Where’s Whoopsie #24: Silver Linings

Silver bells, silver bells

‘Fore Christmas trip out of city

Ring-a-ling (appointment thing)

Give a ring (click online – ding!)

Book passport walk-in today


City centers, government centers

With TSA type turnstiles

In my mind, there’s a feeling I messed up

Just keep laughing

Renew passport

Yes, I’m cutting it dear


Silver bells, (Extra bills) Silver bells, (extra bills)

My number’s called in the city

Ring-a-ling (ring-a-ling)

Credit card ding (fees expediting)

Prove I do need for vacay


To my delight

Get the green light

Two-day turnaround it seems

They can sure rush

To my pleasure


But can’t risk mail crunch

Back in line, I must bunch up

More time off to spring

And although I have hustled,

I hear


Silver bells (Bully sells), silver bells (my stupid spell)

Says I deserve no pity

So my brain sings, (casting doubt in the air)

Failure still stings (RSD everywhere)

Even though we leave Christmas day


Silver linings, Christmas timings

We can still exit the city

Ring-a-ling (boarding ping)

Don’t be mean (brain be keen)

Practice self-care this fine day

If you can’t tell from my song, I failed to get my passport renewed in time for a six-to-eight week mail turnaround. Why? I don’t really know, honestly.

We moved. We learned our internet keeps going out because our cat is sitting on the modem as her new favorite bed. There were flares. We had a work retreat that involved traveling to a corporate lodge and staying overnight with other people.

And, fundamentally, I was a bit terrified to ask for my first vacation time off at a new workplace – or to commit to serious “travel” – in the sensible month of September because what if it all fell apart? So I waited – “at first” – until I knew it was “safe” to book tickets. Because committing to traveling again is almost a dare to Hell that, “Everything is fine, so it would be a great time to kick me when I less expect it.” Then I forgot about my expired passport entirely because ADHD.

My ADHD/PTSD brain fundamentally couldn’t believe it was okay to commit real money to “relaxing” until it was too late to renew my passport by mail. So, I had to trek to the passport agency and pay the penalty fees to get two-day turnaround after I finally had committed real money. Or, rather, after getting the renewal itself required an expenditure of real money. 

Oh yeah…fyi for those ever in the same situation…to prove you need an expedited passport renewal, you need to show proof you have already committed real money to the trip requiring said passport. Thus, we had to commit real money to a trip that I couldn’t immediately convince my brain I’d have passport in hand to go on…

All of that drama because my brain thought to keep me “safe” by not “committing” at first and choosing only a “low-key” trip. Thanks, brain. Very helpful.

It all got done, with a liberal application of rush fees and taking a few hours off work first to drop off and then to pick up the hand-carry order. But, not before I managed to give myself a migraine from the panic of, “What if we booked actual money… and the passport doesn’t arrive… and I’m the one who screwed up…and I cost us a ton of money in lost bookings. Oh, also, why am I so stupid I cost us the expedited fees even if everything else goes okay…?!”

It was, of course, my Partner who inevitably pointed out that if you end up putting just as much self-recrimination onto yourself for how you “failed” to make your “non-holiday” special as you were blamed for your past “failures” – is it really a healthy tradition anymore? At what point is it no longer holiday traveling because traveling is fun and when does it become another self-inflicted iteration of the traumas of holidays past? As my Partner put it, “If the ritual becomes as stressful as the thing it was an alternative to originally, maybe you are still doing that ‘be kind to yourself’ assignment wrong.”

Did I mention that I am down to once a month therapy because I live further away from my therapist? And, apparently, if you only have an hour with a therapist once a month, she will get a bit more strict on what topics are being covered and take a bit more charge. And, apparently, that “taking a bit more charge” will mean assigning me the homework of re-framing my “failures” in a kinder way. Repeatedly.

My trusty Passion Planner seemed to concur with my Partner’s suggestion that if we ultimately got trapped at the airport, we should just eat the cancellation fees and disappear to some remote part of New England chosen at random for the sheer irony magnet of it:

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving – Lao Tzu (Week of 12/8)

My Partner forgot any roasting pan for Thanksgiving on our original order, and we ended up having Thanksgiving a day later as a result. It was incredibly liberating. But, of course, that was because it wasn’t my mistake. When I had to pay extra to get my passport renewed in person and technically (but not really) gamble with the cost of our tickets because we had to buy them to prove we truly needed that expedited passport in the first place? No mercy.

Creating new traditions and rituals is awesome. But, as traumatized, often neurodiverse, people who default to ritual self-flagellation, it is entirely too easy to turn our “alternative” rituals into the very obligations we were fleeing from in the first place!

So, umm, practice self-kindness if things go wrong this week? And, also, practice self-care if they do go right, but it was only because you paid extra to have someone else – like the grocery store for dinner, Amazon for the gift wrap or even a government agent at a passport center for ID – take over for what you “should” have done yourself!

Remind yourself that the most important part of reclaiming traumaversaries is that your “alternative” rituals don’t take on so much weight that they become just another tool to bludgeon your self-esteem.

Happy Holidays! And goodbye for a couple of weeks while I enjoy the fruits of passport agent #A1’s due diligence at saving my behind with (hopefully) no (further) regrets!

<Image Description> Sketch of holiday ornaments and lights with two silver bells that says Happy Holidays.

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