All too often, fear paralyzes us. It prevents us from taking chances, from growing, from becoming a better version of ourselves. What I’ve learned is, when you face your fears, you become stronger and more resilient. Your confidence goes through the roof and you reflect on the experience thinking, “I can’t believe I just did that!” And what a great feeling that is.
Since I began my journey, I’ve been on a mission to squash every fear I have. My fear of failure. My fear of being unable to do something. My fear of making my condition worse. It’s always been about my mindset. It’s a sort of a “What have I got to lose?” situation. I mean, really. What do you have to lose? If you start out in unbearable pain – constant pain. If you start out exhausted and unable to enjoy life. What do you have to lose by pushing yourself? In my mind, not much. And so that’s where I started.
As I’ve made progress, I’ve been able to accomplish things that truly seemed impossible. So much so that I’ve never even considered doing them. And then, all of a sudden, I find myself doing them. There have been so many achievements of which I’m proud in this journey. My first HIIT workout – that was a WOW kind of moment. The first time I found myself able to do burpees – it was like, how in the world am I doing this? And the first time I was able to reach a summit. Now that was really something.
Getting to the Summit
So, the first summit wasn’t exactly planned out. We just sort of went hiking and there we were – at the top. At the beautiful, breathtaking, emotional top. At the 13,000-foot top. At the 3 ½ hour hike top. It was AMAZING. And at the time, it was certainly the most difficult thing I’d ever done. That is, until the following week…
August 25, 2013
Mission: Mount Audubon
Start time: 8:21 AM
With dogs in tow, we set off to reach the summit. James (my significant other) and I had no idea what kind of adventure we were in for. But, as we climbed, we found out it was a bit more of a challenge than we’d expected. As we ascended the mountain, we were taken aback by the views. The ever-changing landscape of the mountain. It was truly stunning and impossible to capture in photos. We climbed. We went from dense forest to rocky paths. And I mean rocky. We weren’t really tracking the time – we just kept going. We reached the switchbacks and that’s when things got interesting. We didn’t think the views could get better, but they did. And better. And better. We also didn’t think the path could become more treacherous, but it did. And it continued to do so all the way to the top.
The Final PUSH
We sat down right before the final push to the summit and looked up at the path we had to conquer. We had a light snack and tried to compose ourselves. The fear was building up inside me and I was having one of those conversations with myself. “You can do it”, “You can do anything”. Thinking of the things Chalene Johnson yells at me during my workouts. The “trail” was entirely made up of rocks. Boulders really. I had never done anything like this and I WAS TERRIFIED. It was time to go. I came to get to the summit and a bunch of rocks weren’t going to stop me.
I stood up and looked at where I’d spend the next hour. It was less than a half-mile, but it would take us an hour to get to the top. It was wobbly rock after wobbly rock. Fear was building. I stepped, looked for something to grab, hoped my dog wouldn’t fall, and honestly thought several times that this would be how I would die. I was okay with that because I was doing something impossible. I was happy and proud that I was even trying. And I was pretty sure no one with Fibromyalgia had ever tried this before. I was also sure that 95% of “normal” people would never consider trying this.
Finally, we were at the top. I sat on a rock (there were plenty!) and wept. Happy tears. Tears brought on by relief and adrenaline. I just sat there. I looked around at the incredible views and thought “holy sh*t, how did I get up here?” Then came the tough part: the descent. After being so scared, how was I going to get down the mountain? Time for another conversation with myself. This one consisted of, “There’s no other way down. You have to do this. You have no choice. You can do this.” And then we set off to descend the mountain. To somehow get down these rocks.
8 hours and 19 minutes after we started our hike, we made it to the bottom. I had never been so happy to see cars, other people, and a place to sit. On our way down I said to James, “I really don’t think this was worth it.” When I got to the bottom I said, “I’ve never been more proud of myself. It was totally worth it and I’d do it again. Just not anytime soon.”
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