Healing In Nature


Heads or Tails

When I arrived at Loft Mountain Wayside, I went straight for the ham and cheese sandwich and a bag of chips. Unlike the first time, I took my pack off before entering the store. Outside on the benches was a group of five men in their mid-twenties, all talking with each other. They wanted me to guess where they were from, and it turned out that only one of them was an American. The others were from different countries abroad. They had all met on the trail and were hiking together, at this point, to Maine. I told them they would love Maine, but it is cold and gets dark early in the fall and winter. "Wait, how early?" one of the men asked. "Around four o’clock," I said. The men started laughing together. "Oh we better get a move on if we are going to get to Maine before winter." We talked more while waiting for my ride to pick me up. At one point, the American man suggested they start hiking again, as they had many miles to go to the next shelter for the night. "Let's flip a coin," another man replied, "Heads we go, tails we stay here." They all laughed. The man pulled out a coin, tossed it in the air, and caught it in his hand; it landed on heads. "Well, I guess we better get going then," a different man responded. And just like that, they put on their shoes, filled their water bottles, and put on their packs. We said goodbye. Shortly after, my ride showed up. With windows rolled down and my head out, I felt the cool breeze dance on my skin. I felt thankful, so thankful.

Instead, I sat with the memories, walked with the grief, and allowed myself to work through the past sexual trauma that was taking over my life. I noticed that when impulses were driving me to negative coping patterns, I forgave myself when I fell back on them, and I allowed myself the growth to understand why I did. Releasing my trauma will allow me to approach situations and emotions with a healthier mindset. As I continue to heal, I am aware that I will encounter new barriers that present new growth opportunities, and I am ready for them now. I used to see myself as a victim, and my body, mind, and heart remained stagnant after the sexual violence that transformed my life. When I think about my traumatic experience, I relate to myself as a survivor. I was able to learn to accept life and all its adversity. Before, I saw problems as means that needed to be fixed instead of sat with, felt, and revisited for growth. With a victim mentality, I continued to engage in harmful coping mechanisms for many years following the sexual abuse and assault, remaining comfortable in my self-destructive ways. It was not until after my mental health deteriorated, relationships with family and friends suffered, and harmful coping mechanisms took over my life that I knew I needed to give myself the gift of healing.

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