I had the best but worst time during my 5 days in Florida. It was absolutely amazing to see my friends again. I only get to see Noelle once a year (although now it’ll be twice since I’m going to up my annual vacation to two times a year…Jeff’s thrilled, haha) and I haven’t gotten to actually hang out with one of my other friends who was there in a long time. It was fantastic to be with them again, making new memories, laughing nonstop and getting caught up on everything that has happened in the last year. Even though we don’t get to see each other very often it feels like it was just yesterday since we all hung out together. There’s no awkwardness, no hesitation, no searching for things to talk about. It’s easy. It’s true friendship at its best.
But I was unprepared for the downtime. The constant thinking. The not being able to get out of my head. I never realized just how much my brain never stops running at home–what are we having for dinner? When do I need to start getting it ready? Oh crap, I forgot to get salt from the grocery store. When’s the best time to go to the gym? Can I fit a walk in for Roman this morning? Does J need leggings or panty hose under her dress? Shit, it’s 8:03, we need to leave for the bus stop. C needs a diaper change. I need to clean the bathrooms. Dammit, I didn’t pull the meat out of the freezer. Whoops, I forgot to make Roman’s food. Shit, it’s 400, we need to get J from the bus. Oh my God could doing homework with her be any more torturous? How do people homeschool? Is it bath time yet? When’s Jeff getting home? And the moments when my brain isn’t running a mile a minute then I’m working on a craft or zoned out in front of the TV late at night (and by “late at night” I mean 830). But there was nothing to think about on vacation. No big to-dos, no stressors, no nothing…which is normally exactly what I need. Not this time.
I knew from the moment I stepped on the airplane that it wasn’t such a good idea. I missed my kids already. And no offense to my family, but that never happens. It might sound awful, but I don’t miss my kids the four days that I’m gone. I love them with all my heart, but I always need that time away. I revel in it. Refuel. But that’s not the case anymore. I don’t feel overprotective of them like I read happens to a lot of moms after the death of a child, but it turns out that I don’t want to be away from them. I don’t want to miss a single thing. And a trip without them was the worst possible idea.
I don’t want to make it sound like I had an awful time–the complete opposite of that. Those times when we were all together, talking and laughing, catching up, making memories, were the best times ever. It was just those down times. Sitting in my lounge chair by the pool trying to read I just felt guilty. Guilty for willingly being away from my kids when I would never get a chance to spend any more time with my third baby. Guilty for wanting to stop thinking about that and just read. Guilty for sitting by the pool in the Florida sun, trying to be carefree. Guilty for being on a vacation, no matter how much I earned this one. Although honestly I don’t think guilty is the right word. I don’t know what exactly I was feeling…it just didn’t feel right. Or good. So instead of spending the entire day reading like we normally do, Amanda and I sat on the edge of the pool, our feet dangling in the water to keep cool (while it was snowing back home, hahaha), talking and people watching. And as long as we were talking, I was okay. Fortunately there are never many lulls in the conversation when we’re together.
The last day was the worst. We went to the beach and I forgot my book. Although honestly I don’t know how much of a difference it would have made if I had had it. From the moment I woke up I didn’t feel right and that feeling stuck with me all day–through my workout, through all of our conversations. The feelings had returned full force and were extremely hard to shake. Once again I can’t even express what I was feeling. It definitely wasn’t guilt. It was more than just sadness. I was in my head and I wanted–needed–to get out of it. And you know, that probably wasn’t the healthiest thing to do. I let myself dwell on everything for as long as possible that morning, but it probably still wasn’t enough. I probably should’ve let myself cry. I was surrounded by my closest friends; I should’ve talked to them about it. But I just couldn’t. That night after we got back and were all laying in bed it took me 20 minutes to open my mouth and ask Noelle, the one who had lost both of her parents recently, if she has a hard time talking about her feelings. Twenty minutes to work up the courage to say something to someone who is not only one of my best friends, but who is also going through something very similar. I just can’t talk about it. It seems pointless. No one can say or do anything to make it better. I know that and they know that so I feel like that makes them feel helpless and I don’t want to do that to them. Stupid, I know…but that knowledge still doesn’t help me talk about it. No one knows how I’m feeling (even though the rational part of me knows that’s not true. Sure, no one knows exactly how I’m feeling, but grief is grief. Which was evidenced by the fact that Noelle knew exactly what I was taking about before I even finished saying it and felt the exactly same way). It was such a huge relief to hear Noelle feels the same way about it that I do. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t make me more comfortable talking about my feelings. It doesn’t make me feel better about the situation. It doesn’t make it any easier.
I think another reason it was so hard is because I was doing so well the previous weeks. I was able to think about Zoe without crying. I wasn’t having bad days, just bad moments. And even the bad moments were fewer and farther (further?) between. Although I knew that I wasn’t healed, I really thought I was starting to get over it. You’d think I would have learned my lesson after the last time I felt that way and then was completely bowled over by something simple. Even though I know that grief comes in waves and that I’ll never be completely safe from the depression, I’m still shocked every time it catches me off guard.
I also confirmed a suspicion on that trip: I need to stay away from alcohol. I’ve never been a big drinker to begin with–I’m more of a binge drinker, haha. I only drink with my friends and only with the purpose of getting completely hammered. If we’re not all getting wasted together then I just stick to water while everyone else enjoys their beer and wine. I don’t like the taste of it and let’s face it–if i’m going to have the extra calories I’d rather eat a piece of cake, haha. Honestly I can’t remember the last time that I was drunk…sometime before I was pregnant with C. I had a feeling that drinking would only make all of my feelings worse, and I was right. One of the nights when we all went out to dinner I ordered a strawberry margarita. By the time the glass was empty I just wanted to crawl under the table and cry. And it had actually been a really good day up until that point; unsurprisingly the alcohol pulled my depression right up to the surface although it was buried way down deep. At least now I know for sure.
I love my girls. I’m thrilled that we crashed Christy’s trip at the last minute and I don’t regret going. When we’re all together, gossiping, laughing and making fun of Amanda, I don’t want to be anywhere else or with anyone else in the world. It was just hard. Really really hard. Unexpectedly hard. I think it was too soon. Although still difficult as hell, I don’t think it would’ve been as hard a few months down the road. After I’ve healed just a little bit more. But it was another milestone to add to the list, another box to check. First vacation post-Zoe without the family: check. Which means that the next time it rolls around it’s going to be just a little bit easier.