Last week I took a much needed vacation.
It totaled 8 days and it was the longest vacation I've ever taken in my adult life.
I took time off to celebrate family, love and life.
The 1st day of a 3 day road trip was good overall.
My son and my boyfriend loaded up the car and set ourselves north towards Oregon.
We passed several desert towns that peppered the landscape like weeds clinging to life in patches of dirt.
They were dusty, prickly and unapologetic in their disdain for the likes of me and my little liberal family but I was happy just to be out of my element and experiencing something new for a change.
I had forgotten the pleasure of throwing your feet up on the dash and looking out the window to daydream and hold the hands of the ones you love.
It's as sweet as can be.
Our first major stop was Las Vegas.
One of my life's great loves, my Grandma Betty is dying.
My plan had been to stop by to see my grandmother with little notice so that we could spend some much needed time together.
For years, we talked on the phone regularly but due to my lack of time management skills and her inability to continue long conversations...our chats have become more quarterly than monthly.
I just wanted to see her and despite some family drama it was a sweet visit.
My grandmother was bright eyed but not the same vivacious woman I've known most of my life.
I reminded her about the wild stories of her youth.
The anatomically correct dolls she used to make and her travels around the world.
My heart was and is full from our brief time to connect.
We arrived in Bend, Oregon for my boyfriend's sister's wedding.
I like his sister...a great deal.
She is smart, funny and thoughtful so it was an honor to be included in her festivities.
They were AMAZING festivities that included a 3 day camp out in Sisters, Oregon and days of circus performances and activities.
I figured I would fit right in...
I tend to make friends with ease and am used to being around stressed out strangers but as soon as we got there I realized I was the odd duck.
My boyfriend's ex is also his sister's best friend.
She would be the unofficial Maid of Honor.
I told myself I would not feel awkward about it.
At first, I didn't.
I like his ex-girlfriend.
She's very outgoing and charismatic.
She is also younger, prettier, thinner and seems to have all the qualities that I know I shouldn't cling too as I age but...well, for fuck's sake...sometimes I still do.
I'm a grown woman who looks pretty damn good and makes a living doing what I love so...
I'm not exactly chopped liver, but still after days of traveling and a brief and unsettling interaction with my mother days earlier in Vegas...I was feeling a bit low.
Unintentionally, I brought my insecurities with me and by the end of the trip it felt like they were the heaviest suitcase I packed.
Regardless of my mental "Woe is Me",
I figured things would go smoothly despite sharing space for the next 5 days.
Soon after we arrived the ex decided to confront the situation head on.
I respected her directness but also resented the conversations focal point of saying how awkward I (Me. Almost 40 year old Single-Mom. Me.) must feel.
It kind of sucked but I don't think the intention was meant to make me uncomfortable.
I tried to laugh it off.
I've managed to be friendly with most of my ex's girlfriends so I see no reason to feel insecure about a love's past love.
I tried to engage in conversation but insecurity began to overwhelm me, anyway.
It is a familiar place for me.
Often, too much so.
So...recognizing it as my comfortable foundation I dug in deep to root myself in.
I am always ready to embrace insecurity and fear...thinking that this time if I just 'pretend smile' more, I will have the upper hand but over time I'm always always left feeling more broken and vulnerable than before.
So...I took my feelings of unworthiness and retreated to throw myself a pity party.
Instead of acknowledging the ridiculousness of the situation I thought drinking my insecurities under the table might muster up some liquid courage.
I was not going to be the wallflower of the weekend.
Years ago, I was the charming and cute one.
Ahhh... but as alcohol, tiredness and hormones mixed...well, I just became overwhelmed with a feeling of smallness.
Suddenly every word I said was the dumbest thing a person could say...
In addition, I was bloated and instead of only feeling 5 lbs heavier it felt like my body had morphed into a giant marshmallow that was also erupting with zits and matted hair.
Oh God? Reeeeally?
I had a meltdown on a walk with my son and boyfriend before we left to set up for the wedding.
It was ugly but after that, I was able to keep myself fairly contained.
Once we got there I figured I'd be distracted but also be welcomed by everyone there.
The entire wedding party were friends of family and my boyfriend and his ex.
The family was loving but the friends...well...even getting eye contact felt like a struggle.
It felt bad.
Periodically, I would leave the festivities to either go for a run, explore the woods with Atticus or just walk back to the cabin to catch my breath and try not to have an anxiety attack.
Suddenly a mantra of 'Nobody wants me here' took over.
In my mind I was just the Short-Zitty-Gargatuan that kept following her child around and hovering in corners pretending to be in awe of his every movement when really I just wanted to crawl into bed and cry.
I was in Oregon.
Beautiful Fucking Oregon.
And...I even though I was able to appreciate it, I was just as easily pulled into Over-Dramatic-Hell everytime I had to hang out with his ex.
She is super adorable.
Super freakin smart.
So...my smallness grew.
By the last day...my body, my spirit and my emotions were shot.
My regular meditation and yoga practice had been ignored for most of the trip.
I had consumed more meat and hard alcohol over the weekend than I ever have in the past.
I was toxic.
Toxic with shitty thoughts, emotions and expectations so...
It started small.
My boyfriend who had been busy being a loyal brother and Master of Ceremonies all weekend had promised to spend the day with Atticus and me but as I walked into the backyard it was everyone else enjoying his company but me.
Poor pitiful me.
My insecurities couldn't be contained.
They asked if I was hungry and all I could do was react with a very immature,
"No, I don't want any of THAT food".
Again...it just sucked.
I lost my shit.
My boyfriend is incredibly sensitive to my Bat-Shit Crazy moments and quickly tried to remedy the situation.
We got in the car, fed me some food and we drove to a waterfall.
It was beautiful but even there it took me at least half the trip to pull my head out of my ass and breathe.
My son asked if "I was gonna calm down, now...so we could have a good day?" and I did.
Or ,at least, I tried.
...but I couldn't shake the feeling of being a 3rd Wheel.
It didn't help that I had been called by the Ex-girlfriend's name earlier in the day.
It just seemed to confirm that even though I had walked into the situation open hearted and wanting to connect...well, I was in a competition I had not practiced or studied for.
So here I am...back home in my Hot Desert Town...
Alone to process and get some clarity.
At first, I beat myself up for being so damn insecure, then I beat myself up because I should have felt insecure and accepted it...but honestly, what I've come to recognize is that I probably wasn't the only one feeling awkward.
The beautiful ex-girlfriend may had tossed the insecurity ball into my corner hoping to be rid of it but in the end...
I think it hit both of us.
She and I talked.
I don't know if we will be good friends...maybe that's a naive expectation.
But I will try.
I like her.
If there is nothing else I take away it's to recognize that there's nothing wrong with feelng insecure but to be jealous is to believe that the object of that envy doesn't also suffer and well...that's just not true.
We all gots our shit.
Today...as I worked with a very successful and beautiful woman who just turned 50...I found myself thinking 'I hope I have my crap together like she does in 10 years. She's gorgeous, strong, wealthy and Holy Crap she runs a non-profit to help children with cancer...I don't know if I will ever be that awesome.' and as if on que she proceeded to tell me how beautiful she thinks I am and how amazing what I do for a living is.
Thank you, I thought.