These last two days have the hardest to date. I am painfully aware this is not the last time I will utter those words, but damn, I didn’t truly realize how hard this trip would be. We are officially on vacation and as of Wednesday at 5, my taste buds have been overwhelmed with the memories of cocktails. My anxiety of flying and my cravings seemed to have joined forces to create a super villain that is ‘Evieeeeil, like the fruieets of the Deveeeil.’
I am so grateful for the calming practices my therapist has taught me, it helped immensely on the plane. What I have learned from her, and what I have been practicing, is to identify how different feelings present themselves physically to me. When I am anxious, my chest, throat and stomach and lower back tighten up quickly. When I feel the weight of depression, a lot of the same feelings present themselves but with an added sinking feeling. It’s almost identical to the feeling of having a wave swipe your feet out from under you and pull you into it’s undertow. She has taught me that when I start feeling these sensations, so begin something rhythmic. Walking is the most effective but if you can’t walk, tap on something, or close your eyes and look side to side. I have found that I gravitate to ‘drawing’ a figure eight with my finger on whatever my hand is resting. I assume this is because when my Nana was around and I would hold her hand, she would softly move her thumb in a figure eight pattern on my hand, sometimes, after a while. I would almost expect to see a permanent warn down figure eight on my skin when I let go. As I do my figure eight, I am supposed to allow the feeling to be there, acknowledge it, give it a moment of recognition, and then slowly pull my thoughts to the rhythmic action and give that some time and energy. After a minute, I go back to the feeling, give it another hello, then back to the action. The idea is that after doing this over and over, the feelings I am trying to calm gets less and less oppressive. I did this on the plane yesterday quite a few times when my anxiety would gnash it’s ugly teeth and it helped tremendously. It reminds me a lot of some of the exercises we did with the horses, when we couldn’t use a bridle or lead rope to move them where we wanted them to go. We couldn’t even touch them. We had to learn how to patiently coax the 2,000 lb. animal to travel willingly to the destination we had chosen. This is how my anxiety, depression and cravings are needing to be moved, with patience and time, and the tricks my therapist have taught me seem to be working. Gratitude.
This will be my first trip to Hawaii completely sober and I figure since Dave and I didn’t cave at the airport, on the plane, at dinner last night, or this morning, I am off to a good start. I have brought an incredible amount of art supplies and a handful of books to fill every single idle moment. It will be nice to remember every wonderful thing that happens of family trips, to have the energy to participate in everything I want to and have the energy to create some art. I am looking for ward to the next few days. I know there will be times, like right now, sitting on the lanai writing, that I will really miss not having a cocktail in my hand but there will also be times I will be so grateful I don’t have to worry about how to get the next one.
To add to the milestone of soberly navigating the airport and plane rides, I’ll add that Dave and I made it through The Big Lebowski the other day without ONE white russian. If you know us, and you know that movie, you know how difficult that was. But hey, we did it. It can be done.