Gratitude

So much is happening to me so fast out here! I wish I had a bit of time to process it each day, but it is too much… And we need to keep moving!
In the last couple of days, I’ve been doing some math. There’s no time to mess around on this trail! I still have more than the entire length of the Appalachian Trail to hike and 2 months less time to do it in! That’s A LOT of miles to hike each and every day!
So far, my body is holding up well. My calf muscle was hurting quite badly a couple of days ago, but before bed that night, I rubbed a little arnica on it, lied down for 9 hours, and in the morning it felt much better! It is amazing to me how quickly things change and move out of you out here- colds clear up faster, injuries heal more quickly, and there is no time to dwell in emotions or get depressed. We just keep moving and I love it! I feel happy!

I wanted to take a moment to thank all of the people I have met on my journey so far who have given me a boost. A simple hello and smile are enough, but anyone who shows interest in what I am doing really helps pick up my energy levels and get me further down the trail. Several people have taken my picture and a few have even shared some of their food with me! I have already received much more on this hike than I did on the entire AT, and I know that this is partly due to me being more open and ready to receive, and partly due to the more relaxed and friendly attitude of people on the west coast. (Coming out of Big Bear, I started crying when the thought of returning to Boston came into my mind. I live unseen and unnoticed in Boston and my spirit suffocates). So far out here, I have been given a kiwi and a package of sliced salami and cheese from Trader Joe’s (thanks Sam!) on Mt. Jacinto, two avocados, a half gallon of ice cream, a banana from a trunk (!) of trail magic on a tough day for me, and a slice of cheese pizza, a banana, some orange juice, and a donut from JT’s mom (best break ever!). And Mike, who offered me a ride back to the trail from Wrightwood, gave me $10! All of these gifts, I accept humbly and gratefully and I hope everyone knows how much they mean to me.

I also so greatly appreciate all of the trail angels along the trail who go out of their way and donate their own time and money to help us achieve our dream of walking from Mexico to Canada. Many of them stock water caches for us in otherwise very long shadeless, waterless sections. Sometimes, thinking about what these people do for us brings tears to my eyes. All we are doing is walking…

Right now, I am at the home of the Saufley’s (famous trail angels on the PCT, who do our laundry, let us shower, and have tents set up with cots inside them for us to sleep on). I have hiked 454 miles, with 27 being my biggest day so far. I am getting to the point where 23-25 miles is an average day for me. Surprisingly, I managed to pass everyone I know on the trail coming into Agua Dolce! Several guys seem to be taking a day or two to visit their girlfriends in LA (we are the closest to LA that we will ever be on the trail right now). Drama is one of those people. He will be behind me when he gets back on the trail! Sprinkles and Spoonman came in this morning, UB came in early afternoon, and Muk Muk will arrive tonight. I love UB and Muk Muk. Even though we only see each other in town, they are my trail family. They love me for who I am without me having to do anything. I can just be and laugh, and they give me hugs and say loving things to me. I appreciate this so incredibly much because I have had so very little of this in my life. I didn’t have loving parents and I lived a very isolated life with no people in it. And everyone I have opened my heart up to and given my love to shuts down and treats me badly. That is what I need to turn around. I need to learn not to open my heart to people who don’t have open hearts themselves and who in turn criticize me and don’t treat me nicely.
Muk Muk told me that I have the biggest heart of anyone on the trail and that I am also the strongest. She said that sometimes, I am too strong for my own good. I agree with her.

I received a piece of news on the evening of the 13th, towards the end of my 27 mile day from the McDonalds to Wrightwood. My sister called and left a voicemail. It was the first time I had heard from her since I had been on the trail. She said she had some news she thought I would like to hear, but didn’t say what it was. I stopped and called her back with the wind blowing strongly, dusk approaching, and several more miles to hike. She lingered a bit and I hoped it was not something that I needed to leave the trail for. Was it Dad or our older sister…? Was someone sick or did someone die? She finally said that our mother passed away on the 7th. Our older sister waited almost a week to tell our father the news. He, in turn, told my younger sister, and she informed me.
For years, I had thought about what my reaction to this news would be. I always thought I would feel happy, and that was indeed the case in reality. It was simply a piece of news, and the only feeling associated with it was one of peace.
I know this is hard for anyone who did not grow up with an abusive mother to understand, but this is and has been my reality. I never had a mother. I never had anyone to listen to me or wrap their arms around me. I was never given love or acceptance. Instead, I was surrounded by hate and isolated from anything loving. I was criticized for every move I made and every word I spoke. I was born to someone that only wanted to control me.
My mother suffocated herself with hate. My last interaction with her was in 2002 when my sister and I called a family meeting to deal with my brother’s possessions years after his death. My mother had been using them as a final means to control us by locking up and keeping away from us my brother’s belongings- his remaining earthly connection. At the “meeting”, she threatened to call the police if we ever came near her house.
She since went to live with my older sister, and thereafter began to lose her mental capacities. With no connection to anyone or anything in life, this wasn’t hard for me to understand. Apparently, she had been recently living in a nursing home, knowing not much more than her own name. Now, her soul can finally rest in peace, and those of us who were abused and held down by her can finally begin to breathe a bit more freely. She no longer has any control over me.

The real question to me is whether these four individual pillars left of this nuclear family will ever be able to connect with each other again.
(I asked my sister if my father knew I was hiking the PCT. She said yes, and I asked what his reaction was. She didn’t say anything. When I pressed her, she said he just thinks you are living an independent life. (That’s his only reaction???). The tremendous disconnection greatly saddens me.

For someone who was never given love, I am so, so thankful for my heart and all of the love I have inside of me. I can’t wait for the day to finally give it to someone who will return it back to me. I can’t wait to finally be nurtured.

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9 thoughts on “Gratitude

  1. Peace to you. Treats await at KM. I think I’ll send the weekender; given the lack of snow this year you should make good time.

    Cheers,
    johntp

  2. Take some time to smell the roses. You are competitive, so you will do what you do. That said, the PCT is not a race. It is a journey. Take care of yourself and listen to your body. You already know all this, but just want to remind you to enjoy the journey, not the destination. You johntpare about to enter one of the most splendorous mountain ranges in the world.
    Cheers!
    johntp

    • Don’t worry, John… Yoga took most of my competitiveness away…And the weight of my pack doesn’t allow me to walk any faster. I’m very much staying within my limits and hiking at my own pace and doing what I like to do. Looking forward to KM and my first surprise package!! Thank you so much!!

  3. Wending thinking of you. SO sorry to hear of your Mom’s passing. But yes she is finally at peace. Sending love and healing to you ALWAYS! xoxooxoox

  4. I love your gratitude post! I love it! I was looking on your blog to find a PO Box to send you some treats and I found this post. Gratitude! Much Love xoxoox

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