Red Flags and Reptiles

The codependent tendency to tolerate the unacceptable doesn’t just lock us into narcissistic abuse and toxic relationships, but also an abundance of situations. This post, which I wrote but forgot to post last year, takes a more playful look at how to recognize, and act upon, red flags.

I pull up to the gate of Blue Springs State Park, equal parts excited and frightened about staying at one of their cabins for a couple of nights. It’s one of Florida’s more crowded springs, but it’s a beautiful and magical place where you can see an abundance of manatees, kayak, canoe, swim and even scuba dive, dependening on what time of the year it is. I’ve been here several times, but this is going to be my first stay.

I re-enact the expression of concerns shared with the park ranger by phone that morning. I state I’m not in a “roughing it” headspace right now and reiterate that I am grieving. I even reshare the details, which most people respond to with compassion and condolences. 

“I think you’ll be fine,” she says.

I foolishly choose to ignore the red flag that her response waves. I don’t understand people who flat-out ignore grief reports. And if I don’t understand them, chances are they don’t understand me well enough to accurately predict my wellbeing at their cabin. 

But onward I drive, toward the beautiful springs, turning left at the sign for the cabins as instructed. Since Cabin #2 is the only one that’s numbered, it’s a guessing game as to whether mine, #3, is the next one, or across the street. I’m hoping I’ve guessed incorrectly as I walk into the screened-in porch, which features gaping holes and a big enough gap underneath the door to grant a small raccoon access. 

I cringe as the key turns, and that’s only a sneak preview for my heebie jeebies. I was told I could check-in early; I assumed that meant the cabin would be clean upon arrival. I run back out as a cart with two employees happens to drive by. I don’t say anything, verbally, but my expression speaks volumes.

“Do you need help with something?” the observant woman of the duo asks.

She confirms I am, indeed, at number Cabin #3. I inform her the cabin hasn’t been cleaned. She looks down at a list.

“We don’t have this one down for cleaning until Monday,” she says.

Oh okay; I’ll just take it as is, then.

“But I booked it for today.”

“We can clean it now if you’d like.”

“This wasn’t really the first impression I was hoping for. I’m not sure I want to stay.”

I tell her about the reviews I stumbled upon this morning, which were not on the site where I booked. Due to human diversity, we’re all going to have different experiences of the same places, so I took the negative ones with a grain of salt. But mosquitos coming out of the drain and spokes poking into your back from the mattress seem like universal unpleasantries. 

“Well you’ll definitely see mosquitoes, and some lizards,” she says, matter of factly. 

Come again?

“In the screened porch? Or in the actual cabin?”

“Oh, they’ll be inside.” 


I don’t need TV. I can live without WiFi as long as I can access the book I’m getting set to publish offline. I love nature and am okay with rustic, as long as it’s clean and comfortable.

But I draw a hard line at lizards. 

“You are camping in the woods,” she says, as if indoor reptiles should be expected. 

I bite the tongue that wants to state that I’m not camping, which would involve my lizard-proof tent. Instead, I dial the park office and share my experience. I don’t mention that I can stay in a nice hotel for less money than this cabin. But this isn’t really about money; it’s about my unwillingness to share my bed with reptiles. 

“I don’t think you’ll see an abundance of mosquitoes or lizards,” she says.

Am I being Pun’ked here? 

“I’m not okay with seeing any lizards indoors,” I respond.

She tells me she will give me a refund if I decide to leave. I can tell she doesn’t want me to make this choice, and part of me doesn’t either. I loved the idea of writing in the woods for a few days. I pause to consider the offer, somehow completely unaware of the pattern that has shown up for review. The signs are blinking as brightly and blatantly as Time Square, but I am wearing my “work with what shows up” blinders. 

I go back in and sit on the bare mattress, which is as hard as the actual floor. The toilet makes a very loud noise on its own, as if to say, “Do you really need more?” 

It finally hits me. I’m getting an opportunity to practice what I teach. And remember that my days of voluntarily tolerating the unacceptable are officially over, and not only in relationships. 

I love to show up and do the inner work, but sometimes, that work is simply blessing a person or situation with love and leaving. Especially when the way out couldn’t be easier!

I accept the refund offer, minus the entrance fee to enjoy the day at the beautiful park, where I raise my vibration and focus on the accomondations I want to create. I am then led to a community I’ve never been, where I learn about a last minute cancellation offer at a condo hotel. I am stunned to learn that my $75 per night apartment is not only clean and adorable, but is right on the water, complete with an oceanfront terrace. 

It is completely devoid of lizards.

Clear Your Traffic:

~In what areas of your life are you settling for less than you want and deserve?
~What signs and red flags have you noticed? Have you acted accordingly?
~Why or why not?
~What do you want to experience and feel in these areas of life? 

Novel News:

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