Some time ago I found myself halfway up Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, with murderous thoughts directed at my son.
The highest point of Table Mountain is 3,563 ft (1,086 metres) above sea level. One of the easier hiking trails typically takes two and a half hours to summit. It was halfway up this trail that my thoughts turned murderous toward my son. I recall having these same murderous thoughts toward my husband whilst giving birth to this self same son. Each time the pain came, I wanted to get my hands around my husband’s neck and keep squeezing. At that moment, while enduring the birth pangs, I blamed him entirely for getting me into the mess in the first place. All rationality left and as far as I was concerned, I had nothing to do with having this baby; it was entirely his fault.
The pain I felt halfway up Table Mountain was reminiscent of that pain, and the son that caused the first lot of agony more than two decades ago, was now responsible for the second lot. He was the one that suggested the hike up the mountain and now he stood just out of arm’s reach saying, “Come on Mom, you can do it.” The violent thoughts those words ignited in me must have reflected in my eyes because he took another step back from me saying, with less confidence this time, “Can’t you?”
Clearly, I could because I lived to tell the tale. (I am happy to report that my son is still alive and kicking too).
Here is what I learnt:
- I don’t like mountain climbing. I did not enjoy it and the sense of accomplishment that other’s have written books about did not descend upon me and make me want to help fill the world’s libraries.
- I should not do stuff because other people enjoy it. I should do stuff that I enjoy and that inspires me to want to write books. I don’t have to feel guilty for not liking what other people like doing.
- I am responsible for my own decisions. When I am in a tight spot, I have the capacity to look around and find someone to blame. Shame on me. It was entirely my decision to take my son up on his suggestion of a hike up the mountain. He did not force me up there.
- I am capable of more than I think. I made it up that piece of rock, albeit dragging myself up on all fours at one point, but I made it. After I have passed through the let-me-find-someone-to-blame phase, I have learnt that when I am in a tight spot, I can dig deep within and find what is needed to get the job done.
- Hard times give us something to talk and laugh about. My hike up Table Mountain has been the source of much laughter with friends and family – although I do sometimes have to remind my husband that it was not that funny.
Question: What have you learnt about yourself after going through something tough? Enter into the conversation by leaving a comment.