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Jan. 2nd, 2004

Well, I guess it's time for me to finish the trip writeup.



As Bren mentioned, the trip to visit my parents was a bit busy and chaotic. There were some familial problems that I think I will save for another entry.... my family seems addicted to drama, and we were breathing huge sighs of relief when we boarded the plane for Atlanta. The trip to Ft Meyers was uneventful... stepping off the plane was like stepping into a sauna. We came from 34 degree weather with Chicago-like winds to a balmy 74 with cool ocean breezes. I was very overdressed.

Bren's family found us while we were still waiting for our luggage. So, as soon as we had all our belongings, we piled into the car and tootled down to the other terminal to repeat with Allie, Bren's sister. The day was spent lounging around and waiting for Bren's parents to get in... we had a couple of calls from his father indicating problems with their flights. (Do not check baggage if you fly US Air through Philadelphia. Just.. don't do it.)

Thursday, Christmas morning, had everyone at Bren's aunt and uncle's (where we were staying) for nibble food and a rather heavy lunch. Gifts were opened, we all socialized... Bren and I curled up and read novels.. it was nice. There was more family than I was expecting, his great aunt Ruthie was there along with her grand-daughter Hanna. I think the total amount of warm bodies was somewhere around 9? It was a bit crowded and a bit loud. Added to that was the two Old English Sheepdogs that couldn't understand that they were not, indeed, lapdogs.

Friday was pretty low-key. We lounged about, then went over to the Ft Meyers Yankee Candle store, braving Boxing Day crowds. The store was packed, and while the family browsed the After Christmas sale, we helped the staff with a bit of garbage take out. (Bren's Aunt Susie is a VP of Yankee... some sort of Regional Sales Manager.. and she had to be there for work.) After that we browsed goodies, since we were going to use Sue's employee discount to get additional savings. We picked up three large candles; vanilla sandalwood, cedar, and one other I can't remember... a couple of the Yankee plugins (sage and citrus), and I grabbed some vanilla hand lotion. Unfortunately, because the candles we purchased were part of a new, experimental line, we had to pay full price... but.. damn they were worth it.

Saturday, we went boating. We all donned our bathing suits and clambored out onto Sue and Len's boat- dubbed 'Shaggy Waters', for the dogs. We puttered around the canals and harassed the gators. We were going to go out to the Gulf, but evidently we came right at low tide, and the canal system was seperated from the Gulf by a....well.. I guess technically it was a lock. There was a lift to take the boats over a little dam, but since the water was so low, it was impossible to get the boat OFF the lift on the other side. So, we returned to the canals and puttered a bit more... before returning to the house and playing in the pool.

Sunday, it was time to go home. Our flight out of Ft Meyers was delayed during the takeoff procedure as someone had a medical emergency. It was a little frightening- You see in the movies where they ask on the PA if there's a doctor on the flight, and you never really think it's real... but... that's exactly what they did. The gentleman in need of assistance was 1 row behind, two rows over from us.. and when we glanced over, it looked like he was having seizures or severe convulsions. Getting him into the ambulance delayed us an hour. We missed our connecting flight to Chicago, and had to wait two hours for the next flight out... Delta left us on the Standby list (at the BOTTOM, no less!!) until 10 minutes before the plane was to take off... which made us extremely nervous.

We finally made it home, and were surprised to find that our luggage had indeed made it on the plane with us. Delta redeemed itself slightly by that. Misti picked us up, then dropped us off, and we crashed after cleaning up the messes the cats had made for us.

It was a good trip- I greatly enjoyed the time spent with Bren's family. It did make me twitch a little when I was introduced as 'Brendan's friend'... (more on that later), but I really like his family, and despite the 'toomanypeople' panic attacks, I had a good time.

I have, of course, oversimplified the trip.. mostly because I had more anxiety/panic attacks than I really care to remember. All in all.. even though I told my family that we'd be back more often... I don't know if I can handle it. Being with them, being... immersed... in the drama that they seem to thrive on... really made it difficult for me. I had a hard time not sinking back into the old depression and anxiety patterns, my mind going back to the old deep familiar ruts. So... yeah. I really don't even want to contact them at this point. I love my family. I love them very very much, but.. I can't spend another holiday like that.

I'm still recovering from the trip in that I've been feeling very logey and drained. I think seeing my family... showed me a lot about myself... things I really didn't want to see. It's been really difficult to cope with that. We went to church with my folks.. and all during the service, I felt like such a hypocrite; felt like I was a complete failure as a daughter... my childhood conditioning was so strong that all it took was walking into the church for me to immediately begin to succumb to the brainwashing. It really shook me up and frightened me.

Since we've been home, I've been... dealing with a lot of emotional junk that got dredged up from the trip. The socializing we did for New Year's really helped, and tonight I have a staff dinner with Animals for Awareness, which is going to be really cool. But in the back of my mind is this overwhelming feeling of... inferiority.

It started when we were at my parents place, and was... made a bit worse when we were visiting Bren's folks.. I just... felt... really out of place. I was there with a bunch of talented, attractive, successful people that are happy in their lives.. and it made me wonder where I fit in. I felt really ungainly and ugly. I don't want to just be 'Brendan's friend', although I was (and eternally will be) really grateful to Bren's mom for telling me stories about when she first met and married his father, with things like 'When -I- joined this family...' It made me feel a bit less like I was an outsider, and more like I was the newest member of their little family dynamic.

I'm not really sure what my problem is. I wonder partly if it's because my life has no real direction. I have short term goals, but no real tangible idea of what I want to do with my life... and I haven't honestly sat down and asked myself. I'm afraid that I'll make a 'wrong' choice. I worry alot about what other people think... and worry alot that I don't do everything just right in my relationship. Self enlightenment dances just out of my grasp, and I've gotten very frustrated with trying to figure out what's wrong with me. I feel like something is wrong, something isn't right... but I can't pinpoint what it is, and therefore have been unable to fix it. Of course, I don't really know what NORMAL is, either.

I really want 2004 to be a good year. For me, for Brendan, for our life together. We have a very special, very strong relationship, and I want to make sure that he's happy. I want to be free of old insecurities and ghosts. I want to have a clear plan for my life; a strong goal I can work towards with confidence. I'm tired of being wishy washy and unsure of myself, my abilities, and my worthiness of the blessings in my life. I'd really like it if Bren didn't have to worry about me, my emotional stability... whether or not I'm going to drain the life out of him.

I hope this is just a passing thing. The holidays, my family... Hopefully I'll feel better in a few days.

And I'm sorry this was an angsty entry. I hate those. :P

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