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Monday, April 18, 2005

I'm About To Book A Holiday

It's true. I'm about to go and post the booking form and my cheque.

I know this isn't really a big deal - people book and go on holiday every day, after all - but it feels like a big deal for me. Traditionally, I've not been wild about holidays or travelling. They always seemed to me to be more stress than they were worth. I couldn't understand why people went away in order to try and relax. Always seemed to me that there was way more to be stressed about when away from home than there was when you were at home.

At one point, I mentioned to the mental health dudes my dislike of travel. So, naturally, they suggested I travelled more. This was quite early on in therapy, so although I thought it probably a good idea, I couldn't get my head round how I'd deal with the stress.

Lately, though, after the managing-to-get-on-a-plane malarkey, I've started to think about it a bit more. The long-term goal (as set down way back at the beginning of the therapy) is to go to North America. But that seems like a pretty big step to take first off (though the dudes would probably tell me just to go ahead and do it). I figure I'll take a smaller step first. I'm gonna go and watch some stages of the best goddamn cycling race in the world.

I'm gonna go with a company that specialises in taking cycling geeks on trips to see the biggest bike races. I'm planning to see the opening weekend, and then to go back again to see the final stage in Paris.

Before you ask, these trips won't involve taking a plane. I'm taking little steps, remember? Maybe I'll do the plane next year.

I'm excited by the prospect of seeing the race from the road. I have done before - in 1994 and 1998 - but on each of those occasions, it was only one stage. These trips will give me the chance to see a few stages, including the opening time trial (for non-cycling geeks, that means you get the chance to see each rider, one by one). And what with Lance Armstrong going for his seventh win this year, I figure this is a good one to be there for. If he does it, imagine the party in Paris on the final stage... And there's speculation that that this might be Armstrong's last Tour. And so this could be my last as well as first chance to see him on the roads of the Tour. Should he announce his retirement at the press conference this afternoon, I imagine demand for the trips I'm planning to take will rocket - so I'm trying to be clever by not waiting for the announcement before booking (I had considered doing so).

The prospect of all that of course excites me. But, naturally enough, I also feel nervous about the idea of going away - something which I've always associated with stress and worry. That said, I think that's good for me. The dudes have helped me see that facing anxiety is the quickest way to get rid of it. And, with the end of the sessions rapidly approaching (the last is on 28 April), I'm conscious that I need to continue facing stuff the thought of which makes me want to vomit. When you're in therapy, you have mental healthcare professionals working with you to set goals. I'm aware that I need to continue to set goals even now that I won't be seeing a clinical psychologist and psychiatrist who are supporting me to do so. The reality is that a lot of the stuff I've done lately has been created by me. That's the idea - that eventually you become your own therapist, as it were. But I need to keep being my own therapist even when my fully qualified therapists aren't there to observe.

So, I'm gonna book a holiday. And if you'll excuse me, I'm off to put the booking form and cheque in the post.

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