I realized this afternoon that, kind of without being totally aware of it, I’ve slid into one of my oh-so-rare “pretend vacations.”
A Pretend Vacation is something I give myself when I’m a little overwhelmed, a little run-down, or maybe just feeling more reflective and inward than usual. It might last a day; it might last three. It’s never a planned thing. It’s like a need that asserts itself in a small voice; if I don’t listen, it speaks up more sharply.
I suspect the need for a Pretend Vacation has been coming on for several weeks. Maybe it’s kicked in because of the events of this past weekend: Saturday morning, while eating a Larabar, my crown popped off and I almost swallowed it. Did you know when a crown comes completely off, it has a little pointy screw thing sticking out of it? Be warned.
Then, Saturday night, there was a party. I have an interesting relationship with parties. If I can get myself to them, I like them. For about twenty minutes. I stayed at this one for three hours. (But it was a Halloween party! Costumes! Gummy worms soaked in vodka! And “Poltergeist” and “The Exorcist” on TV all night! My inner scary-movie-lover was happy; my inner HSP-introvert was overstimulated.)
I spent Wednesday morning in my lovely dentist’s office as she dealt with the gaping hole in my gum. Throw in a couple other unexpected and stress-inducing issues over the past few days and, on cue, need for Pretend Vacation makes itself known.
A real vacation is planned in advance. It involves taking time away from work, maybe more time with family or friends, or not, maybe traveling to another place, or not, but there is an interruption of one’s normal routine.
In my Pretend Vacations, my normal routine goes on. I just scale it back as much as possible. I do everything that’s a priority — keep my appointments with clients, do my writing, feed my cat. But I cut out anything I might normally do but don’t really need to. Today, for example, laundry and the dishes fell right off the list so I could sit quietly and drink Midnight Velvet tea. I haven’t been on social media much. I let a couple of phone calls go to voice mail.
The intention behind a Pretend Vacation is to create a container for the part of me that is vulnerable, tired, and wants to move inward to reflect or rest, while not completely removing myself from my life. I’ve noticed on a Pretend Vacation, choices I might usually waver over become really, really clear. I also notice I’m gentler with myself than I usually am, and I’m less likely to respond to things that don’t really require a response from me.
There’s something to be learned here, methinks. Can I invoke this Pretend Vacation mindset for the parts of me that are vulnerable, overwhelmed, or scared, while still attending to the parts of me that don’t want to leave the party because “The Exorcist” hasn’t gotten to the really good parts yet?
I can’t necessarily care for all these parts of myself — all these selves — on the same day, in the same moment, but I can let them all know that they will get their say, they will be heard by me, and none of them will be left out.
I can also let the sensation-seeking parts of me — my inner adventurer, my inner scary movie buff — and the driven, perfectionistic parts — know that, in the long run, a Pretend Vacation is good for all of us.
And a Real Vacation is even better.
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