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.”