In November 2021, I finally had the opportunity to go on my delayed-40th-birthday adventure with my friend Vanessa to Universal Orlando, particularly The Wizarding Word of Harry Potter. This was one of those once-in-a-lifetime, everything fell into place kind of trips. And I do mean everything. Cost. Travel. Lines. I don't travel with just anyone, and Vanessa and I had not yet traveled together. I think we both went into it confident we'd be good, but there's always a bit of anxiety with something like that. On the last day, we stated our agreement that we absolutely can travel together and that doing so 'leveled up' our friendship (love that term, Vanessa!). The experience was everything I'd hoped and more.
It was a few days later after returning that I had an epiphany about a nuance of the experience I felt but had been unable to name. I felt lighter, freer, just better by the end of the first day, and that continued each day. Then, while watching a POV video on YouTube of my favorite roller coaster at the park, it hit me: I released ever single pent-up emotion over the course of those days and hadn't even realized it.
We entered the park each morning with a game plan of rides. If we had a wait, we talked and connected; then we got on the ride and felt the anticipation build for what was to come. Now, I've always liked roller coasters, but it's been more than a decade since I rode one. (Seriously. Before this trip, the last coaster I rode was with my brother-in-law at New York, New York hotel in LV for my 30th birthday). The first thing I noticed is the speed improvements. Roller coasters take off at a breath-stealing speed now and it's amazing. At the end of our very first ride of the trip, Hagrid's Motorbike (do it! so fun!!), Vanessa and I were laughing and crying from the screaming and joy and surprise we'd just experienced. And then we rode another ride and then another and then another. And each time I laughed and I screamed. And I screamed some more. My voice became increasingly unreliable as the trip progressed.
Only after I returned did it finally click for me--despite the fact that I recommend this to clients all the time--that those rides, as fun as they were, served a deeper, therapeutic purpose for me. Every emotion I'd held in, every deep thing, was ushered out of me with each ride. Each scream just got it all out from the depths. And it was incredible.
Again, I tell my grief clients to go and scream at the waves when their grief gets heavy, so I don't know why this was such an epiphany for me, but it still amazes me. I've rediscovered my joy of roller coasters (which is, in part, due to the fact that I am able again to ride them with my new body) and I can't wait to ride again.
It's also probably time to try the break room too--I'm confident it provides similar outlet.
Listen, verbally processing emotions is healthy and needed. Do that. Writing them out is healthy and needed. Do that, too. But some emotions are so big and consuming and complicated that they require something more to fully release them from your being. Find that thing for you and make a commitment to give yourself that gift. You won't regret it!
Now, who wants to go to Great America in the spring?
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