Healing In Nature


a tent near the shelter. He smiled and waved at me. Later, when I was sitting on a rock drinking hot chocolate, I heard multiple voices singing louder as they approached—a group of a few women and a man. A couple set up a tent next to me, and one woman went toward the shelter area. The following day, I was at the picnic table, filtering water I had just drawn from the small stream below, when a woman walked over to me, carrying her bottles, and we talked. I learned she had been backpacking the trail with her dog, but he had been injured, and it was just her now. I could relate. She continued, "He had to be carried down from Dragon's Tooth." Her face looked so familiar, and I was trying to pinpoint why. I remembered a woman I had gone to college with had messaged me to tell me that her mom was hiking the AT. She told me the dog, Dax, was now with her daughter. Without thinking further, I asked who her daughter was, and when she told me her daughter's name, the connection was clear, we had gone to college together. We face-timed Haley.

We came to a crossway, John Mosby Highway, 10 miles later. At this point, I was low on water. At the intersection, to the left, was the woman from the Manassas Gap Shelter, and to the right was Joey. The woman was waiting on some friends, and Joey was waiting to get picked up by a friend. Across the highway, the "Roller Coaster" section awaited, roughly 14 miles of constant highs and lows.

As I read Calvert’s insight on trauma and physiological reactions in response to a traumatic event, I began to reflect on my own fight, flight, and freeze responses. The human body’s fight or flight response is a natural response designed to protect oneself from harm and to survive. The freeze response is a desperate attempt for temporary protection from a dangerous system when options of flight or fight seem unreachable. After a traumatic event, it is customary to adopt a maladaptive coping response of disconnection to avoid pain or discomfort. These disconnection patterns associated with unhealed trauma affect choices made and relationships formed. To reflect on past sexual trauma was to look at my behaviors and notice any consequences of harmful coping mechanisms I had been using and to evaluate what led me to those choices. I had to take a deeper look at my fight (the need to fix or control a threat), flight (the urge to escape danger), and freeze (the desire to shut down when a threat seems inescapable) behavior patterns that I tend to turn to better understand myself and past sexual trauma. Although I reconcile with all three behaviors, "flight" has always been the pattern I demonstrate most. It always seemed easier to avoid anything that brought discomfort or triggered emotions without addressing the root of the feelings. Without reflection, acting on impulse can lead to challenging and unhealthy coping mechanisms such as abusing alcohol and drugs or denying or suppressing emotions/needs. Noticing my reactive patterns helped me address past sexual trauma into something healing.

Page 25

Made with FlippingBook. PDF to flipbook with ease