Reality Check: Can I Ruin Your Vacation?

Just to be clear, I don’t want to ruin your vacation! Nor am I asking, “May I ruin your vacation?” as in, “Will you give me permission to ruin your vacation?”

No, my question is, “Do I have the ability to ruin your vacation?”

You might wonder, “Why would she want to ruin my vacation?” I don’t, of course. However, look around. You could reasonably conclude that some folks just want to ruin somebody else’s good time.

Billy and Sara have two lovely daughters, Lucy and Laurel, from a tumultuous marriage that’s now ended. After the break, Sara quickly moved on and remarried.

Billy, however, had a hard time adjusting to the breakup. It was only after several years, when he met a woman who genuinely cared for him, that he started feeling better about himself and his life.

Sara and Billy share custody of the girls, and things went smoothly as long as Billy wasn’t doing so well. However, when Billy began his new relationship and was clearly on a path toward being happier, his relationship with Sara started to take a nasty turn.

Sara began calling Billy at odd hours to complain about some triviality with the girls. She was rude to Billy’s girlfriend and seemed to deliberately arrange that any interaction or connection with the girls was as inconvenient for them as possible. Sara was, shall we say, being an unpleasant ex.

Billy decided to take a southern vacation where he would ask his new love to marry him. He arranged for Sara to have the girls for that week. As Billy is not historically a big spender, Sara knew that something was up. Billy wouldn’t be spending this kind of money otherwise.

The moment they arrived at the resort, Billy started getting texts from Sara. “Lucy got in trouble at school.” “Laurel sprained her wrist and had to go to emergency.” “Where did you put Lucy’s tennis racquet?” “Your mother is fighting with my mother over who has the girls this weekend; you have to fix this.” On and on it went. Billy hadn’t had so much communication with Sara since before they were married!

Being the responsible guy that Billy is, he dutifully responded to every text. He dreaded the buzz of the phone. Sara was ruining his vacation!

Finally, his girlfriend spoke up, “You don’t have to answer the phone, you know.”

But what if it’s an emergency? What if something has happened to the girls?

If it’s a real emergency, your mother will call the resort staff and they will tell you.

But, but…As Billy examined his objections to ignoring Sara, he finally realized a fundamental truth. He really doesn’t have to answer the phone. He really can be on vacation. He doesn’t need to communicate with Sara. He can control whether he responds to her demands and complaints. As long as he is available to his daughters, he has no other requirement to interact with Sara.

It was a freeing moment for Billy when he turned off his phone and stuffed it in the bottom of the suitcase. This began Billy’s understanding of the freedom that comes with understanding internal control.

So, can I ruin your vacation? Can I ruin your happiness? Your relationships? Your self-esteem? Nope. Not unless you let me…

Does anyone try to ruin your good time? How do you handle it?

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