Coming to a H.A.L.T.



Whenever I get discouraged or afraid, all I have to do is take a quick assessment of my situation, and generally, I fall into one or more of the above states. (Loneliness, though, doesn’t really count in my case because to a certain extent I am always lonely, and being hungry, tired, or upset exacerbates the loneliness.)

fearI teeter between looking forward to a great adventure and being afraid. (Oddly, I’m equally afraid of uncertainty and the stagnation of certainty.) When I am well fed and reasonably well rested, I am open to the challenge of exploring the many places I’ve never been, national and state parks I haven’t visited, streets and trails I haven’t trodden. When I am hungry and tired, fear gets the better of me, and I wonder what the heck I’m doing. I have no experience in camping/backpacking, have no great source of income or savings to fall back on, and worst of all, I’m torn. Though I would like to stay here and continue taking dance classes, I have an equal desire to head out for parts unknown.

It truly wouldn’t be such a terrible thing to do what others suggest: settle down, continue taking dance classes, maybe start writing again, and head out occasionally for a vacation, but I have always played it safe and now it’s time to trust in the benevolence of the fates, the universe, divine providence, or whatever, and just make the leap into uncertainty. Let the future take care of itself. Hope that when it’s time to return for a while and catch up with my friends and classes that I will be able to find a place to stay.

I could so easily ruin what could be a grand adventure by giving in to my fears and worries about what will happen in a month or two, or even a week or two.

Last night I had a couple of setbacks that made me panic. I’d planned to rent a room as a fallback position, a place to come back to, but the only place I found seemed unsafe, not a place I would ever want to be. And I received part of my tent — the footprint — so I could see the size, and oh, my. It’s tiny!! How the heck am I going to live in that?

Today, reason prevailed. I’m not going to live in that miniscule tent. I’m going to get a bigger tent for car camping; this small lightweight tent is for backpacking emergencies. (And if I ever do long distance walking/hiking.) The real benefit is that I could be cozy with a backpacking quilt rather than a sleeping bag. And I don’t need to worry about a more permanent living solution for a few weeks, maybe months. (I have a tentative housesitting job for the late summer/early fall.) And after that? Well, that’s not a problem for today.

At the very least, assuming I don’t come to a H.A.L.T., the next few weeks should be interesting.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

9 Responses to “Coming to a H.A.L.T.”

  1. Phyllis Edgerly Ring Says:

    So true, so good. Thanks so much for this. Provides a personal re-set.

  2. Kathy Bailey Says:

    I learned about HALT years ago. I’m not an alcoholic, but I have other issues and find that you have got to back off and take care of yourself, because you make the worst decisions when you are H, A, L or T.

  3. Holly Says:

    If it helps, I was scared to death before my grand six month adventure. But I went ahead and did it anyway. Totally out of my comfort zone. All I knew is that I couldn’t tolerate my living where I was, all alone, any longer. I am very happy where I settled, but am now beginning to feel the urge for more adventure or someone in my life (might just be cabin fever…). I have made lots of good friends that will be there when I need them, unlike where I was before and don’t regret a moment of my trip. Just take each day as it comes. There is nothing that can’t be handled. I honestly feel that where I am now is just a way station and that there are more changes in my future. Good things.

  4. Constance Says:

    Take your adventure. You can come back to all of us when your trip is done.

  5. Coco Ihle Says:

    This may be confusing, but I’ve experienced H.A.L.T while being settled in a permanent place. So…

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Not confusing at all. We all feel this way. I think H.A.L.T originated with 12 step programs, but it’s always good to follow the rule of not making decisions or getting too down on yourself if you’re tired, hungry, alone, and upset.

  6. Paula Says:

    I can totally understand why you are feeling this way. I have always lived my life the ‘safe’ way. I would be scared to death. I still have two grandkids living here so I won’t be doing anything ‘crazy’ for a few years. I like this H.A. L. T. way of looking at things

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The funny thing is that I’ve been thinking about adventuring for so long, when I’m not under the influence of H.A.L.T., it all seems perfectly normal.

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