Why does the first day after returning from vacation hit like a ton of bricks? All the physical reserves of energy and stamina I greedily tapped into are now depleted and I feel every ounce of my chronic pain rearing its ugly head at me; mocking me with an “I told you so.” I’m now walking around like a bleary eyed, stiffed limbed tin-woman, marveling at the marked change between how I felt just yesterday with today. Parts of me I didn’t even know could experience pain do so anyway, like the tip of my tongue. How crazy is that?
Not to mention the emotional let-down that occurs following such a satisfying event. Mid-way through vacation, I find myself cheerfully commenting to my hubby, “Why, we still have half of our vacation left! It’s already felt so long and satisfying. I can’t imagine wanting more!” Ha! Famous last words. Then the second half goes by twice as fast as the first and by the time we’ve reached our final day at hyper-speed, I am digging in my claws; determined to hold on to the fading remnants of this break from reality. We even start the “bargaining process”: “Well, maybe we can rearrange things so that we can stay just one… more… day.” But, let’s face it, one more day is never enough!
There is just no way of avoiding the dreaded Post-Vacation Blues!
There is something magical that can happen on a vacation. It truly can be a break from reality for me; the reality of my illness, my pain, my lack of abilities, . . . I’m not saying I feel no pain on vacation, it’s more like I can take that pain and put it in a little satchel I carry with me. It’s always there, but I’m no longer wearing it like a cloak. This was one of those blessed times. We spent a week at the place I reverently call my “Sacred Space.” It’s a family cottage that we have spent many a time at over the last 21 years and it is the place I let my soul travel to during meditations. So it’s not surprising that it acts like a healing tonic to cure that which ails me! This phenomenon hasn’t always happened to me, but when it does I want to fight tooth and nail to keep it going. But, alas, even fairy tales have to end at some point.
So why can’t I just feel satisfied with this gift I received? There have been (many) times I have not been able to fully enjoy a vacation: either feeling too sick or in pain to fully engage in it or, even more distressing, being rushed to some remote hospital for an emergency situation. We used to joke that most people research “points of interest” before going to an unknown vacation locale, while we would research hospital and urgent care locations. Humor is sometimes the best defense, right? Then there have been those times I wish I could erase from our history. Times trips were planned and had to be cancelled because the doctors told me it was too risky for me to travel. This includes a trip to the Riviera Maya in Mexico to renew our vows on our 7th wedding anniversary.
Put in this context, I am willing to sacrifice days after my vacation for the days of respite and renewal I experienced while on vacation. And although I did “over-do it” (hard not to with physical limitations such as mine!), I did make conscious choices to keep my activities within my reach. Most of our days were spent sitting water side, drinking in the sun’s Vitamin D, reading, painting, playing games and musical instruments. It’s a little depressing to think that these mild activities wiped me out. That today, in reaction to a week of this, I am swollen, stiff and sore! Not to mention the strange bruises that have bloomed across my body! But the fact that I sustained daily activities for 7 days is truly a miracle.
And the biggest blessing of all? This time, on our 14th wedding anniversary, we did renew our vows (a promise we made to each other when we married on the date of our 7th year dating anniversary… to recommit our love to each other every 7 years thereafter). It wasn’t barefoot on a beach in an exotic locale. But in its quiet way, it was more intimate and allowed us to freely share our love that has come and is yet to be. We sat by the Great Lake Ontario, which in this location looks as mighty as any ocean, and read all parts of the ceremony we wrote together. We were in awe of the words we had chosen then, so many prophetic of the challenging times that were yet to come. I was able to express to my husband how truly grateful I am for his support, love and encouragement in difficult times and in joyous times. I thanked him for always choosing to run towards me instead of away. All of this was exchanged, outside, our bare feet on Mother Earth with the sounds of the waves and steel drums in the back ground (a recording of the steel drum band we had perform at our wedding- the best gift we every gave to ourselves).
It’s no wonder I never wanted this vacation to end! There is a re-connection that happens in times like these that rarely happens in the daily hustle of life; a reconnection to each other, to our own selves and to nature. I got in touch with my intuitive voice, heard loud and clear without the interruptions of traffic, obligations, ringing phones (another unique gift: no internet or cell service to be found!). It’s a rare treat to be cut off from the outside world for a week. To have a break from the incessant worries chronic illness brings. So what if I’m having trouble walking today! I have a lot to show for this “price of admission.” (read HERE). And, going forward, I plan on trying to weave threads of vacation-ease into my daily living.