This past week, my husband and I took his son to Washington, DC for a family vacation. It was our first family vacation since we got married, and originally it was just going to be the two of them. I decided sort of last minute to join them. I was nervous, because even though I have been in their lives for more than 6 years, I have always been intimidated by his youngest son. Why? I have no idea, but it probably had a lot to do with how quickly I bonded with his oldest son who left us abruptly to go live with his mother a few years ago. I had been afraid to get "too attached" to the younger son as a result.
In spite of my fears, I had a blast. It was an amazing trip, and the little guy really enjoyed spending time with me and his dad. It was definitely the best decision I could have ever made to go on this vacation - I actually don't feel like an outsider any more, I feel like we are a family. A real family. Which is all I ever wanted.
The fourth day we were in DC, the boys went to the White House early in the morning and left me to go do what I wanted to do. I took a shower, and within ten minutes... had to evacuate. Fire alarms. "Please evacuate immediately - a fire emergency has been reported in the building. Please evacuate immediately..." Really?! So, without panic, with nothing but calm - I grabbed my pocketbook, my shoes, and made sure I had my room key and walked down 14 flights of stairs with the other building occupants.
I didn't realize it until later, but I was CALM! I'm not afraid any more!! What an incredible feeling!! I was so happy when I had this epiphany, and I can't wait to share this with my therapist. I had told her about my insecurities about taking this vacation, and she gave me "homework." To do something for myself - and I did SEVERAL times. I met up with a friend for lunch; I went to the Pentagon Memorial, and then the Holocaust Museum and African Art Museum by myself... and it was great. But the best part of the vacation was bonding with my stepson. I am sitting at home, after my husband dropped him off at his house, and I actually miss him.
One of the things that I took away from this vacation was at the Women in Military Memorial at the Arlington National Cemetery. It was a video of a soldier, who was talking about her own fears and doubts. She said that if she could conquer her greatest fears, she could do anything she wanted. And she's right. You can find strength within yourself by overcoming those fears inside you, and you are a super hero.