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Posts Tagged ‘Anxiety’

In two days I leave for vacation. My dad, mom, sister, and I will fly non-stop to Barcelona and spend a week sight-seeing. We have a side trip to Valencia planned where Dad will reminisce about his year spent studying (a little) and drinking (a lot) while he earned a degree in Spanish Literature before he got married. We’ll hear some of the same stories we’ve heard before and probably some new ones while we do a lot of drinking ourselves. Sounds pretty amazing, right? It is, and I know that. I know that I am extremely lucky to have a dad who can afford a European vacation and who is willing to bring his adult daughters along. I know I could never afford a trip like this myself and that I will see and do some great things. I know this. But what I feel…that’s a different story. I am grateful, truly I am.

I never express the anxiety these vacations produce because I don’t want to be a spoiled brat. I want to say I love these trips and leave it at that, but I just can’t. My mother and I do not get along. It’s a complicated relationship in which she pretends in public to like me, in recent years she’s begun pretending to even love me, but in private we both know the truth. No need to poke at that festering sore, suffice it to say that there is a lot of tension when we spend more than a few hours together. Then there’s the walking. I am fat, excessively so. I get around fine in my normal life but I am sedentary and don’t do much walking.  This week will be nothing but walking all over the streets of Barcelona and the surrounding towns. We’ll tour museums and churches, Dad has a thing for churches. We’ll climb towers for a better view and walk through the parks and gardens. My sister and parents will do fine. No one is in great shape, but they are all better off than I am and have been running and walking this past year. So I will be in the back of our little group, as always, struggling to keep up and knowing that I am holding them back. If they didn’t have to wait for me they could get a lot more done.

I will sweat. Not a normal “it’s hot out here and we’re walking around” kind of sweat but a “holy shit that fat lady is melting” kind of sweat. Any kind of heat makes sweat drip off me even when I’m just standing still. Add any movement and in about five minutes I’ll look like I just did the ice bucket challenge. My face flushes and I truly look like I’m going to die. I get a lot of stares from everyone and well-meaning expressions of concern from some. It’s embarrassing for me and my family and I never look decent going into nice places. So there I’ll be, huffing along behind them, wishing I could disappear and knowing they wish the same thing, trying not to drip sweat on anyone or anything and feeling my anxiety ratchet up as my soul dies a little more. I’ll try to make up for this by seeming like a worthy addition to the group. I’ll crack jokes, take pictures, grab brochures for the scrapbooks my sister and Mom will put together later. I’ll try to stay positive and happy. I’ll be grateful, I’ll accept every decision they make and go where they say.

Until the anxiety, tension, and discomfort are too much. Then I’ll lash out. Mom will say, within earshot of a stranger, “are you okay sweet girl,” while her eyes say “stop embarrassing me.” I’ll lash out.  I’ll hiss, “I’m FINE,” through clenched teeth and try to move away from her. I’ll deny that I need a break and will stomp on. Dad will hesitate on where we should eat, always wanting to check all of our options first, and all I’ll want is to sit anywhere so I’ll get snarky and make fun of him for being indecisive. My sister will just be there, not really doing anything to upset me, but I’ll be reminded that she’s the better one. The wanted one and, at the very least, the dry one. I’ll snap at her and say something hurtful. All of this is before lunch. Rest, eat, repeat. Every day for a week.

By the time we fly home I’ll be a mental and physical mess. My sister and mom will be barely speaking due to their own issues and my dad will be exhausted from trying to keep us all together and looking like a happy family. I’ll see the strain and regret in his eyes and it will stab me in the heart. I can’t do it anymore. I knew after the last trip that it should have been my last one. (We go every other year) I should have told them I was done but it’s just assumed that we’ll all go somewhere and I hate confrontation. I chickened out. I kept meaning to say I wasn’t going to go this time, but time piled up and suddenly everything was booked. I absolutely cannot do this again. This one has to be the last. I just have to survive it first.

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