Warning: Naughty language ahead!
“I’m crawling out of my fucking skin,” I said at 8:08 a.m. Those were the first words out of my filthy, frustrated mouth this morning.
Not an ideal start to the day.
As I opened my grumpy eyes, the room came into a softly lit focus—and so did my anxiety.
It hit me all over again.
The racing, obsessive thoughts. The never-ending string of exhausted worries. The swirling streams of what-ifs and terribly lengthy to-do lists.
I felt the weight of the world for a second, of my world; and it crushed me.
Then, everything went dark.
The next thing I knew, it was half-past ten and my boyfriend and I had arrived to the lush mountains not 20 minutes from our house. I stepped out of the car with shaky knees and slammed the passenger’s door shut. Desperately, I breathed in the scent of musky pine trees.
It already felt like medicine.
Could the mountains be my own personal Xanax?
Could the freshly-squeezed fresh air be a sacred anxiety-destroyer?
Maybe, just maybe. But, I’m getting ahead of myself here.
We walked, my sweet man and I; my fear followed right behind us like a pesky, unwanted companion.
We walked some more.
We climbed up treacherous cliff ridges and soared through dense, chirping forests. We traveled single file through tiny, winding footpaths and conquered crazy inclines way steeper than steep.
And, suddenly, I ended up in front of myself.
“I don’t know if I can finish this hike,” I said to my boyfriend in a hoarse, worried tone.
We had gone so far, but there was still so much farther to go.
What if I got tired or dangerously dehydrated?
What if my anxiety suffocated the living daylights out of me?
What if a snake bit my foot and dragged me off to a dramatic, venomous death?
So the darkness came again; panicked storm clouds threatened to pour their prickly what-if-what-if worry poison all over me.
But, in that moment, something profound happened.
I realized my anxiety wasn’t the problem—it never was.
I realized it was time to go deeper. To do more than just look lamely from the safety of my heart’s shores. Yes; it was time to grit my teeth, dive into the crashing, foamy depths of my messy soul and swim around in her jeweled chaos for a while.
So, I kept going. I kept walking. I kept feeling. I kept breathing.
Panic started to pelt me with snowballs of ice-cold worry.
I let it.
Then, the truth rained down all around me from high, high above.
I could finally see.
It all became so clear.
I realized I don’t trust myself. I don’t trust my strength. I don’t trust that I can handle hard times or slog through shitty moments. I don’t trust my resilience. I don’t trust my sparkly brilliance.
I don’t trust myself at all.
I exhaled the weight of this meaty realization. Strangely, it felt remarkably refreshing to sink into the bitter roots of my fear; it felt beautiful to see glistening crumbs of truth.
So, I kept going, more fiercely than ever before.
The mountains held my hands and cushioned my unsure steps. They sang to me and soothed me, guiding me gently as I fell into a tree-lined trance.
“Trust yourself, my dear,” they said so plainly, so kindly.
I breathed in their evergreen wisdom and settled into myself for a moment.
“I’m okay,” I whispered to the breeze.
“I’m strong,” I chirped to the soaring hawks and little red-wing blackbirds.
And I kept going.
As this magical mountain hike drew to a close, the sun got brighter, drying up the remaining waves of anxiety whooshing around in my chest.
I felt alive. Not perfect, not amazing, but very much alive.
I felt like me.
Oh, how the earth speaks to us in moss-covered whispers, when we get quiet enough to listen.
Mountains stand tall and proud, inspiring to move through tricky transformations with grace and courage. Trees sway, reminding us of our own ability to bend and not break. Waterfalls flow fiercely and without shame, inviting us to let our spirits soar, no matter our fluttering fears or reservations.
The great outdoors isn’t just great, it’s curative. It’s inspiring. It’s fucking medicinal. And, it’s readily available.
Let us turn to mountaintops and flower-filled meadows when the going gets terrible and tough.
Let us look for long-awaited answers in scorching, lemon-colored sunbeams.
Let us find ourselves in luscious rolling hills, pouring rainstorms, and golden fields of wheat.
Let us begin again, in the green embrace of nature’s nourishing palms
Author: Sarah Harvey
Editor: Emily Bartran