Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

The end of August, I took the kids on a week-long vacation with my Dad and Stepmom. This was a trip I NEVER thought would happen, for a variety of reasons, the least of which came down to (lack of) money.
But opportunity knocked. Just at the point in my summer when I was about to surrender and accept that there would be NO vacation - rather a STAYcation - my Dad offered the kids and I an all-expense-paid trip to a destination of my choice. The only caveat was that it had to be a place within driving distance so all I needed to worry about, was gas and tolls. Thanks, Dad!
I chose Colonial Williamsburg. A place my Dad had taken me years ago, which held so many happy memories for me, I wanted my kids to have those same memories with their Grandfather. This would be their first vacation with Grandpop, and it was especially important to make this trip knowing he and my Stepmom are moving from NJ to Arizona in just two-weeks time.
With the location chosen, our time-share was booked! A spacious three-bedroom condo from Wyndham Vacation Resorts with all the bells and whistles.
Tickets were purchased! Passes to Colonial Willamsburg, Busch Gardens and WaterCountry USA.
My coin jar was cashed in to pay for gas and tolls. My car inspected and given a once over.
All ready!
Queue: PANIC!
Eight hour drive. Two kids. Thirteen year old car. No working radio. No DVD player.
What am I doing? How am I going to keep them entertained for so long??How am I going to handle them by myself in an amusement park?? What if the car breaks down???
In that moment of panic and weakness, I asked the ex-boyfriend to come along. Not because I wanted him to, but because I thought I needed him to.
I was being faced with another inner conflict between the Me that is growing vs. the Me that wants to stay stuck in the past. At that moment, I lacked the confidence in my ability to handle the driving, the kids, the rides and whatever else came along. Self-doubt crept in once again.
And... as I was asking my ex-boyfriend to join us, every cell in my body was crying out NOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I spent the weeks leading up to my vacation worrying and fretting over the potential consequences to this decision. Ambivalence mixed with dread over what was supposed to be a fun trip with my children.
See, the ex-boyfriend and I have been on-again/off-again many times over the past two years. Each time we'd break up for the same reasons (mainly my desire to be independent and single) only to get back together for the same reasons (mainly my co-dependence and fear).
But this break-up felt different to me and I worried he would get the wrong impression, develop unrealistic expectations based on how things always went before, and that my vacation would be ruined if things didn't go as he hoped.
(I know I've created this sceanrio by my lack on conviction in the past. By my own indecisiveness and not trusting myself enough to step fully into my independence. I kept standing in my own way of personal growth, and asking him to come along was another shining example of that.)
He promised me there were no strings attached, that he understood my feelings had truly changed and that we would have a nice trip.
I trusted in that (though I had my doubts), and decided to go.
True to his nature, the ex-BF helped prepare for the trip by cleaning and packing my car, changing the oil and driving it to be inspected while I was at work. He mowed my lawn before we left. He did all of the driving to VA. He helped take care of the kids by going on all the crazy rollercoasters Hansel wanted to go on and indulging Gretel's every request to be carried, coddled and cuddled. He greeted my with a cup of coffee every morning when I woke up, cooked breakfast one morning for all six of us, helped with our laundry while there, ran errands and overall looked after everyone's emotional well-being.
Wow. Right?
The entire week I watched and realized how abundant my life is. How blessed I am to be surrounded by such generosity - from my Dad who made this vacation possible to my ex-boyfriend who wanted to do nothing more than take care of me and the kids.
I watched as this sweet man doted on us and wondered - why isn't it enough?
The days before my trip, my boss told me how good she thought he was for me. My therapist/friend asked if maybe he wasn't the one afterall. But then I realized that my boss is the same woman who, herself, is stuck in a co-dependent relationship. And who thinks my ex-husband should be made to pay for everything (child support + child care + camp + vacations + medical)because "what happens when you don't have the money to help pay for them?" Yeah, her opinion is a little clouded. And my therapist/friend is doing her job; asking me all the right questions to prompt me to do my own soul searching to make sure I know what I want.
That's precisely what I did. And for whatever reason, all of that is not enough. And as much as I tried to convince myself during our vacation and for the week after that he stayed at my house; making the effort to see, appreciate (and want) what I could have in him, I did not feel the desire to reconcile. Not this time.
Instead, my attention and desires are being pulled in another direction.
This time, I'm getting out of my own way, and taking that next step.


loonyhiker said...

I think it is great that you had this time for reflection. I don't think people reflect enough about their lives. Just enough is not good enough. You deserve to be happy and you deserve to look for what will make you really happy. I'm glad you recognized just enough isn't enough. Hang in there! I'm in your cheering section! said...

It is good to have time to look at your blessings. Sometimes that can be hard to do.

I intend to read your blog more often. I am a custodial step-mom of 4. Usually life goes well, but the ex makes life hard, she has taught one step kid well in the same art.

I am trying hard to fight for the hope that things will get better.

Much luck to you. Take time for yourself. We all need time to figure out who we are and what we need.

Wicked Stepmom said...

Thanks, loonyhiker. In the past month, I have learned many lessons about myself, my relationship and my ex-BF. A big part of that, which I choose not to blog about, is physical vs. emotional connection. Sex vs. love. And that is, that I can't have one without the other. As much as I tried (and I tried LOTS, LOL), it wasn't for me. I envy people who can enjoy a physical relationshipw without the emotional connection. Maybe one day I can, or... but actually, I am hoping I won't have to. I can have, and deserve to have, both!

Wicked Stepmom said...

Hi Sara,

Thanks for commenting. I understand how difficult it can thing I learned through my own experiences with my ex-husband and his ex-wife is that you can't control other people, but you can control your reaction to them. I used to blame Maleficent for why our life & marriage was so difficult, when in reality we allowed her to. We gave away our own power over our life, and let it be consumed by another.

Lucretia said...

I don't get over here nearly as often as I should.

But I'm glad you're going with your gut. The problem with "yes, this is nice" is that it's just nice.

No one ever said I had to "settle" - so I didn't. Thank heavens!

There was one boy once, a long time ago, that tried to convince me that we could be married and happy because we were friends with the occasional physical encounters... I was smart enough to say know. So I found my happily ever after AND he found his. If I had said yes? We'd probably have had a "nice" marriage but always felt like there was something fundamental we had missed. And we would've been right.

Someone, somewhere, is going to turn out to be his 'happily ever after' - but you know something? For either one of you, that HEA person might just turn out to be yourself. ;)

Lucretia said...

Oh my gosh that was a funny typo!! "know" instead of "no" there actually works on different levels! ;)