I Have the Mountains to Thank

On the day this picture was taken six years ago, I was in an abusive relationship. The man who took this picture abused me verbally and emotionally during this Palm Springs vacation, and things escalated quickly when we got home. A couple of weeks later, in a rage, he threw a drink at my head, which shattered on the wall behind me when I ducked to avoid it. Sobbing and terrified, I locked myself in the bathroom. He broke the lock, and while I cowered in the corner, he stood over me and berated me, shouting, calling me names and shaming me for things I hadn’t even done.

Thankfully, he ended it before it could get any worse. Yes, he ended it.

The end of this relationship was the final wake-up call for me in a series of painful events that led me to start questioning everything. Who am I? What have I done with my life so far? What’s important to me? Where have I let myself down, and how can I make it up to myself? Can I forgive myself for being here now in this situation?

The year after this picture was taken, I hiked 2,000 miles on the PCT.

Five years after this picture was taken, I found myself at the top of those mountains on the horizon, exploring and researching the area for a guidebook I’d been hired to write. This time I was with the love of my life, someone whose kindness and consideration continue to humble me every day.

If the woman in this picture could meet the woman I am today, she would be so relieved. She would be proud. She would surely be incredulous.

I have the mountains to thank for my transformation. I learned to be myself in the mountains. I learned to listen to myself. I learned to trust myself. I learned to forgive myself.

The mountains hold this transformative power for you, too.

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