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Walking Off

I am a mover. A person of action. I do not sit still well. I am the kind of person who needs exercise daily - I am not unlike my Border Collie who needs exercise and a purpose, lest I drift into depression and uselessness.


Whenever I feel agitated or adrift the best thing for me to do is to put on my hiking shoes and take off. Usually with the Border Collie - she needs it as much as I do. Together we hike the trails surrounding our home, both of us searching for something we innately lack on our own.


It seems to me that each of us is filled with this natural born angst, this incessant restlessness that can only be calmed, and soothed by a few miles each day. Today it is raining, and I am pretty sure both of us are depressed about the lack of a hike this morning.


I didn’t alway hike every morning...but it has become our routine. Walking off the emotions and feelings that leave us both feeling neurotic and stuck.


When my children were little, I would strap them into a stroller and take off, to the beach, on a paved trail. Anywhere I could go to move my body and get outside for a little while. Sometimes we would go to the park, sometimes we would go to nowhere in particular. The point was we went.


My children are older now, and they are not so keen on walking with me. They would much prefer a more sedentary activity...which creates a disconnect for me. I still need the open trail, the permission of earth and sky for intimacy to be invited in. My living room is way too confined for all that emotion.


I have always wished that I was one of those moms that could lay on the floor coloring or playing with my kids for hours...but that is not who I am. I am the mover, the let’s-get-this day-started-mom which has been both a blessing and a curse. It is hardwired into me, to be a body in motion. And when I can’t move, I feel stagnated and depressed...


During my break up and attendant three year grief spiral from the love I thought was THE love of my life, I walked a lot. I took the pain to the trail and shed it everywhere I went. Cryking was established at that time - crying + hiking = cryking. I could not sit with the pain. I had to move it about, take it outside to the woods and leave any part of it I could there on the dusty trails. And it helped. I healed. It seemed to take an incredibly long time, but today I do not grieve him like that anymore.


Today I walk off all kinds of things: irritation, boredom, sadness, exuberance, longing, depression, angst, anger, joy. And I think that I do this because it seems to matter not what the emotion is...they all seem like I have too much of them. All of my feelings have forever felt like they are extra. More than others. Greater in magnitude and duration. I am not saying that I feel more than others, just that for me, the feelings I have, be they positive or negative, seem to be more than I can handle...and sometimes others feel the same way about my emotional nature.


I have spent my life wishing I was an easier person. Less intense, more demure. More stayed. Less fiery. But that is just not who I am. It is going to be a ride with me, that is just how it is going to be. I feel everything intensely and because of that I am always going to need to walk it off. It really matters not at all what “it” is. My solution will always be to take it to the trail and do my level best to leave it there.


As my sobriety anniversary draws nearer (one week from today) I think about all I walked off 26 years ago. I literally walked away from my partying, drinking soaked life and walked right into a sober one. I had no idea what I was doing, no real intention to dedicate a month, let alone 26 years to this new way of living. I just walked into a new way of living and I have never looked back. Ok, well, I have looked back but I have never wanted any of it back...the past was a perfect place for it.


I didn’t know it at the time, but walking off has always been a skill set of mine. Just turn around and leave. Move forward into whatever wondrous life awaits you be it into recovery rooms, ocean hikes, tender heartburned trails. It matters not where I walk so much in that I walk.


Walking off has saved me but it also has imprisoned me in ways that I am only now coming to see. Walking off is great but perhaps there is another way, a middle path that does not bring the extremes in my life. A balancing point between the apathetic lethargy and the inability to not walk off every strong emotion that blows through my mind. I am not there...but perhaps for the first time ever, I can see a new horizon, one that can be reached right here, going nowhere, walking off nothing...instead allowing for the feeling to just pass of its own accord while I remain rooted right where I am...




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