When I fled from Creston to Lethbridge at 18 years old, trying to leave so much of my life behind, I didn't realize that I was laying an unstable foundation for my next 17 years.
Shortly after I left Creston, my boyfriend---future husband---joined me in Lethbridge and moved in. I had never been to Lethbridge prior to deciding to move there with a high school friend.
I fucking hated it. I hated every single thing about Lethbridge. It broke me.
Waterton was my only escape. It was the only place in close proximity that brought any sense of peace to my heart. I didn't even fully realize at that time how much it held me in all my hate, sorrow, and despair.
I remember my 20th birthday so clearly. January 2001. I had a complete breakdown. I couldn't bear living there a moment longer. Kevin kept asking me to tough it out because we hadn't been there that long, but I couldn't do it. I had to go, even if that meant without him.
When we left Lethbridge, together, in the spring of 2001, my middle finger waving in the sky, I never looked back. I never went back. Once again, I tried to leave it all behind.
Until last week. I returned to Waterton. This time with a new lens. A new perspective. A new pen and a blank piece of paper. Pulling away the threads of the past while planting healthy solid roots for the future.
When I returned to Waterton 22 years later, her breathtaking peaks, valleys, and frozen waters brought me entirely different medicine.
This time, she challenged me, made me examine my expectations, pushed me out of my comfort zone, and expanded my edges.
She brought out shadow aspects that past versions of me would have never been willing to face.
I leaned in deeper to my strength, courage, tenacity, and vulnerability. I listened for deeper truths and came into deeper alignment with all that I am. So many pieces and parts that the 19-year old with the world before her hid, banished, and cast away.
Not even fully aware of the next level of wholeness that I was reaching, I stood as close to her shores as I could being surrounded by thigh-deep snow. A spot I had not stood since I was 19.
I laughed and said, "Well, you sure kicked my ass this time, didn't you?" I could feel her smile and hold me with the tangible love and tenderness of an old wise grandmother, despite the sharp bite of winter nipping at my bones and the fresh frustration of our trip running in my mind, feeling more sour than sweet.
I smiled with tears in my eyes, feeling into the softness and expansiveness in my heart, grateful for all that she brought me. Back then and now.
As an offering, I sprinkled rose petals and lavender across the snow, felt peace in my soul, and got back into the truck where my boys patiently waited while I completed my ritual. Rewrote a story. Closed a cycle. Not just for me, but for them too. For all of us.
A new chapter. A new story.
And this one has only begun.