The Day I Said Thank You
Originally Published on the Huffington Post 7/21/17
Up to that point, most of my breakthrough moments had happened on mountains, in nature, or in the midst of pushing my body past personal physical limits. Yet that day was a normal Saturday, I was walking down Union Street alone in San Francisco, and this feeling of gratitude suddenly filled me to the point it caused some involuntary tears. I am not sure what triggered all of this emotion, but here it was, a moment I had hoped for 5 years I would some day feel. I was able to say “Thank You” for the loss. I remember actually whispering the words out loud as I walked, filled with a sense of relief.
In 2008 I went through a painful divorce at 27, which I guess they all are, so I am in no way in any special category. It was a long time coming and while my marriage was over after 5 years, deep down I knew it was over within 6 months or maybe if I am really honest as I walked down the aisle. No one enters a marriage with the hope of divorce, there is a life promise made to spend the rest of your days together and there is this beautiful notion that you now get to co-create a life with someone and begin a journey of growth and love together. It took me 4 and half years to get the courage to take my then husband up on his proposal to get a divorce.
In July 2008 I was in route to LAX to go climb my first of the 7 Summits (highest peaks on each continent), Mt. Elbrus in Russia that stands at 18,510 ft. There were so many feelings running through me of excitement, fear, and gratitude to embark on a journey that I had been planning the past 10 months and that would be the start of what has now been a 9 year project expanding to the Explorer Grand Slam. It was a big moment for the girl that a year prior could barely run a mile and the big question was can I really do this?!? It was the onset of making big dreams come true. The week leading up to me leaving had been disappointing. Let’s call him Tim, was never supportive of my new love for adventure and climbing past the positive physical appearance changes that came as a result of being more fit. As much as I had tried to have more quality time together before I left, there was just no interest and two weeks prior he had for the 5th time in our marriage said, “we should just get a divorce.” The 1st time had been 6 months after we got married as he said, “I love you, but I am not in love with you.” Those words I heard, but chose to ignore, as to really hear them caused more pain that I could bear at that moment. I know, you might be thinking I should have left then, and you are right, but the thought of leaving the person I had been with since I was 16 and had been friends with since I was 9 was terrifying for many reasons, so I stayed.
Yet that day on the way to LAX, the moment of courage finally came. There I was sitting beside my partner in life who really could care less about what I was about to go do, why I was doing it, and how hard I had been training and preparing to even make a life dream a possibility. After realizing I had left my small gold earrings in and asking him to hold on to them for me for me so I wouldn’t lose them on the climb, his response was what set me free. While his words were beyond demoralizing, they woke me up to see the man in front of me, his lack of love, his lack of respect for anything I valued in my life, and his lack of ability to ever be supportive of my dreams then or in the future. Maybe one day I will feel more comfortable to be fully transparent of his response, but for right now I do not want to offend anyone in my community! In reality, this scenario had already repeated itself over and over in different forms over the previous 5 years and I had kept making the same decision to consciously stay. This day was different, as when we got to LAX I grabbed my duffle bags, set them on the curb, and told him the divorce he had been asking for was his and that we would sign papers when I got home. Two weeks later I summited Mt. Elbrus, my dad picked me up from the airport when I got home, and we signed papers the next day. I would then leave everything I knew behind and start a new job, move cities, enter the world of dating, which I hadn’t been a part of since I was a teenager, and climb many more mountains both in the literal and figurative sense.