The opening of this post may seem odd, but I’m pretty sure it will become clear if you read it in its entirety.
I’ve had many setbacks throughout my lifetime: depression, obesity, and rare brain disease, to list a few. I am also a childhood survivor of sexual abuse. The impact of abuse is long-lasting. The abuse violated my understanding of and relationship with the world.
In 2008, I attended a survivor of sexual abuse retreat at the Women’s Wilderness Institution in Boulder, Colorado. The Institute provided an ideal environment for women to reconnect with their inherent strengths and sense of well-being.
I believe that there is healing in nature. Along with six other women, I set off on a primitive camping expedition. Growing up in Florida, soft sand and beaches were my playgrounds. I had no experience camping, and I did not know that rock climbing was even an activity.
Today I came across photos from that trip. I was so cold that I needed two sleeping bags in one photo, and I didn’t drink nearly enough water. As with life, I survived.
Weighing in at 365 pounds, the traditional equipment did not fit me appropriately. The other women assisted me in tying knots to make a safety net of sorts. Wearing a make-shift harness, I scaled my way up the side of the mountain. It took a lot of courage to reach the top, but I fell in love with nature once there and knew I had the strength to do anything.
I finally understood the old Negro spiritual, “Rough Side of the Mountain,” and felt liberated. A year later, I developed the rare brain disease, Pseudotumor Cerebri /Intracranial Hypertension (IH).
My journey has never been easy, but the years following that trip were tough.
After fifteen surgeries (eight of which were brain surgeries), I am reminded of the first day I fell in love with nature.
I hear a lot of, “I can’t,” “I would but,” “With my condition, it’s not possible, “or “I’m not able” when I talk about my ventures. At first, I tried to be empathic with others’ situations, and then I recall having the physical strength at 365 pounds to lift myself up a mountain.
I remember waking up the morning after one of my brain surgeries eager to go for a run (at the time, I hadn’t run in over 15 years). I am reminded of my childhood and the courage it took to trust others and trust myself.
I am doing what no one has done before, hiking the PCT with a neuromodulator. Now, when I hear a list of excuses, they are just that, excuses. My motto has been “I can, I must, and I will.” If I can, you have no excuse.
***** Change of perspective: I better understand the value of lived experiences. We all face challenges and barriers. Because I can, doesn’t mean that if you’re not able to, you’re lesser than… you are YOU. Hike your own hike. (03/17/2018)