Visiting my Family

The hubster and I do a lot of traveling to see our sprawling, loving, close-knit families.

My husband and I live on the West Coast. My family lives on the East Coast. His family lives in South America.

This week, inspired by a trip to Florida with my in-laws, I am addressing the emotional and practical issues of traveling to see family.

While my husband and I love where we live, being so far away from family brings up issues like: How much do I tell them about my health issues? Do I need to? and being frustrated because they don't see on a daily basis how much I am struggling.

My Side of The Family

Vacation time with my family is usually low-key. We are rent-a-house-on-the-beach-or-mountains-and-chill people. Days are filled with the activity of your choice - reading, hiking, napping - and we gather for leisurely dinners. Other than occasional (but, when it happens, intense) drama, I can kick back and enjoy my people.

Lest you think I live in la-la land, please know that this vacation calm is a recent phenomenon. I have been through rocky times with my nuclear and extended family. My angsty teens and twenties, when I was dealing with a lot of personal crap regarding my family, meant vacations were emotionally stressful and made worse by my health problems and the long flight.

And how did I handle chronic pelvic pain on these vacations? By clamming up. I pushed my emotions and struggles as deep down as I could. I never let anyone see that I was sneaking ice packs from the freezer, and thankfully doing PT exercises could be done in the privacy of a shower.

I let people think that I was lazy, uncooperative, or a disappointment rather than tell them the truth - that I was exhausted, scared and hurting. Even my dear brothers didn't know that I have a chronic pain disorder until the last year or so, and I have never discussed the topic directly with my father.

While I would not recommend this approach, I understand why I chose it. I wasn't comfortable telling people about the state of my vulva, and so I chose privacy at the expense of physical comfort.

Even though my health has improved dramatically, I doubt that I will publicize my pelvic pain journey during family visits.

Nor will I hide it.

As my family asks me about what I am up to these days, I will honestly reply that I have been writing a blog for women with pelvic pain, taking a deep breath first and reminding myself that

I need to be the advocate I wish I had ten years ago.