#TBT – A Much Needed Vacation

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The other night as we were getting ready for bed I complained of my lack of writing lately to my husband.

“I just feel so disconnected from my illness. Like I haven’t been experiencing any symptoms so how can I write authentically on my blog?” I whined.

He smiled at me. “That’s a good thing.”

I’m not arguing that a lack of symptoms is anything but wonderful. These past four years I’ve felt better than I ever have. At about year five was when I crossed over to the point of understanding why my body did the things it did, and what I needed to do in order to control my illness lest it control me.

Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of scars from where I’ve been. I especially remember the emotional rips to my heart from the stigma I feared in talking about what I was going through early on.

I wasn’t the only person affected this way by my illness.

Less than two months after my first two episodes and the hospitalizations that followed, Ben and I found ourselves in a tropical paradise. That fall we had booked a romantic February vacation to celebrate our birthdays and Valentine’s day. I spent months researching bed & breakfast spots on the island before settling on one that looked absolutely breathtaking, cozy and perfect.

I still can’t believe I made it through the trip.

The sunsets were magical and sitting across from this man who had cared for me so lovingly brought me to tears almost every night. Even though I was desperate to talk about what had happened to me, to try to figure out why my brain got so screwed up, we couldn’t. It was too soon. It hurt too much to revisit those excruciating moments so soon after we had managed to pull through.

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Our B&B host was welcoming and sweet, and I would have loved to have chatted with her if I would have been able to make it through three sentences before getting choked up. I could barely tell her how much I enjoyed her homemade breakfast let alone tell her how special this trip was to us, how we both needed the relaxation the island was providing more than she’d ever know. It was as if my story was caught in my throat. But why wouldn’t it be? It was so raw and I hadn’t yet been able to process everything that had happened so no wonder my words got stuck and jumbled. It was easier to let the tears speak for me.

My love. He must have been so scared of what was ahead of us. Would I recover? Would I ever be the same woman he fell in love with? Would he be able to hold on to our marriage until I was able to pull myself out of the fog I was sinking into?

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{After I snapped this picture, Ben came face-to-face with a barracuda when he was snorkling!}

People often write to me and ask how I was able to make it. They look at my highlight reel and wonder how I make it look so effortless. But the photos of today don’t reflect the pain and suffering of eight and a half years ago. If you look closely at pictures from 2006, my eyes show the trauma. My feelings may have been bottled-up back then, but photos can’t lie. My smile isn’t as bright and true. My eyes are distant, cold, afraid of the future.

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The future keeps coming. And now I find myself here, ready for what is lies ahead still. But I haven’t done it alone, that’s for sure. My partner honored his vows and stayed by my side, cheering me on each and every day. Through the days when I said I didn’t think I wanted to go on anymore. Through the days when I doubted whether we’d ever have a family. Through the days when I fell asleep crying for it to be over, for the clouds to make way for the sun again in my life.

The sun came back. And although I know that it will come and go at times in my life, I hold on to the past as a reminder of how far I’ve come and how grateful I am for the life I have today.

Five Minute Friday {11}: Listen

When I listen to my heart, it tells me to keep being brave. To stay open and to keep giving and sharing my story, especially when I feel like giving up.

This week I’ve listened to the waves methodically sweeping in, crashing into the sand in gentle whispers while laying on the beach reading. I’ve listened to tropical birds coo and sing, their vibrant chirps awakening me from naps taken under the shade of palm trees.

But my favorite sound, by far, has been the joyful laughter of us, four friends reunited.

Our voices reminiscing over meals shared together. We listened to each other declare short term goals, we remembered all that we have experienced in our many years of friendship and marriage, and we discussed how hard it is to raise a family.

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I’m so grateful for this week.

It’s our last day here in paradise. By this evening we will have returned to the reality of normal life. And I’m quite sure that we’ve all been refreshed and energized by this vacation. I’m excited to arrive home and listen to the sounds of my family settling back into our routines, our summer together.

Time to return to living my story. One glorious day at a time.

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday {10}: Fall

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LuxICMaldives via Compfight cc

I’ve already started packing. My suitcase sits open in the middle of our bedroom and all week I’ve been tossing things in as I get ready to finish stuffing in sundresses and books, bikinis and sandals until I’ll zip it shut tomorrow evening. I’ll be wearing the perfume of coconut-banana scented suntan lotion all week, my hair will curl in it’s natural, frizzy waves as I’ll forego blow drying for air drying.

 

We’ll worry about the kids, but know that they’ll be in heaven at home with their grandparents – all four of them taking shifts so they don’t get too exhausted by the fun of it all.

Whenever we’re able to do this – to run away from the same old day-to-day for a just-me-and-you vacation, I fall back into what life was like before kids, before marriage, before the responsibilities of work and a mortgage. I feel like we’re dating again, flirting and being silly with each other. Holding hands as we walk to breakfast or dinner. Or on the beach, lounging in our sunchairs, when I look over at you and give your hand a little squeeze while we gaze out at the ocean.


Not that I need a tropical vacation to appreciate all the wonderful things about you, honey. Time on an island with you just reminds me of our honeymoon. Only now, I no longer have those anxious butterflies in my stomach, nervousness about how our future will play out. Because time has passed – almost 10 years since that week in St. Lucia after our wedding – and we’ve fallen into each other and I’m not nervous for the future anymore.

I’m only giddy with excitement, ready to fall more in love with you in the coming years than I’ve ever been before.

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Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker’s

Five Minute Friday

Song: Five Minute Friday {7}

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In a few hours I’ll be leaving on a jet plane. Flying down south to meet a shiny new face, the newest, littlest member of our family who was born in March. I have yet to hear the song of her tiny cries, her coos and gurgles. I will say goodbye to my three lovies with kisses and hugs, breathing in their scent in an attempt to keep it with me while I’m gone.

For three nights, four days I’ll hear the song of my brother’s family, a newborn in the house, demanding the attention for bottles, diaper changes, snuggles. I can’t wait to hold her, to spend time just sitting and talking with my brother, sister-in-law, mom, dad, nephew. Because time slows down a little when I’m on vacation, listening to the song of my sweet family which I’ll wrap around me until I have to say goodbye on Monday.

When I’ll return to the familiar song of my own family, waiting patiently for my return.

 

Five Minute Friday