Leisure. That’s the trail name that I gave Wes. What does it mean? Dictionary.com defines Leisure as “freedom from the demands or work or duty” and “unhurried ease”. I think I did well with his name.

I met Leisure on day 2 of my 7-day hike. I saw him getting off a shuttle at Woody Gap wearing croc-type sandals. I am certain that I gave him a “what the hell are you wearing” look…no, in fact, I think I might have actually said it out loud!

Since we were both hiking the same distance we ended up at the same shelter each night. We didn’t hike during the day together and once he passed me I generally didn’t see him again until I rolled into camp. He is a fast hiker…yes, even in rubber sandals.

I had no intention of meeting anyone on the trail. I was 6 weeks outside of my divorce and was ready to be alone indefinitely. Part of going to the trail was to prove to myself that I could still do anything. I kept my distance from Leisure. I kept my distance from anyone who had male parts.

I was an alpha female, damn it!

But by day 5, Leisure and I were walking the trail together. Helping each other by moving limbs out of the way, eating lunch together and then finally strolling into camp. For 3 days, this is what we did. Then at the top of Albert Mountain, we said it, well he said it and replied, “I love you, too.” I was a blubbering mess. I knew that in a few short minutes from that moment, I was going to be getting off the trail and leaving Leisure behind.

I had done what I fully intended not to do on the trail – I fell in love. But not just everyday love, our love was explosive. It came out of nowhere and devoured us whole. I wasn’t sure how I was going to live without Leisure but I knew that my life was forever altered.

A couple weeks after getting off the trail and beginning my downsize transformation, Leisure got off the trail and made his way to St. Louis. I couldn’t have been happier.

But (there’s always a but, right?), I was overwhelmed instantly. In the midst of selling my house, all of my belongings, packing up my younger daughter to move to her dads, leaving my job and losing my dog, I could not deal with the love that was being offered to me.

You see, I am not good at love. I can give love but receiving love has always been hard for me. I feel like if I allow love to come into my life than I am somehow not complete on my own or I’m not in control. I have worked my entire life up to this point on becoming fiercely independent. Now, Leisure was asking me to depend on him. The battle inside of me began to rage and I began to shut down.

Leisure is the male version of me. He is just like me in many ways and because of that I see many of my unhealed wounds in him. Though, he doesn’t know it, he challenges me to face those wounds and deal with them. Trying to do that and seeing so many faults and issues in my life, while handling everything that was going on forced me to push him away. I didn’t want to deal with my issues.

I asked Leisure to allow me to go on the next part of my journey alone. He left St. Louis and now my heart feels incomplete and shattered. What have I done?

Because I have a massive amount of time on my hands now and for the next couple of weeks, I got to reading different articles (Huffington Post, Life Hack and Thought Catalog) about soulmates and how to know if you have found yours. The theme I have found in most of them is that soulmates rarely experience “happily ever after” right away. Generally the meeting is so intense and electric that you need time apart and that your soulmate challenges you in ways you have never experienced.

I don’t even know if I believe in soulmates but I do believe in Leisure. He drives me absolutely crazy with his shenanigans and his inappropriate comments. There are moments he makes me want to climb under a rock so people will not think he is with me. At times, I find him embarrassing. But, mostly because society has conditioned me to think that people that don’t follow status quo are different and should be treated as such. At the end of the day though, I love him for who he is and how he tries to change the world.

I’ve never met anyone like him. Really. Never.

It is possible that I have pushed him away and he will never return. If that has happened, I take full responsibility for my actions. I was not kind to him in the way that deserves. I was very judgmental. This is something that I intend to change in myself immediately thanks to him.

I don’t deserve you Leisure. But, should you decide to give this broken girl another chance, I still love you and I’d like you to go on this journey with me. You have a ticket booked on United Flight UA3418 departing St. Louis on Oct. 1 at 5:50 am. Maybe I’ll see you there. Maybe I won’t. Either way, thank you for your part in my journey. You have changed me and I hope to continue to become a better person.

“Maybe it’s not about the happy ending. Maybe it’s about the story.”

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