If you are hoping to go on a nice family vacation and leave PTSD at home, I have some news for you. Wherever we go, “it” goes too. Even on vacation, it’s inescapable. Now, I know a few of you are thinking this sounds like a pointless trip, right? Why take the kids and spouse on vacation, knowing already that the anxiety will be cranked to 110% and every time your kid says “are we there yet?” you have to stop yourself from having a complete blow up. Trust me; if you told me five years ago that we would be taking our 5, 7, and 10 year old children on a 16+ hour drive to Washington D.C. in the middle of July, I would have laughed and asked, “how miserable was it?!”
Yes, it was very hot, crowded, and chaotic. However, it was so much more incredible than it was miserable. I was even complimented by many strangers on how well behaved my children were! (still shocks me.) The car ride was mostly calm and pleasant, hotel stays were enjoyable, time with family was priceless, and the gift that was given to our kids to be able to visit so many great monuments and learn about our nations history was something they will never forget. Most of all, I am so proud of my husband and how relaxed and calm he remained throughout most of it.
Sounds pretty much like a dream right? WRONG. Of course there were moments where the nasty PTSD monster tried to peek in and ruin a nice dinner or our walk through the Capitol on a 105 degree day. You see, we have worked so hard as a team and as a family to tame this beast. We’ve developed an internal detection radar for it. Sometimes you just know when it’s best to step away for a minute. When it’s best to distract it or when it’s best to remind it that maybe it’s not a monster at all. It’s a piece of all of us now and we have learned to live with it peacefully. Kind of like roommates. Sometimes you give it space, sometimes you tell it that you’ve had enough, and sometimes you remind it that no matter what, you will always be there when things get tough.
That being said, preparation is definitely key. Knowing what you’re up against and what the day will bring. Understanding that some things are out of your control, and you can handle that too. We did this fairly well…for the most part.
Stay tuned to hear about those moments we weren’t quite prepared for, the lessons we learned, and how we handled them.
(I’ll give you a hint. Part 2 begins with our visit to Arlington National Cemetery.)
Til’ next time!