The Groupon Girls’ Ultimate Zip AdventurePosted: March 24, 2012
Last Thursday, Nancy and I hopped a flight to Atlanta, Cathy swung by the airport and the three of us set out on a 6-hour road trip to Milton, FL. Linda drove up from Orlando and the “Zipper Girls” converged on Adventures Unlimited Outdoor Center for a long weekend of high adventure. The place, I’m sure, will never be the same.
Climbing out of our car for check-in at the Schoolhouse Inn, the first thing we noticed was everyone within eyesight was about half our age. Cathy quickly forbid the use of certain adjectives in association with our trip. These included old, elderly, senior, aged and geriatric. Instead, we chose to think of ourselves as advanced in life experience. Together we’ve racked up about 200 years of that.
I love these girls! We met through the pharmaceutical company where I work. Cathy escaped, uh, took a package a few years back and the rest of us are still carrying on, only now in different jobs where, sadly, we don’t get to work together. I haven’t even seen Cathy and Linda for, wow, 4 years or more. But the great thing about good friends is you can pick up where you left off no matter how long you’ve been on pause.
The weekend was Cathy’s brainchild. She forwarded a Groupon Getaway back in November. In addition to 3 nights at the Schoolhouse Inn, the trip included the Ultimate Zip Adventure (woohoo!) and an 11-mile river trip by kayak. The price was right and the timing couldn’t have been better. We all needed to detox from our usual routines and what’s more cleansing than an estrogen-infused weekend in the wilds?
The play and the laughter came easy. We modeled our zip harnesses and asked “does this make my butt look big?” Our zip line theme became “I’m sexy and I know it.” (Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, yeah!) On one flight, Nancy tried to takeout a tree with her hip. Then a tree tried to takeout Cathy on the river. You really have to watch out for those trees! We thought our kayak trip included a guide so when the driver deposited our kayaks at the 11-mile drop-off and walked away, Cathy hollered “Wait! You can’t just leave us out here! We don’t even know how to operate these things!” Gliding downstream, we listened for banjos as if in Deliverance country. Nancy kept an eye out for alligators and water mocs. Linda capsized and chased her zip-loc encased phone down the river. At night, we drank cheap Walmart wine and played round after round of Phase 10. And even though Cathy was beating the yoga pants off the rest of us, “Skip her” became my new moniker. We gossiped about office affairs and tried to figure out how exactly that conversation begins – the one that ends with you falling into bed with your coworker. We tried to figure out why none of our coworkers has ever hit on Cathy. We sang Red Solo Cup and brainstormed names for our girl group. We traded ideas for our next big adventure.
And we talked, Lord, how we talked. This was so GREAT. All of us are going through various stressors: dealing with ex-husbands, a newly diagnosed daughter with an auto-immune disease, semi-dissolution of a business partnership, Dilbert-ish work craziness.
Family was naturally one of my topics. I love Jerri but sometimes her illness brings out the worst in me. It’s hard to break away from the old family patterns and ways of thinking. I get frustrated when Jerri goes off her medicine and lose patience when she does the same things over and over again expecting different results. I’m emotionally exhausted from hauling around family baggage. Jerri reminds me of how damaged our family is, of childhood trauma, of my unmet emotional needs. At times, I see a glimmer of the sister I might have had and the person she might have been. I am sometimes consumed by an unrelenting rage at my parents for all the things they did and didn’t do.
Part of what I’m going through is the natural grieving process, the five stages of grief defined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Originally the stages were associated with death and dying but they apply to all major losses like divorce, job termination, bankruptcy, disability, crime, etc. I’ve lost family relationships and have had to let go of long-held dreams of one day really mattering to my parents. The anger stage is not exactly prime real estate. I’m stuck there and don’t know how to move on.
When Jerri’s mental illness first came to live with us, I was about fourteen. For years, my mother obsessed over “fixing” her while my dad self-medicated. They were emotionally unavailable. I kept telling myself that eventually there would be time for me. My mother planted this notion in my head. “One day, after all of this is past us, you and I will have time together.”
Quality time. That is my love language. You can say you love me but if you don’t spend time with me, I don’t feel it.
For decades, I waited for my parents to give me time. Even after my parents had excluded Jerri from the family, they still didn’t have time for me. Jerri has 4 children and one by one, my parents took custody of them. My mom would say, “as soon as D gets a little older, then you and I will have time.” Then L was born and mom said, “as soon as L gets a little older then we’ll have time.” Then A was born. You get the picture. Five years ago, after a family vacation went south, I realized my parents were NEVER going to give me time. That despite all the responsibility they’d taken on with Jerri’s kids, they COULD have made time for me if they’d WANTED to. For whatever reason, not making time for me was a CHOICE. It was a tough pill to swallow and I choked on it.
And I’m still choking.
The girls listened. They didn’t judge. They let me rant and bare my anger. They asked questions. They commiserated. They shared their own mother stories and sympathized. They said all the right things. I read a letter I’d written but never mailed to my family. They explored why I’m reluctant to mail the letter. They gave constructive feedback and coached me. These awesome girlfriends who love me so much they gave me 4 days of their lives! And little by little, my anger began to dissipate. It’s not completely gone but there’s healing tissue where there was once a gaping wound. I want to move on to the last stage, acceptance. I NEED to move on. These girls have helped me.