Aerial view of Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo by Samuel Sweet:

I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, right along the Wasatch Front portion of the western side of the Rockies. No matter where I lived in that state, I always used the proximity of those mountains to orient myself. Their towering presence was comforting, in a way.

When I moved to a different (and mountainless, at least near me) state at 15, I was practically grief-stricken at not having any mountains in sight. Without them around, I felt lost. Which direction was I facing? Where was everything else located? Where was I? I hated it in this new place!

Those mountains not only did a great job helping me gauge precisely where I was in the Salt Lake valley without looking at a single street sign, they also acted as a kind of security blanket. Much like a mother looking down at her sleeping baby in a crib, or protectively stretching her arm out in front of me in a scary or dangerous situation, the mountains were at one point immensely comforting to me.

I know those mountains also provided a sense of comfort to Mormon forefather Brigham Young during his cross-country expedition (although for vastly different reasons). Suffice it to say, I know I’m far from the only SLC resident who has found some solace in that mountain range over the years.

But eventually they stopped being a comfort to me.

Eventually, they started to feel domineering and smothering. In my early thirties, I bought a house super close to them. They blocked half my view (well, except in those rare moments when I was content to stare at lifeless rocks all day).

The mountains were also started to feel like a crescendo of tension in my life, always just right there, up my ass, looking over my shoulder, ready to start something with me.

Not surprisingly, the tension I had subconsciously assigned that picturesque mountain range at the time was also almost completely mirroring my own set of personal anxieties and issues. It became an unsatisfyingly-easy and burdensome metaphor for the mountain of problems I was feeling trapped under. Things ranging from mental health issues, being quite overweight, a career I was only moderately interested in on a good day, and lots of unresolved childhood trauma.

Then I made the decision to move out of Utah to somewhere that suited me better. Somewhere much further away from the mountains.

So I did just that. And while I couldn’t bring myself to move away altogether from mountains (I love them far too much to abandon them outright), I’m much happier only seeing them from a distance.

I have also been working on all of my trauma and issues lately, since having the seizure. I’ve been exercising regularly and actually following and sticking to a diet for the first time in my life. I quit my stressful job and am focusing on resting. And most importantly, I have finally been addressing my trauma — regardless of how distant or fresh — and doing my best to acknowledge it, feel the feelings I need to feel about it, and set it down and move on from it.

Naturally, I still have plenty of work to do there, but I am feeling the healthiest and happiest I’ve felt in a long time — possibly even my whole life. I live further away from mountains of both varieties now, and I can say it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. Mountains have been a huge part of my life, but they don’t define me. I can acknowledge them from a comfortable distance whenever the mood strikes me, but I don’t have to see them every day. Now I can see all of the other beautiful things in my life.



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