We spent a lot of time together this weekend while camping out in the wilderness. It’s something we have not done together in years; over 20 perhaps. While spending some much needed time together I learned some valuable lessons; some of which I was afraid to learn.
It all started with a climb to the top of a mountain. I am not someone who hikes, you of all people know this. My family went on trips, some scenic in nature, but more often than not, it was to relax on a beach or sail a cruise ship. After all, we were on a vacation & with no intentions of “working out“? My family is very active and they aren’t anxious people. I on the other hand suffer from anxiety and prefer to relax while watching Netflix.
My family was excited when we reached the mountain, I was a bit more hesitant. I had my gym shoes on and water bottle in hand, so I was all set right? Once I had started up that mountain, no one, not even you could have prepared me for what I was about to go through.
Not to sound corny, but I am going to quote Miley Cyrus…
“Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side
It’s about the climb”
Going in I was completely open to this new experience but I can honestly say, 5 minutes later I hated it. I wanted to quit. While my husband and kids sprinted away to the first look out spot I slowly made my way up to it with my mother-in-law. We took frequent stops so we could both catch our breath. I hated “hiking” and it wasn’t my idea of fun. However, I put my best foot forward and went onward and upward…literally.
The kids were mesmerized as they stepped out on a cliff to look over this glorious mountain and all I kept thinking was “Dear God, don’t let them fall off the cliff”. I couldn’t even look over at them and enjoy myself because my anxiety was slithering up my body like a snake with a death-like grip. After a brief stop we all continued moving towards the top of the mountain and with each winding step I took, I cursed at you for wanting to even try this. How could you do this to me? You know how much I hate the outdoors; bugs and anything that flies…this is totally out of my comfort zone and I loathed you for it. I continued to complain…a lot and I’m certain my family wanted to throw me off a cliff at one point because my excessive complaining.
We reached another look out spot and it was scarier than the last. People below started to look like ants and I think I might have been able to touch the sky. I stood there watching my family from a “safe” distance with their backs to me and tears started to fill my eyes. I watched as they were enjoying themselves and while that made me happy I couldn’t allow myself to enjoy these precious moments with them because I was filled with fear. I slowly and carefully walked closer to them and had my MIL take a family photo.
I looked to see how the picture came out and a complete sense of sadness came over me. It hit me. I mean, it really, really, hit me. I was fat and unhappy and it showed. There was no way to sugar coat it. It was the truth. I looked past my outside appearance and looked into my eyes and all I saw was utter sadness. I took and carried that emotion with me for the remainder of our hike. It was a heavy emotion. I watched as the family went ahead of me and fit strangers raced up and down the mountain without even batting an eye. I watched as older people with walking sticks hustled past me. I wanted, for just once, to feel good going up that mountain, but again, with each winding step, I hated that mountain…and I slowly began hating myself even more.
When we finally made it to the top, I looked out thinking to myself, “Thank God…I can now end this and make my way back down”. As we began our decent one woman said in passing, “Be careful, it’s really steep”, and I thought…what the hell did this family get me into now? Dammit…what do I have to do to get off this fucking mountain? I can’t stay up here forever. The only way off was to put one shaky foot in front of the other. I looked down and all I saw was rock after rock. It was steeper than I had ever imagined.
To say I was deathly afraid would be an understatement. I found nothing enjoyable about this adventure. It was at this moment I reached a pivotal moment in my life. I was literally stuck between a rock and a hard place. I had one huge boulder on the left, another on the right and smack dab in the middle of that was a tree. The width opening on either side was about 2 feet. I stood there facing this obstacle and started to cry. Tears streamed down my face. My mother-in-law placed her arms around me and I just bawled. They thought I was crying because of my anxiety, but I was crying because I didn’t know if I would be able to fit through that opening. It was at that moment that I knew in my heart, with all my being, that I was ready to make some major health changes.
I hit my literal “rock bottom” moment, right there in a pile of rocks created by God. He didn’t want me to feel this way, but it was His way of showing me that I needed to make changes and I was the only one that could do that. And I had to do that for ME. I had to love myself in order to get past that rock and a hard place. I had to dig deep and know that I could conquer anything if I tried. I had to realize that I didn’t have to do this alone; that I had support right there in front of me. I looked up with tears in my eyes and saw my husband looking at me in a way that I hadn’t seen in years. At that moment, I knew that his love for me was unconditional and he would be there with me, every step of the way down this mountain and in any journey I would take thereafter.
find self-love; climb a mountain
God helped to lift my head, open my heart and my eyes to not only myself but to my husband and everything around me. I was faced with the challenge of all challenges and instead of giving myself credit for walking up a mountain, I decided to hate the experience. Instead of giving myself credit for reaching an overlook to see natures beauty, I feared it. Instead of giving myself credit for trying something new, I beat myself up because I was too “fat”. Instead of thinking I could make it through that rock and a hard place, I doubted myself. And, instead of believing in myself, I hated myself.
I looked into my husband’s eyes and he told me that I could do this and for once, I believed him. He told me to put my hand on his shoulder and he would support me. He did. I was about 2/3 of the way down when my ankle gave out and I fell hitting my hand on a sharp rock and injured my thumb. It started to throb and turn purple. I held back the tears and told everyone I was ok taking my husband’s shoulder with the other hand and just kept moving with my sore hand and swollen thumb in the air as if to say, “I got this Universe, I’ve got this God… I’ve got this!”.
“You’ve got to start giving yourself more credit! If you can do this, you can do anything.”
I saw my son waiting for me on solid ground. I was so thankful and grateful to have made it down. I did it! I went up and down a mountain! Me, fat, short, little, ME! At that moment, my kids hugged me and my tears flowed. I was so grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to see what my life had become. If I had just opened my eyes I would have seen that the world wasn’t against me, I was against myself.
My husband said to me, “You’ve got to start giving yourself more credit! If you can do this, you can do anything.” As I looked up with tears in my eyes and saw nothing but rock, trees and sky, I knew he was right. I could do anything if I just put my fear aside, have some faith and give myself a little credit.
This isn’t the end of my mountain climbing journey, in fact, it’s just the beginning. I climbed one mountain to be faced with another. Weight loss for me is just another mountain right now, and to quote Miley again…
“There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side
It’s about the climb”
Thank you for suggesting we go camping. You have proved to me without a doubt that you are stronger than you think. You have proved to me that you are loved by your husband and your family and more importantly you are loved by God and all that He surrounds you with. Now it’s my turn to love myself. I will continue to put one foot in front of the other and keep climbing and if I stumble, I’ll pick myself up and keep moving onward and upward.
Plus, I would never have had the need to reference Miley Cyrus – twice!
See you on the other side of the mountain!
Your inner self.