(don’t miss the follow-up to this post: Going Crazy and Jesus where I try to deal with my own dark heart)

Today I want to say that sometimes, I hate it here, (excuse my language as I tell this story.) I try, really hard, to paint a positive or at least humorous picture. And somedays that is really easy. Other days, it just isn’t. Other days I realize what an angry, insane, out of control person I am. Other days I feel like laughing in the faces of people who ‘love Africa’ because they clearly have never lived in my Africa. The Africa where I get called a whore every day, where children spit on me and my kids, where I get rocks thrown at me, where people say “Fuck you” and pull my hair.

Today I went crazy. Lost.it.

Like, give me unwashed dreadlocks and take away all my clothes except a pair of underwear and send me to the streets to join Underwear Man, type of crazy.

Like, screaming and throwing rocks at people and chasing children and grabbing them and shaking them, type of crazy.

Lu was biking down the block. A group of about ten junior high girls surrounded her and started grabbing at her and at the bike and insulting her. I chased them away without too much yelling. But mess with my kids and you arouse a sleeping dragon.

Already I struggle with these kids (not the ones in the photo, those are random, probably nice, kids). As does our guard and our neighbors. They mock me every time I leave the house no matter what I wear or who I am with or where I am going.

An hour and a half later I had to walk about four blocks away to pick up my kids from a soccer game.

The same group of kids had grown to about thirty and they started following me, right on my heels, so close I could feel them. And of course, I could hear them. And of course, I could understand them. And of course, I was already primed from the confrontation with Lu, already on unstable ground.



Fuck you.


Some in Somali, some in French, some in English.

Okay, well that’s nothing new. But then the group started to circle me and throw things at me and touch me and I went berserk-o. I was thinking about what they did to Lu and I was thinking about another Djiboutian family, close friends, who had just lied to us, and I was thinking about the man who refused to give me a package at the post office this morning because he was eating breakfast, and I was thinking about wishing I could just go for a freaking walk in the cool of a late November afternoon without being attacked.

I asked them to leave me alone.

Wrong move.

Now they knew I speak Somali, if they hadn’t heard me earlier.

They pressed in and threw more things and laughed more and I yelled at them. They threw rocks and bottle caps and something inside me snapped. I was humiliated, embarrassed, furious, protective, exhausted, fed-up.

I screamed, I threw things back, I grabbed kids who looked guilty and shook them. My guard came running down and grabbed some more. But of course all that did was draw more kids. Finally I had to walk away and hope they didn’t follow, hope they couldn’t see me shaking, couldn’t see the big fat tears coming.

Two girls walking past did notice, though they hadn’t seen the fight, and laughed and said, “Let’s stare at the white infidel lady who has a funny face and looks like she is going to cry.”

The t-shirt I was wearing says “Love Somalia.” Today, I would have made a t-shirt that says “Love Somalia. Hate Somalis.” Or at least, “Love Somalia. Hate Somali teenagers.” I don’t really mean it. I don’t mean hate. But sometimes…

Anyone else willing to fess up? Any other expats lost it in your host country? What pushes you over the edge? What helps you deal?