One of the reasons for this trip was to shake off the painful end of my marriage and start fresh. I don’t talk about it much, but perhaps I should.
Glacier National Park was one of the places that I had long talked about visiting with my ex-husband when we were married. We never made it there. At the end of our marriage, and during our divorce, I came to know another man in my husband, one so completely foreign to me that I wondered who I had actually been married to. His behavior and his treatment of me was such a complete 180 from the early years, that I began to believe that it had all been a game to him. I still don’t know who he really was, and I probably never will.
I would never have been able to afford this trip if I had remained married. Getting divorced meant a level of financial (and emotional) freedom that I had not known in years. My ex was an incredible drain on my finances, because he didn’t pull his weight financially and he was a huge spendthrift. That was the one fight that we had over and over and over in our marriage, because his spending was bleeding us dry. It was at the point that I was considering not allowing him to have his own credit card, and just giving him a cash allowance. What is the point of being married to someone if you feel like you are treating them like a child? I know he wasn’t happy with the situation either, but for whatever reason, he was just never willing to rein in the spending.
Long story short, getting divorced meant I was able to save a lot more money. The drain on my life was gone. Additionally, if I had still been married, he probably wouldn’t have been too keen on the idea of me taking several months away. Let’s be honest, he probably would have wanted me to get a new job right away (or not leave the old one), so he could continue wasting all our money.
So, even though getting divorced was not what I had wanted for myself, and even though that year and a half was the most miserable time in my life so far, it was a blessing. I am happier now that I don’t have his negativity and contempt weighing on my soul. Someone else can have him be a drain on their finances and clean up his messes. Someone else can listen to his lies. I’m way better off. I had a friend who told me that he looked at photos of my ex and me, and saw a woman trying to make it work, trying to be happy, and a man standing next to her who didn’t care about her at all. He was right. I don’t think my ex cared about me. At least not at the end; I’ll never know if he ever did.
Before I went on this trip, I had never hiked alone. Realistically though, I probably had. My ex never actually hiked with me; instead he consistently walked between 20 and 50 feet in front of me when we went hiking. There was rarely any interaction. I have more pictures of his back, hiking in front of me, than I do of the two of us together. So when I took this trip, I thought about that. I had been hiking alone for most of my marriage. This wouldn’t be any different – I got this.
I have told the story of the hat that he gave me. That hat that he had purchased for the girlfriend he was with at the end of our marriage, then decided to give to me instead. The Avalanche Lake hike in Glacier National Park was the first hike I wore that hat for. I thought I would hate it, but that hat grew on me. It was a way to turn around the past and empower myself – to find my joy. This was just the beginning of that new life, of feeling like I could travel by myself, hike by myself, and make my own way.
Glacier was just the start…