Letting go of my resentments for Bend, Oregon

Holy shit, I’ve almost been in Corvallis for 5 years. Time has certainly flown by.

Something occurred to me this past weekend while visiting Bend, OR, to train and visit a couple of good friends.  Before I talk about what happened I would like to take the time to describe all of the circumstances that happened, which created several resentments, over the last few years while I called Central Oregon my home.

As I’ve described before I first arrived in Bend, OR in the summer of 1998 to live and train for XC skiing.  After graduating St. Lawrence University in the Spring of 2002 I moved to Bend to begin my life after college.  From 2002 to 2005 I enjoyed every aspect of the Bend lifestyle while having terrific jobs, a great active outdoor lifestyle, and good friends abound.  In 2006 things changed dramatically.


During a run on Monday morning in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness.  One of Central Oregon’s jewels of trail running

It was around this time that two things happened that would change my life for the next 10 years.  First, I secured a job which would pay me close to quadruple what I was making in my previous job.  Second, I met Lynea.  With these two occurrences happening simultaneously, the innocence of Bend, to me, began to vanish.

Here is a quick overview of what happened to me in those last years while living in Bend:  I lost my identity in seeking and pursuing financial fortune; I got engaged to Lynea (I proposed to her on NYE in New York City while I was hammered); I lost touch with being athletic;  I surrounded myself with people who would support and fuel my love for alcohol and drugs; I went from making a six figure salary to having nothing but my car and a few paintings that I had kept; I was admitted to Sageview Psychiatric Center on two occasions; I was diagnosed with depression; I bought a house, refinanced it beyond my means, and ultimately gave the keys back to the bank and foreclosed; I drove around town drunk and blacked out;  Bend became a haven for Micro-breweries and partying; I started chasing around drug dealers as opposed to guys in spandex riding in a peloton; I gained around 70 lbs of weight; I lost everything financially, morally, emotionally, and physically that I had worked so hard for in the previous several years.  Take note, all of this “happened” to me, therefore making me the victim.  This is an example of my ego taking over.

Needless to say that when I left Bend in December of 2011 I had built several hard-core and raw resentments to the town where I had once thrived by way of lifestyle, innocence, and prosperity.


A message from Cass, Phoebe, Lisa, and Davis Smith upon my arrival to their house

The past 5 years, while living in Corvallis, I’ve hated going to  visit Bend.  I continued to return on occasion because of the good friends that I had still kept in touch with, but it just wasn’t the same.  Too many things had happened while living there that kept me from being comfortable when visiting. I was letting resentments of the past dictate my present experience.  Over the last 5 years I’ve lost touch with many Bend folks who I still consider as friends.  Ultimately losing touch had nothing to do with them, it had to do with the fact that I could not let go of all of the bullshit that I had experienced and witnessed in Bend.

I hated running there (even in the mountains), I hated driving there, I hated seeing the real estate market creeping back to prosperity (for the fear of missing out), I hated seeing pictures of friends partying on the cycle-pub, I hated the view of the mountains, I hated the landscape, I hated that every block of Bend had a different Bar/Micro-brewery, I hated the fact that people so desperately wanted to move there, I hated most of what Central Oregon had to offer.  Returning to visit Bend became a very sad state of affairs.  My resentments toward the town that I once loved overshadowed everything that makes Bend a fantastic place to be.

Luckily, this weekend, something changed for me.  This past weekend I returned to the Bend area to get some higher altitude running in.  I also had the chance to visit with some very important people in my life.  One, my professional mentor and friend, Davis, and two, one of my best college friends that recently moved there with his family, my boy Benny Hicks.

While running up the base of Broken Top early Saturday morning I had an epiphany that running in Bend is fucking awesome!  What the hell was going through my mind that told me that the running in Central Oregon was sub-par?   Well, I’ll tell you.  My resentments toward running began when my buddy Brian Hetzel used to drag me out of bed and make me go for a run after I had consumed several malt liquor beverages while driving home from work.  I hated it, and therefore related all running in Bend to how miserable I felt when I used to run half-cocked around town and the trails.  It was a truly awful experience.

In terms of people and friends, I used to hate talking about how awesome Bend was.  But this past weekend I had several honest and candid conversations about what Bend is truly like, away from the lens I was used to seeing the town through.  I found myself with some of the most important people in my life, laughing, joking, and chatting just like I had done before I let all hell break loose for myself back in 2006.

During my past visits, while steeped in resentments, I would drive by the house I foreclosed on and remember all of the traumatic and terrible shit that happened with myself, Lynea, and the money that I had gained and lost.  This time I didn’t feel compelled to drive by that house to relive all of the hell that I put myself through  10 years ago.  This time those memories didn’t percolate to the surface for me.

This time, as I drove through Bend, I didn’t dwell on the fact that every corner of town had a micro-brewery.  It is what it is and there is nothing I can do to change it.  What, am I supposed to make a fuss with the city to have less of these bars so that I could feel comfortable visiting?  Absolutely not, I have to come to peace with it.  Yes, I raised hell in many of those places, but that is in the past.  Today I’m no longer attached to that identity.

Thankfully, while travelling  back to Corvallis on Monday morning, I felt as though I finally realized some very important notions for myself:  trail running in Bend is BAD ASS; Lynea and all of the heartache that I experienced with her is in the past; my financial trouble is in the past; I cannot change the town; I cannot be pissed off at the fact the real estate market is booming again and that I’m not a part of it; I cannot hold grudges towards people, places, and things, based on my own shit and life circumstances;  I cannot let all of the things that happened in my life affect my vision of what Bend truly is:  An amazing place, with amazing people, amazing training opportunities, and an amazing community.  While cruising back over Santiam Pass, on my way back to the valley, I was finally able to let go of the past as it relates to Bend.  And the result?  The idea that at some point, in the future, I can absolutely see myself returning to live in Bend, resentment-free.


7 thoughts on “Letting go of my resentments for Bend, Oregon

  1. Beautiful words Spence. I am sorry you went through this alone. Though, It is likely you are the only person who could pull yourself out of the downward spiral. I am very happy you see clearly now and proud of your accomplishments.


  2. Pingback: Central Oregon PTSD – “Dude, get over it!” | A Comeback from Addiction, My Story

  3. Cory says:

    Bend is over rated. The desert look and Deschutes forest is not my thing. All the breweries give me anxiety. Because I know I’ll just end up drunk all the time if I live there. It’s DUO haven. But i do like that town. I’ll just go there and not drink, just do hiking.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s