Sunday, January 02, 2011

Holiday Airports or How to Test Your Recovery

We are home. A three day holiday trip to the Mom-in-Law became 8 days. Delay, cancellation, stand by. By now you know what happened in the Northeast and consequently what happened to airplanes and airports everywhere.

In addition to no clothes, no phones, no makeup, no internet and no fruit –in Florida! I did get a great experience and test of my recovery.

Here is the bad news and the good news:

In the first day –or two—I saw my almost physical resistance to acceptance. “They do not mean our plane? Not our plane; not my plane?” (You would have thought I owned the plane). Even when the very patient airline staff member explained that Yes it was Florida and no there was no snow here but there were also no airplanes here either—I had this visceral insistence that it could not be. Then as I accepted that we’d spend the extra night, God laughed. It was explained that we’d spend at least four more nights. (It turned out to be five).

That first day I felt very unrecovered. Then I also watched myself be very nice to complete strangers but a cranky, unsettled wife to my husband. What does it say in the Big Book about how the people we love get hit the hardest?

The other not-so-recovered part of me that I got to witness for days was the shopping addiction. This was totally weird. I did not drink, smoke or take any drugs. I also did not binge on sugar or pizza or holiday goodies but I shopped at airport newsstands and at CVS like it was Saks: “Oh, look pink nail polish, I must have some; and those plastic barrettes adorable! and nude colored peds—amazing! This went on for days.

The other less than recovered part of me was my thinking—mostly about work. I called my boss who was very gracious but I could not shake the worry—“what will people think?” “I’m going to be in trouble.” “I’m such a bad employee”, etcetera etcetera etcetera. All those paperback self-help books in the airport newsstand did come in handy. New word: rumination. New list for my therapist: What the…?

But there is also good in this unexpected holiday inventory:

My first instinct was to pray. And to pray for acceptance. Even though the results were not great I did keep praying. And I kept saying, “This is what it is and this is what is happening”.

I also started a gratitude list. I was sober and stayed sober, I just bought 18-hour mascara, my manicure was the new varnish kind that lasts two weeks; I had eight days with my husband in small spaces and some of those days with his mother who sometimes called my by his ex-wife’s name—and I laughed! And I and we kept laughing.

Also on my list: not traveling with an infant—several families were; Not blind—a couple near us were BOTH blind; no one screaming at me—a husband behind us in the long wait lines kept screaming at his wife. And no drinking—we saw lots and lots of drunken people in airport bars.

But here’s the best and what I want to hold on to: In all these days all my comforts and defenses were removed from me: privacy, control, looking good, attractiveness, work—I could not please or impress or even create and I found out that even with all of that removed—I still exist.

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