“Everyone I know is gone and I don’t even know myself.  I’m saving up to take a trip to Mexico.  I heard it’s the place to go.  I want to see the colours of another sky.”

I booked a ticket to Mexico.  This is something that has been in the works for months now, but I have been pretty quiet about it.

During the summer, when Ian had finalized his plans to leave for Mexico, he extended an invite for me to come and visit him.  At the time of the invitation, I wasn’t sure if it was something I wanted to do, for a number of reasons.  As the summer went on and I reflected on the idea of going down for a visit once Ian had set up, it gradually became something I did want to do, as opposed to something I felt obligated to do.  As I have detailed in numerous posts now, the ease with which I attach a sense of obligation to anything is staggering-even a trip to Mexico in the middle of a Canadian winter.

Once I had made the decision to go for the visit, I kept it more or less to myself-Ian knew but that was it.  Maybe a month ago, with a lot of hesitation and anxiety I shared the news of my impending trip with my parents.  Admittedly I was expecting a less than positive reaction from them.  Almost one of scolding.  After a 6 month hiatus from work, I was now planning a trip to Mexico.  As I asked Ian this morning during a chat, who does that?

I would also like to remind myself and just put it out there for some levity that I am actually coming into the last 2 months of my 37th year.  I’m not, as some of my articulated thoughts on this blog would suggest a 14 year old desperate for the approval of her parents.

To my surprise, my parents’ reaction was fairly neutral.

I still kept the news of the the trip to myself.  No mentions of it with other friends.  Not a lot of planning.

The guilt that I have felt regarding this trip has been palpable to put it mildly.  Ian has been helping me keep an eye on good ticket prices for the last several weeks and last night I finally managed to book a one way ticket to Mexico.  I’m continuing to watch the return flights to see if I can’t get a good deal there too.

In the moments before I actually booked the ticket though I was pretty desperate for someone to give me permission to do so.  Ian and I were chatting and I kept running the plan by him: buy the departing ticket now and wait for a good deal on the return.  In not so many words, I more or less asked Ian if it was okay for me to do so.

This morning, I woke up in a strange mood feeling generally hesitant and anxious about everything.  About my teaching at the college.  About possible future job prospects and a personal project I was so excited about just a week ago.  I also was feeling incredibly guilty about projecting some of my own issues onto Ian last night as we talked about his own journey and dreams.

The past several days have felt tangibly odd and out of sorts for me.  I had such momentum last week, and then seemed to have lost most of it over the course of Saturday and the days that have followed.

I realize in part this has to do with the holiday season.  I have always adored Christmas, and while I’ve never really got myself tangled up in the gift giving side of it, it is a time of year where I have relied on others to make it special for me.  I’m realizing I do this with a lot of various events throughout the year, namely holidays and birthdays.  Again while the enjoyability-factor of a special day doesn’t rest in material things, for me it is about the people with whom I spend the time.

This year I have opted out of a few events, as I mentioned in an earlier post primarily because I felt obligated to participate in them.  I am working on engaging in life because I want to, not because I feel obligated or pressured to.  While this is great on paper and something I am continually working on and towards, my perfectionist brain often feels compelled to throw in the proverbial towel when it realizes that this detachment is not something that is achievable in one fluid and graceful movement.

Just as I have taught and allowed others to treat me a certain way, I too have been conditioned and have conditioned myself to subscribe to certain “truths” or ways of being.  I am moving away from a lot of those ways and truths but again I am discovering that it isn’t something that just happens over night.  It is not a perfect process.

It is requiring a lot of hard work on my part to detach.  I’m someone who is sentimental to an extreme, so I feel as though my attachment deck is stacked pretty high.

As the trip to Mexico has been approaching steadily, so too has my guilt about it been climbing.

I think the combination of that guilt and my efforts to detach more and fill the void within myself  have left me feeling depleted.

As the nervous and anxiety filled energy seemed to grow this morning, I soon found myself in a ball of tears, frustrated as I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I was so emotional.  I couldn’t blame my hormones.  I had just booked what I know will be an amazing week and a half in Mexico.

I felt a lot of guilt for the conversation I had had with Ian last night, where I projected.

In talking to Ian this morning about it, I mentioned that I felt as though I still have yet to find my footing.  While I know I am in a period of transition, there are still remnants of the former me mixed in with the person I am becoming.  I feel as though because there is a lacking in the solidity of my footing that I sort of blow around with others and their perceptions and beliefs.  When someone guilt trips me then I feel pushed in that direction and my own guilt is compounded.  Likewise when someone else is figuring their own path out and I struggle in understanding it, I get confused and taken in another direction.

Simply put I am still easily swayed by others.  Maybe that is what is most draining-trying to establish my roots in what I believe and who I am, while still being so pliable to the beliefs, perspectives and opinions of others.

This has all just been another reminder for me that this is a process I am involved in.  As Ian kindly shared with me this morning I am developing a new skill, and I need to allow myself the time and space to get better at it, before I criticize myself.

One thing that helps when I struggle with being kind and compassionate towards myself is imagining that a friend is going through the same thing as I am.  I put myself into another person and wonder how I would approach them if they were doing the things I am.  I know if I had someone close to me who had experienced burnout and taken some time to recover and heal, and booked some time away to travel, I would without a doubt commend them and continue to encourage them and be excited for them.

Until I can get a bit better at the idea of naturally extending the same kindness and love to myself, I will try to treat myself as I would others.

Without guilt.  Without obligation.  Without pressure.

With love.

With Love,

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Olivia Shaw

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