I’ve always had an adventurous spirit who loved to be a little wild. I’ve skydived three times, ridden all the roller-coasters, and paddled through Class V whitewater rapids. So when my family wanted to break up the pandemic monotony with a zipline excursion, I said, “Sounds fun—let’s go!”
I’d ziplined in Mexico and Alaska and closer to home at the Whitewater Center. When I think about those experiences, I always remember the wind brushing my skin and the sensation of flying. If I could choose a superpower, I’d want to fly.
I was also excited to introduce my youngest daughter to the thrill of speeding through a tree canopy, suspended by cables. I knew she’d love it.
Our appointment was in the afternoon, so we drove up to the mountain town that morning. We’d found a short hike nearby that we were excited to try. The hike was short, but it was also technical, which we didn’t realize until we were on the trail. There was one section that required me to hug the rockface and scooch sideways or else I’d be floundering in the river.
My mountain-goat family scrambled over all the rocks, and once I made it past the trickiest section, I sent my husband to catch up with the girls. Then I meandered and moseyed, the way I like to hike. By the time we made it back to the car, Legs were tired and a little shaky. I’d asked them to climb rocks they hadn’t been expecting, but they’d done their job well.
I didn’t worry too much about them because I expected the ziplining to be easy. How much would I need Legs to soar through the trees?
A lot, it turned out. This particular course required me to land on a very high stool, at each platform, and jump/climb down. On platform 3 of 16(?), I jumped down and my knees screamed.
The pain was familiar and nauseating. All I could think was Fuuuuuck! I am stuck on this course. I must finish because there is zero way I can hike out. How stupid am I? I am going to ruin this trip for everyone if I say anything.
The nastygram narrator grabbed her mic and proceeded to berate me for the next excruciating hour. I suffered—physically, mentally, and emotionally—in silence, drinking in every ugly thought.
As easy as it was for my mind to slip into shaming sludge, my heart resisted. I remembered that I didn’t have to treat my body this way anymore. I could reframe the experience.
Yes, I was hurting. Yes, I was embarrassed and frustrated. Yes, I was stuck in this harness, in the forest, for a while longer.
I could offer myself compassion and grace. The same compassion and grace I would offer anyone else.
I took a deep breath and began to write a new story.
I told my family and was comforted. I asked the guides for more assistance on and off the ridiculously high stools. I went slowly. I unplugged nastygram narrator’s mic and replaced her voice with my own loving encouragement. I rested every chance I got in between zips, placing Hands on Knees and sending them love. As soon as I could, I took ibuprofen. And when I got home, I offered myself healing comfort with rest, ice packs, and crutches.
All those stories I was telling myself in that first hour were just that: stories. My family was happy to support me, and they still had a great time. The guides were professional and helpful and never treated me like a burden. It was okay to go slow. I was worthy of love and care.
Because I gave Knees what they needed, they healed quickly. And as painful as the experience was, I’m so grateful for it. Because I got to practice walking my talk. It’s one thing to say I love my body and believe she’s worthy of compassion. But to put that in action is powerful and allowed me to sink deeper into self-trust.
I love my body, love myself, even when it’s hard.