Reviving & Evolving

The amount of preparation that’s gone into this adventure is really beginning to hit me. For a good 8 months, it’s been all I breathe and think about. My friends and family must be sick of hearing about the Appalachian Trail at this point, but it’s become my entire life. Just as someone who is getting married, having a baby, going to college, buying a house – you name it – it just consumes you.

A lot has built up to this moment. I’m reflecting on it daily.

Would I be here – at this very moment – if it weren’t for all the events that transpired within the last year? Nope. That’s the silver lining.

I’ve been wanting to write this post out for quite some time now, but it’s always been hard to convince myself to actually do so. Emotionless yet full of it, then mixed with pretty bad dyslexia (and some other reading/writing mind-to-hand translating issues), I tend to put this stuff off because it’s hard to translate from my mind.

All the events that have occurred in my life – the good and the bad – have brought me here. I have to remind myself that everything in life is a stepping stone.

A year ago – in late January – was a very different time for me. I wasn’t thinking about the trail as much; it was in the back of my head as a “do it before you’re 30” thought. I was focused on a completely different kind of adventure: a guy.

It was tough. Distance, still getting to know each other, having a bump in the road a few months prior, finding time during our jobs and school to keep in touch… did I mention distance? It wasn’t even official at this point last year, but within about 3 weeks from now (February 16th, to be exact), I’d be officially dating him. It would be a big deal for us both (commitment phobias) and we were very similar with the way we thought and kept to ourselves. Sometimes being too similar screws you over.

I’m a strong woman; I don’t let people in that much. This blog is one of my 2017 resolutions when it comes to opening up and allowing myself to be “human”, instead of this concrete statue that doesn’t allow emotions to process properly.

Over the months of knowing this person, and beginning to really open myself up, things got more serious. With that said, I was finally – even with much resistance – finding those walls I had built up for so many years – being chiseled through by him. He knew this, and kept breaking inside to get to that part of me I was scared to let him see. To me, it was a weakness instead of a strength, and I know that did. It help our relationship.

Most guys look at me as “one of the bros”, and that’s probably my own fault because I don’t allow myself to be more “feminine” or whatever you want to call it. I call everyone “dude”, “bro”, “man”, I dress and act like a major tomboy – and most importantly – I don’t usually show stereotypical female emotions or habits. It’s just who I am, and thus I tend to befriend boys easier than girls.

I’m the one comforting my guy friends about their overreacting and overly sensitive girlfriends – who mind you – really need to take some chill pills on occasion. I’m not like that stereotypical emotional female, and half the time I don’t even understand my fellow women. That’s how I’ve become more of the “undateable” type, because I’m seen as “one of the guys” versus the girl who is a tomboy but also dateable. Wow, does that make any sense? It does in my head. See, my dyslexia doesn’t allow me to always get my point across.

With the way I carry myself, I’ve definitely screwed myself over when it comes to being in the “dating” category. It takes a very special guy to see through that.

I thought I found that guy.

The amount of things we had in common was astronomical. Activities, viewpoints, ways of life, what we defined as a “home”, our goals… everything was so aligned for a few months. He even asked if I’d want to move in with him when he got a job in different city down the road.

From February to May, things seemed good. I honestly couldn’t believe I was in a relationship with a guy that matched so much of “my ideal man”.

Things changed and I was sideswiped.

Yep, you know where this is going; just like every teenage romance book or drama. Ready?

He. Cheated.

I don’t need to give the full details, and nor do they need to be stated. Any reason for cheating is completely disrespectful, disgusting, wrong, mean, selfish… so many definitions. Mainly, it’s completely a huge mind game to the person – me – who was cheated on.

Where did I go wrong? Did I not open up enough to allow him in? Did I say or do something wrong? Did I not do something I should have? How can I fix this? Why do I want to fix this? Wait, I love him, but he clearly doesn’t love me like he says. Why would he cheat? What went wrong? Dot blame yourself; he messed up. He made those decisions. You don’t need that negativity in your life.

The amount of thoughts that flood through your head in a raging whirlwind is absolutely exhausting. You can’t figure out how this could have happened.

Then, you’re put into the worst position; and for me never experiencing this before, I was lost. I didn’t know how to process his actions.

I now have to decide to either cut off the man I’ve fallen in love with, or try and fix the damage that’s been done. But how do I trust him ever again? I want to, but why would he put me in this position to decide on something I clearly do not want to have to make a choice on? If he truly loved me, like he says, this wouldn’t have ever happened.

If you’ve read my previous posts, I’ve mentioned I have anxiety disorder, depression, as well as (now) mild paranoia. Medication is a huge help to make you a functional human being again.

It was just devastating, and he’ll never realise what it did to me. The worst part was, he tried rushing me to forgive and forget what happened… to move on… within a week of finding out from the woman he cheated with. Yes, she stepped forward and called him out when she found out he wasn’t single.

It was just a mess. I didn’t want to be in this situation. I loved him, I wanted to forgive and move on to fix the damage, but I couldn’t because of my anxiety and paranoia. I’d already had inklings that he’d been cheating, and then to have it confirmed just made it hurt more because it wasn’t just my mental illness playing with me… it was a real gut instinct proving to be a reality.

Here we are 8 months later and I still think about the moment the woman sent me a message on Facebook to tell me my boyfriend had been sneaking around on Tinder.

I’m still processing it all. He thinks I’m fine. It’s what I do; I tell people I’m fine; just brush it off and say, “Nah man it’s all good.” But… I’m not fine. Even admitting to myself out loud that “I am not okay” is a huge let down to who I am. I am ashamed of being upset over it.

It’s my way of just locking it away and focusing on other things. This is where I have a problem. I don’t allow myself to fully process emotions or situations. Instead, I shove it all away and act like it never bothered me. I joke I have no emotions towards this kind of stuff. I feel like I’ve joked to the point it’s become true.

It’s a weird sensation to feel but not feel anything at all. I can’t describe it.

Yes, when it initially happened, I was angry more than sad. I spoke with a calm and monotoned voice when I confronted him. After a few days, that turned into tears and confusion. There were arguments, an aggressive back and forth of being furious with harsh words… then right to holding each other and apologies flooding from one another.

This is why I don’t date. I never date. I gave him a chance because I saw something in him. I opened up and let him in. Then… That’s how I get repaid.

I don’t have time for relationships. I don’t have time for bullshit, lies, and drama. He said he was like me in that way; guess he was lying and I was dumb enough to try and trust him.

So, what does this all have to do with the A.T.? Well, we broke up three days before my birthday in July. It was mutual, but a lot of bitterness was within my bloodstream. We maybe wouldn’t have broken up if it wasn’t for his many bad choices.

Then again, I look back and I should have ended it way before. Especially when your boyfriend says right to your face, “I’ve just been reverting back to being single.”

Thanks for the lovely confirmation.

Writing this out may help me process what happened last spring/summer. The rollarcoaster of thoughts that I was with a guy whom I might build a future with – right to being tossed to the side of the road so he could pursue another girl literally a day or two later.

They’re still dating now, by the way.

Sometimes, people who constantly cheat and/or steal people’s significant others are just meant to be together.

Am I bitter? Nah.

Please note the massive sarcasm above.

I tried dating after him. I ended each one either on purpose or subconsciously. I was comparing them all to my ex. The good qualities and the bad. I was always waiting to see if one would be cheating on their current girlfriend secretly with me; one ended up being true to that. The second I realised it, I told the guy off and vanished.

No matter guy or girl, who gives you the right to mess with someone’s emotions and loyalty like that? It’s revolting, and so many people do it. So many people can’t just be honest and say, “Hey, we had a good run but it’s time to split ways.”

No, cheating is easier. You have your fling and also have a “safety” back home. Now thats a coward’s move. Own up to your actions, people. Don’t get caught and then confess with apologies. You’re only doing that because you. were. caught.

After the breakup, I was mentally all over the place. I acted fine with my friends and family, but inside I was screaming. I am still otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this.

With the need to make a major change to my life, I went on an adrenaline-filled workout binge. Within 3 months of crazy gym workouts and outdoor activities, I lost 35 lbs.

3 months. 35 lbs.

I felt like superwoman.

It didn’t stop. I’d been wanting to lose the weight for a long time, but these emotions and feelings that I couldn’t mentally process turned into pure physical energy that needed to be released.  I went from 165 down to 135 from July to September, then began building easily 10-15 lbs in muscle. I’d never felt so good in my life.

That was one of the many silver linings. I might not have lost the weight and built myself up the way I did if the events hadn’t transpired in such a way.

In July after my birthday, I realised – now more than ever – I needed to get out of Philadelphia. I’ve travelled a lot in the past, including throughout Europe. I’m always talking about hiking the AT, PCT, backpacking Australia or Nova Scotia, visiting Antarctica, climbing Everest, you name it. I’ve never liked staying put in one place too long. I’m always three adventures ahead of the current one. Talk about Adventure ADD.

I had too many places I want to see and things I wanted to do within a small timeframe. I couldn’t pick one because I wanted them to just all occur at once.

That’s impossible, Amber. Get your head on straight and focus. Choose an adventure first. Make a list. Check them off. You have time to do them all. Focus on just one.

That’s how I decided on the Appalachian Trail. Right in my backyard, and I could just walk for 2200 miles from Georgia to Maine during 2017.

Hike out my problems.
Hike out my thoughts.
Hike out my demons.
Be within nature where I truly feel like myself.

I’m doing this trail for so many reasons. I need to just let go of all that happened last year. Letting go has been one that tends to fade in and out. You escape and then get sucked back in.

I thought I had let go, but New Year’s Day showed me a side of myself that I thought I’d exterminated back in the summer. I guess when you see your ex with his new girl at the same location as you for offroading in your Jeep, it just hits a chord no matter how long it’s been. Especially when you’re completely ignored by the guy who apparently wants to rekindle and repair a friendship with you because he still cares. Hm.

It brought back a lot of things I’d never processed. I kept saying to myself, “The AT is only two months away.”

It’s very, very hard for me to write this all out and admit I’m still hurting. That I haven’t gotten over it. Almost as if I feel guilty and weak for having human emotions. Go figure.

My life is going in the right direction. I wouldn’t be hiking the Appalachian Trail this year if it weren’t for the relationship I had with my ex, and the ending of that relationship.

There’s silver linings everywhere you look. Negativity will get you nowhere, and that’s why I need to find a way to extinguish whatever sour thoughts I still have towards the situation. I don’t want to carry it anymore. I especially don’t want it buried anymore. I don’t want it to ruin any possible future relationships with a true and loyal guy that I’ll meet during my travels.

More than ever, this is taught me to just stick with my gut. If something feels wrong, confront it immediately; don’t let it sit inside your thoughts. Stay true to yourself and never let someone make you feel like you’re not on the right path for your age. Be picky as hell with what you want when it comes to life goals and significant others.

I can’t wait for this thruhike to just let me shake it all out of my system.

On the summit of a mountain as I stare out at the sheer beauty, I know it’ll all just vanish. It won’t matter anymore. All that bad got me to that summit. To that view. To that new stage in my life where I will run with all the wild thats within me.

And with the ending of this post, I want to leave it with a few lyrics that just connect with me deeply on what I’ve been feeling over the past half year.

Oh my God, the walls are closing in

The pressure’s on, the floor is caving in
So better just leave and run
Through the fire, I will just run
Over fences I will jump
Cut the wires to the wild
Oh, I will run

Dear Doubt • Michael Schulte

And I’d sing a song, that’d be just ours

But I sang ’em all to another heart
And I wanna cry, I wanna learn to love
But all my tears have been used up
On another love, another love

Another Love • Tom Odell

You’ve been seeing me
Through your grown up eyes and your sweet disguise
And you’ve been running free
With your lullabies and those same old lies

Darling, I should’ve said goodbye
Before you even caught my eye
No, I can’t bear to see this die
Thirteen sad farewells, my darling
Thirteen sad farewells
I will see you no more, darling
I’ve used all my farewells

Thirteen Sad Farewells • Stu Larsen

This. Entire. Song.

Tryin’ to get control, pressure’s takin’ its toll
Stuck in the middle zone, I just want you alone
My guessing game is strong, way too real to be wrong
Caught up in your show, yeah, at least now I know

It wasn’t love, it wasn’t love
It was a perfect illusion (perfect illusion)
Mistaken for love, it wasn’t love
It was a perfect illusion (perfect illusion)

You were a perfect illusion

I don’t need eyes to see, I felt you touchin’ me
High like amphetamine, maybe you’re just a dream
That’s what it means to crush now that I’m wakin’ up
I still feel the blow, but at least now I know

It wasn’t love, it wasn’t love
It was a perfect illusion (perfect illusion)
Mistaken for love, it wasn’t love
It was a perfect illusion (perfect illusion)

It was a perfect illusion (Where are you, ’cause I can’t see you, but I feel you watchin’ me)
(Dilated, falling free in a modern ecstasy)
It was a perfect illusion (Where are you, ’cause I can’t see you, but I feel you watchin’ me)
Illusion (But I feel you watchin’ me)

Mistaken for love (Where are you, ’cause I can’t see you, but I feel you watchin’ me)
Mistaken for love (Dilated, falling free in a modern ecstasy)
Mistaken for love (In a modern ecstasy)
In a modern ecstasy (In a modern ecstasy)

I’m over the show
Yeah, at least now I know

It wasn’t love, it wasn’t love
It was a perfect illusion (perfect illusion)
Mistaken for love, it wasn’t love
It was a perfect illusion (perfect illusion)

Aah, you were a perfect illusion
Aah, it was a perfect illusion

It was a perfect illusion
Somewhere in all the confusion
It was a perfect illusion, illusion (illusion)

It was perfect illusion
Somewhere in all the confusion
You were so perfect
You were a – you were a perfect illusion

Perfect Illusion • Lady Gaga

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