Camp Grounded, 10 days away from home, and self

Today I sit in the Delta SkyLounge awaiting my flight home. 

For the last 10 days I spent my time in CT and NY.  I was visiting a distant love and family as well as attending Camp Grounded.

10 days.

It is a long time away from home. Away from the family I live with. Away from my dogs.  Away from my bed.

I am tired.  It has been a beautiful and magical time on the East Coast.  But this is not my home.  While living with my CT family feels very much like home - it really is not.  And I feel those differences.

I loved my time here and I am so eager to be home.

The first day I spent in Armonk visiting dad - for only one evening.  We then drove up to CT to visit a property I was interested in and to for dad to meet the east coast portion of my chosen family. It went beautifully.  Sunday afternoon we attended their son's recital (my first time in a Church in decades).  The rest of the week was spent working during the day, going out evenings, having brunches - basically living as though I lived in that home.  It felt like home.  Comfortable, inviting, and safe.

It was also hectic.  We went out a lot more than I'm used to - easier to do when I'm not truly in my own home, after all.  It was a grand if exhausting time. Then my partner and I headed out to Camp Grounded.

What a magical and beautiful time.  What a horrible and trying experiencing. What a learning and growth opportunity.

Would I do it again?  Camp Grounded that is - since I will surely visit my family again.

Some moments I say yes.  The next moment is a resounding no.  I suppose then that the answer is I don't know.  

Camp Grounded NY was a new location for this group.  It was a vast camp with a beautiful Lake (Surprise!).  The outdoor spaces were beyond expansive; the indoor spaces were cramped (not cozy).  The kitchen was kosher - every time I saw the sign I went between giggling and sighing.  Whatever.

Cannabis was not allowed being illegal in NY; though I grok that Camp Grounded would ban it along with alcohol.  This is a difficult place for me as that is the prescription medication that helps stabilize my mental health (without the need for heavy benzos or months acclimating to SSRis and other anti-depressants) as well as a hugely major part of my chronic pain management - allowing me to stay the hell away from opiates. Opiates are scary.

I spent Friday in tears, for the most part.  In amounts of pain that I can not describe to you. Every single breath hurt.

The purpose of banning substances here is so that everyone can be present, aware, in the here and now.  The counselors shared that some folks were there freshly sober or sober for years and could not be around those substances.

And so I suffered.  No - I will not do that again.    I cry thinking about the physical pain that I was in.

I was also PMS'ing - quite possibly the worst time to be away from my medication. Cramps, pain, emotional turmoil in a place where emotional exhaustion must be accepted as part of the digital detox and connection with others.

No - not again.  I can't do it again. There was not a single hour that passed - except the dance and the silent meditation - where I did not desperately want to go home.  I did not sleep.   90% of that could have been alleviated with my prescription medication.

And yes - I did bring valium with me. I brought flexeril.  I brought Oxycodone.  I hate these drugs

There are so many people there.  The dining hall was so loud that I would eat as fast as I could and get the hell out of there.  I spent a solid portion of time separating myself from the group, finding peace.

They keep people, moving fast, because part of the adventure is a digital detox. No time, no devices, no tech.  Some people freak out about that so the organizers keep everyone busy.  That nearly killed me.  I can't move that fast.   I don't want to.  So I cried.

There were also so many magical moments. Acroyoga was beautiful and I never would have tried that without Camp Grounded and the two co-teachers that led the class.  The silent meditation... we were wearing all white and finally there was peace.  I was so deeply in meditation that I am told I gazed upon my partner and did not see him.  That was beautiful.

And the time with my Jackrabbit village companions was wonderful - except for that first day where it felt very difficult to say "no, I won't participate in that' (a group chant in front of all the rest of the campers - not my thang).  But I did say no.

And so many activities to bring people together. A game where people put tape on their nose and had to steal the tape from others or some such - such forced, close, physical contact with other human beings.  I opted out.  Had I the opportunity I might have opted out all the way to Oregon.

But there I also spent time holding hands with another camper and repeating affirmations to each other.  I hugged and received an uncountable number of beautiful hugs.  I took part in group hugs and voluntarily opted to be in the center of those - first my village then the whole camp.  

I hurt myself and found that I had to learn not only to ask for help - but to receive it.  That may have been the hardest part and it was certainly not a planned activity.  I did learn how to use crutches and had a freaking blast on them - silly though that may be.

I also performed.  I spun scarf poi in a talent show while my darling partner played his Ukelele and lead a sing-along.  Apparently it was a hit enough that people continually came up and shared with me how beautiful my spinning was; how mesmerizing.

And by now there is no way this is anonymous.  Alas.

Would I do it again?  I am torn.  My meds are a 100% requirement.  If that was covered....

There is a lot to be said for putting down a device and being truly present with those around you.  Doing so for multiple days forces one to find the beautiful passions and activities they love without hunching over a phone.  The people at Camp Grounded were beautiful.  I've named a few here - and there are so many more that I truly fell in love with though I may never see them again.  

Love... connection ... presence.

Over the last 10 days I have done so many new things.  I have grown as a person both in learning how to connect and learning how to disconnect. I have grown in my ability to share myself, practice boundaries, and ask for help.  I fell in love hundreds of times over - both with myself and with others.

And I cried. Not always from the physical pain.  I cried as others cried.  I offered hugs to those that needed them.  I loved and connected and I did all of that through a ridiculous amount of pain.  I learned to hear pain in others - even about things I did - and find a way around my ego to support them and find the path through that pain to the connection.

And I will do my best to hold those lessons and that growth in my heart and to carry it forward. Festival season is here and those lessons will be repeated as I choose festivals focused on connection, love and consent in the process.

Would I do it again?  I don't know. For now I am happy here and now. For as they say, "Where you are is where you are supposed to be." 

And I still have my pause button to help along the way.


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