Happily Human

I had a major revelation a few nights ago. Not only did I come to terms with the fact I am human, I finally embraced this seemingly obvious fact with open arms.

Both the accepting and appreciating part has been a challenge for me. I’ve spent thirty-six years being socialised to admire people who achieve super-human feats and listening to constant praise for people who do extraordinary things. There’s no wonder I’ve been striving to join the ranks of these heroes standing high above us mere mortals.

This all became apparent when I sat sobbing on the couch of my counsellor last week about something I felt deeply ashamed of.

“Lean into that feeling,” my counsellor told me in her calm, therapeutic way. “Now what is that emotion trying to tell you? What part of you is it touching?”

I did as I was told, closing my eyes with my legs and bare feet crossed on her comfortable linen sofa, attempting to press right against the emotions and thoughts I was experiencing.

“I’m afraid people won’t love me anymore, or they’ll find me disgusting,” I replied, dabbing at the tears that were rolling down my cheeks.

“Do you want to be seen as perfect?” my counsellor offered, striking yet another chord as I reached for a second tissue.

“Probably,” I chocked, taking a moment to recompose. “I guess I’ve always felt the need to be super-human or better than everyone else to feel worthy.”

“Worthy of what?” my counsellor probed.

“Worthy of love and belonging,” I croaked.

My counsellor allowed these words to settle as I sucked in a deep breath of truth.

“And what if the opposite were true?” she offered gently. “What if being human made you more worthy of these things?”

Thanks to the help of my counsellor, I’ve been learning so much about myself over these past few months. I’ve identified my desperate need for love and connection like every other human on this planet, and when I fear rejection and disconnection the most; I tend to run away and isolate myself.

The best example of this was when I decided to hike the PCT in 2012. I felt particularly unworthy of love and belonging at that juncture in my life, so instead of facing rejection or disconnection from the people I love, I fled to a foreign part of the world to reinvent myself. I was also endeavouring to prove myself worthy again by completing an admirable feat like walking from Mexico to Canada. But when the gratification and ego boost of the achievement wore off, I began my search for worthiness all over again.

I’ve been repeating the same patterns of behaviour throughout the past few years of my life, hiking other trails like a hamster on a wheel, running miles without moving forward emotionally. I’ve grown and changed in other ways of course, but earlier this year, amid one of the greatest shame crises I’ve had since 2012, I moved to a small town in British Columbia and isolated myself again.

All I wanted to do was escape to another trail, and wished I hadn’t already completed the PCT so I could hike it over. But deep down, I knew hiking every trail on this continent wouldn’t make me feel differently about myself. I had to stop running and face the underlying issue, open my closet of demons, and fight those bastards head-on.

This has not been an easy journey. On some days I feel I’m moving forward, and on others more like I’ve regressed. Mental healing isn’t tangible like hiking a trail. There’s no delineation of progress, no mile markers, resupply towns, or border crossings. Advancement is subtle, and sometimes so indistinguishable you might not even detect it. But a few nights ago, while brushing my teeth before bed, I was struck by a change in my perception.

I was examining my face in the mirror as I usually do, studying the bags under my eyes, the wrinkles across my forehead, and the unwanted hair above my upper lip. I also noticed with my hair tied into a ponytail, I was exposing a mole I’ve always hated just under my hairline. I’ve spent years of my life adjusting my hair in an attempt to cover that mole, yet at that moment, I didn’t feel the need to do so. In fact, for a brief second, I felt affection for that raised cluster of cells on the fringe of my forehead because it proves that I am human.

That benign pink mole is a part of who I am – the imperfect, human Rozanne who is worthy of love and connection like everyone else. Accepting such a minor flaw may appear insignificant, but admitting I’m human is a major milestone in my healing.

43 thoughts on “Happily Human”

  1. Hey you, glad to hear you’re still out there. Life is learning and growing, and never stops. If you ever want to dig on the PCT in Washington the North350Blades are always here. You would be welcomed. Blessings to you Rozanne.

    1. Thank you Jack and so lovely to hear from you! I really appreciate it. Keep up the incredible work!! 🙂

  2. Love and belonging begins with your family. With them there is no need to prove anything because you were, you are and you will always, be loved and belong in their hearts and thoughts.

    Don’t for a moment discount the PCT and your other significant achievements. They weren’t distractions they were part of your growth. They proved your physical strength and resolve and now your mind and self-belief is catching up and creating balance. The way ahead is looking good.

  3. OMG, You are absolutely awesome, how could you not know that? And beautiful besides….and I’m an 83 year old former backpacker…well almost former. Going to try one more next month…just a short one cause I can’t stand not going!

    1. Knowing is one thing, believing and being kind to myself is another! 🙂 You’ve inspired me to never call myself a former thru-hiker. I hope there will be other trails, and if at 83 I can still get out there and enjoy the peace of nature, my life will have been well lived. Thank you for the inspiration Ruby! 💕

  4. What a (how can I find the words) wonderful thing….so difficult, but so needed in all of our lives…makes me wonder if there are not more humans than we can ever guess who have these same battles, and hopefully, insights…Lovely, my sweet Rozanne! There is a wonderful metaphor about a “seed”…unless the seed is covered over with dirt and dies to what it thought it was, it will never be that incredibly amazing plant or tree…so, in a way, you have and are dying to an old way of seeing yourself, and starting to grow that wonderful fullness of who you really are. My, what a privilege it is for us to actually “see” this happening for you…you are encouraging all of us to “die” to all lies we have believed about ourselves and move toward wholeness (which “holy” really means)..a God thing is to be whole…to know we are loved and to know we are unique and there isn’t another person exactly like us. We humans are dearly loved and special to the creator and we long for it with all of your hearts, to really believe it…Hey, little one, this old soul is still working toward those goals and will keep “growing up” until the days of my life are over…I send you my love and I care about your journey. From you old friend in San Diego, California, Barbie

    1. Wonderful Barbie, such eloquent and gorgeously written prose. I love the seed metaphor and will think of that as I grow into my full new being. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your wisdom and insights, they are a treasure to us all! 💖

  5. I am glad your there in your breakthrough. Keep up your inner « walk » accompanied like you do. You will keep defining what you are but also what you want to become. You have all the tools, stay happily human . Cheers

    1. Thank you for your hopeful message Ben. I love that you wrote I have all the tools, it’s such a great reminder! 🙂

  6. I found your blog after I watched the movie Wild (and got so interested in PCT) and I subscribed your newsletter… I feel very connected with this article, but if you didn’t hike the PCT I would have never found you! I think life is like this – sometimes you strive for excellence and sometimes you retrieve, rest and recharge. This is you being you and I really think you are amazing!

    1. Thank you for this message! I have no regrets about hiking the PCT, in fact it was the greatest journey of my life so far! If it wasn’t for the trail, I wouldn’t have this blog, or the community of followers who make it so special! Thank for for being part of it!

  7. This a wonderful blog. What you done with your life ( so far ) is amazing and at the same time you are an incredibly wonderful, caring person. It doesn’t get better than that.

  8. Dear Rozanne,
    Looking back, I realize some of my favorite memories are times I have spent looking deep within. Many of my own moments painful… both at the time and in my memory.

    Like looking too long straight at the sun.
    The power of it can be blinding.

    Look at what you must.
    Learn from what you can.
    Then close your eyes and rest.

    At my age, I find comfort in the occasional cloud cover and dare I admit I even embrace the comfort of fog once in a while.

    Soon enough though, the perfect blue sky opens up and we can read between the lines of a rainbow.

    Stay You !

    As always,
    Your friend

    1. Oh my goodness Lyndella, this is magical poetry so stunningly written. Your words physically took my breath away, and I had to breathe in deeply before enjoying it all over again. I love the analogy of looking straight at the sun…. YES! You are so right… and we don’t have to study every memory in detail to move forward. Thank you for that glorious reminder. I want to hang this poem on my wall it’s so beautiful!! ☀️🌷💗

  9. Hang in there kiddo! It gets better and worse. As long as you leave the past behind and press on toward the future you’ll be fine. You’re tough as nails! And you are worthy! Your friend for life. PAC Man

    1. Pac Man god bless you!!! What I miss most about writing is laughing at the hilarious memories of you on trail! I’m so ready to leave the past behind, move on, and burst into the next chapter of my life fresh and renewed!! Let’s get this party started my friend!! 🎉

  10. Hi darling
    Such an amazing openly written story about your emotions and feelings. You have and will always be loved by a lot of people and your connection will stay with them. To be a super human is nearly impossible and why reach that high.
    You are worthy in what you have done and achieved in your life and worthy of being YOU.
    We all like to be loved and belong. To be rejected or being disconnected is a feeling nobody likes. Some people need to deal with some battles and you are doing that of which you can be very proud. Don’t ever think about people not loving you anymore or finding you disgusting, because that won’t happen. Your battle will be driven into the past and slowly fade away and you will be feeling free. So my darling , I like you to fly free like a butterfly. Love you heaps, Mutti xx

    1. Thank you Mutti. The love you have given me has made me into the strong, happy, and resilient person I am today. I have never not felt love from you and am so grateful to have you as my mother! ❤️💕❤️💕

  11. I wish all those travel self-help books and Eat Pray Love mentioned this! Thanks for sharing this, I could relate to this. And you aren’t unworthy!

    1. Haha damn straight! Thank you for this comment and for sharing your own thoughts, passions, and creativity through your writing! I loved being introduced to your blog!

  12. A semi retired motorcyclist often stopped by the monastery for a few days each month for to share in meals, labor and zazen. One day, after acclimating and trusting the skinheads, he decided to do the monthly 5 day sesshin. For four days he ’bout pulled the plug on it because ‘noting was happening. The fifth day he fell apart, weeping, crying, nose running all down his shirt. When the bell rang he walked outside for break and spoke to a monk. What the hell just happened in there, he asked. “Well, you, for the very first time in your life, were quiet enough to meet your . . . self. Congratulations, now get back on your mat!” Namaste friend. You’re now on the downhill slope!

    1. Thank you for this story. I do feel like I’ve met or discovered a new part of me I like very much. I know this part may be overshadowed on the darker days, but it will always be there now it’s uncovered. Namaste to you my fellow wanderer!

      1. You’re welcome! I learned during the previous seven weeks that for me, vulnerability actually invites more raw experiences but thankfully also more skill in holding them, pondering them, letting them go.

  13. People can’t not to love someone who is sharing her experiences and teaching them that hope is the key to every target they wanna achieve, the only thing u has to be ashamed of is that depriving people from reading your book – which I’m sure it is inspiring- by not sharing it yet!

    1. Thanks Ahmed, I appreciate your comment but I’m definitely not ashamed for not sharing my story until I’m ready. Writing my book has served many purposes. I’m satisfied if it’s published or not, though I don’t like to leave a project unfinished either! 🙂

  14. At a girl, Rozanne….Keep on going through dark times and good times and great time and marvelous time, ’cause, by golly, that’s life, for sure…It’s a roller coaster, but what has happened to you throughout the years I have known you, you have sincerely searcher for the meaning of your life…it is to keep on and on and on…you have had an opening of your eyes and found something all of us are looking for..”how precious you are”…and I know you enough that you continue, no matter what to continue on this wonder-filled journey all the rest of your God-Given Life..Loving you, my dear little one, with all my heart..Your old friend who knows the journey and the rose keeping opening up and showing you, you!

    1. Thank you Barbie! Your wisdom and support are always so sound. I love that you’re still growing and learning too… it’s comforting to know that searching for answers is a constant in life! Much love to you! Muk 💕

  15. Happy birthday R, we missed you as you haven’t posted long time ago! Wish ya all the best in your upcoming life and hope u shine this world for another 37 years! 🎊🎂🎉🎁🎈😇😎

    1. Oh, my….I, like Ahmed, have been missing you!! It has been good for me to reread this blog, sweetie…it was still fresh, as if I had never read it again….I am smiling by its “freshness”…. I am looking forward to your next blog…..I love you and your “real-ness”….and I love you for being “YOU!”…..Barbie here in San Diego…

      1. Awww thank you Barbie! I’m always filled with such joy from reading your messages. Thank you!!

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