Saturday, February 2, 2019

Walking Was My Therapy

Several years back we lived in a small town of about 1800 people. It never felt like home to me, and for a couple of reasons. One was that life for my kids and me had changed drastically, but not so as to allow the fresh start I truly needed. (That would come later, and with good timing.) Two, because I grew up in the Northland of Kansas City on the Missouri side, and I will always be a city girl at core.

But our locale was good for a few things, among them the walks I took often and by myself. For me those walks were about physical fitness, mental awareness, and emotional repair.

I pushed myself pretty far. Down the street, through the neighborhood---traffic and uneven pavement be damned---to the other side of town, outside city limits among the gravel roads and livestock---including two horses who came to recognize me as well as I them---and back again. I minded my heart's pounding, my lungs breathing, my muscles working. I walked myself through.

I pushed myself pretty far. Those footsteps were matched in tempo and quantity by my thoughts. I assessed with naked honesty who I'd been for too long, with little autonomy, and also who I wanted to be. I turned over ugly, painful experiences, and looked at them head-on. I dissected what I'd begun learning about something called narcissistic personality disorder, and how that had ruled my marriage. I considered that, maybe, everything I'd been brainwashed to believe for years may not be true after all. I talked myself through.

During those walks I came to see I am in this moment. I am in this life. I get to choose how it goes now, from here forward.

I pushed myself pretty far, because nature and solitude don't judge. I let the feelings come to surface and lift away. Feelings of hurt, smallness, and regret from the abuse I'd left; feelings of potential, hope, and self-love because I'd gotten out.

The time and attention I gave myself on those walks were healing. It was about forgiving myself as much as grieving, and identifying my aim for the future as much as rehashing---and then letting go the hold on---my past.

I've never gone to formal therapy. Many have told me I should. I have nothing against it, can't pinpoint a reason I didn't seek out help for healing from a professional. I just didn't.

But I did walk. And I wouldn't be where I am right now if I hadn't.

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