Little Steps: Day 17 – Friendship and Grief in the Trees

Day 17: 2.6 miles / Total miles: 14.6mi / Days left: 162 / Time: ? / Pace: 38’45”

Today’s hike was a little bit different.

My work husband was able to join me. Or maybe I didnt give him the option to say no.

I told him I couldnt make him do anything he didnt want to do. But as we sat in the car at the end of our hike….Well let’s just say that if the proverbial statement “if looks could kill” was true…..I’d be dead.

In fact, I’d be so dead that my ghost would be dead. And the demon that spawned from my dead ghost, would be dead.

No. In all reality, it was an amazing hike. It was an amazing adventure.

And I am glad that I got to explore Hoyt Arboretum and a section of the Wildwood trail that overlooks the Japanese Gardens, with one of my very best friends.

If you have been a follower for awhile, you may know my struggles with having and keeping and maintaining friendships.

Making friends, is definitely not a strength for me. At all. I can text people. I can talk to people via social media. I spend time with my friends at work and at scouts. But outside of those confines, it is just me, my husband, my girls, and my immediate immediate family.

And even if I did make a friend, I find keeping a friend is harder than holding a slippery mango while trying to slice it.

I dont know why. I never had true friends growing up. And the ones I did, stabbed me in the back more times than I can count.

I think I just realized what topic I need to talk to my counselor about at our next session.

Anyways. Moving on.

I have been forcing myself lately in to new situations and taking a rubber sledge hammer in order to break down the walls that surround my comfort level.

Inviting someone to join me on a hike….definitely leveled one of those walls.

When I invited my work husband, I was half hoping he would decline.

I am training for a solo backpacking trip. Shouldn’t all my training be done….you know….solo?

Ohplusalso, there is all this awkwardness about my slow pacing and talking while my lungs want to carve a tunnel out of my chest. And the fact that I am going to be stopping 5 gazillion times to take photos. I’d be a burden.

Alot ran through my mind as my fingers typed “come join me on my hikes!”

But I invited him anyways.

But why?

My work husband was hired to our team last Oct. And we had an instant connection. It was as if we were meant to be in each other’s life at that exact moment.

We are terrible together.

Most days we make eachother laugh until we cry or relentlessly say “I cant with you today!”

I can tell when he is being salty just by a single word.

And I say stupid shit that actually makes him roll his eyes so hard, my chair vibrates.

But most importantly, we share a unique bond that not many people understand.

We support each other during tough personal moments. We worry about eachother. We both are genuinely thrilled when one of us has a small success.

I do have a few best friends these days. Because I have intentionally pushed myself out of my comfort box.

And each of my best friends are in my life for amazing reasons.

So what is our unique bond?

Well, as you all know, our youngest daughter is a Transgender Female (M2F, AMAB).

When my work husband was hired, we were at the 6 month mark of E being E.

And I was still dealing with alot of intensity and fallout in my life around that.

At work, only the few people on my team at work knew. Because I trusted them. I knew I could trust them.

When J (my work husband, bc J is shorter to type) introduced himself to me, he pretty much immediately told me he is a Transgender Male (F2M, AFAB).

Oh and his now wife is a Transgender Female.

Like what? What are the chances? In my life? What lottery did I win?

We didnt click because of that unique bond. But I feel that we have cemented our click because of that unique bond.

J and his wife will always have a place in my life. And in my heart.

You all know I worry about E being E because of the current political climate.

But I bet you dont know about my questions on: training bras, concealing underwear, body dysphoria when naked, what to expect as E’s masculine features begin to develop, what to ask a pediatric gender endocrinologist, or how to interview a new therapist.

These are all questions that I can ask and get answers from my online support groups.

But I have no one to ask these questions to in real life. Except for a few of my scout friends and friends on FB possibly.

Until now.J and his wife have helped me through alot of these questions. And they are always there to offer guidance and support.

Let me just preface this by saying that I have never met R (J’s wife) in real life. Only via J and now Facebook.

R is currently overseas undergoing a very major lower gender confirmation surgery.

She will be away for at least a month, in a foreign country, without her support system.

This surgery is not without its risks. J has to stay here to take care of the household. The love of his life, is on the other side of the world.

R & J are experiencing a high stress situation.

I cannot begin to imagine how I would cope.

So how do I help the people that I have grown so fond of? Who have helped me through so much, in such a short amount of time?

J and I have told eachother our darkness and our light.

These next few weeks, I knew were going to be his darkness. How can I help bring a little bit of light to my work husband? If not to bring happiness, then maybe a little bit of a distraction?

He works the weekends and therefore has 2 days off.

I have begun to realize how therapeutic the trees are. Or just walking in general.

So of course, I did not hesitate to invite him to join me on weekly hikes. At least until R is back home safe and sound.

Pre-self love journey (or pre September 2018), I would have found every legitimate excuse possible, and then made up a few more.

You see, I am the queen of making plans, and the expert at backing out of those plans.But not today. Not this hike. Today’s hike was not just about me. It was about my bestie. This was my turn to help him through his darkness.

And I am so glad that we put one foot in front of the other.

Today’s hike, is one that I will never forget. It is one that will forever have meant more to me than anyone could imagine.

A life altering hike you could say.I may have been self conscious about my pace and uber aware that I needed to prove (to myself?) that I can talk and walk!

And I definitely felt embarrassed about my unhealthy obsession with taking 6000 pictures. So I only took 1000.

But that wasnt why this hike was life altering. I will take 2000 next time!

It was life altering because there was this surreal moment where we rounded a corner on a hill that just wouldn’t level out, and there was a long log bench.

And we sat.

And that is when my soul suddenly opened up and out came a tidal wave of guilt that I was harboring, screaming as it zoomed out.

I would probably have the same moment with all of my friends. That is why they are all in my life.

But in this moment, the saying that “The Trail Provides”, couldnt have been more true.

My grandfather-in-law is very, very, ill. On top of the many health problems he already has, and lasting side effects of the Black Water he was exposed to in the Navy (Agent Orange runoff), he also suffered a stroke at the bottom of his brain last weekend.

Most likely during my accidental 3.8 mile long walk. Where things can change in an instant.

We dont know what the future holds.

But I do know that this man raised and shaped my husband in to the man, husband, and father that he is. He is a very integral part of our lives. He has lived a long, amazing life. He is the 2nd (or 1st half) of our double trouble team. And he is always a eavesdrop away, waiting to mic drop some sort of deep and enlightening wisdom and knowledge.

But him and I do not see eye to eye in respect to alot of topics. And that’s ok. We still joke hard and get along like good ol pals.

He is very sick. And I do not feel grief. Or sadness.

But I do feel massive guilt for not feeling sadness. Or grief.

Even though I know we all experience grief in our own ways. At our own pace.

J and I sat there. Looking out to the meadow below us, as people wandered by us.

And he opened up to me about his views on dying, death, afterlife.

And it was one of the most comforting conversations I have experienced in a long time. My soul was able to patch itself up. And eased back to peace.

I am not outwardly (or inwardly) sad or grieving right now. Maybe I wont. Maybe I will. But this is a normal part of the life cycle and we should not be afraid of it.

Death happens. Its engraved in human nature.

Each and everyone one of us has a different display of grieve.

Whether it is religiously based, philosophically based, or maybe even science based.

But no matter how we grieve, it does not necessarily mean that person was not important to us or we loved them any less.

Whether you belief in afterlife or spirits or nothing. Heaven or hell.

How you grieve is personal.

Just because you do not cry or maybe you shut down, does not mean the person (or even animal!) who is no longer physically with us, is any less valued.

And that is when I remembered I havent even grieved my grandmother, my 2nd mom, whom passed away 9 years ago. And I still question myself, as in last week still, if I ever will.

Grief will happen. Or it wont. But we cannot drown in this self imposed guilt we surround ourselves with.

I have been beating myself up this past week because I have been posting about my hikes and how great I am doing. As my grandfather in law lays possibly in his death bed.

Dont get me wrong. I love this man. And I will be by my family’s side during this intense time.

But after today’s hike in the woods, after huffing and puffing in pure forest air, after showing my emotional baggage….

Once again, as I was helping my best friend take his mind off his stress, he somehow managed to help me yet again.

Walking through the forest alone, you only have your inner voice to contend with and bounce ideas back and forth.

You only have your inner voice to debate thoughts with.

But its biased. Of course. Because your inner voice is you.

Walking thru the trees, is therapeutic. Trees are there to listen. Not to judge.

Even if your counselor is your own inner voice.Today, I hiked with a friend that does not judge, but only welcomes with huge open arms. No matter how many ghosts his death stare managed to murder.

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