I haven’t posted at the usual time because I am on vacation. I haven’t been on a vacation that was more than 2 days for....10 years or so. I haven’t gone on a family vacation in almost 20 years. Vacations come with so many different anxieties. Where am I? What is that? Oh great family. A family vacation/reunion. Needless to say I needed all my DBT skills to get through it and I am glad we started with distress tolerance and I have learned some self care. Humans are lovely, but they are also super exhausting.
It never seems to matter to people that you flew 10 hours to visit, they still insist that you should drive to visit them, because a two hour drive in Europe might as well be an over night trip. I am teasing a little, but if you are a commuting North American with European family you’ve probably noticed that our perception of distance is different.
(Note: Not my pictures but they are of places I have visited)
I’ve done pretty well on vacation. I’m having a little trouble moment now, because I’m not dealing with the constant moving from different locations particularly well. Or the constant socializing. I’m trying to self care.
Places where my DBT skills worked:
1) Going out at night.
This one I wanted to do and set myself up to be prepared to do. It comes from my one ex that would scold me and tell me how I’d get kidnapped and sold into human trafficking if I went out at night by myself. Re-enforced by years of people telling women that you shouldn’t exist because if you exist you deserve to have bad things happen to you.
I made it easy on myself. I choose to go to the amusement park Tivoli at night. I left in the afternoon and spent about 5 hours waiting for it to be dark. It doesn’t get dark until 10pm. I was motivated to stay because the lights are beautiful at Tivoli. The hardest part was leaving the park. I was worried because the park is so safe, but I kept telling myself “It’s Denmark, what’s the worst that could happen?” Also, it made it easier because it’s a city I kinda know. So I made my way home and then
2) I got lost.
I also misplaced my map. I probably left at the restaurant where I got a little drunk. I started at myself about how stupid I was for getting lost. I almost started to play my ex telling me how foolish I was for thinking I could make it back home. I stopped.
T- Take a breath
O -Observe - I looked for street signs and saw I was on a major street and then saw a tourist map
P - Pull back - Realized it was not the worst thing that could happen. I am smart and can find my way.
P - Practice what works. - I self validated. I reassured myself of other places I have navigated and reminded myself that I have also got lost in home town, but I always found my way. That I was not the first person to get lost. That things look different at night, so that’s why I got confused. That Danes are super nice and I could ask if I needed too.
That calmed me down and I read the posted map and found I was only 2 streets off. I made my way home and felt good about it.
3) I tried to help out at the family party and ended up making a huge* mess.
*Huge in my mind, small in real life. This one was hard. I wanted to help, but I ended up spilling stuff everywhere. I couldn’t believe it. I’m not clumsy. Awkward yes, but I rarely spill. I felt so terrible. Even though it was maybe a cup of stuff, I thought I had ended the world. I kept beating myself up, emotionally cutting myself, and then I retreated back to my room and had a little conversation with myself. I needed to breath deeply and count. Think of times when I’ve helped and done good.
“You didn’t mean to spill. You aren’t the first to spill. It’s not a big deal. We don’t need to emotionally beat the shit out of us because of a little mess.”
4) I made a request.
I could never say no or put myself first, especially if it is an inconvenience to another person. I made one request before I left that I will not share a room. I will not share a room with children. I will not share a room with a certain male cousin. Guess who got put into a bedroom with the children? Me. Who the hell thought putting the single childless person in the room with kids was a good idea. I have no fucking clue.
I stated I was not pleased and had asked for my own room. This was super hard. Immediately because it is my family, not one person could deal with this, but at least 3-5 people needed to get involved and talk about all the options. Including me sharing a bed with the male cousin I don’t like. It was overwhelming. I wanted to start crying. It was hard to say no, but then to re-state my case and then get other people meddling was overwhelming. I left the conversation and went and sat on a couch by myself because I couldn’t deal with it. I stopped thinking about all the things that could happen. I practised some mindfulness because my head was roaring. I was worried about being a burden, offending the parents of the children, being selfish, being the centre of conversation. I did every mindfulness activity to simply not think. I counted. I touched the fabric on the couch. Looked at the brush strokes of a painting. Took longer to eat and taste every bit of my food.
It took about 5 hours, but I got my own room.
5) Socializing and human contact.
Ya, I’m trying but after more than a week. I need alone time. I’m hiding in my room trying to write because I just need alone time. It’s also hard because I can feel the other people’s feelings. Sometimes I feel like people over react. I over react, but I also don’t think I do. e.g someone knocked on the door I said come in, they didn’t, so I pulled the door open, and went back to work, and then they seemed very concerned and awkward that they disturbed me. Everyone in my family tries to hide feelings, so the moment you express a normal level of annoyance it’s like screaming. Literally, just get what you need and get the fuck out. It’s not a big deal, there’s no need to apologize, just come and go quietly.
I know I’m suppose to parade around and entertain, but I really don’t want too. And that’s okay.
I’ve also reached my touch limit. Don’t stand behind me. Don’t reach across me. I just don’t want to hug, or have another child touch me, or cry on me and beg to go home, or another cousin elbow me, touch my shoulder or anything else. One of my other cousins decided to be a fucking asshole and pat me on my belly and smirk at me. Cousin, if you could get over the fact you think you are fat and ugly, maybe you could stop projecting that shit on to me. I am a beautiful robot.
I just need zero humans
This is a self care skill. So I’ve removed myself and put myself alone, so I can just be alone. I’ve put myself first.
I am enjoying my self. But it’s also exhausting.