In the movie Wild, they show the character Cheryl's rubbed burned skin from the weight of her back pack.
First early on in her journey, like just mere days into her hiking. The skin rubbed by the straps of her too damn heavy pack pulling on her shoulders and chest and the rubbing on her lower back and hips. Until you see the bloody sores, you assume that while you know she is tired, hungry and dirty that she is doing fine physically. If you have ever hiked with an ill fitted backpack you flinch when you see the sores. She didn't walk with rubbing sores for a couple of hours, she did this every day for weeks and weeks.
I cannot image wearing that pack for weeks with the weight rubbing my skin until it bled. I cannot image the pain and irritation felt every foot step, all day. In the movie she says that in that first month, she was averaging 5 to 7 miles a day. That is a lot of foot steps.
I climbed Pikes Peak Mountain in the summer of 2011 for the first time. The hike is 24+ miles round trip with an elevation gain of 7,800 ft. and 14,115 ft at the summit. This was my 40th birthday present to myself. I would say this was my first mini-quest.
Prior to this trip, I hiked regularly during the year, but only short hour and a half to two hour hikes, and while there were hills, they were just hills. I had never done anything this long and difficult, but I wanted to really mark this milestone birthday.
The first day of my hike with full backpack was only 6.5 miles up to camp, then I dropped my big backpack and hiked the other 6 miles to the Summit and 6 miles back down to camp that day was with only a day pack which was mostly full of the water I would need. After 6.5 miles zigzagging up the side of a mountain in an improperly fitted full back pack my shoulders were hurting. I couldn't get the waist part of the harness tight enough to bear the weight of my pack. I had borrowed the pack from a slim young man, but regardless of the smallness of the pack it was fit for a man. I was so happy to drop my pack off at the campsite.
When I watched the character Cheryl pack up her backpack I was thinking the whole time, holy shit that is a ton of stuff she has crammed in there. For my arduous 14'er hike, I didn't even have to pack a tent or cooking utensils as I had booked a lean-to for sleeping in and bought dinner and breakfast from the camp. My backpack weighed a small fraction of her's, but because I couldn't wear it properly all of the weight was on my shoulders the entire time. I moved the straps out to the far reaches of my shoulders and would walk for a while, then I would move them in close to my neck and walk for a while. Over and over I would move the straps hoping for some relief. My lower back was sore from the weight of my pack pulling and me compensating by leaning forward.
My Trip Slideshow Pikes Peak August 2011
The second time they show her rubbed and worn skin in the movie is a point where she meets a man and she stands before him and he bears witnesses to the big bloody road rash that is her skin.
It makes me think how different life would be if everyone's road rash was visible.
If you could see how much and how severely I beat myself up mentally & emotionally for failures and fears, would you choose to see my whipped and torn body?
Can you imagine a world where you couldn't hide how you felt about yourself or what you current or previous mental state was?
If I could see your bloody ravaged body, would I show more kindness to you? Would our conversations be different? If I could see how you hurt yourself, would I even choose to speak to you? Or would I look and think, "no way, I have done the whole cutter thing and I can't handle being with someone like that again."
We meet people and begin friendships and relationships having absolutely no clue what is really going on inside the other person's head. We have people accept us into their lives without a clue that we are emotionally and verbally abusive in our self talk. That most of our scars are invisible, gives us a chance to present ourselves differently then if our bodies truly showed our hate and anger and fear.
I try to image dating in a world where our sins, our failures, our self loathing was visible across our bodies. You would walk up to the other person, strip off all of your clothing and slowly turn around for the other person to inspect all of your self inflicted sores & cuts & scars.
It is such a luxury that our self hate is hidden. There is great solace in being able to hide who we are, in having to allow people to be with us over time and get to know us before we reveal our inner workings.
But there is beauty and redemption in finding those few people who can stand in front of naked, revealing years and decades of self hate and have them embrace you, embrace the whole you.
It is a huge risk, but when you find those few people, put down your backpack and surrender to the gentle healing.