designed for them. They are annoyed when, God forbid, it must be ordered. Not too long ago I was walking two miles each way to get groceries with three children. No I don’t expect an award, but Americans are too comfortable. I know people struggle. I understand that everyone’s circumstances are different, but as a whole they seem to be entitled to everything and not happy with any of it. 


American news blared at breakfast this morning. I immediately started feeling the same nauseous nagging feeling that I had on the airplane yesterday (not pregnant, not sick). Some people have mentioned to me how odd it is that I do not follow current events, or news reports being a military spouse. I have not willingly listened to the news in the last 15 years. My husband asked me last week “how did you not know about this?” In regards to something with Turkey. The answer is simple. I choose to think of Turkey with an open heart and in the form of a memory clip of myself looking up at the Gold leaf ceiling of the Agia Sophia from 10 years ago. I am not naïve to the news, but I do not want to view the world through the media’s eyes. 

The Truth of my emotional dumping I’m doing today is that I’m terrified. I am absolutely ridden with nervous nausea terrified of raising my children here. America can be and has been a wonderful country. There are opportunities here that I am eternally grateful for, but the task before me now is to figure out how to maintain the lifestyle I want for my children. How to bring the family values, the love of food, the endless amounts of available time, the love of all things wild and free that so many of the countries we have visited possess. I have walked many MANY miles in shoes that fit better to who I truly am. How do I preserve her spirit when everything about American culture tries to smother her? 

I have already received messages and emails asking “Doesn’t it feel great to be back?” There are some very wonderful things. New books, clothing, family, friends, some favorite foods, etc  to name a few. The idea of being able to run to a store that sells everything at midnight and it be perfectly normal is appealing, but I already miss buying apples from Giorges at 8:52pm before he closes so we have snacks for sunday when nothing will be open. I already miss so much. I know that another adventure is right around the corner and many many more big adventures in the years to come, but right now I’m mourning the loss of the ideal way of life that is deeply embedded in my spirit and I start the difficult task of trying to preserve and preach it loudly. 

The Next Eight Months

The Bradbury family will be separated again after today. Yes, my husband has returned from deployment, but we do not have a place to live or tangible orders yet to help secure a place to live. Greg will return to work in North Carolina tomorrow and the kids and I will fly to Kansas City to be with family and friends through Thanksgiving. We are ready for this time with our loved ones. After Thanksgiving I will drive the kids, myself and our long lost dog Buzz Lightyear back to North Carolina. What we do know, is that we will spend Dec-June-ish stationed at Cherry Point MCAS, NC where Greg will go through flight training to fly the C-130. By the time the humid scents of summer arrive we will be moving to either Iwakuni, Japan or San Diego, CA. There is a small chance we could stay in North Carolina, but it doesn’t look likely. We should know where we are moving to this month, but as I write this I have no idea. The next international adventures will take place from either of those two locations late next year. There are a few things in the works, but nothing firmly planned yet. Traveling with my children, as regularly as possible, is something that will continue. I learned WAY TOO MUCH on this big 8 month trip to not utilize what I’ve learned to make future experiences better. 

I’m in love with the world. Despite the brutal falling meteors that seemed to hit every three weeks (i.e. rental disasters, car accident, broken wrist, broken foot, lost toe nails, blizzards, missed trains, infected groins, money/money/money, friendships, walking/walking/walking, public transportatioin, etc). I am at peace in the world and someday I will write that book for my children and maybe that unknown stranger in Barnes and Noble.


Author: thewildbradburys

Homeschooling, natural minded mama to 3 boys. Military spouse. Avid adventurer and explorer. Wanderlust driven. worldschooling mom.

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