What should be here: family beach photos from a wonderful vacation at Kill Devil Hills.
What is here: a deep dive into the emotional struggle of a canceled vacation.
I've never seen myself as a writer. Odd considering that I write for a living.
However, I have come to realize that writing things down is very therapeutic and necessary for my mental well-being. Whether it's a to-do list or an anxiety list in Google Keep or a blog post, getting things out of my head is the only way I can move forward.
So, that is what this blog post is. It's me getting things out of my head so I can move forward and not be bitter any longer.
I will start by saying -- I know.
I know to even have a vacation planned is a luxury.
I know that having the funds (after saving for 6 months) to pay for a vacation is a luxury.
I know that having the family relationships we have to go on a vacation is a luxury.
I know that this blog is selfish for me to write considering all the damage that was caused by this hurricane. The lives, homes and places of business destroyed and lost.
I know I am extremely lucky and blessed to be missed by the storm.
I know all of this and yet, here I am, still struggling to get past a canceled vacation.
If you find yourself rolling your eyes to anything I've listed above, that is totally justified. I encourage you to close out of this post now. Otherwise, join me on this journey of self and emotional healing.
Patience: You see, I've been looking forward to this trip for nine months now. I patiently overlooked the social media posts of others on their relaxing and rejuvenating beach vacations all summer long because I knew I would have my time.
Then last week happened. It's still happening.
Peaceful: About two weeks ago, we saw the hurricane start to form. I was put at ease knowing we did the same thing last year -- go on a beach trip during a storm. It was fine. We had several days of rain last year, but there was still relaxation intertwined between the stress of a hurricane. I thought this week was going to be much of the same.
The group message with all who were going had a strict "no hurricane discussion" policy as a way to keep a PMA - "positive mental attitude."
It worked for a few days.
Worry: Until the night before we were set to leave and a late night glass of wine led to a deep dive into the hurricane center on the NOAA website. Florence was coming. She was powerful and there wasn't any stopping her (regardless of all the Facebook events you saw pop up saying the contrary. IE: Event to play Nickelback and Creed to make her go away. Event to have everyone turn their fans on and blow them toward her so she would change paths. Etc.)
Anxiety: A panic arrived in the form of a 4AM run to Walmart before we left in order to get some hurricane supplies. (At this point, she was on track to come straight for Virginia.)
Preparedness: I was put at ease a bit once I knew when we did come home, which we knew was a 99% possibility, we would be prepared, thanks to my supply run.
Excitement: We were sure we would have at least until Wednesday at the beach so we left bright and early on Sunday morning for our week long vacation. A vacation that was well overdue and needed in the wake of stressful jobs.
Relaxation: We did relax for about 20 hours. We got to sit on the beach, eat at our traditional breakfast spot and I got to enjoy a long run. For that, we are thankful.
Anger: We didn't discuss the hurricane much until Monday morning at 10AM when a mandatory evacuation was ordered for the OBX as of Tuesday at 7am. What? We had just gotten there. The hurricane was 1500 miles away. WHY WAS IT SO EARLY? We were angry. We were upset.
Fear: We were also scared. This hurricane wasn't slowing down and the severity of it was confirmed with this mandatory evacuation.
Preparedness & Anger & Excitement & Stress: Brad and I huddled up and came up with a plan. We would head home that night so we wouldn't get stuck in traffic. That meant our vacation was over 36 hours after it had begun. We were still angry. We were still upset. We were stressed. However, a small bright light of excitement did show it's head when we decided to go back to work on Wednesday and use our vacation days for a trip in October instead.
Bitterness & Exhaustion & Anger & Fear: We took Tuesday off to unpack and relax. However, our workloads started to creep in and instead of the Sunday Scaries of work, it was Tuesday and we were not excited. We were exhausted. We needed that vacation more than anything this year, and we weren't going to get it. That day also brought sickness in the form of a virus. Stella spiked a fear of 102 that turned into 104.2 the next morning. We now had the added stress of trying to figure out how to take care of her on top of going back to work (at this point, we had already let work know we were coming back).
Motivation-less & Worried: We went back to work completely struggling to focus and get motivated to do our best. We were worried about Stella, worried about our exhaustion and worried about the impending hurricane that was bound to be destructive. These emotions by far were the hardest to process because we didn't know how to change our hearts. We didn't know how to feel rejuvenated and refreshed.
We still don't. We are big believers that everything happens for a reason, but we are still trying to see what God has in store and why this has happened.
Sorrow & Embarrassment: Feeling sorrow was expected with this hurricane. My heart hurts seeing social media acquaintances struggling through this hurricane. Houses flooded, buildings damaged, life lost. I am embarrassed that I ever felt the emotions I spelled out for you above because, in comparison, these emotions are nothing short of selfish. I do want to say that I am so sorry if you were caught in the wake of the hurricane. I thank all the responders, the local law enforcement and all the newscasters for keeping everyone up-to-date on what is going on. Thank you for rescuing people stranded in their homes. Thank you for helping people get to safety. Thank you. You all are true heroes.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading. You didn't have to, this post was mostly for my peace of mind.
Sunday was spent battling with all these emotions and nothing (until this post) has helped. I tried to use what was supposed to be my 17 mile run to work through all of them, but I couldn't get past 2 miles. I tried 2x to run and it didn't work. I tried hot showers, napping, working and (again) eating to process everything.
It dawned on me after a mild breakdown that I needed to get these emotions out of my head and on to paper or a computer screen. And let me tell you, this has been therapeutic. Thank you for reading.