I have so many thoughts on my brain, it’s hard to put it down into words. I call it my ADHD brain! I’m gonna put myself out there with my vulnerability for a second, which is not something that is easy for me, so I hope any feedback I get is nice. 😊
How did I become a trail support at home? That is such a loaded question that I have to look back on because I’ve grown so much as a person. I’ve been supporting my husband and children on their adventures for quite some time. Truth is, I used to, at times, be completely bitter and probably a little bit jealous of my husband’s hobbies.
So, if you’re now just joining and reading my blog—I have been with my husband for the last 22 years and we’ve got 2 great sons we’ve raised/are still raising. Raising kids and marriage is a lot of work. We’ve had our fair share of ups-downs like any family. Early on when our kid’s were small my husband always would go out hunting every hunting season and I supported him with that; I got used to not seeing much of him every hunting season. I think for me, any time I would get annoyed with his outdoorsy activities, it had more to do with just being exhausted at home taking care of babies alone. I did always try and have a good attitude, but sometimes I did not. Hind site is ALWAYS 20/20. I really didn’t make time for myself and let me tell you, self care is so important—especially when you’re an exhausted momma. At the time, early on with our family, I had very lasered tunnel vision of just being a mom and wife, taking care of the house, laundry, shopping, cooking, kids sports/extracurriculars etc. I never focused much on myself, having a social life or even a hobby. Sitting with other moms on the sideline of a soccer field was about the extent of my social calendar. (honestly though, I don’t take any of that for granted.) I have had some wonderful times with those soccer moms and building relationships.
In my intro, I talked about my husband and how he has been desensitizing and building me up to his shenanigans for a long time. Anyone who knows my husband, knows that anything he does is “balls to the wall, or not at all”. He is a nut! He dives into everything with full force and ZERO brakes; sometimes zero thinking haha (j/k hunny!). I have the type of personality that I hate not being in control. I admit it. I like everything to be perfect or as close to perfect as can be. I didn’t like the unexpected and generally still don’t. So unrealistic, but it’s a personality flaw I’ve been working on for a long time. So when my husband starting to get into BIGGER adventures…..even dangerous ones—my anxiety was awful. He would spend money here and there on this gear, that gear. Don’t get me wrong, if we didn’t have it to spend, he put our house first. But man, I’d hate to actually see an itemized list of all his gear and the total money spent over the years lol! We are your typical blue collar family; your general paycheck to paycheck livers. So when he’d be like, “Oh my God, such and such is having the BIGGEST sale on “name your piece of gear”, and It’s 50% off!”, I’d either have to talk him down or give in. Usually it would be the latter. We went to Cabela’s one time when we went out of town for just a chill weekend getaway and he was eyeballing this very expensive rod and reel setup and I could see it on his face how bad he wanted it. He didn’t even ask for it that day—but he was talking about all the things he was going to do, to get that setup. He walked out with it that day. ❤ I always rag on him now though, because I bought it with love and he lost it in a lake either that same year or the next. It fell out of his rod holder on his kayak. He’s really good at losing stuff. I am rambling now. My husband and I kind of balance each other out. He’s the ying to my yang. He’s got the personality that you only live once—and I’ve learned to embrace that about him. My bitterness and jealousy of his adventures quieted eventually. I realized that I wasn’t living out my best life. I wasn’t putting myself first. I was used to sacrificing just about everything for everyone else. It wasn’t like I was forced to do so. As a mom, you go without so your kids can have x, y, z. You get used to doing that without a second thought.
Mental health is so important. This is something that I have struggled with my whole life. I also had post-partum depression, which, I had no idea that I was suffering with it when I was suffering with it. I just pushed along and dealt with it; and to this day, I do not know how I did it. I also dealt with severe social anxiety after I had my babies. The thing with social anxiety is that, it’s a subtle beast. A demon if I were to have to describe it. When our first born came into the world and then his brother, they were my whole world. I stayed at home happily and had no idea how terrible that was for my mental health. I don’t regret being a stay at home mom what-so-ever. I’m not saying that being a stay at home mom is bad in any way. It’s a beautiful thing. What’s bad is isolating yourself without even knowing it. When I realized I had severe social anxiety, I was in the grocery store and I was absolutely petrified one day, so much so, that I would play out in my head how I was going to be able to have simple conversation with the cashier before approaching checking out. My insides would tremble. I’d have these internal panic attacks. My only interaction and conversations with adults, was at home with my husband, various family gatherings or talking to my parents or family on the phone. It was like my brain forgot HOW to interact with anyone. Going to the grocery store was the only interaction I had most of the time outside the house. I remember one day, soon after I realized I had social anxiety and agoraphobia, I sat my husband down and had to tell him. When he saw how bad I was trembling just to verbalize it, he was so understanding and he knew it was real. Saying it out loud to my partner made it to where I knew what I had to do. I didn’t go see a shrink. I just realized that the only way to beat this was to expose myself to life outside my home and other people. I decided to go back to work with odds and end part time jobs over the years. Sometimes I worked. Sometimes I didn’t. The important thing that I got out of working was just re-interacting with the world and people again. I also went back to college. I also think too, that any bitterness or jealousy I ever had with my husbands hobbies and adventures had to do with me being home. Alone. I dealt with my social anxiety and I don’t even really think I struggle with it now—but I was still always about my home and family while our kids were going through adolescence and their teen years. (teen years are a killer folks!) So even though I wasn’t anxious about people or social situations, I still buried myself at home, and I still didn’t really even put myself first. I share this part of my mental health, only in hopes that someone else might be helped by it.
I eventually re-found my love for the outdoors. I always have loved nature. I grew up in Ohio and Western New York. Much of my childhood in New York was very isolated to farm country and forestry. I have so many fond memories of just being in the woods, playing in the crick, or sledding down the hill of the farm we lived next to. I think, the point I reached, when I stopped being irritated and jealous of my husbands’ adventures, was when I got involved and joined him. I began living again! It wasn’t that I couldn’t have joined him sooner. I didn’t realize I wanted to honestly and he never has stopped me from tagging along or doing anything. We spent the money on a kayak for me; The boys had kayaks; later on my husband helped me get set up ultralight to get me broke in to the hiking world. I have only done ONE major hike and it was a big one for me. I will write about that experience completely separate from this lengthy post, as I still have yet to really share what that experience was like. If I still have your attention, thanks for following along! ❤
So how did I go from being on the complete opposite end of the spectrum to now being a fully supportive Appalachian Trail wife? Nature has so much to offer the soul. If you let it. I have read so many great stories of folks going on trail, or going into nature to sort out their thoughts, mental health, life, life situations, problems….it’s inspiring. I have talked about raising our boys, marriage, motherhood, and all that it brings. As you go through life knowing you’re responsible for these little human beings and what they become—it can get heavy. I know I am biased, but, my boys were the absolutely freaking cutest babies! They were so easy, well rounded, and mostly behaved (as much as little boys could be)…but MAN….when those teen years hit. OMG. If you’re lucky enough to have perfect teenagers—I solute you! I’m not going to embarrass my boys and tell all about the stress they have caused during their hell years. (maybe later 😉 j/k) All I can say is this; I think the hardest thing for a parent, is watching your child struggle with unfair situations, raw deals that hurt the soul or just circumstances that really crush their dreams or expectations. My oldest had a rough junior and senior year. It really wasn’t fair. Some things were in his control. Some things not so much. When I finally relented to my husband hiking the whole Appalachian Trail, it had to do with a couple things; one—this is a trip of a lifetime and my husband is in good health and I didn’t want to crush this ambition and put it off; two—I truly believe that starting the trail–the process—all the way to the end of the trail is something that is lifechanging and offers a truly unique perspective; seeing my son grow into a young man—dealing with his own things and getting excited about something again—its truly priceless. I have no doubt that when he comes off trail, he will be much different, in a positive way. He’s 18 years old and this trip, he’ll remember forever and I know he will learn so much. He’s a great kid already and I know this will be a unique experience of finding himself. ❤
As for me; I know I’ve said that I’m a nursing student already—aside from studying all the time; I plan on taking these months to really focus on myself. I do have to watch myself as I am prone to depression—I hate admitting that. This being alone is not my strong suit! Again, I share my mental health to help others. I will be making sure I do for myself, make time to go to lunch with a friend, or go visit family or what have you. I am looking forward to visiting my hiking hobos (ha) on the trail in a few weeks. I’m also so excited to get together some TRAIL MAGIC to bring with me for the hikers I meet on my visit.