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  • Writer's pictureTara Lundrigan

Choose Life

Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates an indecisiveness that inevitably results in stagnation. Instead of risking failure, you procrastinate indefinitely. Lost opportunities cause an erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins.

I accomplished something this past weekend that I've dreamt of doing since I started backpacking. I sat on the peak of a mountain. The very top. About 2500 meters or 8200 feet above sea level. It was everything I ever dreamed and more. It was so unbelievably quiet. Looking out into a vast and never ending landscape. My vision filled with peaks, valleys and barely touched nature.

It was a journey. A spur of the moment trip my boyfriend and I decided to go on when he got home from work on Saturday. Our plan was to drive up a service road, park and hike about 4km up to this stunning lake, that I will not be naming because I am in fact a gatekeeper, where we would set up camp, eat some food and drink some beer while being eaten alive by mosquitos. We were setting up our tent right as the sun was setting. It was a beautiful night. The stars took my breath away.

I sat outside my tent for a while, smoking and looking into the night sky. Thinking about what I've been through in my 30 years on this planet. Hope itself is like a star- not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity.

In the morning I was tired and grumpy, I barely slept at camp the night before, I was freezing and could not stop scratching my bites. I didn't eat breakfast before we started the summit, which led to me being a hangry bitch. I battled with myself, but forced myself to push through because I knew I would feel nothing but gratitude when I reached the top. Hiking like this is a great way to remind yourself that the things worth having, are the things worth fighting for. Life isn't easy. It's a never ending battle, filled with ups and downs. You have to keep pushing through, keep climbing. Those sours moments will just make the sweet, that much sweeter.

Sometimes it takes a heartbreak to shake us awake, and help us see we are worth so much more than what we are settling for. I've been talking about this a little bit when I post, but I want to expand on it. Quite a few things happened to me in a very short period of time that caused me to throw everything to the wind and restart my life.

The biggest lesson I've learned in the last decade of my life is that you can't really save people. You can't help those who don't want to be helped. Whether it is addiction or anger, people are only going to evolve who they are if they want too. All you end up doing when you try to save other people is lose yourself in the process.

That is exactly what happened to me. I lost myself. I stopped smiling. I stopped laughing. I stopped making art. I stopped listening to music. I became a shell of myself because I was with a person who genuinely hated me. Lies, deceit, abuse and neglect. Then my Dad dies, and it's like a lightbulb goes off in my head. I realize for the first time that I was ending up with people who were a lot like him. Charismatic but damaged and abusive. Good at hiding their true colors.

Part of me feels weird talking about it, but the other part feels it should be talked about. You can’t heal a wound you can’t name.

Why do I have to carry the weight of what people have done to me around on my shoulders for the rest of my life? Why do I have to keep it a secret that my Dad hurt me physically and mentally? Why do I have to keep it a secret that I made bad decisions and let other men in my life treat me the same way? I'm sick of carrying it around.

I'm sick of judging myself because of what other people have done to me.

I am done feeling like damaged goods. I want to like myself. I want to be able to look in a mirror without ripping myself apart. I want to smile again. To laugh again. To make art. To hike mountains and jump into lakes. I want to learn new things. I want to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I want to love someone who actually deserves my love, and I want to be loved...truly loved. Not everyone will appreciate what you do for them. You have to figure out who’s worth your kindness and who’s just taking advantage. The second I decided to start over, I gained so much more than I could ever have imagined.

This is new for me. Having an actual partner. Someone who wants to lift me up everyday. Someone who sees all of me, even my scars. and loves me more for them. Not despite them. Someone who will hike alongside me while I am having a meltdown over mosquitos and not shit on me for it, but gently help me push forward because he knows how I will feel when I am sitting at the top of that mountain. Someone who will not judge me for wanting to take naked pictures in the woods, but hold the camera for me when I forget my tripod. Someone who sees how sad I am when I fuck up my nail polish, but points out all that really matters is how hard I try.

It really is the little things. Whether good or bad, the little gestures and moments are what build the foundation of your relationships. I see that now more than ever. What pushed me away from my last relationship wasn't the abuse or the affair, it was being insulted everyday and having the essence of me completely stripped away. This new perspective allows me to see that the love I have received in the past always had conditions. No one has ever actually loved ME. They loved being taken care of and being able to walk all over someone.

I am and will be forever grateful that I have a partner in my life who builds me up, goes out of his way to make me laugh and wants to create a beautiful life with me.

It makes me hate my reflection a little less each day.

Dig deep, and finish whatever you start. No matter how hard it feels to push through. Once you come out on the other side, you'll own the experience for the rest of your life.

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