5 years

Been MIA for a long time. Honestly haven’t felt as if anything I said mattered anyway.

It’s coming up on to 5 years, almost to the day, that I was violently raped by an ex. While that moment broke something inside me and I haven’t been the same since, I think that it also somehow made me realize that even “playing it safe” with a job, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc (being what polite society would consider “normal” essentially), you can still be violated and put in danger.  Before, I was full of anxiety and fear. Even the thought of driving would give me mad anxiety and when I had driving lessons, I’d have panic attacks (not realizing they were that at the time).

What I’m trying to say is that realizing you can’t avoid danger – that it’s going to be coming from everywhere, especially with those you allow close to you. And I have done more in the last 5 years than I have in the 28 years before it having realized that. Let me try to succinctly summarize the last 5 years:

I shaved my head, sold my car I had just paid off, gave up an incredible rent situation, attempted a thru-hike of the PCT (only got 652 miles in before getting injured but still! Pretty fuckin’ cool especially since I got to help collaborate on the coolest podcast “Sounds of the Trail”), lived on the East Coast briefly (visited NY, VT, VA, NC, SC, GA, TN and D.C.), moved back to West Coast, skydived (3 separate times), finally hiked to Havasupai, went to Burning Man, lost a loved one to suicide, rehashed my trauma for the A&E Leah Remini: Scientology the Aftermath show, dipped my toes into vanlifing buying my van while working 2 jobs to save up and go to Europe,  where I walked the 500 mile Camino de Santiago/Way of St. James and met some incredible people who became friends for life, saw family in France and then did that pilgrimage from France into Spain. Fell in love with Spain. Went back to Finland, visited Sweden briefly on the way back to US.

Tried working for Xanterrible at Yellowstone. Concurrently, a national tv episode of me speaking out against the cult I grew up in was about to air, I had a nervous breakdown and a doctor there was kind enough to make me realize I needed help. Went to treatment for about 2 months. Felt a bit better. Went to work with a friend, trimming at his MJ farm in Oregon only to hear my dad was found dead. He’d drunk himself to death and since I was his only child, I had to go back to Finland (this time in the cold cold arctic circle). Stayed with an aunt and her family and saw my father’s side of the family which was awkward since I didn’t know these people. They had never been – nor made any effort to – be in my life. No word from my mom who clearly had shunned me. Saw Northern Lights for the first time which had been on my fuck-et list.

Took my father’s ashes back with me to the States since he’d never been able to visit me. Found a place I could work a little/volunteer in beautiful Oracle, AZ, right next to The Arizona Trail. (High Jinks Ranch), a historical place that Buffalo Bill staked a claim to. The owner was lovely and so empathetic and kind. The Chalet Village Motel – down the hill – owner, Marnie, became like a non-biological mother. I met so many incredible – extraordinary, really – hikers coming through on the trail. I was able to cook for them and have beautiful conversations. I felt like between the nature and these beautiful people, I should be feeling better. I hiked Grand Canyon with my dad’s ashes and did a ton of exploring in AZ at the same time.

But I still felt numb. I dissociate so often that it feels like I’m just experiencing life through some fuzz filter. It’s frustrating being in some of the most beautiful places and just being like “meh”. It’s like my brain can’t process anything too overwhelming. And when it does, my emotional regulation goes out the window and I just burst out from crying at feeling all of the things.

I decided I’d had enough. I’d kill myself for my 33rd birthday, at 3:33am. The final suicide location would be Angel’s Landing. For a few reasons, the main being that I was far from an angel and would be falling. Quite literal but I’m a foreigner so sue me (insert shrug). But I’d do one last roadtrip up the West Coast, into Canada and then down MT, WY & ID and then down through UT to Zion National Park.

So I made a trip from seeing friends in San Diego, CA up the coast, visiting friends in NorCal, OR and exploring WA for the first time. Then I went to Kelowna, visited a hiker friend from the PCT. Him and his wife let me stay there for over a week on their amazing boat house. I made his wife uncomfortable with my death talk so I left. Went to Banff & Glacier National Park (Canada). Definitely must-see places before you die! Went through MT, WY & ID as planned and made it to Southern Utah a week before my birthday only to find out that Angel’s Landing hike was closed due to a mudslide having wiped it out. I honestly didn’t have a plan B and I was out of $$. Then karma came back around and one of the hikers I’d helped whilst in AZ told me of a job in Kanab, UT working as the manager/caretaker of Grand Circle Bed & Breakfast. Within 72 hours, I had the job. And that was great until the reservations guy started to harass me and refused to resolve our conflict. If a place no longer feels safe for me, I’ve learned i need to protect my mental health. The owners were fantastic though and the entire Southern UT area is pure magic. Was sold on moving in with a friend from treatment to start anew only to find out she flat out lied and had fallen off the sobriety wagon hard. So I had driven to the Midwest for nothing. Got to see Iowa, Wisconsin and South Dakota though (SD was amazing).

So now I’m again at a crossroads. Is life even worth living when there is nobody to share that with? I honestly feel Christopher McCandless’ quote so viscerally “Happiness is only real once shared”.  

I’ve told at least 10 people I constantly think of just killing myself. Only 1 has addressed that statement directly with me. And that was a recovering addict who’s been through shit. I’ve had numerous panic attacks in public places where nobody comes to help or assist me in any way.

I wake up daily crying when I realize I’m still alive. My heart races even when there is no danger present. I wake up constantly from the sleep paralysis and nightmares. I’m a sexual person but have anxiety when someone even checks me out.

Nothing gives me true enjoyment. I have tried to eat, hike, kayak, travel, write and drink the pain away and I’ve concluded it’s utterly pointless.

I don’t think there’s room in the world for people like me. You’d think having done such a concentrated amount of living in just 5 years would’ve shaken me alive but it just brings home that maybe I’m too broken.  And living in constant survival mode is draining my soul battery dry daily.

And nobody likes a crybaby.

 

 

 

 

Judgement

I’ve been thinking about judgement a lot lately. Consumed by thoughts of it is more like it.

I thought I was on top of my judgement but realized it goes much, much deeper than I even consciously realized once I started to be mindful about it.

More specifically, the moment I realized this was when I went to see an energy healer in Sedona. She asked me if I was ready for someone to come into my life (relationship-wise) since apparently someone was coming (WHERE ARE YOU MYSTERY PERSON??) and I told her I was focusing solely on myself at the moment, trying to become my better self. She pointed out to me that exactly who I was, in that moment, was already my best self. It was then that I realized that even though I was trying to not judge, I automatically did so – especially with myself – constantly.

Who was this supposed “better self” I was trying to become? What ideal or measuring stick was I comparing myself to? By definition, judgement is just that (“To draw conclusions from evidence and evaluate events and people”) but other than for safety purposes, what does judging people or things or places do for us, really? Like with most survival mechanisms, it seems judgement has taken such a forefront in most people’s reasoning that it’s so firmly lodged in our brains that it’s become second nature to judge EVERYTHING and EVERYONE yet it doesn’t truly offer us anything except for helping to enforce our egos with the few exceptions of actual caution (ie, “is this shaky bridge safe to walk on?”, “should I get into this stranger’s car and take him up on offer of a ride into town”, etc).

Might sound hokey but the more I meditate on this and think about it, it really feels judgement is just the enforcer of our egos.

Even in long distance hikes, one of the main questions you’ll get from people is where you started and – towards the end of the day – how many miles you hiked that day. And the ONLY reason people ask this is, if we’re being brutally open and honest, is to compare their mileage to yours. But why? Again, it’s so they can see how they stack up against you and if they did more miles than you, then they feel proud of themselves or something similar to that effect. But why should that matter? I always thought it odd that conversations would usually revolve around comparing each others hikes when you should be hiking your own hike.

I’m personally much more interested as to WHY people hike long distance trails and any epiphanies or tribulations they might have come across along the way or any funny poop stories. Every person’s body is different. Whether someone hikes 10 miles or 30 shouldn’t matter. It just shouldn’t. Not to say it’s not inspiring when someone is kicking ass (looking at you Heather “Anish” Anderson , Scott Williamson and all the other record breakers) but we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for not keeping up and should just embrace our own pace and intention for each hike.

Even in social media and media, where it’s flagrant, I’ve tried to stop judging. For instance, I used to think I HATED the Kardashians but then I saw an interview with Kim Kardashian and thought she came off as quite intelligent and loyal to her friends (the host tried to get some gossip from her but she didn’t spill). I found that to be quite eye opening since I like to think that I think for myself but I wasn’t. I had unconsciously bought into this Kardashian hate club bandwagon despite not knowing who the fuck these people were in real life. Celebrities get the brunt of this. We think we know what they’re like because they’re in the public eye when, in reality, we have no clue.

It’s crazy to think a life of this judgemental programming is built into me. Not sure how to dismantle it but I guess being mindful about it is the first step.

Even such basic human morals come from a place of judgement. What is bad? What is good? We’ve all decided as a society that anything that hurts more than it helps is bad and vice versa. I get the survival logic of that but it opens up the door for human arbitrary decisions in life and in institutions – like in criminal and civil court systems – and allows us to be unnecessarily governed instead of just being able to be human beings living on Earth.
One judge might decide one guy deserves to be locked up while another judge might decide another guy, somewhere else, doesn’t yet they committed exact same crime with very similar consequences.
We might see one guy who’s dirty on the streets and think badly of them yet think kind thoughts about the good looking guy in a suit (who could be a pedophile for all we know! And the dirty man could’ve served his country bravely for many years).

Racism, nepotism, political divide and bigotry of any kind is based in ego. It tells us our views, our race or whatever else is better than another’s. Without judgement doing its thing in between though, our ego wouldn’t be able to know that. Can you imagine? Being able to hold space for others with opposing perspectives without it triggering that sense of danger that we intuitively feel when someone threatens us with an opposing belief? I think it can be done by taking out that judgement process in between. I really believe that… although, even now in rereading this, I think “that’s quite naive, Saina” which is absolutely judge-y.

We don’t know the truth if we don’t keep an honestly open mind. It will be shaded with our own judgement of the reality. Truth doesn’t care about your judgements though… Yet people are so quick to judge “He doesn’t LOOK /SEEM like a rapist!” (looking at you, ex boyfriend. You know who you are. I’ve had people say this to me about him) yet if someone looks a bit “funny” (and I’m oh so guilty of this in the past) “He LOOKS like a ___________ (insert a negative word like “pedophile” or “creep”).

Rant temporarily over. This is more reflective and I don’t mean it as a sermon because it’s not. This is something that I just find to trigger my anxiety (judging myself harshly or comparing myself to others in certain situations instead of allowing whatever is coming up in my head to be processed in its own time) and I needed to put down my rambling thoughts on paper to make sense of them.

In the end, who’s to say judgement is bad or good. It’s obviously in place to help us survive but maybe it just doesn’t need to be used as often as we use it.

On a super fun note: here are some pics from my Sedona, Page & Grand Canyon trip. Well, mostly the GC. Felt good to backpack again (Even if just for a day! lol).

Forgiveness vs Acceptance

Hi guys! It’s been a LONG time since I blogged.

I’m in Arizona currently since getting back from Finland (handling dad’s business as he passed away). Been doing some day hikes but mostly helping near the Arizona Trail around mile 200 at High Jinks Ranch for now. Decided I’m going to be using my blog to spout off my inner turmoils and thoughts. Might mix in my interspersed adventures in between but this is what I need for myself and for my PTSD/Major Depressive recovery.

March 25, 2018

I have so much to write. My mind is everywhere. Hard to know where to start or what’s relevant. Even just having written that, I wonder “Relevant to what?”. I tend to always think of others or have some subconscious ideal or measuring stick. So I’m just going to attempt to vomit out my conceptual ideas, some of which haven’t even fully formed and are simply vague feelings at this moment, and edit later.

Last night, I did my first audio Ho’oponopono session (Ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness… Similar forgiveness practices are performed on islands throughout the South Pacific, including Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti and New Zealand) and I realized I’m 100% resistant to forgiving.

I imagined my mother’s face in the section of audio where you have to ask them “Do you support me today in my experience and connection with God and Others?”. If they answer “yes”, you give them a hug and let them go. If not, they have to stand at this 3’x3’ podium you imagine for yourself in an auditorium. Then you say “I love you. I forgive you. Please forgive me” and imagine the forgiveness flowing from you to them

And I just started sobbing. Tears were just streaming. I could feel my inner child feeling horrible for making my mom sad and wanting forgiveness but my older, more protective, layer shut that down. After all, I didn’t shun my mom. She shunned me. That was HER decision, not mine. And imagining my father’s face (he recently passed away from alcoholism) was just as hard.

Maybe I’m just being defensive. I know I’m not a victim. That’s not my identity. However things DID happen TO me. To try to say, as a child, I’m responsible for my parents’ decision is absurd.

I find that so many people find “forgiveness” to be synonymous to “Acceptance” but it’s not. Forgiveness is act of pardoning an offender . Acceptance in psychology is used to describe a person’s assent to the reality of a situation. Yet there are so many help books and memes being thrown around – even this Hawaiian practice – of insisting we forgive and won’t be able to move forward without doing so. Not only the ones who’ve done us wrong but ourselves. I only, as of right now, agree with the latter part of that sentence. Other books claim forgiveness is just letting go of resentment. To me, that’s acceptance – NOT forgiveness.

To go into more detail of that and my disagreement with that concept: Having been repeatedly molested by 2 different people by the age of 9 (one by 13-14 yr old babysitter’s daughter and another a teacher at the Scientology “school” I was placed in after moving to the US), I refuse to say that I forgive them. I don’t. And I don’t know how granting them pardon will help me. Accepting the reality that it happened and that it’s now 20+ years later and I have a life to look forward to is something I can get behind. CHILD ABUSE ISN’T FORGIVEABLE. It just isn’t. It usually carries a life sentence for those wronged by people who knew better, psychologically speaking.
Also, am I supposed to just forgive my rapist? A man who takes absolutely NO accountability for what happened….? I called him a year after the incident went down and he had no recollection of it (Surprise, surprise) and brushed it off. I get it he was super drunk but does that erase the truth of what happened? NO! I have the flashbacks and vivid memories of exactly what happened to prove it. And I refuse to just let him off the hook. Who knows who else he’s done this to or will do it to.

Now, I may change my mind about all this the more I meditate on this and practice it in my mind. And, contrary to some people’s thoughts on human behavior, people CAN change. We can change our minds about things as we learn more and evolve.

But those are my thoughts for the day. Recovery is work. Finding that I have deep resistance on this subject matter is enlightening in its own right. Maybe (just maybe) there IS something to all this? Or maybe there isn’t and it’s just something people want to believe to make themselves feel better.

My inner skeptic and naive self are at odds on this, as you could probably guess just from this long-winded rant.

I’ve gotten some self-help books on all this so I can do more research. Will update more as I let it all percolate in my brain.

Toodles for now. Would love to hear stories from others about this – your experiences and thoughts, especially when it comes to acceptance vs/and/or forgiveness.