Mar 7, 2016

Ethiopia: A Preface.

"There are many kinds of love in this world,
 but never the same love twice." 
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Almost two years ago, and what seems like 6 lifetimes, an Ethiopian man broke my heart.

The aftermath was difficult and dramatic. And to be honest, a flame for this person (and the pain they inflicted upon me) has always burned in my heart. Perhaps that is how our deep loves stay with us after they are gone, in little vessels of fire in our depths. 

When I arrived to orientation for the fellow program in Washington DC last summer, I was clued-in that our mid-year African fellows conference might be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This news caused me stress and instigated the patience of my friends who had to listen over and over to the dialogue of, "What do I do?" I was unsure of the wisdom in reaching out and questioned my ability to keep it cool and stable. 

Luckily, that question was answered for me. While on a bus one morning from Kibungo to Kigali in early December, I received a message of heartfelt repentance from the Ethiopian man who had stolen and then discarded my heart many moons ago. Thus began a journey of forgiveness, love, and ultimately - redemption. 

Against the advice of my dearest friends and family, I informed my former lover that I would be in Addis Ababa in March. Slowly, over the months that followed, we shared our new lives, re-built smidgens of trust, and decided to meet again for the first time in what seemed like centuries. My ultimate reasoning: healing and closure. I booked my ticket to Ethiopia for almost 2 weeks before the conference, giving ample time to spend hiking with my friends and spending time with him in his homeland. 

What resulted was one of the greatest, most redemptive and serendipitous (though quite emotional) experiences of my life. I am lucky. Not everyone has a chance to face their heartbreak head-on and redeem past pain. Not everyone gets the chance to sit down with someone who rejected them and be told how valuable you were to their life experiences. I truly believe this experience was a gift from God. 

I'll be blogging the Ethiopia trip in a few parts: work and play. But, it seemed fitting while sitting here in the Entebbe, Uganda airport on an ungodly long layover from Addis to Kigali, to open the dialogue honestly. Going to Ethiopia meant the world to me. It meant closure and healing and discovery and adventure. It meant realizing that I am not a replaceable piece in another person's puzzle, as I have believed for so long. It meant traveling to Ethiopia because I have a kick-ass job and not because I was following someone who couldn't love me properly. I was there for me. There was so much power in that fact.

I realized that sometimes love doesn't go away, it just changes. Burning forever in a cavern of the heart, tucked away to remind us of our humanity. Of our capacity to feel and evolve.

Ethiopia gave me a great gift of redemption, of evaluation of the past, and a clearer vision of how I want my future to be (more full of grace, more full of self-value).

I will be forever grateful. 

walk slow. xoxo.

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