It’s been one of those years (TM)
A year I wouldn’t have envisaged at the end of the last one. A year where certain places are deemed too heartbreaking to return to yet. Where certain songs can’t be listened to. Where frosty mornings bring more flashbacks than fresh starts.
A year where for each good thing that happened it was compounded by a worry, a fear that it’ll lead back to where I was before.
A year of grief.
A year of gut wrenching truths that even now I’m too proud or naive to admit to but I know they’re there.
It was a year of endings.
It was a year most unfair and cruel.
I’d love nothing more than to be able to turn the dial back and redo it all. Maybe things would have been different but I can’t and instead I’ve chosen to look at what things help with recovery.
I joined Galz Gone Wild after a Thursday evening crying to my mother about how miserable I was as a result of this year. I was worried, terrified, deeply unhappy with myself and very lonely. I had a habit of bailing, of going silent in fear that no one really gave a crap about me anyway – so I cut ties before ties could be cut on me. I couldn’t trust myself to make a single decision no matter how big or small.
I told myself I’d start again. Just scrap the old shit, clean the slate and start afresh and that meant trusting myself. I’m still working on that but I knew in order to create lasting change, I had to get out of my comfort zone. And then came GGW in the nick of time.
So I signed up to their four week beginner hike course and I. was. terrified.
I had no idea what to expect. I convinced myself they wouldn’t want me. But in two short hours, I learned far more about myself and my self worth than I had all year. It didn’t totally undo all the hurt but it started a cycle in motion.
I loved it. I hadn’t felt this good in a very long time. I remembered what it was like to get excited about things, how wonderful making friends is, the exhilaration of achievement, of finding a community that loved me back. No competitiveness, no judgement, just love and acceptance and in a world like ours, that is very difficult to find. I was addicted to the feeling that I belonged.
I’m constantly putting myself down whether in the name of self deprecation or because I simply don’t believe in myself or trust myself to do the things I wanted to do. But GGW fucked that up for me. They proved to me that yes, I was worth it, that I could be all the good things I wanted to be. I’m slowly learning to believe them. But they had faith in me when I was struggling to have faith in myself. I can now challenge myself on the harsh things I tell myself with the faith that I can get through it – just like I challenged myself to climb the Spinc in Glendalough and did it with energy to spare.
This weekend I went away with the girls for a Christmas break to Avondale Retreat in Rathdrum, Co Wicklow. I had convinced myself I wasn’t a part of the group yet, that I was gate crashing (!!) and that I wasn’t wanted.
I couldn’t be further from the truth.
From the second I arrived, I was one of them. I was wanted there. It didn’t matter how many months, weeks or years I’d been a part of the group. It was about me as a person. And over the weekend I slowly realised that people wanted to be around me, be with me, wanted to be my friend.
And I’m telling you lads, that was a shocker.
To be surrounded by such empowering, thoughtful and generous women who inspired me every minute of that trip, who didn’t judge, was a massive change from the soul crushing 9-5 most of us endure. We laughed, cried and not at one moment did it feel uncomfortable or awkward. It was a safe space in the best possible terms.
Opening up isn’t easy for me – even though I do it a fair bit it’s still wrought with worry of “everyone will laugh at me” or think I’m stupid or attention seeking but for once, right now, I don’t really care. Mel, Sarah, the Wild Galz Guides and the strong women who take part in these outings, celebrations and get togethers, they all do such incredible work in helping women find themselves, of making us feel important and worthy and loved and the world is a far better place for it. So, thank you Galz for reminding me (and so many others) that we are so loved and welcomed as we are.