I just got back from my first vacation in 11 years. I recently said it had been 15, but I did forget I went to Vegas 11 years ago.
I’ve written about how my ex would screw up our finances beyond repair and that I have since discovered he also had a gambling habit.
This obviously limited our ability to go on vacations. Our oldest had been begging us to take a trip to the ocean since she was four, and I always felt bad that I couldn’t ever make it come true.
Well, I finally did just that, on my own. Yes, a family member came with me, but I wouldn’t have even been able to afford this either way, within my marriage.
It felt good to take my kids cross country, on a road trip, to see the ocean.
This blog is about loving the other side of marriage, life, and love, and what I just experienced speaks to all of that—all while having nothing to do with any man, any dating stories or anything related to a male or significant other. This is purely about loving the other side of my life.
I started planning this trip as a way to distract myself from thinking about dating to be perfectly honest.
I started playing on apps like AirBnB over a year ago and toying with the idea of finally being able to take this trip with my kids.
And like with most things since I started my life over, I made it into a reality.
In my marriage, I would’ve never been able to do this because there wouldn’t have been money to do so. I was too busy just trying to survive—all the time.
Yes, I worked hard to be able to travel to the ocean, but it was worth it. There are so many ways this trip brought me outside my comfort zone, and I reveled in each step.
Aside from the financial aspect of being able to actually book and plan the trip, I never would’ve imagined I, alone, as the sole driver, would drive nearly 15 hours to a beach.
But I did. I don’t think it would’ve even been a thought of mine to do it because if it had been a reality financially, I would’ve expected him to drive. But I got my car ready, and I made that trip.
I drove through many states, open fields, and mountains. I drove through the windy, twisty Appalachians and was in awe.
I saw sights I had never seen before, and with exclamations of delight, I took them in as much as I possibly could.
I am in awe I made this trip so well, so calmly overall. I am proud I drove it. And just like I’ve been learning these last couple of years, when the road got treacherous, I simply slowed down a bit, took my time, and enjoyed the view.
This is what I do in my life. When things get hard, I might slow down, spend a weekend lying around, alone, but I take my time returning to what I know to be my core values: strength, passion, ambition, and a desire to provide a beautiful life for my children and myself.
My journey to this point hasn’t always been easy. In fact, it was often fret with struggle, fear, and unexpected—as well as expected—setbacks.
There have been twists and turns along this road thus far. There were mountains I had to climb, and times when I got to coast down.
If the road got hard to see or became too twisty for me to handle, I’d slow down and take it step by step, until I could find a way.
Not every view was meant to be enjoyed. There was the fear and strife in my life shortly after I said I wanted a divorce.
There was the financial uphill climb left behind by a mess he created.
When I lost my job twice along the way, and then spent a summer without much pay and no child support, it was an uphill climb, but I made it to the top—well, compared to where I have been, indeed this is the top.
At each point, I simply adjusted my speed. And I tried to enjoy the view.
Not every view was pretty. The mining industry in West Virginia dots what could be some breathtaking valleys, although West Virginia in itself was by far the prettiest to drive through.
The downtowns of almost any major city are blighted with crumbling buildings, a reminder of faded glory.
But, there were mountains covered in trees so thick they begged me to climb in, all while hiding their dangers deep inside. There were open stretches of farm land bathed in sunlight that made me ache to paint.
The ocean in all its powerful glory was peaceful, and at times rough, but in either case, the waves persisted, coming ceaselessly to the shore, touching it with either a gentle caress or a crash.
The tide carried in fish, shells, rocks, seaweed, and took it all away as fast.
Sometimes the waves roll gently over you, immersing you in calm. Other times they slam into you with the force to take you down, if only for a second.
You may tumble with a wave, as another hits you from behind before you can get your bearings.
This week, I enjoyed the view. I sat back on the beach, watching my oldest jump in waves she could hardly believe she was brave enough to jump into, as my youngest flirted with his idea of danger by dancing at the water’s edge and occasionally letting a small wave lick at his legs. I knew, for them, they were demonstrating their own brand of bravery.
My mother, who can’t swim, got in, and I didn’t even expect that. She didn’t either. Life is about risk if it’s going to be any fun. It’s about doing things that scare you, feeling the fear, the rush, and then the pride.
I looked at the horizon, and the clouds passing overhead. I smiled, knowing my kids were happy.
Knowing I had done it. Knowing I had brought them this far. I had taken them to the shore of our great country, our beautiful country.
I thought of Zora Neale Hurston’s words in Their Eyes Were Watching God. She talks of the horizon and compares it to dreams.
She talks about love being like the shore, and how it’s never the same for everyone. She talks about ships at a distance….you must read the book in your lifetime.
But, in each thought, I was reminded of how I had come to the horizon, and how my love is so great for my children, and now, for myself as well.
I don’t know that I knew what love really was until I got divorced. Isn’t that ironic?
Just as I had once brought myself to the painful realization that many waves would knock me down before I would be strong enough to swim in them, this vacation was metaphorically, my realization that I have healed completely. I don’t think the vacation healed me.
I think I was healed, but it was during this trip, 1000 miles from home, that it dawned on me that I am healed. This is what healing looks like, and it’s beautiful, and tan, and glowing.
My former therapist once asked me what I thought fully healed would look like.
I’m not sure how anyone can answer that question, at least without some hesitation, wondering if you would recognize healing when it came. There were times I thought I wouldn’t recognize it.
There were times I thought of it as a process, and times I thought I’d wonder if I’d ever heal because there will always be a part of me that will be left shattered, and there will be times that scared woman will return.
This doesn’t mean I haven’t healed. Your knee might heal from surgery, but it may ache every time it rains.
True healing means that things are mended enough to resume normal life—or at least, your new normal. This is my new, and wonderful, normal.
By all accounts, I have come very far, and I have done a lot of work on myself during this process.
Not once have I missed him, although there were a few times, maybe three, that I missed the idea of what I thought he once was and what we could be.
This past week might just be what healing looks like for me.