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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Threads

A secret place tucked away in the woods
Where I would sit alone
A tree-shaped arbor as a door
Small pool to a stream with a waterfall
And a mossy green rock, my throne
Soothed by the wonder
Of birds and trees
A child torn asunder
Learned to call nature her home.

Faith was never a thing I was indoctrinated into, but an inner “knowing” that resided in my heart as far back as I can remember. Even as a confused, angry, sad, and fearful victim of sexual abuse since the age of three, at the hands of my stepfather, I always felt a presence that felt instinctively familiar to me. Born into this human flesh from the heavenly spirit realm, or “God ’s pocket” as children are often told, is something that has just recently, after half a century of life, been made very clear to me. It is as if all of my experiences are laid out on a long scroll-like tapestry since birth, with pinpoints mapping out my journey; little snippets of memories in the form of any and all senses, that somehow connect in a meaningful way. I call these connections, Threads.

I was so fortunate to be brought up in a small town surrounded by deep woods, at a time when small children were set free in the mornings to explore the world, and return at leisure until the streetlights came on. For me, there was more fear in my home than outside of it. I found my solace in nature.

One day, one of many, where I would pack the same bag with the same items I deemed necessary to survive, and dramatically announce that I was running away, while slamming the door several times, I set off into the woods. My histrionic display having gone ignored, I felt desperately sad and could not control my sobbing as I ambled down the same path of the well-worn trail so familiar. This time I decided to veer off, as if being summoned through the brush, and discovered a magical place that immediately captivated me. The sound of faintly trickling water drew me to a natural arbor through which was displayed a small pool of water leading to a winding stream, surrounded by beautiful moss-covered rocks, one of which made a perfect little seat. I spent hours there, well beyond the loud calling of my name to near sunset. I felt like I was a suckling babe at the bosom of pure LOVE, being nourished and fortified to withstand the world I had no choice but to survive. It became my haven, the place I would run to when I needed to escape. Even when we moved far away, I held the golden memory of it in my heart, and always searched for a new special place.

Fast forward 44 years. After two failed, abusive marriages, struggling to heal and navigating my way through Depression, Complex PTSD and Anxiety, I have finally found a place for my weary heart to call home. I reconnected with my first love who will be my last love, who is my best friend and eternal twin flame. He has taken in me, my precious daughter, 3 cats, and one blind dog, giving us a wonderful new beginning in our new house. As I have uprooted the demons of my past I have begun to make great strides in taking back my power and utilizing healthy tools with which to rebuild the joyful life I so desire. One of these tools is my daily walk which takes me to a glorious park called The Botanical Gardens.

The Gardens are surrounded by a lake with many meandering paths through woods, azaleas, and beautifully landscaped flowerbeds with fountains, footbridges, and statues. There are gazebos and many benches dedicated in loving memory throughout the park. One day I turned a corner to find something I had never seen before, as I was still exploring it all. A sensation of weightless euphoria and nostalgia swept over me as I approached it, and upon arrival, tears of joy. It was a small pool with a waterfall leading to a meandering stream, and there before me, a perfect rock to sit on.

I was no longer escaping, running away in fear, but walking in glorious freedom and strength, and I had come to a place in my life where the memory I had tucked away in my heart had at long last brought me to my haven, both within and outside of myself. This was what I thought of as I reveled in how far and winding my road that had led me back to this familiar place. I am only just now realizing, as I write this, the symbolism of the rock (God). Before I tie it into my story, it even further illustrates what I have been trying to explain about Threads.

A bible verse I had committed to memory sometime in my twenties, to comfort me in times of fear, was Psalms 27:v1 which says:

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength (rock) of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?

And so it is that these little things, seemingly unrelated to anything at the time we experience them, become Threads that we can see much later, have been woven together very specifically to teach us about ourselves, life, and our place in this world. These many threads weave the tapestry of our lives.