Today, I went climbing, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve felt as though I can even put my harness on. For the past few years, climbing has been attached to so many negative emotions for me that even when I tried, it was as though my body didn’t understand how to move on the rock. Mostly, it was that my anxiety was out of control and my confidence had been beaten down. I have many memories from the past of being on rock- just me- my body- the air- the sky- and the rock I was attached to. In those perfect moments I felt free, alive, grounded and a deep feeling of bliss. The movement of ones body on rock is like a dance- a puzzle- a wonderful platform for challenge and growth. I have missed that feeling. I have allowed my anxiety and depression to stifle the very things I’ve needed to stay healthy and grounded- it’s a daily battle and struggle of an internal mess you know will always be there. No matter what. For me, anxiety and depression have created a barrier between me and the world and most importantly the very things I need. Being anxious all the time feels terrible and it’s exhausting, because your body and mind aren’t working together, they are fighting. Depression for me is like being locked in a dark closet alone and you can hear the happy world going on right outside the door, but, no matter how hard you try, it seems as though you just can’t open that door and walk out. You feel trapped, anxious, alone, like no one understands and even if they could, you couldn’t explain it. It’s extremely isolating and it tears all the good parts of you, it decreases your self esteem and thus, keeping you even more alone and isolated. I don’t usually talk much about these struggles or the struggles with my medical conditions because I don’t want to bring people down or whine or seem weak. But, I think we need to talk about these kind of things because otherwise they become too daunting and overwhelming, and they slowly destroy you. I have days when I’m not too depressed or anxious, but, those kind of days are very rare. The norm for me is to be anxious and depressed. Being on rock today, something clicked inside of me. I totally sucked today. I was scared to be so high up, I felt anxious, I felt like an idiot because I was in such poor climbing shape, but, I also felt happy and excited for more days on rock, more days of learning to control my anxiety so that I can build back what I miss about climbing. So that I can get back to the zen part of climbing and embrace the challenge and grounding impact is has on me. I will always struggle with many things, but, I am going to make a better effort to stop ignoring and keeping myself from the things I need. Hopefully, I can continue to remember who I am and what I need and what I love. I hope everyone is able to do that for themselves, because we all need to.
David and I had planned on making pasta for dinner that night, it was a cold November night out and I was excited to spend time with him, to cuddle up and laugh and have a good evening. We were both in the kitchen, David was drinking, he started saying mean things to me and calling me names. When he drinks, I never know when that will happen, but, it is always sure to happen at some point. I attempted to calm him down, to talk to him, but that made no difference. I was a bitch, I was a miserable person, I sucked, I was a horrible person, on and on and on it went as he paced from the kitchen to the couch drinking and insulting me. I finally went into the bedroom and then to take a bath, just to try and get away from him. After my bath, I went back into the bedroom and laid on the bed. A short time later David came into the bedroom and crawled on top of me. I could smell the alcohol on his breath and he was still saying terrible things to me, he pinned my hands down on the bed and took my pants off. I told him that I did not want to have sex, but, he forced himself inside of me. He was rough with me, he just kept saying terrible things to me, calling me names- cunt, bitch, slut, etc. I told him to stop, I tried to get him off of me, but I couldn’t. He just kept having sex with me. I was crying and struggling to get him off of me. He didn’t care. He didn’t stop. He was so intoxicated that he seemed to not even be there. Like he was in a different world.
After it happened, I went back into the bathroom and took another bath. I couldn’t believe what he had done to me, I did not know what to do. Was it rape? We were dating. I did not know. I thought about calling the cops, but, I didn’t and I told myself it was okay. I sat in the bath for a long time. I was hoping he would fall asleep because I did not want to talk to him. I was hurting so much. I was crushed. Should I report him? Is it a crime? What just happened? He was drunk, does it matter? I did not want to get him into criminal trouble. I just sat in the bathtub and cried. I waited along while before going back into the bedroom, when I did he was passed out and snoring. I crawled into bed and laid awake all night, in the morning he got up and got ready for work, he did not say anything about what happened to me. He left for work as though nothing had happened. As though everything was okay.
I tried a few times to bring it up in the coming weeks and months to talk about it with him, but, he called me a liar and a slut and shut down the conversation quickly. I should have left him, but, I didn’t. I have been carrying this around, trying to convince myself that it was okay and that what I know happened must be wrong. That it wasn’t a big deal. It has been a long time since that night. David and I have gotten married and I have tried to put that evening behind me and go forward, because I loved him. But the truth is, I can’t forget it and though I have questioned whether it was rape or not, IT WAS. He raped me! Even if I am in a relationship with someone it does not give them the right to violate me and to blatantly ignore the facts about what they did. It is time to get this off of my chest and to try and let it go. David has the ability to be charming, but he is very dangerous and he has a major drinking problem. He assaulted his buddy last December and left him with permanent injuries, he claims he does not have a clear memory of that either. David believes it’s okay to treat people in despicable ways and that somehow it’s justified. I tried to justify it to myself, I couldn’t. I found that in trying to do so somehow it always lead me back to blaming myself and that’s completely misplaced, the entire blame is his and his alone.
Being silent about this has only served to destroy me more. I lost my inner security that night; I lost my confidence and strength and it has created such a terrible place for me inside of myself, a place of fear, anxiety, sadness and anger- it has robbed me of time, of happiness, of self worth, of safety. I still struggle with basic daily tasks. I feel broken. I feel alone. I feel so incredibly broken and that may never go away. What he did to me will never be undone and the only recourse I have is to tell my story, attempt to seek to process what happened and make sure he cannot hurt me again. David continues to lie about what he did and take no accountability, the worst part is, he truly doesn’t care about what he did or how it’s impacted my life.
Hitching back to the route from Tres Piedras was difficult, the traffic was almost non exsistent, at least in the direction I needed to go. After an hour and a half I got a ride in the back of a pickup truck, with no bed gate. I had to hold my bike so tight and keep us both from falling out of the back of the truck as the driver drove way too fast for the turns on that road. I was pretty scared to be honest. When I got back to the route, I put my panniers back on my bike and started the 5 mile climb up the paved highway 64 to Hopewell Lake. I was still feeling tired, my body was still exhausted and I was only planning to ride to Canon Plaza, 24 miles away. My riding was sluggish, I was still fading mentally and psychically. FR 91 was in alright condition, the terrain was pretty nice, there were a few climbs up to Burned Mountain and then again to the top a saddle that stood above ranches and wetlands. I loved riding through the tall trees that day. It was so quiet out there, no one else was out there, but me and my bike. Most days on the Divide were like that, but there was generally some vehicle traffic at some point and that day the road belonged to just me and my bike. After only 10 miles of riding I was beginning to feel the fatique worsen. My pernicious anemia and Crohns were giving me trouble as they often do and coupled with the fact that I was riding the Divide and pushing myself day after day for weeks now, my body was admittedly protesting. I rode into Canon Plaza and went to the store Joe and his wife have setup for bikers, I bought a few snacks and talked to Joe for a while. Joe kindly offered to let me stay at his house he was fixing up across from the store. I happily accepted his offer and ended my day on the bike early. As I was writing outside on the patio of the house a dog named Duke came to greet me. He was a skiddish shepard mix, but, sweet as could be. He hungout with me for a while as I wrote and then went on his way.
I struggled to sleep that night. I did not sleep at all in fact. I laid awake all night. You would think I could fall asleep so easy and fast because I was exhausted, but, I have always had trouble with sleep. Even when my body is beyond tired in every single way, there are nights when I cannot turn my mind off and I cannot sleep. It is like torture. Absolute torture. I have grown used to it over the years, but, it makes my days harder, especially when I am out on a big adventure like riding the Divide. The lack of sleep messes with my focus, emotions, appetite, endurance- everything- it throws yet another challenge into the mix for me. I have tried a lot of different things over the years to help with this struggle, but, I have yet to find anything that has worked long term. So, I have no other choice than to accept it as a part of who I am and learn to live with it, just as I do with having Crohns, Pernicous Anemia, anxiety and depression and POTS. All I can do is embrace those struggles and decide to not let them stop me from what I want to do.
As the daylight crept through the windows I knew I was going to have to pack up and start riding. I was headed for Abiquiu, 38 miles away. I left early as I was already awake, I wanted to see Joe again but I was not going to go over and wake him up. The morning air was cold, my eyes burned from staying up all night, my head was all over the place. I was supposed to have been in Abiquiu days ago, I just wasn’t riding as fast as planned because my body was just too tired. The riding out of town wasn’t too bad. The route took me across Rio Vallectios and then it turned onto FR 44 which was rougher riding than the nice gravel and pavement I had just been on. The road climbed up to a remote high point and then continued downhill for a bit. Then it went back up hill, eventually leading me onto Highway 554. I rode into El Rito and stopped at the little store there to get a soda and take a break. I was 18 miles from Abiquiu at that point and it was all pavement from there JAfter I was finished with my soda, I got back onto my bike and headed South on 554. The views were so beautiful riding into Abiquiu, the distant mesas and desert landscape did not disappoint. I was so happy to finally be in Abiquiu, a few days before when I was really struggling I did not think I would ever get there. I went straight to the Inn and got a room and ate a huge lunch.