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.
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.
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.
These past two weeks have brought with them amazing clarity as to where my life has been, and where it's going.
This past Saturday, my family vacation trip with the kids and ex-BF officially came to an end. After two weeks (which was supposed to be one week but was unexpectedly extended for a week thanks to Hurricane Irene and my lack of babysitting resources), I dropped off the kids with their Dad, returned my ex-BF/vacation companion- turned-houseguest home, then spent the day ALONE...reflecting and recharging. I responded to the powerful call of nature and chose to go to a local lake preserve in search of a rumored waterfall. I have never been there, even though I spent half of my time for nearly a year just 10 minutes from it.
First I stopped in a local hippie town, did a little shopping in a tie-dye boutique, and picked up an appropo lunch (falafel sandwich). I plugged my desitination into my GPS and as I followed the windy mountain road, I found one entrance to the preserve was closed due to hurricane. The other was FULL.
I then realized I had no cash for parking nor was I dressed for hiking (croc sandals do not count as adequate hiking shoes!).
I adapted my plan and pulled onto a scenic overlook, climbed over the guard rail and sat meditating on one of three rocks, looking out over rural farms of the Hudson Valley, NY ... surrounded by grasshoppers, butterflies and three hawks who continuously circled overhead.
~ Grasshoppers=good luck and abundance.
~ Butterflies symbolize transformation.
~ Three is the number of creation.
~ Hawks are messengers, bringing clarity and healing.
I was reminded that day that the future I have been working so hard to create is becoming a reality with each passing day, with each step, every risk and every decision.
It may sometimes be hazy (as was my view from the mountainside that day), but I know its there.
My life (and myself) has gone through termendous tranformation over these past 2 years.
I'm no longer where I was, I may not where I'm going...but I am on my way.
(Oh yeah, and I will be returning to that lake preserve to find that waterfall!)