Where Am I?

Well, let me first say that I was obviously not successful in finishing out my trip journal! Fail! Here’s the very shortened version.

Day 26 – Lake Plitvice, Croatia. WOW stunning
Day 27-29 Zadar, Croatia. YES we were in Croatia for the World Cup Final! However, we were unable to stay. That is one of the many occurrences that made our Croatia trip a little underwhelming. It was purely coincidental and poor planning – Croatia is amazing!
Day 30-34 Budapest. Those days just flew by!

So, at this point we’ve been home exactly two weeks. It feels unreal to be back, but the whole trip seems a bit unreal as well, like it took place in an alternate universe or something. I’ve had the usual post-trip lows, combined with getting too stressed about socializing with friends and family, trying to squeeze in my own favorite summer Austin activities, before getting back to the grind of the school year. *Sigh*

Since getting back we spent: one day at home, one day at a family reunion, and then about five days at home before heading to South Padre Island for a friend’s birthday.

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It was lovely, but we were SO happy to be back in our beautiful home on Tuesday. What’s really cool, is that we were able to Airbnb our place during our short trip to the coast – we are really starting to enjoy this whole Airbnb-ing thing. We already a group booked for Labor Day when we’re headed out of town again!

This summer has been one amazing experience after another. I am so grateful. However, there’s always room for emotional baggage to sneak in. 😉

#1: Family. I had big plans to confront my family with some big topics before I left. I had so many reasons to go for it. I wrote a poem that I think really sums up how I felt about laying it all out there. But, when the time came.. I just couldn’t. At first I was incredibly disappointed, but I’ve since learned that it just wasn’t my right time, and that’s okay. However, since there was this big build-up that ended up leading to nothing, I feel a little confused and uncomfortable about when I stand with all of them. I’m working on figuring that out.

#2: Friends/Relationships. One of my friends – let’s call her Mary – went through a really bad break-up this past Spring. I’ve chosen to adjust my life quite a bit to be there for her, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. However, with that comes the added challenge of maintaining boundaries, which is something I think we all struggle with, especially when we’re really worried about someone we love and care for immensely.

So, during my first week back, I just felt like I HAD to see Mary as much as possible, who had missed me so much while I was gone, AND everyone else. I was extremely stressed and overwhelmed, and didn’t really want to see anyone. I felt like I was letting everyone down by not being social enough. Not wanting to see anyone is pretty typical for me post-trip, but it was worse this time because I felt more obligation.

It took some time and a therapy session to figure out what was going on. You see, with my family,

a lot of my process has been setting boundaries with my mom… and then my dad (unexpectedly) and now, even more unexpectedly, my brother

When this happened with him, I just felt a lot of anger, disappointment and helplessness… as most importantly, responsibility, because I was so worried about him. All of these feelings transferred to Mary, and then onto all of my other friends. I was only allowing myself to see the “burdens” of friendship, not all of the joy I’ve cultivated over the last few years as I’ve build up my friend group and re-learned how to trust friends.

Furthermore, I allowed myself to believe that these burdens were real. I’ve now realized they aren’t. Loyalty, “being there,” helping others, sure it’s all really good, but it’s not a REQUIREMENT of friendship. My therapist asked me two really great questions: What do you think it means to be a great friend? I responded with some variation of the list above. Then she asked, “What do you think your friends would tell you that you need to do in order to be a great friend?” I laughed out loud because I knew right away – they love me just as I am, and they would 100% say, “Just be you, silly!”

Once I realized this, I was able to drop my expectations for myself as a friend a little more easily, which was really good because I still had to make it through the beach trip with five friends. 😉 Sidenote: It is so wonderful to have authentic relationships. I felt so isolated just a few years ago.

#3 My weight: I lot of my thoughts about it can be summed up here. Even though it was almost two months ago that I realized I’ve gained so much weight, I’m only now starting on my weight-loss and overall health reset. I suppose that’s not entirely true – I started doing Yoga With Adriene very regularly while on the trip. I highly recommend Yoga With Adriene because it is just so easy to do it everyday. It’s free, it’s usually only about 20 minutes, and she focuses on self-love and being our true selves, something I know I need to be reminded up everyday.

Anyway, we got back from the beach on August 1, so I started my Whole30 on August 1. I will do this Whole30, reintroduce the foods the right way, and stay on track until I reach my target weight and lifestyle. 🙂 I know I can do this. I know I am capable of change, but that doesn’t mean I don’t spend a lot of my time feeling really down about my body and the journey ahead of me.

Thankfully, I had a really big “aha moment” while doing yoga in Budapest. The AC wasn’t on, so I ended up taking off my shirt and doing yoga in my sports bra. This meant having to see more of my body. Shame instantly came over me… but then I heard my yoga teacher within say, “If you can’t love your body now, how can you expect yourself to treat it better and reach your goals?”

I love the skin I’m in.

Because I love my body, I will treat it well. I will live the healthy lifestyle I deserve.

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What a Dog

I had the talk with my family. I didn’t stretch myself as much as I’d hoped, and at first I was really disappointed. However, I can now see that it was a step in the right direction, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I did my best, and I’m closer than ever before to being open an honest with them.

We made it to Budapest! All three of us, including my 12ish year old 14 pound dachshund mix! Dogs are truly amazing. My heart was full of gratitude to Bartley throughout this trip. It’s just overwhelming how much dogs trust us, and are capable of doing scary things they don’t understand, because of that love and trust.

It may seem crazy that we decided to bring him with us, but the last time I left him with friends or family for an extended amount of time, he got extremely sick. When I got home, he could hardly walk, and his fever kept getting worse for weeks. It took several weeks to figure out what was going on, and one night when he hadn’t left the closet for most of the day, we actually said our goodbyes to him. I didn’t think he would get better.

Bartley is such a fighter. He has survived heartworms, distemper and distemper related neurological problems like seizures and encephalitis. I got to see much of that fighting spirit on the long journey.

He is a senior guy, so the thought of leaving him for so long, especially after he got so sick last time, didn’t seem to be an option. However, the thought of taking him on such a long flight didn’t seem like the best idea either. He proved me wrong! From staying in his tiny kennel (on some sedatives) at my feet on the plane, to trekking it through airports, (somewhat drunkenly) sometimes up stairs that must’ve looked like mountains to him, this dog was by my side. He was 100% in it, because even though he didn’t understand what was going on, he trusted in me.

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Perhaps the most beautiful moment was the night before we left. I was rummaging through my luggage… and he ran and got inside of his travel kennel. This is something he has NEVER done before.

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He had to tell me – you’re taking me with you this time. ❤️

And, beyond all of these more serious positive qualities he has, he also just has the most fantastic personality, as pictured below: Stretched out on the couch, mini tennis ball, in mouth, ready to play.

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Love Means

Love means being able to be open and honest.
Vulnerable.
Love means choosing to go ahead,
And say what needs to be said,
When it’s not what they want to hear,
When it might hurt,
When it causes an shift, a tear, a (momentary?) split
In the relationship.
When it shakes up how they thought you perceived them.
Because love means
Challenging each other to be better
Challenging each other to be honest,
First and foremost,
With themselves.
And love means,
Respecting yourself enough to say what you need,
Knowing yourself well enough to know what you want,
So that your connection is stronger,
More authentic.
This love isn’t easy,
But it isn’t about sacrifice,
Or waiting,
Or wondering,
Or hoping,
Or avoiding.
Love means being able to be open and honest and vulnerable.
And believing they’re still going to be there,
When it’s not what they want to hear,
When it might hurt,
When it causes a shift, a tear, a split,
In the relationship.
Love means doing all of this,
And receiving it as well.

Love Means.

Mimosas in the AM, Fettuccine Alfredo in the PM

Wow, I am so happy we pushed through yesterday and got so much done. The main thing left to do is – pack! We’re getting super excited about our trip to Hungary, Slovakia, The Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia. We leave on Thursday! We were actually able to relax some today, and it was amazing.

I saw two of my best friends today. I was really glad to spend some time with them before leaving, and that it was on a day when I was less stressed, and better able to connect. Yay for mimosas in the morning with one, and homemade fettuccine alfredo in the evening with the other! Feelin’ spoiled. (I haven’t forgotten about my goal to lose 30 pounds by January 1, 2019. Working on figuring out how to indulge responsibly. I welcome any tips or reading material!)

Not much to write about today. Still thinking about the (possible) upcoming talk with my family. I’m dreading it, dreading even thinking about it, really.

Today was a three point day.

Closer to Being Ready

This goes for my upcoming trip, and the talk I need to have with my family before I go. Our place is almost ready for our Airbnb guests, which means we’ve (finally) made the whole place more comfortable, and we managed to declutter! Areas that have had random piles for months (or even years?) are finally open, and it feels so good. Everything seems to have a home which is amazing as well. We’ve been working really hard though, and are definitely exhausted. We only have a few more steps to go, the lengthiest of which is going to be to actually pack for our trip, AND pack up our personal belongings so our guests don’t feel too much like they’re sleeping in someone else’s room. 🙂

As for the family part… well, I got it all down on paper, and that’s something. I even told my dad and brother I want to meet with them on my brother’s next day off, so if I do have the guts to say all of this, there’s actually a set time to say it. Worst case scenario, we just have lunch instead.

Why am I so scared? I guess it has to do with acceptance. I want to know they’re going to agree with me, even before I say the things I need to say. I’m worried they won’t like what I have to say, and may become upset or argue, and I won’t be able to stand up for what I know to be true. Part of me is also really afraid they’re going to say, we’re sorry you feel that way, and I’ll be left to follow my word, which is that if that’s the case, I have to step away for a while.

I need to know that that’s a possibility before going into this conversation. I’ve worked really hard the last few years to build up a healthy life and supportive community outside of my family, and have come to accept that under most circumstances, no matter how scary, I really am going to be okay. That doesn’t mean the prospect of losing closeness with my family isn’t difficult to stomach.

I sort of forgot to keep track of my points last week, so since it’s Sunday, I’ll just start over today. 🙂 Today was a 2 point day.

The Ability to Change

I felt really negative about things yesterday. Finding out how much weight I’ve gained really brought me down. But I want to reiterate what I discovered towards the end of my post: It really is possible! If there’s one thing I’ve learned this decade, it’s that I am capable of change. I owe myself that tiny bit of trust it takes to know that I can overcome this obstacle too. And let’s face it, it’s WAY bigger than just looking good. I want to feel good, and know that I’m treating my body right.

I leave on Thursday for a fantastic trip with the boyfriend. We’re headed to Hungary, my home away from home where I spent 9+ months just after college. This is truly the place where I stood on my own two feet for the first time, expressed myself for the first time, grew to love and trust myself for the first time. I’ve been back one other time with my now ex-husband. It was different, but still amazing. I think this time will be the best yet. 🙂 (For more of my Hungarian experiences, read this, or this, or check out my very first baby blog!) We will also be venturing to Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia – in that order. I can’t wait to share more! Things have been really busy preparing, as we decided to Airbnb our own place while we’re gone, and it wasn’t the slightest bit “guest ready.” Things have been moving along nicely though.

To switch to a completely unrelated topic: Family. We spend our childhood just going with the flow, because what else is there to do? And then we reach adulthood, and we’re blind-sided not only by our responsibilities and the awkwardness of it all, but also by all this shit we have to undo, this garbage we never knew was a big deal, but it actually is. Anyone know what I’m talking about?

A lot of my process has been setting boundaries with my mom… and then my dad (unexpectedly) and now, even more unexpectedly, my brother. My mom suffers from mental health issues. My dad is in many ways her enabler (or maybe disabler?) of the dependent, helpless life she lives. My brother moved back to Austin a few years ago, and had honestly stayed as unaware of the situation as he possibly could for a very long time – despite many efforts on my part to tell him, to ask for support. Now, he’s very aware of it and feels totally stuck. It seems like he’s finally where I was here, here, and here, but instead of it manifesting as panic attacks, he’s coping with it in different, equally difficult ways.

The moral of the story is I need to rethink those boundaries, and hopefully communicate them before this trip, if I have the guts to. I want everyone to work towards happiness so we can enjoy life, and therefore each other, even more. But for now, it seems like they’re stuck in their own painful, ineffective patterns, and I’ve tried so many times to communicate things that could help. They’ve never listened before, or never listened enough to make change. I have to get the courage to try one more time.