Lake Loop Trail


Hi all, sorry for the gap in posting but you’ll be happy to know I have a number of excuses reasons for why this has occurred. 🙂 Thanksgiving was a very busy weekend with lots of plans (not to mention the unseasonably high temperatures. Do you have any idea how rare it is to put up your outdoor Christmas decorations in shirtsleeves in Syracuse NY?!? We just had to take advantage of the opportunity.) Then, since it is November, I came down with a sinus infection. Actually I was two days away from making it through the month without one, which hasn’t happened in years, but didn’t quite make it. The good news was, I already had a doctor’s appointment for a routine visit set up, so I was able to get antibiotics and may have actually caught this before I go into my usual follow-up of bronchitis and kicking off my asthma. Light years to go, but my self-care is getting better! 🙂 Not to mention, one of my rare visits with the Boundary Ninja. (Ok, rare might not be EXACTLY accurate, but humor me, I’m trying to hang on to a sense of progress!) And to be perfectly honest, I am having a much more difficult time writing the next entry in my Developmental Skills series (Series? What series?! How do you call one post a series? ) then I expected. So I thought that if I wander off in another direction for a bit and write about something else, I could distract myself, so that whatever subterranean level of my brain which actually produces this stuff can proceed unhampered by my conscious mind.

I was talking about therapy with a friend the other day and how endless it can feel, when I was reminded of a story which is the perfect analogy for therapy. And that is the story of the Lake Loop Trail.

Years ago, my husband and I used to Cross Country Ski in the winter. There is a local nature park near us where they groom trails in the winter and one weekend we went there to ski. We were still learning to ski and still trying to get into some kind of shape other than couch potato (I’m not really the outdoors, athletic type to put it mildly) so we thought this time we would try to push ourselves a little further. This particular park actually has a small lake, after which it is named, and there is a Lake Loop trail, which, as I am sure you have surmised, goes around the lake. Which, it turns out,  isn’t all that small. (Cue somber foreshadowing music…)

We  really had no idea how big the lake was, but since none of the other trails had really been that bad, we set off on the trail. It was a lovely sunny day, there are lots of evergreens, so it was very pleasant. For a little while. Then the trail started being more of an upward slope. We started stripping off layers. Conversation dwindled to heavy breathing. And not the good kind. We kept going. And going. And going. The trail went up and down and down and up.  Finally I hit the point of “this better be over soon or I’m going to die. And since this trail was my husband’s idea, I’m taking him with me.” Just as I said this to my husband, we came across a lovely little sign. And dear reader, do you know what that sign said? “You are halfway around the Lake Loop trail.” Oh yes, you’re sitting there laughing now, but at the time, it was an ugly moment. It hit me, I was screwed, totally screwed. Didn’t matter if I went forward or if I went backward. I had the same ugly, wearying trek to make no matter WHICH way I went. I spent some time bitterly regretting I had gone down this trail, imagining that I could have stuck to one of the shorter, more familiar trails. But, alas, time only moves in one direction and it was too late to change that decision.  Then it dawned on me that at least if I went forward I would have new scenery and at the end, the accomplishment of saying I went all the way around the Lake Loop trail. Something to show for my effort.  A new healthier me that bore less resemblance to a root vegetable.

You hit a point in therapy where you are halfway around the Lake Loop trail. You’ve done enough work for your buried stuff to become conscious and to start to dismantle  your old, unhealthy defenses but there’s still a lot of crap to wade through and a lot of work to learn new healthier behaviors. No matter what you do, it’s going to be painful. Maybe it would have been better if you hadn’t started. You could have kept living in denial, couldn’t you? But alas, time only  moves in one direction and it’s too late to change your decision to start in therapy. You’re going to be in pain either way, with a long ugly trek but at least if you go forward, you’ll have something to show for it. A new healthier you that can live more freely instead of being stuck in the dirt.  So when you’re tempted to turn around and go back, just remind yourself that you’re halfway around the Lake Loop trail. And that the best way out is forward.

Or to quote Winston Churchhill: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

  1. Strummergirl
    December 8, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Hi AG! I remember very well feeling like this at one point in my therapy, and your story of the Lake Loop Trail captures the “why in the world did I start this?” feeling perfectly. To me it felt like I’d started cleaning the Pandora’s Box of closets. Once everything was out, I wanted to throw it all back in and slam the door shut – only somehow it grew bigger once it was out, and it wouldn’t fit back in, so I had to deal with it. Thank you for sharing your stories with us, and for giving hope that there really is a way “through”, there really is another side to the pain! 🙂

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  2. True North
    December 13, 2011 at 12:49 am

    Love Love this story. You made me laugh which I did not feeling very much like doing tonight. I think I will remember this Lake Loop trail when I want to quit although I’m not even sure if I’m half way there yet in therapy. Luckily I happen to really like my “empathic” T!

    My other comment is… “cross country skiing? really? what WERE you thinking?” LOL When I think of skiing I think of nice ski-bunny clothes and hot chocolate by the fire!

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    • December 13, 2011 at 1:04 pm

      TN, Glad it made you laugh. 🙂 I must admit that the passage of time has made it funnier (ever notice how the funniest stories were the most painful when they occurred?) As far as what we were thinking… I was much younger then. Also, downhill skiing? Remind me to tell you THAT story sometime. LOL
      AG

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  3. MAC
    July 30, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    Hi, AG. I’ve read this entry before, but I read it again last night because I hit that point in therapy this week, that “why-the-he__-did-I-do-this” point where there is no turning back. It’s awful. It’s an awful spot to be, so I needed to re-read this post to help me pull on my big girl pants and keep going. And I did. And I’m glad I did, though I may be re-reading this again a month from now. 🙂

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  4. July 30, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    MAC,
    You can make it a month?!? 😀 I am impressed. I can go through it several times a week when the work is really painful. And I do understand the sentiment of “putting on our big girl pants” and moving on, but I would prefer that you recognize that while it is necessary to keep facing the pain to heal, it’s still terrible that it’s necessary to do so. You deserve compassion and care and yes, even rest stops on this journey. Healing is not for the faint of heart. And coming to a point where you just want to quit is completely understandable. The mystery is how we get back up and keep walking. I’ll meet you back here in a month. 😀 xx AG

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