“Tripped up by Travel”
I wanted to prove I had the skills to travel with a friend, plan a trip, and manage money on the road. My ADHD was baggage I wish I could have left behind.
In order to gain some color and in hopes of rejuvenating spirit and spunk, I left for the beach in Thailand with a friend. The friend is a widowed woman in her 40s, and we know each other from the pool.
The trip was supposed to be a revival and a way to get my spark back. Instead I whined about the overbearing heat and humidity and being a free buffet for the mosquitoes, which made the trip feel like a Dog Day Afternoon. The time with the friend moved slowly, too, like molasses.
When would the spark reappear again? I tried hard to go with the flow, smile, be a good travel buddy and most of all, be liked. But even the daily aloe vera massages by a strong masseuse, a woman with the physique and strength of a sumo wrestler, couldn’t get me out of this funk. I’d repeatedly turned to passport therapy in the past, but now it was wearing out.
In many ways this trip was a milestone, the first getaway that I had taken with a non-family member since my breakup with the doctor two years ago. Along with thoughts of that failed romance came memories of reasons behind the failure. I had too swiftly admitted that I had ADHD. and confessed all of the deficiencies of ADHD. I’d tell the ex that I suck at organizing and strategizing, and then let him do all the planning for the getaways and trips. He booked the tickets and filled up the gas tank, while I went along for the ride and tried to look cute — only all too often looking stressed out, too.
So on this latest getaway, I was extra sensitive about the role I would play. I wanted to prove to myself that I had the social skills to travel with another person and maintain the friendship. I was extremely compliant with my friend. Do you want to eat here? Sure. Do you want to go on this excursion? Yes. Do you want to ride on an elephant? Not really, but I said yes, anyway.
But somehow my complacent self cracked under the pressure of having to manage the trip’s finances. The friend made me the trip’s bean counter, and suggested we pool together our funds to pay for things. My ADHD self said, “I can’t do this, you do it for me and I’ll even pay you extra for this.” The stress showed through cracks in my calm veneer, and I could tell that my friend was a bit taken aback when I looked frazzled over the receipts, the cash, and arranging the tips. At the same time I was experiencing runaway thoughts and fears that ranged from “What will I do after this adventure and job runs up next year?” to “How will I ever find a new boyfriend?” My thoughts were drifting yet again.
“Are you okay?” my friend asked. I nodded yes, when in fact deep inside I wanted to fall apart. I did not want this new friendship to fizzle out so quickly, and wanted to hide myself. “No, I’m cool with this,” I said, regaining my composure. “Everything is fine.” Liar, the voice inside me laughed and I found myself laughing out loud against the crash of the island waves.