The writer, Anais Nin wrote, “I write to live life twice.”
I imagine she meant she had the pleasure of experiencing all the good stuff twice – once in real-time and again through writing and remembering. This may be quite true, but I love this quote for my own quirky and slightly ironic reasons.
Writing actually helps me to fill in memory gaps. It’s a bonafide occupational therapy tool. Sometimes I go out into the world, have experiences and then promptly forget what just happened. Writing creates an important record for me. Reading my writing later can be a slightly surreal experience, but at least I get to read about it! Occasionally, when I read things I know I’ve written but don’t actually remember, I have an inner voice that says, “Oh, wow, I can so relate to that!” So, it’s helpful in a whacked sort of way.
I have to laugh at the absurdity of this statement but it often reflects my truth. Maybe it might be more accurate for me to write, “I write to live life when I make time to read about it later!”
I’ve had these lapses in memory throughout my life; they relate to trauma, and I now understand they are quite common for people recovering from experiences which were frightening, confusing and threatening.
.For most of my life, I didn’t realize I was experiencing “gaps” at all, so had no way to understand or explain the “uncomfortableness” of being alive. I thought everyone regularly wondered if they were in “real life” or a “dream.”
I just couldn’t understand why they didn’t talk about it. So, I learned not to talk about it.
I also assumed most people would describe being human “like being a balloon” : airy, floaty, vaporous and tethered to the earth by a thin string.
Relationships were difficult because they were hard to build on. I could remember great volumes of what others spoke to me, but my own words seemed to evaporate as they came out of mouth, floating away on the wind; gone. The result was I never knew what my friends knew about me and often discovered they knew much more than I remembered sharing with them. This made me feel vulnerable so I would often pull away before risking the humiliation of confusion. I call my very oldest friend the keeper of my memories. She knows more details about my life than I do.
For many years, the only way I understood these experiences was to view myself as a visitor on a planet I was clearly not born on, to a race I was not born of. But of course, only crazy people talk like that, so I kept my kind of crazy deeply buried inside, and just tried to blend in.
I became an adept listener, insatiably curious about the experiences of “others”. If I could understand “how humans worked” perhaps I could be of service while I was here. I have always understood why many seemingly “lost” and suffering souls pick up garbage, or tend abandoned gardens. If we are helpful, there is a chance we might find a place in the tribe.
I understood that humans experienced a “me” and “I” and over the years found myself quite adept at assisting others navigating through complex thinking patterns. I remained baffled, however, if presented with pronoun questions related to “myself”. I became a closet voyeur of the human race.
I really didn’t understand the trauma-connection until I was injured and fell into the hands of a number of health care professionals who found themselves responsible for getting me back on my feet. My problem, by then, was that when I looked at my feet, I was not convinced they were mine.
They gently and patiently provided me with names for the symptoms I was experiencing – dissociation, dissociated identity, depersonalization and anxiety – and placed it in the context of an injury that has a name, being PTSD. This, of course, just made me angry. I was special, not sick. Are you people blind? I was clearly capable of overcoming things others could not, for reasons I did not understand. This made me super-human. Otherworldly, dammit.
And when I finished with being all of those special things, I found I was just plain scared. I was fortunate to have been gifted with two amazing children which helped a lot. Being a mom is probably the clearest, least complicated experience I have ever had and for years they were my tethering force. Being Pippa’s mom has been a close second 🙂 These relationships sustained me when others confused me.
I write all this now, because in order to write this last day of “A Month in a Minivan” I needed to read the entire month’s writing to see what I’d been up too.
Did you just hear me laugh out loud at that ridiculous segue? But it’s true! I did have to read them all to remember. And I’ve learned to laugh 🙂
So, I read the whole month and noticed a handful of themes. These are my Month-in-a-minivan “take-aways.”
And although they do reference the specific challenges I face, I hope anyone with any kind of challenge might be able to relate.
1. Wherever you go, there you are.
I couldn’t out-distance my mental health difficulties, and I couldn’t drive fast enough or be smart enough to leave my addiction behind either.
If you want to hit the road, and also have the pleasure of living with these companions, it’s likely best to make room for them in the van. Don’t imagine they will be quiet riders. Imagine a handful of three year olds with too much sugar. Keep them up front where you can keep an eye on them. Use approved restraints. Be kind, but firm.
I was on the road six months in active addiction (while still trying to drink “normally”) before I had the experience that scared me enough to seek help. Even then, it was a delayed reaction. If I can persuade one person to not have that experience on the road, I will have done my job here.
This may sound obvious, but It’s ok to get help before you leave. If you have a doctor, sponsor or therapist, see if you can continue to connect with them while on the road.
Addiction support is plentiful out here and since making a decision to get help, I have made a new handful of friends in recovery everywhere I have gone. I don’t ever need to be alone again in this problem. Even on the road.
If it’s not addiction following you, other things will for sure.
If you mange money poorly at home, you will overspend on the road. If you get angry with people easily, you will find someone to yell at out here. If you leave a relationship, the attached issues will be there waiting for you to do emotional housekeeping. If you allow romantic partners to belittle you at home, guess who is going to find you on the road? Van life is a quick fix to absolutely nothing.
A cool thing is that being “solo on the road” however, is it affords one lots of time to really get a good look at what’s going on “inside” and make adjustments.
In all those quiet hours, you come to hear your various “companions” chattering, and if you listen carefully, you can be an active participant in some really meaningful conversations!
You will also be further away from the voices of actual people who may talk too much in your life, who may not always be helpful to you!
2. Wait Five Minutes
I couldn’t help but notice how slowing down resulted in a really cool expansion of experiences. How often do we give up on something important just a little too quickly? Whether persevering on a hike to experience a surprising view, or lingering in a conversation long enough to receive important information, slowing down sure seems to offer a wide variety of gifts. When things are tough, “Wait Five Minutes” can also be translated as “Don’t give up” or “Hang in there just a little longer!”
Whether I’m consciously slowing down or patiently waiting for an answer to a problem to appear, both have helped me enjoy life on the road. People in recovery talk about waiting for the miracle. I love that idea as well. Don’t quit before the miracle happens. It could be only five minutes away.
I’m learning to challenge the voices that tell me what I should and shouldn’t do, who I should or shouldn’t be, or what I should or shouldn’t feel.
We pick these voices up throughout our lives. The cruelty of classmates. The criticism of a parent. The scorn of a teacher. The harsh words or hands of a lover. I imagine this is a human struggle, one perhaps we never stop facing. It’s something I have known “intellectually” forever, but am only now learning emotionally and personally.
How does this relate to “van life?”
Well, there’s only one way for you to do “life on the road” and that will be your way! You will be the boss of you, more than ever before. You might pick up all kinds of information about the “how to” parts, but ultimately, your life will be yours and only yours. Instead of turning to the outside for direction, you will be challenged to start looking inside. And I believe you will find, you are stronger than you know!
4. Nature Heals
If this isn’t an ongoing theme this month, I don’t know what is!
I’m sure there is science around this. Science about the how the rhythm of waves connects us to memories of safety in the womb, how the sound of the wind connects us to the vastness of space or how the endless stars remind us we are all swirling balls of pure energy.
The more conversations I have with Nature, the more connected to this life I feel.
Being in nature is the strongest medicine I have ever taken! Being in nature is grounding and balloon folks benefit from regular grounding.
Living with little Pippa, another beautiful expression of nature, is an experience of the same medicine.
5. We are Stronger, Together.
The most profound learning of all.
I began this series in the loneliness I felt at the end of the WRTR. I thought it would be therapeutic to write. If nothing else, it would help me fill the time where people used to be and create a record of where I’d been for when I forgot.
What I found was a bigger community of people!
Not just “any” people, but people wanting the same conversations I was wanting and needing.
I’m learning to be perfectly imperfect. This became my safe place to practice that. I’m sure this has also given me courage in meeting new people face-to-face too. I’ve spent a great amount of time this month with new friends.
This was a long bit of writing today. It was hard to write and I had to come back to it multiple times. It felt like an end, but I know now it’s really just a beginning.
If you have stuck it out for the full 28 days, I just want to say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being here with me. For giving me permission to be vulnerable. For being gentle, encouraging, and most of all for sharing yourselves with me in return. I am so grateful.
Soon, I will respond to your messages of kindness you left here for me. They have meant so much to me, and helped me carry through to the end.
Whatever your journey, may you find your very own vehicle for change to take you there.
Much Love & Safe Passage,
Kit & Pippa
42 thoughts on “A Month in a Minivan: Final Installment”
Hi Kit, I have just read all your posts and am getting all caught. What an adventure you are on, both across the land and through your “inner landscape”. There is scientific evidence to show nature has a wonderful effect on us. You can read all about it in the book “The Nature Fix” by Florence Williams. Keep on exploring and thank you for taking us along. So many parts have resonated with me. Kathy
Wow. Just wow. Found this quite by accident while searching for a van build for my minivan. (although some say there are no coincidences). Seems we share a couple things in common. I am in recovery and a fan of Brene Brown and on and on 🙂
Had to write even though I haven’t yet read all of your posts !
Thank you thank you thank you
Hi Kit- I am sad the month has come to an end. I came across you on Facebook many months ago when I first started thinking about making my Grand Caravan into a mini RV & hitting the road after I retire in a couple years. I really enjoy hearing about your daily experiences & inner thoughts. I am hoping you’ll still write periodically when something interesting happens,or simply when you need to “connect”. We’ll all be waiting 🙂
Kit! I just discovered you! Plan to read everyword. God Bless You for this gift.
Thank you so much Susie,
You’re very sweet.
I am going to miss your daily memoir, I have very much enjoyed and learned from them. I hope that you will continue to take us on your journey. Keep smiling the best smile ever!
You’re too sweet. You should see Pippa’s smile! Thank you for being here.
Thank you – beautifully done. I look forward to hopefully reading more of your writing.
Still writing, hope you are finding them. You can get email notification if that’s easiest. 🙂
Wow. So many things to say about this- too many. So I’ll leave it at this- beautiful. Beautiful words, beautiful mind, beautiful soul.
Thank you for sharing your beauty with the world.
Hugs to you and Pippa!
Kelly and Sophie dog (In the Sienna-falia minivan.)
You, Kelly, are a soul-sister. Hugs to you and Sophie! See you on the down the road!
Safe travels my Friend 🙂
Always Steve, thank you!
Thank you for the beautiful gift of a month of daily glimpses into your vantastic life. Your honesty and transparency are refreshing, and your posts truly inspiring. I’d love to be in your passenger seat as you journey, and these posts put me there. Give Pip a scratch behind the ears for me 🙂
It sounds to me like you have been a faithful passenger all along! Thank you for your company along the back roads Patti. It’s been great to have you along. Pippa loves the scratch 🙂
Loved reading your inner thoughts and am delighted by your humour. Keep on laughing.
That is my absolutely intention, thank you!
I hope to hear more from you. I know daily is a huge commitment but maybe you can share with us periodically, unexpectedly. What a gift that would be! Just send me anything and I’ll read it, enjoy it and examine my own sweet self.
Safe travels and if you find yourself near the Texas Hill Country and need a driveway to park in, come on by.
Hopefully you have found my newest writings… its not a daily thing but a little miniseries. I might consider another daily in the future though. It’s a special experience, I have to say.
Thank you for the invitation! Not sure what route I’m taking back to Canada yet, but it will unfold in the next while, as it always does.
Thank you for joining the journey.
Believe it or not I found your blog while looking for solar kits. I have really enjoyed your travels,pictures and stories. Thanks for sharing your personal dealings with addiction and PSTD. My son is dealing with both of these and it helps me to read about how others are coping with it. I hope you continue to write and share during the rest of your adventures on the way home. Someday I would like to follow your southern route through AZ, it sounds like fun. God Bless and be safe out there 🙂
Hi there Don,
Thank you so much for taking the time to write. Oh, they are tenacious – both PTSD and addiction- but there is hope. I have continued to write (did a little mini-series on Sedona recently) and am considering another series… Arizona and New Mexico are just wonderful. It would take a lifetime to fully appreciate and experience all the diversity here! But I’m trying 🙂
Being safe always, and sending best to you and your son.
Wow. Just wow. Thank you for letting me hop into your van and ride along this month. I am encouraged to start writing again so that I can remember. I feel like I’ve made a new friend and look forward to more adventures. Pats to Pippa. Hugs to you.
I love that thought of inspiring other women to write! It has been such a delight to meet you, and to have you ride along with me. You’ve been awesome company. Pippa offers her ear for a scratch while you’re patting 🙂
Do you know Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones. If not…. it might be just the ticket for you 🙂
Thanks for sharing. I’m sad that the month is coming to an end. I hope you’ll keep writing here, even if not every day.
See you soon my friend!
wow Kit that last one was amazing as were all the others but your summary of what you learned and shared with us is a jewel. I relate to all what you said and yes I take all of my voices and fears and anxiety with me when travelling … no different than at home except that nature and some of the human encounters are exceptional and healing. I have had panick attacks in the van exactly as at home, I have been bored or sad or depressed same as at home but there is always that tree, that mountain or that river to help me along.
I would love to hear more from you and maybe you are going to come back to Canada through the west side??? Starting in the spring I will be travelling a bit but the biggest trip will start end of July going to Alaska hopefully with a couple of GVN women if everything goes well. Maybe you want to join us??
Thanks for being so honest and clear and such a good writer with also a sense of humour.
I will be travelling back to Canada through a southern, warm, US route I’m afraid, but I do think I will be visiting the BC coast once again next winter. I’m VERY excited for you as you plan to go to Alaska! How exciting is THAT?? I would love to get up there sometime, but it won’t be in the near near future. Who knows, down the road though! Ill be with you ladies in spirit!
From one balloon person to another – so grateful for you and all you have shared! Please write more when you “need to remember”, we will all be looking forward to it.
From one balloon person to another.
Not sure if you read “The Accidental Vortex” of yesterday, but the woman who did my tarot writing used a balloon metaphor when doing my cards, which made me laugh, as you can probably imagine!
I’m glad youre here Yvette.
Kit…. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading of your adventures and your insights. I do hope you will take the time to write occasionally and keep in touch with those of us who have “traveled” with you. Wishing you safe travels and happy moments.
Still writing Lynne!
I’m not sure I could quit now, even if I tried!
You’re welcome in my van any time!
I found your blog when I was researching van conversions and am so glad I did. As a person with trauma and similar childhood feelings of not belonging, I can certainly relate to your writing. Last week I held my newborn granddaughter in my arms as I weeped the end of my long term relationship a few days earlier. Life throws many curves and some are difficult to understand. I wept while I read today’s post…thank you for being so vulnerable and honest…your writing helps people like me realize we are not alone which is a thought that is an oft companion these days. So thank you for bringing us along for your journey xo
Oh, a fellow weeper 🙂 You are in good company here, Nita. Trust me on that 🙂
Wishing you peace and joy, and strength to weather the storms as they come. And go. Let’s not forget the GO part.
You are absolutely NOT alone! I hope your van conversion dream is gaining strength 🙂
Well done! I learned a lot and am grateful.
I’m grateful for you too Gwen. Thank you!
At this point in my life I should really not be surprised by serendipity. It has happened often enough that even if I don’t sense its coming, I shouldn’t be surprised by it. Your writings have been serendipitous at least twice for me. I haven’t read all the months’ writings so there may be more to experience.
You talk about this other worldly quality you’ve felt growing up and I so love that you interpreted it as being super human. Long back story of my youth not to be shared here but my experience was one of not belonging. Not belonging with groups at school, not belonging in my family. I wanted very much to be popular and lived on the cusp, never quite making it into the fold. I guess felt that if I were popular, I’d belong. I’ve always been a joiner for the same reason but still always felt that I was on the other side of some barrier I just couldn’t make it across.
Last night I had a vivid dream of being with by best childhood friend having a wonderful time with us alone creating some kind of scrapbooks. Later in the dream, all the popular people arrived for some kind of party. Stuff and stuff and more stuff happened until I was being chased and injured by the popular kids.
I haven’t fully interpreted it yet but I’m aware that it largely has to do with never quite belonging. And in this next adventure of living on the road, I’m once again doing something that is unusual and questioned. I know that it’s more than choosing a way to live. I’m on a quest. And as you suggest, I’ll have these thoughts and feelings as my companions…as much as I would love to leave them in my rear view mirror with their thumbs out.
Hi there Lori,
Belonging is such a primary human experience, isn’t it? I think so many of us have struggled with it, for one reason or another. Have you ever read Brené Brown? She’s AMAZING, and writes a LOT about belonging! Her first book, The Gifts of Imperfection is one of my all time favourite reads! I would strongly recommend it for you! Well, for anyone actually, but especially for you right now!
thank you for sharing your journey. Each day I have looked forward to reading how your day went and what challenges you faced, new friends you met and places seen. I am sad ( for me) that this trip has come to an end, while admiring your courage and perservence. I hope there are many rays of 🌞 sunshine in your days going forward! Best wishes for the future. Can’t help but hope you will write again further down the road…….
Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts here. I’m so happy you enjoyed this little month-long voyage. The writing continues, just not as part of a daily series. Something else might be in the works… hehehe.
Thank you – i have appreciated your writing very much
You’re very welcome Jenny. Thank you for sharing the ride with me.
thank you for all of this