I always envisioned Giginon as a snapshot of reality, a place where I can stop for a moment and see where I am, one where others who are walking similar journeys can stop and see, somewhere my friends and family can pause and really look.
But in the process of creating it, I find it is becoming a benchmark of sorts, a way to see if I am being consistent and check if I am truly internalizing the progress, or lack thereof, that I’m writing about. What I write is honest, it’s true, but of course it is filtered.
Every communication to the world is filtered to some extent whether it is written, spoken, or just a shrug. There is almost always that nanosecond that your brain checks in with your better judgment to make sure you don’t say something you are going to regret. Or at least, that’s how my brain works.
I think this is one of the reasons I love to see uninhibited joy on my children’s faces. I love the moments when they are so excited that they forget to worry about what someone else might think or say.
I, myself, am reticent. I have to work on bringing down some of my walls to get even close to uninhibited. I have filters that keep me paralyzed, analyzing all the different ways something I say or do can be interpreted. I’m getting better at it, breaking down the walls. Writing helps. It’s so easy to go back and read what you’ve written and see if it is real.
So it was when I went back recently and looked at my first post here that I realized that I may not be as cool with the trip insurance idea as I was when I first wrote it. I know I believe it, I know I try to act that way. But I’m not sure I’m always as successful as I would like to be or appear to be at walking that particular walk. It was making plans to take another trip that made me look at it again.
We have an opportunity to take an arctic adventure this summer to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. 25 years. I need to let that sink in a little. My grandparents made it 70, my parents made it 20. This summer, we will mark 25. That’s almost half of my life being married, not just knowing him, but married to him.
It seems an occasion worth celebrating, leaving the work and day to day of relationship maintenance behind and just reveling in the magic of it.
But our life is tumultuous and not only because our son is in active recovery. The plan at the moment is to take him to college at the end of August then leave on our trip a few days later. His school is about 13-14 hours away depending on traffic and the closest airport is about 6 hours away. To say it is inaccessible is an understatement. If something untoward happens when he’s at school, the absolute fastest that we would be able to make it there would be 13 hours.
From closer to the arctic circle we are looking at more like 24 hours. That would give me pause even if we hadn’t entered the world of eating disorders and substance use a few years ago. I sort of have to remind myself to breathe. We would also be leaving my daughter here near our home with a totally trustworthy so-close-she’s-family friend, and yet we would still be 24 hours away.
My brain starts all this serial, rapid fire risk assessment and what ifs and spinning, spinning. I need it to stop, and I think that if I really believed all that twaddle I wrote about trip insurance I would just say fuck it and buy the tickets. Choose joy, even in the tumult, to make me resilient. But this is hard, so very hard.
And I’m not quite sure if it’s the planning to take our son to school or if it’s planning the trip that seems the biggest risk. I don’t know if I’m more conflicted about the idea of him off at school than I thought. It’s exciting and terrifying. I am so certain it is the right thing, I am overwhelmed at the thought I might be wrong, and resigned to the fact that it is all out of my control. I need to breathe. I need to think. Think about whether or not it is feasible for me, emotionally, to be out of the country at the same time he is beginning his college career. I also need to think about if it is feasible for me, emotionally, to have him away at school.
I fall back on the familiar. Transitions have always been hard for him, even when he was tiny. Major transitions cause major anxiety, major anxiety can cause relapse.
But that’s not good enough.
Anything he does after June is a transition. Everything he is doing now that he wasn’t doing a moment ago is a transition. We have come to a point where I have to believe that he has this (I really do), and I have to put my money where my mouth is both literally and metaphorically. I realize that it’s not so much the idea of trip insurance that I am uncomfortable with, it’s the discomfort inherent in choosing the now. It’s the giving up control, or at least my illusion of it, that makes me pause.
That brings me up short and sends me back to memories of my father-in-law. He was a lovely, thoughtful, intelligent, irreverent man. Very much like his son. I remember our conversations when I was first getting to know him and talking to him about my relationship with my father. At one point I said, perhaps disingenuously, my father has some control issues. And he looked me straight in the eye and said,
“Gigi, isn’t everything a control issue?”
Boy how I miss that man, his warmth and trust along with intelligence and insight were something out of my experience at the time. Of course, he was right. We spend our entire lives working out our control issues. I may come to a place where I think I have it, dare I say under control, but I will spend many more days and nights struggling to maintain and then hopefully give up the control. I wish he was here now, my father-in-law. I often think about what he would say about our current predicament. Though, really, he probably wouldn’t say much, he would probably just listen deeply, and ask me again, isn’t everything a control issue?
So, I’m going to continue to think about things from his perspective. But I’m also going to trust that the boy’s got this. I’m going to believe whatever happens my husband and I are equal to it as long as we tackle it together. I’m going to buy my version of trip insurance and throw caution to the wind. I’m saying yes to my arctic adventure and yes to my son’s college adventure.
I’m going to practice some Giginon preaching and know that while things may not always be good they will at the very least be. Oh, and I’m going to breathe too, cuz I am absolutely terrified!
(c) 2016 Gigi Quinn
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