My entire family just returned from a fantastic trip to a 5* resort in Mexico, where our every whim was catered to, no request was too outrageous, and no buffet was shown a shred of mercy. Twenty of any family would be loud and boisterous. This twenty of my family knows a lot about decibels and how to raise them, uncontrollable belly laughs and how to solicit them, and what it feels like to be part of a clan.
Being around them in large doses has always triggered my anxiety. So does flying. I’ve spent the last month working with the doctor and therapist on coping skills, including carrying around a bottle of sedatives to be taken four times a day. Or sometimes, four times an hour. Whatever gets ya through, right?
The first two or three days at the resort were blissful. I lounged until a late breakfast, then lounged some more until food or drink was procured. We discovered a small, quiet pool not far from our villa that became our haven. At one point, I looked around, and 90% of those in the lounge chairs were reading actual books!
My family’s plan was that we could do whatever we wanted during the day, but would all try to reconvene at a dinner (reservations for 20 are tricky). We aimed to try a different restaurant every night – all different styles and nationalities.
Wednesday afternoon, back in our villa, I was about to have a shower to get ready for family dinner. And I knew I had to shower – I have short hair now, so it gets gross quickly and needed either a good shampoo or a good set of clippers.
But I couldn’t make myself do it. I sat on the edge of the bed, still and silent, tears running down my face.
“I can’t go.” I didn’t mean to the dinner. I didn’t mean to the shower. I meant to anywhere other than that very spot.
“Then we won’t go,” was the quiet reply. So we didn’t. I took my medication, ordered room service, finally made it to the shower, and knocked myself out so I could face another day.
Thursday morning seemed to be lighter, less intense. We walked along the shore until we came to the saltwater pool where you can feed the fish. Or, more specifically, the fish completely surround you and start poking you in the stomach if you don’t drop some bread or a small child.
I discovered that this little cove had large glorious beds in the sun, and snatched up the last one. I was getting our little paradise settled when ML limped back from the pool, bleeding. Broke a toenail. Send in the medics. No, send the medical officer. Here, fill in this incident report (in Spanish).
The bed didn’t seem so glorious when he was in man-pain, and it was quite a hike back to the resort, so we headed back. To get from where we were to where we needed to be, we had to cross through the main pool area. It was a maze of colours and running children, of shouts and laughter and toddlers crying. All playing to an aggressive techno-dance-whatever beat that was supposed to sound Caribbean.
It was draining just to be near it.
We negotiated the path as quickly as ML could hobble, and had to walk past our calm oasis to get to our villa… which had also been discovered by those seeking respite from the chaos of the main pool, but had now been ruined by the nature of its own existence.
This time, we decided a nap might help my perspective some. I dipped in and out of sleep, never fully able to disengage my mind. I sat up, and once again declared: “I can’t do this. I don’t want to pretend I’m fine. I don’t want to answer questions because I don’t look like their version of happy enough or relaxed enough or healthy enough. I don’t want people to try to engage me in conversation when I have no desire or energy to talk to them. Or anyone.”
So, we got room service. At a 5* resort with at least 9 restaurants . And watched horrible shows on Netflix until I felt I might be ok again.
And then I was ok again, mostly. Friday was better than expected, and the flight home only had me in tears once.
Sometimes, even when the pressure is on to be fun, to be that positive beacon and paste on your widest smile… it’s ok to say: fuck it. This is my illness, and right now, my illness wins.
I’d take 5 great days over 7 mediocre ones every time.