Trips taken at midnight, and calls taken at 4am. Words delivered to lift upward, received as “drama.” Ideas meant as solutions, sitting idly to the side. Soothing words and tough talk. Pleas to see a professional acknowledged – and only acknowledged. Projects and dreams put on hold for a little while.
But there are milestones and achievements as well.
And tears. Plenty of tears.
The territory has been new for me. Battling depression from the outside has been new to me. Battling it myself – and winning the battle, was not new. I’ve battled it and won.
But when battled from the outside, it can seem like you’re being dragged down to the bottom of a river.
Battling addiction has been quite a different story all together. Totally new territory, and the kind of situation you can’t really prepare for, when you’re standing by the side of someone you love.
But when you love someone, it’s nearly impossible to walk away. Besides, walking away wasn’t my style. Never has been. I can look back to times that seemed impossible from a distance, yet victory was pulled from the jaws of defeat.
Often I find myself second guessing about whether I should have just walked away months ago.
I’ve been battered and bruised over the past few months, trying my best to stay in the trenches. Sometimes I’ve been welcomed into the trenches, while at other times perceived as the enemy – the absolute worst enemy.
Books don’t really help when you’re trying to stay in the trenches. I’ve listened to a few audio books. Sometimes they leave behind more questions than answers – and of course, each situation is different.
Advice and support from friends has helped – when trying to provide a shoulder for someone else, we sometimes need a shoulder to lean on ourselves.
Drastic actions have been taken over the past several months to stay in the trenches – and more importantly, to exit the trenches together – step by step, out of a trench mentality where once again life is good, happiness returns, and opportunity is recognized and seized upon.
I’ve gone so far as to have a secondary residence in Tennessee – a drastic action taken by this Atlanta resident.
And because location is so important in life, it’s from this vantage point in Tennessee where I’ve heard the call of the Smoky Mountains.
Armed with just my camera, Google Maps, Spotify (U2, Montgomery Gentry, Jason Aldean, Bob Marley, Guns N’ Roses, or the latest Global Top 50 playing), a snack, and my thoughts, I’ve journeyed to the mountains, watching them turn from purple to green, or another assortment of colors, as I’ve gotten closer.
Throughout each season, the Smoky Mountains never disappoint – never. Each trip throughout the year has reminded me that the problems we face in life are seasonal.
Sometimes the Little River spills over the rocks on its way to the Tennessee River, while at other times the rocks seem to spill over the river – a reminder of the cycles of scarcity and abundance we all experience in life.
At times just the sound of the river made me thankful I lost my 4G connection, and could just think about the things that mattered most, instead of what was playing in my car.
Each ride around the winding roads caused me to think how thankful I am for all He created, and caused me to reflect and rebound.
And on an early October trip when snow marked some of the highest peaks, I was reminded that a clash of seasons isn’t always a bad thing.
While the obstacles of life can seem jagged and nearly impossible to climb, that smooth mountain range with its simple yet majestic peaks and valleys helped me to put everything back into perspective.
I’ve left those mountains optimistic again, refreshed, and thankful for their call.