Some people don’t know what they are signing up for, I didn’t either. I think that’s part of the gift. The Wilderness Walk is where the magic happens, where my heart opened.
I spent a lifetime running, numbing and hiding. I found clever ways to make myself invisible. My teen years and twenties were spent in a haze of alcohol, drugs and wearing a myriad of well-developed masks. I can blame my parents, but ultimately they did the best they could with what they knew, it was me who chose to take the long arduous road. I went from one relationship to another pretending to be someone I wasn’t, twisting myself into a pretzel for the crumbs of love I would receive in return. I secretly hated myself and I knew I was an alcoholic. I drank away my pain many nights which only increased the chaos in my life and left me feeling separate and alone.
I agreed to go to rehab. I don’t know what made me say yes, it felt like I was having an out of body experience. I had been walking in the dark for so long with my eyes closed. I had no idea what was going to happen, but a tiny piece of me was yearning to find a new way.
I went to rehab, got sober, and worked hard not to relapse. This began my quest for happiness. It wasn’t easy. I had to start over many times with new sobriety dates, new groups and new sponsors. I couldn’t sit still, I always felt like I had to keep moving. I lived in 27 places since leaving my parents’ house when I was 17.
I never stayed in one place for too long, when things got tough or I started to FEEL, or people got too close, I ran.
Having to pack up and move was one of the ways I coped with the pain. It was like I was using an imaginary eraser. I could undo the past few months and start over. I attempted with every move to leave the pieces of me I couldn’t accept in each of those apartments. But they were determined and destined to come along. My fear kept me hiding from not only myself but the world. I was terrified of being “found out”. The pain and emptiness was too much to bare.
“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”
I finally did the work. I committed myself to the process, but happiness still eluded me. It wasn’t until much later that I realized what I was truly seeking was self-love.
I forced myself to be seen and yet I found myself still feeling invisible in conversations and crowds. I pushed people away with my neediness. I felt like a fraud, inauthentic and out of alignment. Even though I wasn’t drinking and going to a lot of meetings, I was living a double life. The life I wanted the world to see and the life I lived behind closed doors. I was sad and angry. Alone and tired. Disappointed in myself, others and God. I did not know at the time, I was spiritually bankrupt and slowly dying. I was denying my pain and I didn’t have the courage to reach out. I felt weary from the work to stay afloat. Wasn’t I going to enough meetings?
I prayed often turning my will and life over to God while shouting “Please help me!!”
I was numbing any way I could without drugs. I was 90 lbs, binge eating and then depriving myself of food. My skin was grey and I was completely unaware that everyone around me thought I WAS dying. A friend suggested that I go see Suzanne. I still did not have the capacity to receive help and I was determined to do this by myself. I got myself into this mess and I was going to get myself out!
I went reluctantly for weeks to Suzanne’s office. With her help, I tore myself away from an unhealthy relationship that I was dying in. I slowly began to build my own self-worth and open my heart. I was finally allowing myself to fall apart and break open. Being seen was my growing edge for some time. Suzanne led and guided me through the painful terrain of my fears, anger and sadness. She saw me and helped me see myself. She loved me through my process. She challenged me and did not defend my limitations. I was looking for a quick fix, but soon realized that tearing down the walls that I had I spent years building wasn’t going to be quick OR easy. There were days just leaving my house was all I could do. It felt like I was walking around with my skin on inside out. There were times I wanted to quit but something inside of me yearned for the brief moments of freedom I felt when I allowed myself be seen. I slowly began to reclaim my power and I was hungry for more!! I knew this was just the beginning.
I went to small women’s groups and practiced being seen in an environment I felt safe in. I then chose to be a part of the inaugural Wilderness Walk.
I have learned that having a community to heal with is the greatest gift.
I took very intentional steps toward my healing and I was never alone. The pieces of me that I struggled accepting came to the surface in order to be addressed and healed. I was able to look at these pieces and honor those parts of me, never once feeling judged. I saw those around me showing up for themselves and doing THEIR work. It was inspiring to witness a community so willing to be vulnerable and seek their truth. I didn’t have to wear masks around them. We healed each other by showing up. I have witnessed and been witnessed. The deeper I go I see new layers to heal. It has been magical. Each challenge has turned into a gift. The Wilderness Walk taught me to bring love to my own heart. The more I show up for my own healing the more I can be a part of others healing. Each day I thank God for my Wilderness Walk community.
Have you found YOUR tribe?
Walker -The Wilderness Walk