*A post from 2014, reposted. It feels still relevant and I hope it encourages all of us that we can find beauty and hope and perspective even from our painful experiences. What will we think about this pandemic period when we look back from ten years after? How will we be different? How will we be better?
Two weeks ago I was in Hargeisa, Somaliland. For the first time since we evacuated in 2003.
I haven’t written publicly about it yet because I didn’t know what to tell you. It felt both normal and terrifying, right and humbling. I was surprised at the physicality of my response to returning. I hadn’t expected to feel so much anxiety, so much hyper-vigilance that in retrospect seems laughable. Probably the suicide bomb in Djibouti two weeks prior didn’t help. Probably the al-Shabaab attack on people watching the World Cup in Kenya, while we were in Hargeisa didn’t help. Probably the way we left in 2003 didn’t help. Probably my own cowardice, weak faith, and the way I have gotten comfortable in Djibouti didn’t help.
But spending a week in Hargeisa did help. Some things have changed, many things have not. But the longer we stayed, the looser my tense shoulders became and I experienced fewer wild images (completely in my own mind) of violence that made my heart race.
The week was a mix of market trips, women’s gym hours, delicious food, remembering how to tuck a headscarf, ideal weather, my fifteenth wedding anniversary, Tom spending hours and hours completing his PhD research, and a hike up one of the hills known as the Girl’s Breast.
There are so many things to share, to reflect on, to say. But for now, I’ll leave you with one thing: Go back.
When something scared you and wrecked your dream and changed your life, and when you are healed and holding a new dream and thankful for the way life changed, go back to that broken place.
What was shattered just might be redeemed. You’ll likely still bear a scar, you always will. But in Bev Murril’s words, it is a scar of honor and you might be surprised at the stories you discover, the gifts you’ve been given, through that very pain.
You might find a slice of beauty there.
Thanks for your honesty in sharing your fears it has encouraged me to “go back” to that place of hurt or fear and let God heal me
So glad to hear this Shelly. Hope you were blessed.
Looooovvvve this, Rachel. Love it.
Thanks so much Elizabeth.
I know how it feels!
My mother-in-law lives in a village in the west of Somaliland and that is where I often used to go in summer before 2012. Now, I don’t do that anymore not because I am afraid of terrorism but because there were tribal clashes and anyone may think you belong to the other camp and hurt you.
I congratulate you on this trip. You are awesome and so so courageous!
Yacin, I’m sorry you can’t go back these days. Hopefully soon there will be more peace and you’ll be able to return.
Loved this too, Rachel. I’ve been back to places of great grief and brokeness and haven’t yet felt that was the wrong choice. hard but good hard.
[…] Go Back to the Broken Places by Rachel Pieh Jones. This piece resonated deeply with me and perfectly described my experience of going back to Fort Riley, the last Army post my family was stationed at. When I walked up to those quarters, I cried. I couldn’t hold back the tears, and I didn’t even know why. Now I know why. We must go back to the broken places. […]