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Our Monterey mini staycation was very eventful. It could take a couple posts to really do it justice. Whether or not I get around to posting about it all remains to be seen. For now I want to do this personal post about Monterey. Every time I think about this third overnight trip this is what I think of.

It’s a big deal to me that I survived another trip. Maybe the third time is the charm. Now that I’ve had a plain old fun trip with no extra drama, maybe the next trip won’t be as stressful to think about.

The first overnight trip ended the next morning with me vomiting up my toes. I still don’t know what caused the sudden onset of vertigo. It was the most intense dizziness I had ever experienced and no doctor knows why it happened. I was even referred to a physical therapist to try to discover the cause. She was not helpful at all. So I’m left to think it was anxiety mixed with a reaction to my blood sugar level. Who knows? All I know is I still feel bad about it.

That first trip also reminds me of how I lost a friend soon after coming home. Virginia Woolf said, “I have lost friends, some by death, others through sheer inability to cross the street.” In my case it was the sheer inability to respond. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know why another friend has simply stopped talking to me. It’s easy to think that I must be the world’s most annoying person. But this friend was different and I’m sure there’s more to the situation than me being annoying. He went off the grid and no one can reach him. I have a lot of theories as to why. I’m sure they’re all wrong.

I think about this friend every day and still pray for him often. Whenever I think of my dad I feel angry that this friend disappeared. He was the only person in the world I knew who could possibly understand the conflicted emotions I was feeling about losing my dad. But he was gone and I was forced to deal with the confusion alone. I have learned that no one ever wants to hear my thoughts on the subject anyway. Everyone I know has had a happy childhood and is in touch with both their parents, divorced or not. No one can relate to my situation. Except my friend whose parents didn’t want him after his inconvenient debut into this world.

The do-over Monterey trip filled me with a lot of anxiety. I didn’t want to get sick again. The day came and I was hoping all would go well. About 20-30 minutes before we left was when my brother called to tell me our dad died. The ground was yanked from under my feet. I was grateful to have something else to occupy my mind. At the same time I was so grateful to have the trip as a distraction. It was like a yin and yang relationship between anxiety and shock.

How would this third trip go? I still worried about suddenly becoming sick again. And of course I thought about my dad. At least now I can look at the stuffed sea creatures from that June trip and not feel overwhelmed with emotion. We didn’t even buy any new pets this time. Well just one. Santa did a lot of shopping at the Aquarium for the kids. Heath should get a little turtle in his stocking.

I feel like this third time in Monterey may have broken the spell. Every night I worried I would get dizzy. Every morning I felt so successful to be able to walk out the door on my own feeling fine. I can’t say I lived in the moment every moment. There were a lot of recurring thoughts and memories. Overall I was happy and enjoyed the experience.

Spending the day with Heath was the best. It was really fun to go back to the Aquarium for gifts and just people watch. We had seen everything the day before so the crowds held no pressure. A couple of times we looked behind us to count heads. Then we remembered our kids were safe at home with Grandma and Grandpa.

Monterey reminds me of how far I have come with mastering my anxiety. Monterey makes me think of my friend which makes me think of how I met him as a ward missionary. The third time being a ward missionary was the charm. I changed in so many ways. I became much more assertive and confident. The best part was learning to love unconditionally and see others the way our Savior sees them.

Monterey makes me think of my dad which makes me think of how often I traveled this year. Many of those times I traveled alone. All of those trips were done without medication. Yes I melted down the day before my last trip to Utah. But I still got on that plane alone and I made it through the longest marathon day. I kept my wits about me as I went through not one, but two graveside services in one day. Then I got back on that plane to get home all in the same day.

I did all of that without medication. And not as much Diet Coke as you would think. I was this close to going to the store and drinking the entire 6-pack of 12 oz. bottles when I got home. But I didn’t. I was too upset to be out in public. There wasn’t a drop of Diet Coke in the house and I managed to calm down on my own. Heath hooked me up that night with comfort food and a feeding trough of DC.

I have old anxiety meds in the cupboard that I haven’t touched in years. I really wanted to take some for the second Monterey trip. I didn’t. The reason I didn’t was the reason why I completely forgot about them for our road trip to the Northwest this summer.

I had asked my crazy doctor for advice or drugs or whatever to get through that trip. She said she wouldn’t prescribe anything unless my regular doctor approved. I never heard from him! When she said that I started looking up information online about the meds we were discussing. She used the word tranquilizers which made me curious. I decided then and there I wasn’t going to take them. The article made them out to be illicit drugs and I wanted nothing to do with them after that. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my doctor never contacted me about it. I can take care of myself and just needed a push in the right direction.

Maybe all of this sounds weird to other people. It’s a big deal to me. Monterey has become more than just a fun place to visit with a cool aquarium. It has been a journey in mental health for me.

Our membership passes will expire soon. Heath was asking me if we should renew. I don’t know. I love the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s funny that I can only stand to visit a zoo once every five or more years. But an aquarium is different. I can visit one three times in a year and not get bored! We’ll probably let the kids be the deciding vote.

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