Friday, July 29, 2016

Wish I was there.

Following brain surgery, months of recovery, and the death of my grandmother. my sisters and their families when on a vacation to Costa Rica. During a conversation, before they left, one of them casually mentioned that after the year we had all had they just needed a break. It had not been a long planned or thought out trip, it just kind of fell into place. They sent wonderful pictures during their getaway of laughter and fun. Lush jungles, gorgeous ruins, cool dips in the pool, and quiet moments reading books in an exotic locale. It was truly beautiful, and I wasn't invited.

Don't get me wrong, after everything that had happened: the loss of all savings, the weight of the financial burden of medical care and living expenses during the recovery time off, the lack of any additional vacation time to take off from work, ongoing recovery, and the fact that a lingering side effect to my brain surgery was an aversion to heat where changes in temperature could literally make me physically ill, I truly was in no position to go with them on this much needed vacation... but I wasn't invited (even though no one needed a break more than I did).

Unfortunately, survivors of illness, crisis and trauma, often don't have a lot of options for escape. Beyond the monetary, current health, and time off logistics, there is literally no way to take a vacation from our own bodies and emotional stress. We can't take a break from the inner turmoil. We can't walk away from our own pain.

It is difficult to watch others go on with their lives, have the luxery of such simple pleasures as "down time" and the ability to do something as simple as just take a vacation, when we are trapped in the struggle of our own lives.

It can create feelings of isolation, longing, anger, jealousy, sadness, regret and even shame. There is self-loathing and hatred to feeling this stuck in our own particular crisis. It is impossible to explain or adequately express to others. It can feel utterly hopeless. And, these feeling have a way of compounding onto and compressing down on each other.

Work days can be literally oppressive. But, even our days off can be relentless. They involve collapsing into our own bubbles because we are beyond exhausted, or additional grueling, often painful doctors visits, or struggling to live up to the routine responsibilities of existing, when we are having enough trouble just surviving. 

We don't get any real escapes. 

There are no true vacations during recovery. And, recovery doesn't happen overnight. It can take weeks, months, even years and sometimes a lifetime, long after everyone else has moved on. 

And, a sad truth is that sometimes the longer a recovery takes the harder it can become to recover. The longer someone is down the harder it becomes to get up.

In our own survival, we are not invited or blessed with the gift of escapes. We miss vacations, parties, get-togethers, date nights, and utter relaxation, in general. Literally and figuratively we miss out.

But, we can't blame others for their specific blessings and we can't give up the search for our own healing. We need to be happy for each other, and fight for our own moments of happiness.

Make room to inhale when you feel like screaming. Find beauty in darkness. Steal moments of light. Laugh when you need to cry. Cry when you need to exhale. Take a breather, it may be the only vacation you get. But, a second of grace is better than none at all.

Don't waste time wishing you were there, embrace being thankful you are here.

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