I cannot fully express how good it feels to be writing this post right now. As I type this it’s Sunday night, my whole family is fed and bathed, and I can’t stop smiling as I look at these photos that we took earlier today. It was the last morning of our family vacation to Sarasota and although Anel and I were both physically exhausted from chasing around a very active little girl for four days, we were so happy and fulfilled.
I compare that to the last morning of our last family vacation to Bermuda in November and the contrast is like night and day. That morning I had a full blown panic attack and although I tried every coping mechanism I had in my back pocket, nothing was enough. I could hardly breathe for most of our flight home, and although that day was awful, it was important for me to experience it so that I could make what has shaped up to be one of the best decisions of my life.
Traveling with Amalia has been my biggest anxiety trigger for the last two years. I don’t know exactly why but I think it was the fear of her not feeling comfortable in a new place, the fear of her not sleeping at night, and a major lack of control. I never in a million years thought that I would be able to take her on vacation and be able to enjoy it without crippling anxiety.
I went into this trip with those same fears, as many mothers might, but they didn’t make me anxious. Instead, I was able to focus on making her feel happy and safe and doing my best to help her sleep well. Full disclosure, she missed one nap and that afternoon my anxiety peeked out for a few hours but dissipated as soon as Anel helped me realize that I was having intrusive thoughts and that everything, in reality, was just fine. I’m beyond grateful to him and the role he has played in my anxiety journey.
The biggest surprise for me was on Friday morning when Anel played golf and Amalia and I were on our own about five hours. In the past, if I was alone with her in a new place I would panic. It made no logical sense but I think the thought of something going wrong and me not knowing where to go or what to do was what set me off. But this time around we had the best time ever. I took her to the beach and we made sandcastles, swam in the ocean and the pool, and played games. But most of all, we were happy. Happy with each other, relaxed with each other, and despite a mild tantrum or two, I was able to handle it without fear and without doubting myself. Granted, I could barely stand at the end of it because she kept trying to run into the ocean/pool, but I guess that was my cardio for the day!
There were definitely challenging moments of the trip, which is to be expected, but Anel and I were able to work through them as a team, stay (mostly) positive, and I even slept well which is super rare slash unheard of for me when we travel.
The other really cool thing about this vacation is that I was able to let go of control and be more spontaneous. On our first night there, we heard that the Sarasota County Fair was in town so we headed over last minute to check it out. Amalia loved all of the animals and we even went on our first fair ride together! I was for sure more scared than she was.
I was going to recap the whole trip for you guys, but I think what’s more important here is that because my medication keeps my anxiety at bay, I was able to be present, laugh and play with my family, and not be so damn worried about everything all the time.
My only regret is that we didn’t get even one family photo!
The highlight of the trip was watching Amalia enjoy her first ice cream cone since last summer. I got her strawberry because she loves fruit, but she promptly stole Anel’s Phish Food and went to town on it.