Last week, I was in Colorado with my family. We were playing in the mountains and drinking in the rivers of the snow melt.
It was heavenly, magical and as typical Stacey-fashion, confrontational.
My siblings and I decided one morning we wanted to go for a hike. I felt nudged to go with the little kids because I felt that the trail that my siblings chose would be too much for me. But, instead of honoring that truth, I decided to go along with the adults (because I told myself it would be silly and childish to only do the “baby” hike).
That morning was particularly hot and I had only packed one bottle of water for myself. As we ascended into higher altitude (upwards of 9,000+ feet), I could feel my body starting to react to the environment. Quickly, I noticed I was quite a distance behind the rest of my family.
I took some quick breaks but I saw them get further and further ahead of me. I wanted to stop and take pictures of the amazing wildflowers, but I felt that I shouldn’t (key word for me) because somehow that wasn’t what this hike was about.
In that moment, I felt embarrassed and completely immersed in the compare game (If they can do it without needing to go slower, I need to make myself do it too). The thought that I wasn’t good enough quickly emerged and it drove me to walk at a faster pace than my body wanted and to further dehydrate myself.
A few minutes later, my body started to shake. And I started to cry.
But even then, I didn’t stop. No in fact, I continued because I was so unwilling to own my limits and honor my body. Shame coated me in her seductive lie that there was something wrong with me.
I wanted to crawl up into the mountain and hide. At precisely this moment, something stung me. I cried harder and yet didn’t stop.
I continued. I could feel my body increasing its reaction to the conditions. My head throbbed and my voice got quiet.
Resistance kept swimming loudly in my head — “I am always the outsider. I can never keep up. I would be ruining everyone’s experience if I said no now.”
I was completely in my head and yet my body was pleading with me to climb back into her.
By now, my family had intervened and we headed back down the mountain. I got to the base of the mountain and dipped myself into the river bed.
I spent 24 hours recovering. Maybe longer if you count the work I did on my thoughts.
It’s these moments where I would typically beat myself up for days about my actions. But instead, I decided that compassion was the best way forward.
- Compassion for the part of me that feels triggered by others (especially my family) and in those moments feels challenged to choose me above all else.
- Compassion for my body who was speaking to me all along.
- Compassion for the period of recovery that was needed to restore my body’s balance.
- Compassion for all the thoughts that surfaced during that hike that felt true in those moments.
- Compassion for the messiness of my life that brings me again and again back to me– back to what is true in this moment and back to what feels most like love.
I can’t say to you that this will never happen again. In fact, being with my family is PhD level of spiritual work for me— because it quickly triggers so many beliefs and patterns from my childhood.
As much as it got me in that place I was on the mountain, it is okay because I want them to surface in order to practice releasing them. They took me out of my body and my truth and I want to confront them– however big, scary or ingrained they may be.
It’s funny to me now that the mountain of thoughts in my head were really the trickiest part of that hike.
And what I learned again in such beautiful fashion is that being gentle, compassionate and curious can always be a step toward me at any pace I choose.