As far back as I can remember, I have lived with dissociation that comes with post-traumatic stress. In my early childhood, to survive severe abuse I created separate places in my being where certain experiences lived, walled off from the rest of myself and not able to interact with other walled-off parts. In the past this was referred to as having multiple personalities.
Actually, dissociation is a brilliant coping mechanism that allows people to survive untenable situations relatively intact. The problem is that it also makes it difficult for that person to feel connected to anyone or anything else. Life becomes a minefield, as one never knows what event will set off disconnected memories from the past. When this happens, it is as if I am no longer here in the present. I fully become the part of me that remembers those particular feelings, and I become stuck in the past, reliving over and over the events which caused me to separate in the first place.
I went through life feeling like a fraud, and incredibly lonely. Not only was I disconnected from those around me, I was also disconnected from my very core. Most of the time it left me wanting to be dead. I was praying to die when I was three. When I was five I ran in front of a car. But there were often other parts that wanted to live, and so far these have prevailed.
It was only after discovering the “parts” and reclaiming them that I was able to feel loved by those around me. A big part of how I have been able to find this healing is through hiking and writing. It is why I undertook this hike after my husband's betrayal. It is why I threw myself into writing a book.
And now, as I work on completing the second half of my hike, I do so with a new focus. I started last year’s hike with the trail name of Old Lady Hiker. I was renamed Mary Badass by the kids on the trail. My goal is to hold on to that persona, overcome my past, and step into the future truly feeling badass. The support of Korongo is helping that to happen. Thank you.
Mary Anderson is writing a book about her trek along the 3,000-mile Continental Divide Trail, a journey of healing that she began in her sixties. Mary hiked the southern half of the trail, from the Mexican border to Wyoming, in 2020 and is undertaking the northern half in 2021. You can follow her progress here on the Korongo blog.