A People-Pleaser’s Hike

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I feel it when we’re home. A wash of guilt comes over me, leaving me soaked, cold and shivering as waves do in the mid of Winter. For every wave, there’s comes a demanding question to my head, and another and another:

”Why haven’t I still proposed a new date to this person whom I failed to meet two months ago?”

”Wouldn’t it be easier to just say yes to my sister’s request and be done with it?”

”How come I never answered that letter she sent to me almost three years ago? Or just sent her a message that I wouldn’t be answering anymore?”

To every question, I would just love to yell back ”Because I don’t f**king want to!”

Those are hard words. They aren’t even completely true. But they are a natural response to the thoughts – I feel so trapped, so selfish and so in conflict with myself that this is what I end up with. A mess.

We decide to drive to the national park which is one hour away from our home town. It’s a hike of nine kilometers for intermediate hikers. We pack some light snacks, fill the water bottles and start driving.

In the car, I’m silent. I have nothing to say, only thoughts running around my head. A few of them I try to write down – an effort to clarify my thoughts to myself so that I could maybe present them to someone else as well.

When we get into the woods and start the hike, I’m still in my own thoughts. I take steps on the soft ground covered with pine needles, and every step is fueled by the negative energy in my body and mind.

We come to a lake where we step on a small ferry. It has a rope we have to pull in order to get to the other side.

We pull the rope together. But we do not pull it together – not in synchronized movements, not in cooperation with each other. My mind is still wandering and annoyed by all the requests, demands and expectations other people and myself have on me.

However, slowly, as time goes by and our steps take us further into the forest, my mind starts to relax. The thoughts, previously on other people and their expectations, start to wander in a different way. I’m able to let go of the previous thoughts – not only of the accusations other’s have pointed at me but also the one’s I’m pointing at myself. Instead, I wonder why they changed the intro music of Seinfeld in the third season.

I see, feel and breath in the mossy green forest air. I breath out stress, frustration, negativity. We talk about hikes we both did in Scouts when we were younger. I observe a tiny brown frog that crosses the path the same time with me. My partner looks at my eyes and says they seem to be glowing, that the great outdoors has its effect on me.

The freedom of being out in the woods, outside of everyone’s reach except myself and my partner, feels wonderful. My phone has been in my backpack the whole time, untouched. I don’t need it. I don’t have to be available, not here.

I do not have to answer any calls, or messages on Whatsapp. I do not have to, I simply cannot do any favors at the moment. And even if someone asked me to do something for them, I’d have to check my calendar first which is at home. So, sorry, can’t be there for you right now even if you’d want me.

I can only be here for myself – because I’m out of town.

And I’d like it to be more like this forever.

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