But the truth of the matter is, I wasn't being selfish. I was doing something I have an incredibly difficult, damn near impossible, time doing - I was living and thinking in the moment. Not worrying about the future, not looking at the past. And it was so very, very refreshing.
That's not to say that's how the whole week went, because it isn't. There was a lot of purging on my part: a lot of things were cried out, kicked out, and left to die in the hot sunlight of those sandy shores. A lot of weight and stress and bullshit that I have no business carrying around got dumped, while my spirit guides cheered me on from the sidelines.
I cannot remember the last time I smiled and laughed so much or so easily. I didn't even realize how heavy I was, until I wasn't. Does that make sense?
When I got on the plane to head out Friday, I was feeling normal. Sort of excited, but mostly tired and burned out. And nervous and stressed out. I've only flown three times and I've never left the country before, so there was some apprehension about the whole process for me. And I'm not going to lie, I got really pissed off and really upset over some really stupid things during that trip. Due to my medical conditions, I have to travel with prescriptions. So, when I had to check the box that said I was bringing pharmaceuticals in to the country and would have to wait in the red line (which takes longer) I was frustrated and angry with myself for needing to bring the stupid medications with me. Silly? Definitely. But I couldn't stop the ensuing panic attack and anger at my silly, traitorous body at the time.
We made it through the line quickly, the guy at customs actually laughed that I had checked the box for my two bottles of pills and explained they're looking for large quantities. He waved us through without any hassle. Which, for reasons unexplainable, made me even more pissed off at myself. Once we got through the airport and on the bus that would take us to the resort, I was distracted by the scenery and forgot all about being angry or stressed out. I'm a raccoon like that; show me a shiny thing and everything else ceases to exist. I wish I could say that was the end of the stress and random meltdowns, but it wasn't. There were a few other ones that first weekend; I was angry with myself for being exhausted and going to bed early. I was angry that I got sick and spent half a day in bed. I was freaked out and upset that people would come up to us when we were out on the water and try to sell us stuff. (I will readily admit, I have personal space issues and am very naive and untraveled so am not used to what's normal in other cultures. Those two things had me in a damn near anxiety attack when a guy selling shells stopped our boat to talk to us and had me almost jumping in the ocean to swim away when he tried to touch me.) I lost my shit when Joe bought something from that aforementioned shell salesmen and then felt horrifically ashamed afterwards and went to bed after berating myself. I fell in to the trap of comparing myself to other women (girls, really) and felt bloated and gross. I cried a lot those first three days, I'm not going to lie. I was frustrated because this isn't how vacation is supposed to be.
Then, when I woke up Tuesday, I felt totally different. The best way I can describe it, is it was very similar to how one feels on the first day they have energy again after a long bought of the flu. That renewed, healed feeling. And nothing mattered anymore. Not those skinny, young girls. Not the locals touching me or trying to put their crafts in my hands so I'd buy them. Not my medical conditions. All the stuff I had been gung-ho about doing while we were on the resort didn't matter. If we went snorkeling? Great. If we sat in the pool all day? Great. If we laid on a beach chair all day? Awesome. We ended up not paying to take the dive class, opting to instead just go on the free snorkeling excursions. I did things that I was afraid to do, snorkeling being amongst them. I'm not a very strong swimmer and I'm extremely buoyant, this has led to me almost being swept out to sea numerous times when I play in the ocean here in the states and because of this, I don't go in past my waist most of the time.
But, here I was, swimming around reefs with the tropical fishes. We also took out the kayaks and went on a tube ride. I made it a point to talk to people I don't know, something I have a hard time doing, and was surprised with how easy it was - both with the locals and other vacationers. I made the conscientious decision to enter Joe and I into a best dressed couple competition where our clothing had nothing to do with it in the end... because we had to get on stage and out dance the other couples. We had our own personal cheering section, including employees who were supposed to remain impartial, because we'd made quite a few vacation friends. And? We totally won!
It was our last day when I realized what a dramatic difference there was in my personality and my mentality. I spoke frankly and honestly about the poor things that happened, without shame for once, to serve as a reminder of what too much stress and too much obligation does to me. That's not who I am, it's a byproduct of taking on too much, spreading myself too thin and not taking time for self care. It's not who I want to be either, and I refuse to go back to that. Refuse.
And so, I've been using the time since we got on the plane to come home, when I was feeling glowing and renewed and as if I was given a fresh slate in the brain, heart and emotions department, to pinpoint the things that cause me stress and either change my perspective or throw them unceremoniously out of my life as soon as possible. I'm going to greedily cling to this easy happiness and this relaxed stress free attitude for as long as possible. This will be made easier because the hubster is on board too, with supporting my changes and not letting the stupid day to day shit get to him anymore either.
The first flag came when we touched down in Atlanta and it was the first time in a week we had cell phone reception. I turned mine on not because I really wanted to, but because I felt like I should and it gave me a pang of anxiety and annoyance as I waited for all of the messages, voicemails, Facebook, Email and App notifications to come through. Now, I'm not a technology hater, not really anyway, but the constant buzz of it in my life and the constant weight of social expectations when it comes to technology... I DO hate that. And so, I had the first thing that adds to my stress levels; my connection to all things tech and to social media.
So, here are the changes I'll be implementing. In list form, because I'm all about concise things right now. Also, how perfect is the timing with Samhain coming up? Deity, Spirit, The Universe give us nudges at the right times... new start for a new cycle of the year.
* Disentangling myself from the social media machine.
- Deleting my personal Facebook page. My blog and etsy pages will remain active for now.
- I enjoy Twitter, so I'm keeping that one. Knocking my follow list down to 50 or less people and checking in only when I feel like it.
- Cleaning up my blog reader lists. There are a lot of blogs that I never visit or that are outdated. I want my time online to be short and meaningful.
* Disengaging from political and religious debates. Most people seem incapable of having these intelligently and without becoming heated or mean. I have my convictions, you have yours, I'm not here to convince you of anything and if you feel the need to try to change my mind or attack me for having differing opinions, well, you can fuck off. :)
* Disengaging from toxic thoughts and relationships. All those things I wrote about before? Toxic. I'm going to work to knock that shit off and quit beating myself up. And everyone has had that friend or family member that makes them miserable, yet they keep them around out of obligation. That's not a good basis for a relationship!
* Letting things go. Changing what I can and accepting what I can't. Not letting other people's problems become mine any more. I can love and care about people without fighting their battles for them or taking the burden of their piss poor life choices in to my own heart. If my friends don't like each other, they can suck it up and deal with it.. we're adults, I can befriend whomever I like and I'm not mediating and catering to people anymore.
* Simplifying. In every aspect.
As Jermaine, one of the locals we talked to every day said when we asked him how he seems to have so much fun at work despite people sometimes being shitty to him (he's a cook at one of the little Bistros on the resort - his food is delicious, he dances while he cooks and his smile is contagious), said: "It's all about taking a rough life easy."
I think I need that tattooed on my forehead. ;)
P.S. It's been almost a week since we got back (tomorrow will be a week) and despite being back in the full swing of this whole "real life" thing, nothing's gotten to us. It's amazing, really, how very much this gift of time away and a brain reset has effected me. I'm beyond grateful.