Oh Tiny Deer, We Have All Been Lost Before

Previously published on Medium, December 16, 2017

To be a keeper of things, small, unwanted, largely insignificant, and sometimes broken, is to have reverence for the nostalgia of childish delights. A tiny blue ladder, a doll the size of a thumbnail with a missing leg, an impossibly small pink toothbrush, a weensy pig, all treasures I have meticulously procured, among others. I didn’t begin collecting them with a purpose, I only knew that when I saw them they somehow belonged to me, like pieces to a puzzle that I wasn’t even aware I was trying to put together.

I lost my father on this day in 1968. I had just turned two. I am grateful to have a few poignant memories of our time together. They are soft and pastel, like an illustration out of a Dick and Jane early reader. That time was so very brief, and yet the warm glow from those fragments of images in my heart can still be felt today, 49 years later. There are small bits of that blissful innocence before it was stolen from me, in the delicate sweetness of a dollhouse sized baby rattle that is in my collection.

An adult body will grow to replace the child’s, and school will sharpen the mind’s ability to reason and mature, but the toddler who went looking for her Daddy that one fateful day, only to find him face down on the bathroom floor, who was then sacrificed to the man who came to replace him, never got to develop the skills to make any sense of it all. That sadness and confusion stayed locked in a special compartment. This is the playground of my mind where I try to communicate with that lost, scared, and broken child. She tries to tell me stories with these little collected curiosities. I have yet to decipher them, but there are times when a random piece will fit perfectly into the puzzle, and enlighten me.

Today I went searching for a box of journals. Instead, I was distracted by a bag of stuff that piqued my curiosity. In it I found another bag filled with my little treasures. I carefully inspected each item before placing them, artfully, on a wheel shaped piece of cardboard I had saved. The one I was most captivated by was a tiny little deer. I just couldn’t get over the size of it. I held it, marvelling at where it may have come from, and how it made its way here. It was so tiny, it couldn’t even stand. Such a sweet and delicate little deer, I thought, needs to be kept in a safe place. Next thing you know, I sneeze or blink, and it disappears! I look everywhere for it. Gone.

It was just a stupid, tiny, plastic deer. A totally insignificant thing of no worth. But the fact that it was a treasure to me gave it value, and I was sad to have not been more mindful of its safe-keeping.

Suddenly I imagine a tiny, delicate, little girl, crying. And I know she is wondering the very same thing about herself. Was she treasured? Did her existence have a meaning, and if so, why had no one protected her? Ahh, I see.

Grown-up Me is trying to answer the child, but I am not yet able to because I am still trying to figure out how. Then it dawned on me that I am the puzzle I am seeking to solve.

A Mental Health Doula?

I have a great business idea that someone needs to create. You know how there are Doulas to help out new mothers? There needs to be such a thing as a mental health Doula who will come to you for a week or two, say around 10-4, and help you to recover after a particularly intense mental health setback, by shopping, cooking, doing all the stuff, until you get your strength back. Because there is a lot of happiness, gratitude, and triumph out there on the other side of this crippling malady, and what is critical to getting you back to yourself is an extra layer of nurturing above and beyond what you and your partner are capable of. For some, this extra help could mean the difference between life or death. I would want it to be a non-profit so that it could reach those who cannot afford it. Ideally, it would be geared toward adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. It’s a dream. Miracles happen every day. I’m in the bathtub forming actual sentences and sharing them with the world. THAT is a small miracle.

Until Thanksgiving, I had never felt better, but Depression and Anxiety, especially when there is Complex PTSD involved, takes daily maintenance. I put a lot of work into my healing. As a matter of fact, it has been my full-time job for quite some time now. But there are times when triggers get set in motion that culminate in a snowball effect. Once the door is ajar, and I succumb to one, the hyper-vigilance begins and suddenly I am once again, unrecognizable to myself. Once I arrive in this state, my body feels like a lobster trying to moult, hiding in a cave. This episode’s current physical malady is Conjunctivitis. Went to Dr, got drops, lost them within 24hrs(because in this state, things go missing!) and went 4 days until they turned up…. inside a sneaker in my closet. Good times. Crusty swollen eye, CHECK. I just got my hair did so at least THAT looks fabulous. I even managed to smile! Makes me so proud of myself. When I’m not curled up in a ball, shaking, my sense of humor is still intact. It is essential to celebrate even the smallest of victories.

So, I am still the same good-natured, silly, deeply spiritual, witty, and optimistic person that I am known as, however, there is a sadness that sweeps over me like a 180lb weighted blanket, and as I am trying to regain my balance from the trigger, I get random waves of a sorrow so deep that I am physically unable to hold back tears. Sometimes for hours. I can’t sleep at night. Whatever minimal sleep I do get is interrupted when my significant other snuggles me with concern and soothing whispers, because I was whining for help or catterwalling from another hellish dimension where someone is constantly trying to murder me.

I cannot cook, nourish myself with food and water, or do any of the things that a normal, healthy person does everyday. I don’t even watch TV. I am just stuck in bed, afraid of what is around the corner. And when I say afraid, I mean terrified. I do not feel hungry, but when I do eat, I remember that I love food. I dissociate by distraction. My thoughts are like a million separated cabooses, some stalled, others barreling down the track, all lost. In a way it’s like having an out of body experience, minus the mystic wonder. Say whatever you want about how I have the POWER, I know this, and yet I am just here, riding it out, wrestling with the same old lie; that I am incapable. This is the trauma brain. Clearly no picnic.

Be that as it may, a person in the throes of such affliction needs help. I feel like a helpless newborn baby, unsure of how to work my limbs, and unable to do anything besides cry. God, I HATE IT SO MUCH. It is supremely challenging to not dwell on how pathetic I feel. Who is this person?

I will tell you. She is a person who is on a lifelong adventure mission of deep healing, and while she lives to shine her light and make the world a better place, the journey can become perilous at times. And that is just the way it is. So I try to be gracious and compassionate with my twisted, crusty, moulty lobster-alien self. I take her under my wing like the popular girl who commits to making-over the ugly duckling into the beautiful swan. Because I AM that popular girl, that Queen, but I am also the ugly duckling. And together, we will create something beautiful.

Oh, look at me! One lil’ caboose just found its train! This brain of mine may be challenged, but me and Toots are gonna keep chugging up the hill. I don’t just think I can, I KNOW I can.

And now I will soak in a bubble bath by candle light and enjoy a good book while counting my blessings. Because other than this brain funk junk? My life is mostly sublime. You’ve gotta roll with the tide, at least until the Mental Health Doula arrives.

That’s the kind of magic I aim to conjur.

My Cheeky Blues

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I am having a struggle today. I hesitate to write about it because in comparison to people I know, (and basically the whole rest of this seemingly Godforsaken world) I have many blessings to count. Matter of fact, I’ve been counting them all week since Monday when I found out my driver’s license was suspended. Guess what? Even motherf@#%ing GHANDI had a blue day. I’m having one, and I’m going to throw a leash around it and take it for a $#@damn walk.

First, let me tell you a little sad story from childhood to set the tone, and also because I will refer back to it later as a metaphor for all of my #wompwompwomp, aka Muc, short for most unfortunate circumstances. Nobody has immunity.

One day, while playing at a neighbor’s, a dog came up to me from behind, put his happy little paws up on my shoulders and festively started hopping. “Weeeee!” thought my lonely innocent young child mind, “Cha cha cha cha cha ChA!” And I gleefully giggled in delight as me and my little buddy conga’d our way across the yard, that is until the mother came out, wiping her hands on an apron as if she had been whisked away from baking , and yelled over to me, “Valerie, don’t you let that dog do that to you!” in her perfect New England accent. In that moment my joy melted into shame. I was only 6 ,and I didn’t know that the dog was trying to hump me, or what that even was. I just knew that it was wrong. This memory is crystal clear. A most unfortunate circumstance, indeed.

While I have made great strides in my recovery lately, I am not without trials. I feel a country song welling up in me. A very awkward country song.

Let’s talk about stuff you should not play with due to the risk of painful consequences, shall we? Number one, horny dogs. This applies to both the canine and human variety. Number two, Poison Ivy. Especially if you are highly allergic with a natural flair for the dramatic, like me.

I had brought a bunch of sticks and dead vines home from the farm to create my next sculptural project. I was enamored with the way the vines coiled and threw myself into placing them just so, thinking they really added something special, like little decorative flourishes. I was all kinds of up in it, let me tell you. I spent an entire day happily enjoying my work and giving thanks to God for all the good feels.

So fancy, no?

Later, I began to itch. Mind you, I had just come off a round of Prednisone and antibiotics for a nasty infected itchy rash caused by holly leaves. I hate to feel itchy more than I hate puking. At least when you throw up you feel some relief. The only thing that would quell my discomfort and very vocal misery was another trip to the Dr’s office and another round of steroids, this time with a Cortizone shot. When I realized I had been playing with Poison Ivy, (yes, even the dead vines contain the oil that causes the reaction…who knew?) I felt the same kind of shameful embarrassment that I had as that naive child, and when telling my boyfriend what I had done I said, “I may as well have been rubbing the f@#$ing sh!% all over myself! I’m just gonna go find me a horny dog now and conga around the neighborhood!” to which he laughed. Humor helps me keep from pity-partying-till-I-puke, and ain’t NOBODY wanna see that, especially while burdened with an itchy rash!

During this time, my Mom had another surgery to remove a small tumor in her bladder, I fiercely battled my fear and Anxiety, realized I was doing a job that did not utilize any of my skills, and questioned how I was going to make ends meet. Then there was the Wonder Woman-shielding against the crazy-making chaos of a certain family member who was telling me I needed to see an allergist, because I’m probably allergic to everything, like her. Um, no. Just some plants and her lack of boundaries and verbal abuse, thank you very much.

I now hate oral steroids or any kind, for that matter, because they made me angsty and super snacky, like The Hungry Hungry Hippo. I’m still working through my vanity issues, so feeling like a big ol’ fatty didn’t help matters. What could be a better time to give myself bangs? Oh yeah. I went there. My awesome hair stylist did her best to fix my mess, but despite her magic skills, at the end of the day it was just me. With. BANGS. I had sworn them off years ago, realizing I did not have the face for them. This is how I knew I was not myself. It was another most unfortunate circumstance- Fatty Bananas with bangs, no steady income, getting my Moms will done the day before her surgery, driving a car on it’s last leg, 80 miles round trip to the farm and back several times a week, and struggling to get out of bed. The bangs, though. Ugh. At least I was getting out of bed.

Then Monday happened. I have not been able to drive for a week now. My dear friend is dying in hospice. I’ve been consumed with thoughts of her and the pain that her family and friends are dealing with. I have wanted so much to hold her hand and send her off with my love. Feeling helpless is not a good place for a person with Complex PTSD. The resulting avalanche of triggers has left me paralyzed. Warrior down, people!F#@*!

Mood Indigo

It is just my luck that I answered a question on my license renewal form honestly, never realizing it would raise a red flag that would entail having two Drs fill out paperwork that has been denied two times now because neither Dr knew anything about that ONE time I dozed off at a traffic light. I called the DMV and they said all they need is a note faxed on letterhead corroborating the date and that I am no threat as a driver. (Glad they can’t consult with my daughter, who thinks I suck at almost everything.) I was told to call them as soon as she faxed it and everything would be cleared up. I made this known, at first, by a call to her office, and followed it up with an email. It is now Friday and I have yet to speak with her directly. Not for lack of trying, as you can imagine. Several calls a day and a few more emails and today after trying FOUR times it went straight to voicemail. This is my psychiatrist! She of all people knows that feeling helpless is my biggest trigger!

I finally sent one last email today, saying that I was no longer apologizing for inconveniencing her, for the consequences weigh much heavier for me, and that her refusal to take my calls or do the right thing and call me, was very disappointing and unprofessional. Then I asked the DMV how she could back me up on the date if I never told her about it, but they said it didn’t matter, because they just need her to write the note to put in my file. They said it should be simple for her to do. As of 5:46 today (Friday) they have received nothing.

To top it all off, the one thing that I had to get excited about was a complete bust. Seven inches of snow predicted last night and we got nothing. A frigid cold slap in the face! An opportunity to see my horse and the farm in the snow, because Smithfield did get some, squashed. Unable to do the only thing that sustains me through rough times, I am officially at my limit. I want to go to sleep until all of this cruelly unnecessary trigger BS passes. I want so much to be rid of these afflictions.

I can do nothing other than realize that healing is a journey, and it’s fine to shutter down in order to save myself from the storm. And looking on the bright side, it’s a good thing that I can’t drive right now, because if I went to the Walmart and had to fight to get those stupid #@$!%$#@&%$#@× plastic bags open, while the stupid #@!$^&^$#@× register tells me to “please bag your items”, that would surely be the end of me.

Hello, little black cloud. Goodbye, will to decline the pity party invitation. But $#@! it. “V” is also for VENT, and I am already starting to feel better.

Here’s to you, dear Glenda. Not only were you the embodiment of the word Glamour, but also grace, strength, and pure loving kindness.

Writing From The WOMB

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Where do I begin? No, seriously. I have had this book to write all my life. I was given the title, as if by magic, from the mouth of my 4 year old child, 13 years ago.. It was brilliantly absurd and I knew when I asked her to repeat it that it was a gift from an angel, and I got the chills. Of course I immediately wrote it down. It has taken me all this time to get to this place. I started this blog as a means to get myself in the habit of writing. It has been a wonderful outlet for me, but I decided that now is when to begin writing my book. I am writing this as a warm up, a way of working through this last niggling remnant of fear. Also, I am trying to determine where I should start.

The greatest thing about blogging is that there is no pressure. It was the best step for me as a longtime journal writer who never wrote continuously in one at a time, but several. One journal may contain a small period of time, but from beginning to end it can span a decade or more. It seems sort of schizophrenic, but it came naturally to me. I have never been one to do things a certain way just because I was taught that it was the only way, or the “right” way. I realize that is simply the hallmark of being an artist, but that doesn’t mean I don’t second guess myself. I am a walking paradox of angular plushness. 

My life is very much like the bunch of sticks and limbs that were recently woven to create a sculptural sanctuary in Jacob’s Woods, at Mill Swamp Indian Horses. The idea came to me out of the blue at the end of December as I looked around at the land that was being cleared to make way for a new pasture with different forage for the animals. The cut trees and limbs were being placed in a long line of brush piles that would serve as a sanctuary for other small, wild animals. As a college student working as an intern at MOCA, the Museum of Contemporary Arts, I was greatly inspired by an artist whose installation I worked on, who was a sculptor of sticks. There was this small clearing in the brush that spoke to me. I set to work one day, and over 8 separate days, I arrived at sunrise to work until there was barely any light left.

I just now realized that I am using my blog as a distraction today, but in doing so I fully believe it will propel me toward making this critical first big step. Beginning to write my book does not, after all, have to start at the beginning of the story.

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Who, me? Distracted? 😁 

It started as an archway that began to morph and undulate with a dimensional curve that became a small tunnel/entryway into a cozy little nest of a space. It was quickly identified as a sacred undertaking that was divinely inspired. The frenzied delight from which I couldn’t wait to return to in creating this structure filled me with intense joy and satisfaction. On the second day in, blissed out in the solitude of my surroundings, I found myself frustrated over the sticks that would refuse to bend and ended up breaking, believing them to be an impediment to the flow of it all, and cursing each one. It was messy, and very organic, not perfect and streamlined. Then a voice came to me and said, “There are no broken pieces.” In that moment I was overcome with emotion and awe as I was shown the significance of each limb, stick, and twig that I had so carefully and deliberately woven with love, knowing that it was to become something of great magnitude. It was a symbol for the creation of me, every life experience and the way they shaped me, represented like arteries in a vein. Some of us have messier lives than others, and I’m here to represent. 

ar·ter·y/ˈärdərē/Learn to pronouncenounplural noun: arteries

  1. any of the muscular-walled tubes forming part of the circulation system by which blood (mainly that which has been oxygenated) is conveyed from the heart to all parts of the body.
    • an important route in a system of roads, rivers, or railroad lines.

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God was showing me that what I considered broken pieces were part of a greater system that created the strength and shining light in me that He considered His own brilliant work of art. When I was asked what I would name it, I had no answer. I figured the name would come to me, which it did.

I had continued to build around the space inside and after a particularly exhausting day, found myself curled up on the forest bed, giving thanks and meditating on the deep meaning of it all. That is when I realized that I was in The WOMB. The totality of the significance of it all absolutely felt like a rebirth. I became the stick. Every awful thing that has happened to me in my life, all of what I’ve considered little deaths, are the very things that have paved the way for me to fulfill my purpose in helping others to find their way out of darkness. When a stick broke, I tucked it in. It was a part of the process. 

This is all of us. It is about looking beyond what we have perceived as being broken to the greater understanding that we are all a work in progress. Death is not just about a door closing. Every little death, those circumstances we thought had broken us, has the ability to open new doors. It is my experience that once I leaned into whatever each moment had to offer, in complete, unwavering faith, it became easier and easier to hear the voice that would guide me toward becoming everything I am meant to be, sharing my gifts with the world and seeing the masterpiece in myself that God sees. There are an infanitesimal number of doors from which we can choose to open. We may hear the siren’s song and be fooled along the way, but it is The Almighty who whispers in our ear to tell us to try another door. 

P. S. Giving birth is exhausting. 

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Wrapping Up A Decade; Freefalling Into Darkness and Seeing The Light

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I had the incredible opportunity to go on a night ride with a couple of friends on Thursday, under the last full moon of this decade occurring at 12:12 on the date of 12:12. It came following a day of intense emotional out cries due to family dysfunction, which I released with the same force that pushes a child into this world. It took so much out of me that I couldn’t utter a word the rest of the day. I knew that I was being led to rest, and I put firm boundaries around this time.

Since we left for the ride at 6, the moon was just rising, spectacularly, over the horizon, which made the first 1/4 mile or so through Jacob’s woods like navigating as if we were in a velvet painting worn down through time.

It was decided that we would have a silent ride, enabling our senses to have reverence for the wisdom that this auspicious moon would impart. I marveled at the way our horses carried us through the hazy blackness, through and around a maze of trees and limbs both upright and fallen. I thought of the
potential dangers, but instead of having fear, those thoughts became a part of the melody of a piece of music from an old player piano; notes strung together in perfect sequence to create something beautiful. Nothing could have kept me from the understanding that this night ride was a sacred journey, the idea of which came over me as a driving impulse like breathing.

Down the sand path littered with puddles from the recent rain, we rode to the old saw yard road. The exhilarating sensation of trotting and cantering with minimum visibility could not be marred by the hard whip of a tree branch that stung my face in the cold night air. I was leaning into my prospective fear with wild abandon, in full faith that any pain along the way would give rise to a sensation of triumph analogous to surviving the hardships of a lifelong battle, to see justice by way of a cleared path to happiness, success, and prosperity. In other words, everything I’ve earnestly yearned for. 

When riding a horse through dark woods, in order to get the full benefits of one’s endeavor, there is no room for doubt. To be one with a horse requires mutual trust. If I had spent this magnificent hour second guessing every move or potential benefit outweighing the risk, I would have sacrificed the miracle of the purest meaning of faith that surpasses all understanding. It is not the belief of faith, but faith in action.

Our bodies are wired physiologically, to respond to trauma as a means for survival at the most primitive level. There is no time to reason over what course of action to take in a potentially life-threatening situation. When one experience’s trauma the most important areas of the brain involved are the prefrontal cortex (PFC), known as the “Thinking Center”, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), known as the “Emotion Regulation Center”, and the amygdala, known as the “Fear Center.” Take note here that there are THREE areas. In order to understand the spiritual significance of the number 3 and how it relates to the number 12, here are a few references:

https://www.biblestudy.org/bibleref/meaning-of-numbers-in-bible/3.html

https://mysticalnumbers.com/number-3/

The Magic of the Number 3

I am writing this upon waking, two days after the full moon ride, which turned out to be a night in which I was so charged from my experience that I could not sleep a wink. The sleep I woke from this morning felt like the best sleep of my life. I was smiling. I felt weightless. I praised God in loving, humble gratitude. Proverbs 3(yes, THREE!) says, Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 

I followed a divine impulse to roar out my pain and sorrow and my steps in the days that followed felt exactly like my full moon ride. When I went to look at my app that records the distance, this is what I found-

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I’m sure I don’t need to explain the significance of the triangle, but I will just share a few more pictures taken on a mystical beach day in September to illustrate how the Divine manifests in my life through impulse and synchronicity. It is these kinds of signs that occur with increasing regularity which continue to erase my debilitating fear and tendency to doubt.

And here’s one more, taken on my recent trip to Massachusetts in the woods beside the house I grew up in, where I was significantly raised by trees. PicsArt_12-14-01.34.00

Oh, and if you are into astrology, my life path number is 6! And yesterday someone graciously did a Tarot card reading regarding my career that dramatically confirmed what I already knew, but have been struggling with in doubt.

I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR! That makes me giggle because an abusive ex used to, in a derogatory way, call me Helen Reddie, who is famous for that anthem.  My name may not be Helen, but you best be damned sure, I’m READY.

Bring it, 2020.

The Elephant In The Room Is At Your Feet

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I found this most delightful treasure while beach combing in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was a glorious morning and you can’t imagine the joy this brought me. God is said, in the Bible, to know exactly how many hairs are on our head. I don’t doubt it. I mean, He IS all-knowing after all. I had just been through the darkest days of my life, coming closer to  the thought of dying from my brokenness than ever before, and here was this little plastic elephant, making me smile.

I am really just an assemblage of broken pieces thrown together that wound up looking like a thing; echoes of ancestors whose own sins and tribulations still linger through generations, the immense force of suffering catapulting them through space and time to culminate in me.

Who am I, this “me”? I can look at my life from a different place than the spirit who animates my physical body, at war with ego and struggling to make sense of this world, as if the essence of my soul resides in a higher realm and is using my earthly being as a game piece that was carefully chosen. Like Chutes and Ladders. Either climbing to reach higher wisdom by one choice, or being thrust downward into repetitive misery by another. I can’t remember the game’s path that connects the players to a succession of fates by the roll of dice. This game is unlike Chutes and Ladders in that fate is determined by our intentions, understanding that there is no attachment to “up” being positive and “down” being negative. Our spirit-self knows exactly when climbing the ladder or sliding down the chute is of the most benefit. I’ve heard it referred to as the “higher self”, or more poetically, “the better angels of our nature”.  I try not to over-think it. This world is complicated.

The plastic elephant that washed up at my feet at the dawn of a new day was a sign. Just one day earlier I had felt swallowed by an angry sea of emotions, and the lying siren’s call for me to succumb had ushered me into a deep sleep from which I knew not how to awaken.

God knows I love the randomness of finding things that appear where you would never expect to find them, and even more so that it would be a particularly personal object of delight. I knew when I saw it, after my childlike giggle of recognition, that this plastic elephant had also been helplessly drawn into the punishing sea, pounded by waves. And yet there it was with a meandering trail behind it as if it had fought its way back to the shore, lifted and carried to safety, as the morning tide receded.

Hope had returned. If I were meant to die, I would not be here now. Sometimes my emotional pain is so great that it completely shuts me down, physically and mentally. Other times I allow it to wash over me in angry waves, releasing the deluge of salt through tears. It can be difficult to recall the immense joy of feeling happy and carefree. When I am in one of those blissful states where I surrender all my fears, I think to myself, ” This is what makes life worth fighting for.”

So I will never stop remembering how good happiness feels, or counting the many blessings I have that no dark struggle with lingering memories of a tormenting past can ever take away. And I expect miracles, because I am one. I am one in a million, and so is everyone else who continues to stay and fight for a better way to exist with and work towards healing the painful wounds of  a past that we will never change.

Honey; Weaving A Tapestry of Healing Out of the Threads That Connect the Past to the Present

About twenty three years ago, I worked as a horse trainer apprentice and barn manager at a Quarter Horse farm. I had answered a classified ad in the paper after my job as lead singer in a house band aboard a dinner cruise ship had just ended. I went from dressing fancy six nights a week, and getting paid well to live a Diva lifestyle, to five days a week, twelve hour days, dirty and dead tired, for $25 a day. Horses equaled happiness, and I was spiraling into Depression after losing my job, my dog, and all hope for the success of my crumbling marriage at the time. I felt defeated, and it seemed like a miracle that might help revive me.

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On my first day, I was one of fifteen women who came out to vie for this position. We were set to task with the work increasing in difficulty, as if it were a competition to see who was the toughest.  The old man singled me out and tried to break me like he did his horses. He would stand over me and bark belittling criticisms at me, as if I were at Marine bootcamp. His wife found me in a stall, crying and shaking.

I confided about my marriage and Depression. She told me her own similar story. She told me that her husband was only trying to toughen me up, and if I really wanted the job, to hang in there. Dreams come true. He was her  happy ending. At the end of the week, I got the job.

I had walked into a familiar landmine when I dusted myself off that first day, and felt the determination to prove myself to this man who was wickedly abusive to me. I wanted a father figure so badly that I sought his approval, like a monkey swinging to the next vine, convinced that I could re-create the one I never had. It turned out to be both heaven and hell.  But there were horses, and I loved them.

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There was a beautiful, pedigreed chestnut mare there named Honey, who was in foal. I had held the twitch on her lip the day she was force-bred to a well-known, blue-ribbon stallion whose name I can’t remember. There are lots of memories I have tried to block out from my time there. But Honey was special, sweet, and silly.

Fast forward to now. There is a horse named Honey who has returned to Mill Swamp after being away for ten years. She was a special horse to Steve, and her return was a welcome surprise. Honey is a registered Paint mare, all white, with a large chestnut colored spot on her right flank and belly. She has crystal clear blue eyes like large marbles. I had the pleasure of riding her on Sunday.

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That is the back story to a story I have been attempting to tell for two days. It has continued to disappear or fall apart so many times that I’ve lost count! I didn’t  consider sharing it until I saw a friend make a comment to Steve on Facebook, saying that Honey came there for a reason. Suddenly, I recalled my experience earlier in the day and put all the pieces together, knowing that I was part of Honey’s reason for coming back.

I realize that sounds self-agrandizing. Maybe that is why I have struggled to put what I want to say about Honey and what her being there means, into words. Honey present and Honey previous connected in a very cool way to show me something extremely valuable.

I had shown up, thinking I would ride Shunk, but he was in endurance prep mode with another rider, so that is how I met Honey. I had no reservations about riding this new horse, who apparently is not considered to be a comfortable ride, by those who  knew her from her earlier days. When I met her she felt familiar to me. She had a special sweetness about her. As I was riding, a memory and lots of long-buried feelings came flooding back to me as I thought about old Honey. It was a traumatic experience that had been filed away because the cumulative awful things that had happened to me during my time at Clark Quarter Horses had such a negative impact, that this one event had to be forgotten for my sanity’s sake.

Part of me was enjoying the connection to Steve’s Honey as we took a leisurely ride, while my mind replayed a certain day’s unfortunate events.

Flashback to a weekend alone at the Quarter Horse farm, when I was left in charge while they were away at a horse show. It was evening, and the mares had not come in. There was a long rectangular fenced area that lead to 4 different pastures, with a small gate connecting each one. Usually they were all there at feeding time, ready to go back to their stalls. I saddled up and rode out to gently herd them back. I was walking behind them when something spooked my horse, making her leap into a canter, and causing the eight or nine mares to charge through the gate at the same time, in a frenzy. I watched as Honey got impaled by the fence post. I  managed to get her to the barn and put her in cross ties while I called the vet. I was terrified that she may lose her baby or not survive herself, and felt so guilty. When I looked at the huge, gaping hole, bigger than a baseball, and saw the level of distress she was in, I almost lost it. All I wanted to do was comfort and console her, and tell her how sorry I was. If anything happened to her or her foal, I would be in big trouble.

After what seemed like forever, the vet arrived. I can’t remember anything else, except that Honey and foal were going to be alright, but intense daily cleaning was necessary.

My body did not respond to this trigger, although I was feeling all the fear and sadness that would usually cripple me. By the ride’s end, I had watched the footage of that traumatic event play out vividly in my mind, but I forgave myself instead of self-loathing. It was so empowering, taking my demon slaying to a whole new level. I thanked both Honey’s to myself, for their role in bringing this memory out of the shadows and into the light. It was Sunday, and this was my church. I pondered the immense significance of the day’s events the whole way home.

Later, “Honey obviously came back for a reason” became clear to me. Honey’s one chestnut spot is in the exact location where dear old Honey had been wounded by the post.

So, she did come back for a good reason, through time and space, to give me the closure and strength I needed to continue shining a light in all my dark places. She had a perfect, beautiful and healthy foal and lived happily-ever-after. (because they moved away from that horrible man, and his wife was soon to folllow).

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