Updated: Jul 16, 2022
January 1st, 2021... The worst was over, right?? The orange guy was out of the office. Toilet paper was back on the shelves. My son, who had a terrible November and December with hospitalized mono, his first broken heart, and psychiatric hospitalization for depression, was starting to get the light back in his beautiful blue eyes. My nephew, who was in a terrible accident in November and almost died, was alive and on the road to recovery.
I was keeping myself busy by working on a campervan I bought from this crunchy millennial couple from Boulder. I named her Pearl and she was to be my escape vehicle in case of shit hitting the fan again. My social outlets that were lucky to stay in business were opening back up with social distancing and masking up. Things were getting back to a new "normal" or were they?
In hindsight, 2020 was the preparation for 2021. We are all still shaking our heads asking "what in the fuck was that?" Suicide rates skyrocketed and my job as a utilization manager doing inpatient psychiatric authorizations was busier than ever and hitting a little too close to home. I spent 8 plus hours a day sitting in front of a computer, reading clinical documentation of just about every way imaginable to try to end your life, and relapse rates for substance abuse patients were at an all-time high. My beloved only son decided he is actually she, came out as transgender, and wanted to be called Mae with pronouns of "they, them". Another major shocker to a nervous system that was already on overload.
I went to see my Primary Care Physician for a check-up and was told my blood pressure was through the roof and had it been any higher, she would have sent me straight to the ER. Everything seemed like a crisis and I couldn't discern what was an actual true emergency or just smoke and mirrors. Mae stopped going to high school, became severely depressed, and had to be hospitalized again.
A Brief Travel Respite
Respite came in May in the form of an offer for a free plane ticket to Honduras. M, who had broken my heart over and over, had been temporarily living there and wanted me to come to visit him in Roatan. Maybe someday I will write about M and how trauma can sometimes look like narcissism and vice versa, but for this tale, I’ll just put a semi-colon on that thought. Within 48 hours of the offer, I was on a plane to Roatan to escape my life. I told no one in my family except Mae, who gave me their blessing to go, and a few close friends. I took a risk and got my first taste of real adventure and freedom in years.
I stayed with M at his Air BNB in my own room and slowly started getting my groove back. I hadn't been scuba diving in almost 15 years but still had my PADI card from 1994. I took a refresher course and went on 2 dives almost every day I was there. The feeling of meditation and freedom underwater in another world fed my soul. By the way, if you ever get the opportunity to go to Roatan, check out Bananarama Dive Resort.
You'll Never Know Where You'll Find Your Tribe
I met some amazing humans… Adrienne and Alex. She is a Broadway performer and he is a programmer for Apple. We went scuba diving, danced and hugged sloths together! M did his own thing and stayed in the Air BNB happily alone. He wanted me to stay longer than the 8 days, for why I don’t know; but I knew it was time to go back to Boise and deal with life.
One of the last nights I was there, Adrienne looked at me seriously and said “Jen. I see your light. Don’t let anyone or anything ever fade it.” Sometimes you can know people for only a few days or even a few hours and know they are your people. I was feeling more like myself again and ready to face the world at home.