PCT | Walking Away to Find Myself

“What is your ultimate goal with the PCT?”

I was deep into a consultation with a wellness coach. The discussion passed quickly beyond the usual surface-level conversations society often feels comfort in. The usual topic suspects that stay around the weather, the automatic feeling “good” response; we sped past those topic antidotes to crash into heavier subjects such as depression, self-worth weaknesses, and children with special needs. A pause in the dialogue had revealed this question presented to me:

“What is your ultimate goal for the PCT?”

I slowly absorbed my anxiety beginning to rise as I counted ten between each inhale and exhale of breath. I fought the rush of fear-based panic as my mouth went cotton-ball dry in attempts to answer why. Why are you doing this?

Why do you think you should?

Why?

Really why?

Ballet

I spent my childhood into early adulthood inside rooms with mirrors and critical opinions. I started at age four in all the jazz, tap, piano lessons, voice lessons, modern—I was going to be a star—type of training. I danced in televised Disney World parades and I won more trophies then I had places to display. At age 13 I went against all practicality and decided to pursue the intense profession of ballet.

No one starts ballet at age 13.

It is too intense of a discipline. I wobbled on my first point shoes, taking lessons with children years younger then me at ages 8 and 9. I was embarrassed but I was a driven creature. Whenever anyone told me to go back to jazz or that I fit in more with music videos then Nutcrackers, I felt that fire to burn them all to the ashes of wrong flare up.

By the time I was age 15 I had left traditional school education, was dancing full time with a ballet company, and setting my eyes to move across the country to dance with Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Flash forward to a week before turning age 18. I was sitting alone in my apartment a block from the ballet studios beneath the Seattle Space Needle.

I had done it.

I had proved them all wrong.

I was living my destiny.

 

Foster Care

Until I was not living my destiny. Until it was clear I was itching to hang up my tutus. I had always been known as the dancer, but as I found myself entering my 20s I spent more time looking out the studio windows at the world beyond the stage than focusing on my technique in the mirror. I broke my mother’s heart and quit one dark and dreary June evening.

I found myself with no education, no profession, no family, and no money.

Life is a roller coaster and as I balanced two jobs to live in a moldy basement apartment my coster car stopped at the platform where the tall one stood laughing. From the first date to the I do date was a rapid nine months. I found myself a wife at age 21 with a man still my best friend almost 4,990 days later. Yes, I googled that.

We set off with dreams of children biting our ankles on our minds only to be met with devastating miscarriages. But families are made in many ways and as I accepted I would never hold a child within my womb I welcomed my first foster child into my heart. Over 11 years after the terrifying first hello of our first placement of a three-day baby girl, I have had the unimaginable whirlwind of having 34 children call me mom. The system is much to complicated to explain in this context but much against our desire to provide a forever home for every child we were only able to adopt our daughter buckets and we’re established as legal guardians over our son monkey.

As you can imagine, trauma is a nasty bedmate to foster care and seven months ago I found myself outside the courthouse having won the battle of our son staying but lost the fight to continue the war of foster care.

I was once again broken, insanely depressed, and unsure of who I was.

I did what any logical minded person does—I convinced my husband to move into an 18-foot skoolie and travel the country as a messy family of four and one pup.

 

PCT

At this point you may be wondering what this slightly boring history lesson has to do with the PCT. When I found myself selling all my belongings I could not shake the itch that I perhaps never truly knew who I was even from those early days in tights and leotards. I had lived so many lives. I had lost so many of my heart children. I had started stockpiling all the mountains I was climbing.

I was running away to the wild in hopes that out there I would see a mountain woman.

The PCT intrigued me when my family first started hiking just five years ago. We had stumbled upon the trail under the wind power turbines near Whitewater Canyon and it’s icon blue sign. I found myself enthralled with the Pacific Crest Trail as I read article after article of what a momentous beast it was. But at that time I had only been hiking a few months and I laughed at the notion that I could perhaps trek it. Carry my home on my back? No thank you. I was happy with my five mile day jaunts.

But years added miles. Which added a passion to see how high and how far I could go. My legs trained to leap and turn now moved with efficiency to carry me to summit after summit. The Pacific Crest Trail always tickling me each time we crossed it. I mean what if? What if? I looked in my reflection of the bus massive side mirrors and saw a shadow. A stranger of  woman reflected back at me.

That was the moment I called the tall one to tell him I love him, I love the children, but I needed to do this to learn to love me.

What is my ultimate goal with the PCT? Well, my goal is to walk. And just to keep walking. Because perhaps this walk will lead me somehow back to me.

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Comments 2

  • David : Feb 13th

    Crazy how we do so much training, with our minds stayed in one direction, and then we do something completely different and all of that training is still relevant (at least in a way)! Awesome story of fostering, life changes, deciding to stay in love with your soulmate, and taking time to find out who you are! Prayers for revelation.

    Reply
    • Kaitlin Musser : Feb 13th

      Thank you! I agree the young paths created physically and mentally stay with you. In good and sometimes not so good ways. 💚

      Reply

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