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Keeping It Real



Yesterday, I was pissed. 




Yes, I’m on vacation in Italy.

Yes, I’m here because my business has done very well this last year. 

Yes, I felt well enough to make this trip and, a little over a month ago, I wasn’t even getting out of bed every day of the week.

But, yesterday, it all came slamming down at the same time, and I was pissed. The kind of fury that has been held back so long that when it comes pouring out, you feel it coursing through not only your eyes and your mouth, but your ears, your heart, your skin, your scalp. It’s scathing, and you hope no one you love happens to intersect with you in those moments because the likelihood of them avoiding becoming the object of that blind fury is almost non-existent. 

How I came about being pissed yesterday specifically won’t seem as traumatic to you as it felt to me . . . We booked a tour through an independent, highly-rated tour group. We were to take Fiats out into the Tuscan countryside and visit some of the various wineries and have lunch. The tour started at 9 am and was slated to last seven hours. That was perfect because my company had a special dinner planned at a castle, and we were supposed to leave the hotel as a group by 4:30. 

Joey and I started to worry when we arrived and the two young guys leading the tour spent approximately an hour and a half teaching the others in the group how to drive a manual stick shift and/or Vespas. Joey even mentioned to one of them that we really needed to make sure we were back in Florence no later than 4 pm. because we had plans at 4:30 pm. The guy wasn’t very responsive and said something like, “Maybe we can be back here [the car lot that was a good 45 minutes from Florence] around 4 pm.” Joey repeated that we had to be IN FLORENCE by 4 pm and the guide nonchalantly nodded and walked off. 

Since the tour was supposed to be 7 hours total and we weren’t doing much but driving around the countryside, I assumed with a couple of reminders we would be fine on time. When 2:30 rolled around and we were finishing up lunch, I went back to the guides to let them know Joey and I would need to be heading back soon. We were shocked when they told us that wouldn’t be possible as they had a tour to complete and we “should have let them know earlier.” {Melissa’s Irritation Level #1}

I dug in my heels and repeated that we had to be back, and we absolutely had let them know from the very beginning. I reminded them they had spent an hour and a half giving driving lessons that we hadn’t needed and hadn’t benefited from, so we shouldn’t be penalized. The tour said 7 hours, and it should be 7 hours. There was a language barrier to some degree, but I think there was a refusal to comply issue more than anything. The guides then told us they knew they started late, but it was fine because they could just compensate by going an hour and a half later?!?!? {Melissa’s Irritation Level #2}

At that point, I demanded they find a resolution - a taxi, sending us back separately from the rest of the group, any possible option that would still allow us to make it to this very important dinner. One of the guys made a call and then told us they would see if they could get someone to help us out. Then they had everyone load up in the cars and head back out. 

Seriously, as we headed down the mountain from the winery where we had lunch, I thought they would do exactly what we had asked. I kept expecting them to pull in to the car lot we started from and drop us off or separate off one group from the other. I was in literal disbelief when they pulled into the parking lot of a castle and let everyone out . . . a castle, by the way, that was about 50 miles from Florence and it was already 3:15 pm. 

I even kept my cool while the guide made a phone call, thinking maybe they had someone meeting us who could get us on the road directly to our hotel and we would be only a few minutes late. But when he hung up and just sat there not saying anything, I was done. {Melissa’s Anger Levels #3...#4...#5...#6}

Joey was brilliant during this phase and just went along with me because I was quickly losing my temper. We collected our things and began walking away from the tour operators and the cars. I didn’t know where we were going. I didn’t know how we were going to get there. I didn’t actually care. I just could not feel trapped for one more second. 

I’ll fast forward the story because it doesn’t get much better and it isn’t very entertaining, but after debating taking a bus that no one knew the schedule for and my husband having to force me to not hitchhike back to the city, we were able to walk a mile and a half to the nearest train station and take a train back into the city . . . which - due to the million and a half stops it made - didn’t arrive until long after the group had left for the special dinner. 

But what did happen during that mile and a half walk was that I got angry - more pissed than I remember being in a very long time. 

I was pissed because I couldn’t control the outcome of my own day.

I was pissed because I missed a special event that I earned through a whole lot of really hard work because of the apathy and indifference of a couple of blithering fools. 

I was pissed because I was exhausted, and a year ago I wouldn’t have been. 

I was pissed because people want me to be “all better,” and I’m just not.

I was pissed because I’m on an amazing trip and it’s not fun . . . not the way I want it to be. 

I was pissed because life isn’t fair, and there’s not a single thing I can do about it. 

I was pissed over all the heartbreaking, life-sucking things that life has thrown at me in the last year. 

I was pissed at ME - because I can’t just suck it up and move on. 

See, I’m great at encouraging people to talk through things . . . and I do a fair job of it in my own life. Except the really hard ones. Those are mine. 

I know enough to know there aren’t any easy answers for them, and no one is going to be able to make me feel better. So, I just find a deep place somewhere and stuff them down. I keep moving and stay busy. I distract myself by laughing with friends and solving other problems and self-soothing with mind-numbing tv and social media.

But this vacation has removed those props which means I can’t pretend so easily. 

I can’t ignore that my legs shake violently after I go up and down a tourist attraction people twice my age are navigating just fine. 

I can’t quite make the smile on my face reach my eyes in some of the pictures because the weariness won’t quite stay at bay. 

I can’t keep up the pace I’m used to, but I’m far too restless to stay in my bed after I flew halfway across the world to be here. 

I can’t forget that I got called in for a follow-up to my mammogram the day before we left town. And while I know that logically it’s probably nothing and really shouldn’t even possibly be related to the thyroid cancer, I AM TIRED OF BEING SICK. I AM TIRED OF DOCTORS . . . AND LAB TESTS . . . AND MEDICINES . . . AND HOSPITALS . . . AND TREATMENTS. 

And all of that makes me feel like a whiner, so I say it to no one and it all gets bottled up - until I’m off-the-charts angry and marching my butt through small towns in Italy because I’m afraid if I talk to the tour guide one more time, I might just take off his head. 

When I was posting all the time on Caring Bridge, I was challenged to continue. I’m not sure this is quite what they intended, but I always want to keep it real. And this is my real right now. So it isn’t going to end with some pretty bow that ties it all together and makes everything suddenly glow with a rosy light. 

Sometimes, the bottom line is that life sucks and I think we all have every right to be pissed about it.



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