The hurdle of truth

Everything in my life seems to be moving and changing so rapidly at the moment it’s been hard to communicate where I’m at. When people ask how I am, it’s an hour-long conversation minimum and one that requires me to dig into the nitty-gritty and go deep.

I’ve been opening up so much lately, crying over the phone to friends and family, meeting a counsellor each week, and conducting my own emotional analysis, I feel both mentally and physically fatigued. I’m attempting to break through the walls I’ve built up over thirty-six years to uncover the truth, and in the process, emotions are leaking and spilling all over the place. Without my protective shield, I feel about as vulnerable and naked as ever. But I’m convinced to rebuild myself authentically, I have to break down the original foundations first.

Just as my injury slowed me down two months ago, recent events have pulled the mental rug out from under my feet too. I was desperate to secure somewhere to live when I returned to BC and ended up renting a cottage in the woods for the summer despite several red flags. The dream turned sour fast (thanks to the mentally abusive landlords and countless rodents), and eight days later, my friend Dave had to intervene and move me out.

Moving to an isolated cottage was an example of my extreme behaviour, choosing something out of the ordinary like hiking the length of America, paddling wild distances, or hopping from place to place to find or distract myself from whatever’s missing in my life. When I asked my counsellor why crazy shit always happens to me, she told me about people who perpetuate their own shame cycles by putting themselves in unfavourable situations. Oh my god, I thought to myself. I’m one of those people. I’ve been doing this to myself.

This revelation coincided with receiving feedback from my editor Betsy in New York regarding draft five of my manuscript. She had a lot to say, sixteen pages in fact, pointing out not only what was missing from my story, but all of the red flags I’d ignored during my hike along the PCT. It was an expensive counselling session, and although I was horrified by her feedback, she was absolutely right. She’d highlighted everything that was missing from those 300 pages, which I’d been unable or unwilling to admit.

What’s missing from my manuscript is the ‘why’. Why I was on the trail in the first place, why it was so crucial for me to reach the finish, and what motivated my decisions along the way. I know I have a compelling plot, neither Betsy nor anyone who read my blog would argue that. But the external plot isn’t enough. The story lies within the internal struggle, the belief I had going into the trail that was either proved or disproved. I haven’t allowed the reader into my head enough, and it’s because I didn’t know the answers to all of those questions until now.

Once the horror of writing a memoir for five years without a story subsided, I felt little regret. Memoir or not, Betsy’s feedback has allowed me to uncover the whys of not only the trail but the reasons behind so many major decisions in my life that led me to the trail in the first place.

So over the past two weeks, I’ve been reading a book called Story Genius recommended by my friend Sue, immersing myself in Betsy’s feedback, talking to my counsellor, and reading Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection. I’m on an introspective acid trip, rummaging through all sorts of emotional baggage to see things from a different perspective.

What I’ve uncovered has been immensely rewarding, and without the memoir, it might have taken me months or even years of therapy to reveal this much. If I’m going to rewrite my story, I’ve got a long road ahead. But after sifting through the rubble of draft five, I’ll see what I can salvage before deciding if I’m going to return to mile zero and start hiking again from page one.

For those following my writing journey on YouTube (apologies for my recent tardiness), this video captures my initial reaction minutes after reading Betsy’s sixteen-page editorial letter.

20 thoughts on “The hurdle of truth”

  1. Muk Muk–Thanks, i can feel how this post and video was hard to share with the world. Having read your blog and followed you over time, I do feel you have a story to tell–one that I would like to read. The PCT blog in particular was very personal and open. Readers/viewers went through the highs and lows with you, and that is not easy to convey. But as a result of the blog, I see you as a good friend who I have never met.

    I encourage you to hang in there and continue to work on the manuscript. Your blog proves you can do it.

    1. Thank you Herb. You’re absolutely right. It was hard to get this blog post out. But I also needed to hear words like yours to keep me positive and on track. I was starting to feel a lot of pressure having spent five years on this project already. But now this memoir is just part of my healing, and I’ll be writing it with the right intentions going forward. It’s terrifying and exciting at the same time!! Thank you!! 😊

  2. I have been following your blog since the beginning of the PCT and want you to know you have brought me inspiration and I want to say THANK YOU! We have never met, but I can say I have learned a lot from your postings and one of the things is how open you are to sharing your experiences and at the moment feelings.

    Its always hard to receive critical feedback, but in the end, if you are able to listen it will make you all the stronger in so many ways. Remember the feedback is a gift, so try to grow learn from it.

    For all of us that are typically silent on the sidelines we are all wanting you to be happy and succeed at whatever you set your mind to. Think of Betsy’s comments as a bolder in the trail and you know you can get over it (you have done it). If your dreams are to start over with your memoir, sit on it for your years or throw it way, please know we all support you.

    With all the above said, I hope one day to go to the book store and see your blockbuster Serial Nomad memoir. ;~)

    I wish I could give you a big hug right now and say hang in there.

    1. Hug received!!! Thank you Mark, there is no greater gift in this life than to receive feedback like this. I can’t tell you how overwhelming it is to think I’ve made an impression on someone’s life without even meeting them. This community has become a huge part of my life, and when I feel lost, it’s often when I feel disconnected from it. Thank you for reinforcing my confidence and for the huge nudge of support. I believe what I want to say in my book will be helpful to others, and that thought will keep me driving forward through those darks clouds of doubt and despair! Thank you so much for having my back!! Hugs in return! 🤗

  3. Perhaps the PCT was a primer for your memoir, was a primer for life? Sounds like your editor is worth their wage tho’. You’ve gone too far with the manuscript to stop altogether but why not shelve it for a spell? I love memoirs well written because they allow me to understand the tribe much more. Never, ever think ‘other’s don’t value something unless they voice it. my2c Congrats on recognizing you’re part of the human race, aka ‘one of those people. 😉 I was around your age before I hit a big wall so can empathize. I would never trade who I was before all the struggle/pain/confusion for who I am now and the greatest gift is the vantage of time/knowing self a bit better. I value your posts immensely and look forward to the next! namaste

    1. What a beautiful note! Thank you for your empathy and kind words. Every time I think I’ve hit ‘that age’ when everything starts to make sense, I grow a year older and see it from a completely new perspective again. I’ve definitely made a lot of mistakes in my life, but as for regrets, I don’t want to hold onto the past that strongly anymore. Thank you for your 2c always!! 🙂

  4. Muk Muk,

    Take care! Knowing the why is the difference between an activity, thought, philosophy, etc being positive and healthy or negative and unhealthy! It’s nit the action, philosophy or thought itself!

    It makes it possible to confidently march to the beat of your own drum, defy conventions and make great strides forward in any endeavor. Never suppress that urge, humanity needs it.

    Even if the “why” is “because it’s there!”

    1. Oh I love this message! I read it four times to completely understand what you mean! I think pretty deeply, maybe too much sometimes, and reading your message made me feel lighter, freer, and more inspired! Thank you for taking the time to share this with me. I thoroughly appreciate it! 🙂

  5. Looks like you are getting closer to the real story of your life. Shades of Wild, the trail just helps create the real narrative. Don’t junk the manuscript, junk the feelings it was a waste of time. Clearly there are people already committed to your story and keen to follow it to whatever you decide is the last chapter. A very candid and special post.

    1. Thank you Rex!! I think having some time to digest the feedback and reflect has been good for me. I’m starting to feel ready to create a new outline and figure out where the story actually starts and finishes. Though it’s been hard work, reliving the trail for 5 years has also been a fascinating and fun experience. I’ve become a much better writer over these years too!! Much love ❤️

  6. Darling Girl….I am seeing something happening in you now that you have looked for as long as I have known you….I just need some time to put together words to tell you my heart’s feeling ( can’t find a better word right now…”feeling” is so inadequate)…I want you to know that the opening of a heart and soul is a beautiful thing…I am coming back later to write more to you…I will be in touch!! I am loving you!!!! Barbie

    1. Thank you Barbie! You don’t even need the right words for me to understand you. I appreciate every feeling you’re having on my behalf! It is a beautiful thing! 💕

  7. ..or get in touch! Barbie I have written a poem about vulnerability…must locate it to share…love, again …. Barbie!

    1. Hi Sweetie….This a poem about Vulnerability….I read an article about this and took some notes…I, sad to say, forgot where the article came from, so I can’t give any credits to the writer….however, what was most important to me was what I wrote the poem about!

      1. ….Vulnerability…Often thought to be a weakness….But, it is not so!…It is an act of courage…Our greatest measure of courage for the heart and soul of our being…To show or seen as vulnerable is risk…We might even say, when we see or hear of it in another, “I see courage in you, but I am afraid to be that open and real. It seems too risky!”…Or we say that to ourselves consciously or unconsciously…Be brave…Take that risk…It’s worth it to be real and open to others…An act of courage is is not weakness.. Barbara E. Plourd

      2. Thank you Barbie, your words are so true. It is scary and sometimes feels shameful but it also makes me feel real and powerful. I think being vulnerable around the right people who deserve it is important too, which is why I love my blog community because you all allow me that comfort and freedom! 💕

  8. Dear Friend,
    Barbie and I are on the same page. These words, I may string together, are sure to fail in comparison to what my heart feels right now.

    The continued offering of your true self here in this post, once agiain show the true beauty of your soul.

    I’d like to see any one of us to have an editor scrutinize our lives and dare answer “WHY” ….

    Perhapes the answers are once again found on “The Blank Page”. Take a zero day, when ever you like!

    Then get back on whatever trail you choose.
    As awlays
    Your friend

    1. Lyndella, your words are like sparks that ignite the flame of inspiration within me! You, Barbie, others who have commented, and those who provide support simply by reading my posts, are such a gift. The fulfilment and sense of purpose writing fills me with is a treasure I’m so grateful to have uncovered. Thank you for spurring me on when I’ve need it the most! 💖

      1. I find myself comfortably settling on the word “Inspiring” when I think of you. You are Inspiring. A Muse.

        The simple telling of your stories, one step at a time. Each adventure, hiking, writing, friendships. All these things you have found around each corner YOU chose to take.

        Without the blog and the sharing of your tale…
        Your adventures would just that…Your tale. Untold. Secret. Sulent.
        Inspiring no one.

        Book or no book. Blog or no blog….
        You are a Storyteller. A vessel filling Muse.
        Sharing your heart is simply who you are and what you do.

        Live Big.
        Love Big.
        Share Big!

        You have filled this vessel when it needed it most.
        For that I thank you.

      2. There is no greater compliment Lyndella. If I have succeeded in these things, I am truly grateful! We all have gifts to share with the world. The hard part can be finding a way to share them! 💕

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