The Guilt Trip

Read Time: approximately 4 minutes


"Tomorrow, I am going to embark on my very first real adventure. No work.  No family. Just me.  I’m going to #CostaRica and #Nicaragua for 6 days. In addition to putting a much-needed stamp in my barren passport, this trip marks the beginning of a mental, spiritual, and physical journey that I’ve been planning in my head for nearly 4 years… To have my own version of #EatPrayLove while being a minivan-driving-single-mom-on-a-budget. Thanks to @tawannabsmith, I’m finally on my way to making what I thought would always be a dream written in my journal a reality.  In approximately 24 hours, I will be blissfully submerged in la #PuraVida"

7 days before I wrote that post, I was lying in bed thinking about how really unprepared I was. I was supposed to take at least a month to get ready for this trip (and to write about how I was getting ready for this trip on my new blog which should have been launched in time for me to do so). But I didn’t. I kept it a secret. I was keeping this a secret from everyone who would try to talk me out of it and try to tell me why I shouldn't do it.  Keeping this a secret from them is also keeping it a secret from myself.  

And speaking of secrets… (sigh)

I knew I was going to Costa Rica long before I told anyone… several months in fact.  It took me at least 30 days to tell Tawanna “Yes, I’m officially going with you."  Even after I said it, I wasn’t truly convinced… but I decided to play along.  My exact thoughts: “They are never going to let me do this. I have to figure out a way to make this okay."

A self-serving, self-funded, pleasure-vacation abroad and alone = Not Okay
A work-related, media trip, fully or partially funded by someone else = Okay

So when I finally announced my plans, I made it seem more media trip and less vacation.  Which, to be fair,  it was sort of true in a way because let’s face it, I kinda turn everywhere I go into a "media trip," right?  No?  Too much of a stretch?  Ugh… well, I tried… moving on.  It was my way of making it okay for “them.”  But I still hadn’t made it okay for me.

I played an agonizing game of mental tug-o-war for months over this trip. I found a way of paying for it that would leave my “responsibilities" paycheck untouched. Most of the time I would be away would be over a holiday weekend so my absence would only be a major inconvenience for 3 of the 6 days. I did what I always do before going away… I have the who/what/where/how of every school and extracurricular activity for my children clearly mapped, every stitch of clothing washed and (try to) have easy, kid-friendly-self-serve food stocked.  Even with all of the i ’s dotted and t’s crossed, I still feel like I am breaking the law.  I'm skulking around like a teenager sneaking liquor from their parents' cabinets. I'm jumping out of my bedroom window taking the family car for a joyride. My room is not clean, my chores and homework are far from done… and I’m running away from home.  “They are going to be sooooooo pissed." 

the negative self-talk and self-doubt infused mom-guilt I heap on myself disguised as the people in my life will undoubtedly give me seemingly valid reasons why even the thought of going on this trip is absolutely ludicrous.

I’ve conditioned myself to believe I have to have permission and perfect conditions to do anything I want to do. And that may be true except I'm asking the wrong person or people. The only person I really need to ask permission of is myself.   

Americans… you don’t know pleasure. You don’t take a break until you feel you’ve earned it.
— Luca Spaghetti (Eat Pray Love)

No truer words were ever spoken… especially for women… particularly mothers.
Earned enough money.
Earned enough respect.
Earned enough of my keep.

I mean… how dare I have the audacity to believe I deserve something like this!
I didn't give myself permission to take this trip, let alone be excited about it… Not like I should have been.   Now this trip was days away… I hadn’t shopped, packed, or done anything to properly prepare myself or my family…   And then… this... 

After I finished crying… I took a deep breath.  “I’m going to fucking Costa Rica!” I said, and (finally) smiled.  Then… I pulled out a notepad... and my suitcase.

* * * * * * * *

My first night in Costa Rica, "Eat Pray Love" was on TV.  Dubbed in Spanish, but I knew every word.  A blatant sign from God saying "See, I told you so."