Hearing words I never thought I’d hear

You may have heard of a book by Catherine Ryan Hyde called Pay It Forward. Recently I was reading The Wake Up, by the same author. In this story we see through the eyes of the lead man what it is like to be a sensitive and an Empath. The fact that the author chose a rough and tumble cowboy for her lead character was genius. No one expects a person who is tough on the outside to be sensitive on the inside. We see him discover new found awarenesses and sensations, and the arc of his life is changed forever. It is awkward for him as he wakes up to this new way of being. Some people in his life cannot deal with the change. But he knows he cannot go back, nor does he want to. He must live this new life making his way forward in a totally new landscape. He finds his true north by surrendering to the new, and going in a new direction.

Much of the book was like reading about my own life in the lead character’s sensitivities. My IBS was going full blower at the time. This was partly due to many different worries eating away at me. I am in my head too much. Part of IBS is in your head. Yes my doctor even told me that. Worries will translate to the ganglia in your gut they refer to as your ‘second brain’. A network of half a million nerve cells and neurons in the gut wall, responsible for controlling the gastrointestinal system. Your gut and your brain are in constant contact. A gut feeling…yes you guessed it. That’s it too. In horses this huge nerve network in their gut helps them survive. Read Linda Kohanov’s, The Tao of Equus—a book that changed how I see the world. I am still in a phase of waking up to this ability of sensing with my gut. I’m in the early phases of finding out how to read these new signals. This uncomfortable experience helps me to open up and be less complacent and has made me hugely vulnerable and sensitive. I am trying my best to surrender to it. To do otherwise would be avoiding personal growth.

During all this internal upheaval I have a dream. In order to better understand the dream, you will need a bit of my history. I went through years of abuse, verbal and emotional, with a narcissistic hoarder who went through 30 jobs in 18 years. I was constantly told I was not good enough, and there was always this invisible, unknowable thing I was ‘responsible for fixing’ but he would never tell me what it was. My every action and sound was harshly criticized. I had no rest from the chaos. This life drove me crazy. He had complete control of my life, as I had given my power away totally. It was to the point I thought I would not get out of the marriage alive. I am eleven years free at this point and rarely think of that life anymore.

In this dream I am with my ex-husband, and the scene is chaotic. I am getting ready for work, trying to be responsible. All the while my ex is trying to buy some huge piece of junk like an old sailboat or an old house trailer. It’s another crazy project we don’t need to complicate our lives. His friends are living with us eating us out of house and home, and acting like children. I’m being run over roughshod again and have that familiar sick feeling of trying to hold everything together while he does crazy stuff. I am the eye of the storm trying desperately not to be overtaken by it. He is totally ignoring my needs, and our situation. I am standing facing my ex husband trying to salvage things so I don’t end up paying for his chaos. Time slowed down to a stop. When time stops in a dream I know what comes next is important. As I try desperately to tell him I need to get to my job! Please! Finally he looks me in the eye and says…

“Let’s get you to work, what I want is not important.”

His words are sucked into me like a sponge gulping up water. I am still. My heart opens for healing. I feel relief. The chaos is gone. I can hardly believe what I hear. The words sounded sincere. Heartfelt. This tiny, momentary acknowledgement in a dream, of my ex actually seeing me for even a few seconds was big. Really big. The person that had been my oppressor stopped what he was doing, saw me, and apologized for his behavior. Wow. Even this small admittance was huge, because I never got that in life.

You cannot get out of the after effects of being abused overnight. It has taken eleven years of happy on-my-own-ness to get here. Did I really hear those words? What a lovely feeling it was! What a gift! I feel a relief I never knew was missing. Maybe that is what I am processing and why my body is rebelling, and finally dumping the debris from these hard years. Maybe that is what all this churning miasma my gut is about. There was something big that was coming and my body sensed it before it became something to intellectualize. It is not something that would have ever happened in ‘real life’ so it had to happen in another plane of existence. It was time.

Writing to the public about this personal experience may help others who feel they will never hear words they need to hear in order to heal. In the dream state, time and space are no longer hurdles to overcome. Therefore it can happen even if your oppressor is deceased. It happened to me even though I had not been thinking of my ex-husband or that old life. On some basic level, I needed to hear those words in a heartfelt and believable way. On some level I created this experience for healing. It is a healing that will most likely take place over the rest of my life. Not to say I am damaged goods or that I feel like a victim. Quite the contrary! I feel very empowered and happy with my new life. Ecstatic even! This experience is more like the Japanese art of Kintsugi where broken ceramics are fixed with gold. Kintsugi makes the scars hard to ignore because now they are beautiful and part of the story of the piece. I felt so lucky I was sent this dream, this scenario, this message. This healing. I am in gratitude.

Comments and dialogue are encouraged and welcome. “Likes” tell me someone is out there listening. Love and Light, Patty

Losing a horse helped heal my heart

My horse Silver left the morning after a blood red moon this past January. I had to make the difficult decision to have him put down after two days of pain, confusion, and chaos. His leaving had me totally spent physically and emotionally. I was gutted. My goofy, silly, drama queen horse and loving friend was gone. He was 22 years old and I only had him for four and a half years. I expected him to live to see 30 and be a gentle old bag of bones wandering around my property keeping me company in my upcoming retirement. My soul dog Google died in March 2017 and my first horse, Scar, died three months after that. Only seven months had gone by. This was heavy. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.

door

Horse people will tell you that they cannot imagine a day will come when they lose a horse, much less don’t have any horses. It does not seem conceivable. It is a way of life that gets into every pore. My horse dream was not realized until I was in my mid 50s. This was so rich and beautiful a life! I recall every morning before the sun was up I would walk out of my home in the darkness with the yard light on. My two large horses would be standing at the bottom of the steps waiting for me. I’d throw my coat on and walk down the four steps and reach out my arms and run each hand along the side of my horses tracing a line all the way to their rumps. I would think, and sometimes say out loud, “I am such a lucky lucky girl!” I could not believe my luck and my life, with these two huge galoots as partners in crime. Scar, the 1400 lb. overly muscled quarter horse who I referred to as an old war horse, and Silver the 900 lb. skinny but fast off-the-track thoroughbred. They had spent much time together before they came to me. Scar always protecting Silver. They were without a doubt brothers from another mother. Horses are the best of companions! I can tell you, it’s not about the riding, it’s about the companionship and the horse soul you get to share.

A week after Silver died, I was still in shock. Walking to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee I heard myself say out loud, to no one, “I feel like I was slammed to the ground again. Unexpected loss can hit hard. I started writing this post in January and needed until October until I could even look at it again. In fact I quit blogging altogether. The feeling of abandonment over losing him is there, but muted with some distance now. Time is your ally when it comes to loss. When I think of him I still feel a stab of pain. I wish I didn’t feel so vulnerable. So hurt. There are friends of mine that have lost people, and all I lost was a horse. Who am I to grieve so much? So deeply? Why am I so hurt at being left here, feeling abandoned? That is sometimes how the mind thinks, trying to minimize the loss of a pet. No, not a pet, a companion, a kindred soul. Matters not if it be clothed in fur or skin.

This reminds me of a chant to honor the animal kingdom. Citing: Sable Taylor in her interview in Ellen Evert Hopman’s “Being A Pagan”. You can listen to a lovely rendition of it here. 

Fur and feather and scale and skin,
Different without but the same within,
Many of body but one of soul,
Through all creatures are the gods made whole.

When I lost my dog Soul Dog Google, I knew he was leaving for many months. Over time his aged body would freeze up with arthritis. He wore neoprene hock braces and took pain meds. He would not eat unless I cooked him something soft and hand fed it to him. He gingerly took the offering and politely nibbled it. Then that look of “Gosh I sure do appreciate the home cooking darlin’ but I just can’t do it no more.” Since his decline was natural and slow, there was time to plan his last days. I would snuggle with him in his den outside, a 10×10 enclosure filled with straw under my porch. On his last day many friends came over to say their goodbyes. I had him from almost day one, to the last day—his entire life! Losing him was a natural part of his life, and our time together. Everything about it felt good.

cup

My heart and body have been bombarded with physical challenges, losses and change for many months. It is a time of great personal change. Constant pressure is part of making stiff leather into something soft and pliable. Another example is a caterpillar in its cocoon magically transforming from a worm to a beautiful winged creature, resembling nothing of its former self. Humans and science still marvel at these transformations shrouded in mystery and magic. We don’t know what is going on inside that cocoon. This time of personal change is a time of transformation and opening for me.

Through Silver, I learned that I’ve had a closed off heart to protect myself, and I didn’t even know it. Now I understand I no longer need to protect my heart. But you can’t open your heart by wishing—it is a process. Silver knew exactly what he was doing by leaving how and when he did. He timed his exit just right to be part of helping open my heart and my transformation. You can still see the hoof print and cracks on my heart from his dramatic exit. That reminds me of Leonard Cohen’s lyrics,  “… There is a crack, a crack, in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”  

There is much more in this that I would love to explore. Many more paths of healing have opened for me and this excites me greatly! Imagine a lotus with a thousand petals. There is magic yet to come! Silver was a gift I treasure on my path to living much more openly. What a great message and parting gift from my friend Silver. What a lesson! Long may you run!

Moving toward the tipping point, by writing

I have been feeling for some time that I am almost at the tipping point of purging my soul and body of the after effects of an abusive 18 yearlong relationship. I have been out of that relationship for ten years now, and in my mind, I think there is nothing to purge. I’m over it, right? I have a brand-new life I created myself, right? I’m the captain of my own ship co-creating like crazy, right? Everything is peachy keen, right?  But the body is not the mind. It holds onto things for a very long time. To me, that is what PTSD is. Abuse or terror held in the body to protect the whole.

A great purge is coming and I am glad of it. It is so close I can feel every cell in my body quivering in anticipating of dumping what needs to go, and breathing a huge gulp of new, fresh air! But you can’t plan such things now, can you? My Capricorn mind wants to schedule it in along with everything else. Grocery shopping, trip to the hardware store, purge of a lifetime, then a nice massage. Nope, it does not work like that. Spirit does not move in a linear fashion or according to a day planner. Sigh.

IMG-3702In order to help move toward this tipping point, I have promised myself a new writing habit. This is a luxury I owe myself. It’s a tool I should have not ignored for many months. Don’t be scared by the word habit, it’s a good thing. Habits are easy to start and hard to break. That’s good news if you want to start a new habit. If you want to break a habit, put another new habit in place of the old one, right on top of it. It will take some time, but it will happen. Like moving to a new office in the same building. My feet want to travel to the old office every time I walk into the building. But every day I get closer and closer to wiping out the old maps of my neural network of walking to that old office, as I correct my course to the new one.

I have decided to write in the morning because that is when I feel most myself. It is the time I love the most with morning light being so different than any other time of day. My energy is at its peak, and the promise of a new day is at hand. It is the NOW time and I have a few hours before I must honor my obligations of going to my day job. The birds are just waking up, and since I feed them, they are plentiful in my back yard. I see sparrows, little yellow warblers, Towhee’s, large mountain blue jays, and a huge family of Gambles’ quail with the little quivering top knots all dancing, making those funny squeaking noises as they bounce along. My dogs sit at my feet on the back deck as I sip coffee and we watch the birds have their breakfast as the sun rises.

I have not written for many months. Although I don’t consider myself a writer by trade, I am disappointed in myself for missing out on writing about my experiences. Sometimes just the act of writing helps process events. I have had many experiences and insights about life that were good and showed growth and possibly a new way around things. I should have written about those important life changes. But writing to the general public in a transparent way doesn’t always seem to fit the bill when you feel vulnerable. It’s too hard. The flip side is, I regret not getting things down on paper because insights that come from difficult experiences can get lost in the shuffle quickly. I wanted to hold onto those insights a little while longer. I wanted to explore them and share them. I admonish myself for not writing about them, because it could have helped someone else.

You get the lesson or the insight, and instantly you feel jazzed that you got it, and at the same time relieved that life can go on as normal. Getting that normalcy back into your life always feels like another sort of elation. Humans rely so heavily on habit to feel secure, and I’m right there along with everyone else. After the difficulty you were facing ends and the smoke clears—the moment it is all freshest in your mind—you don’t want to sit and write about it because it might break the spell. It’s too close to your heart. You feel like holding your cards close to your chest a little longer because you feel tender. But you feel like you have a great secret and can still feel that lovely glow of having successfully navigated life.

I also think it can wait till later so I make the mistake of not writing about it at the moment. When later comes, the nuances of how those insights came about are lost and it doesn’t seem all that magical a thing to write about or share.  I regret not having written about things when they happen because I cannot get them back. And those things were part of my life’s path. They seemed important at the time. Creating a daily writing habit will help me process what is going on in my life and bring me to another level of understanding about myself and about life. Even if I don’t share what I write, I know it will benefit me. In a way I get to know myself a little bit better.

But writing has one very important quality that is not readily evident. It can change how you think about yourself, in surprisingly good ways! You might realize you had the strength to do something you thought you couldn’t do. You might be able to see the bigger picture. It’s a great way to get to know the nuances of You. When I start writing something and it’s in draft mode, I feel like there is a carbon copy of me saying “I got your back”. Isn’t that worth the effort of creating a new habit?

I may not post every day, or even every week, but you can bet I will be writing every day! I hope this encourages others to write, even if it is a private journal. This is such a good healing and cleansing and even fun thing to be involved in, for yourself, and possibly for sharing with the world. Until next time my friends…

Sometimes your body is wrong (but listen anyway).

Recently I was confounded by what I clearly recognized as signs of deep depression. What? Me? I’m the happiest person I know! It was more like being an observer of the physical manifestations of a feeling of dread. It was in the middle of my body at the core radiating outward. And it was really strong. That is the best way for me to describe in words, that awful sick feeling. Feelings like this had not surfaced since way before my divorce. Why were they coming back now?

My abusive relationship lasted just over 18 years. There was a pattern during that relationship I had already learned about. A pattern I could recognize and would never have to get suckered into again. After all I’m nine years into a happy single life. Surely I was not in another relationship like this? No I was not, but there was something of value in this body awareness I could not ignore. I wanted to investigate further.

The pattern is: abuse, silence, and several days later a gift given or a favor done to make up for it. Smoothing things over as if nothing ever happened. In this pattern you end up feeling negated in every way, feeling unimportant, and invisible. You feel punished, worthless, and you never seem to know why.  Ugh, I hate that. 

The pattern was tugging at my inner psyche and my very core. My body was trying to get my attention as if to say, “Hey remember this stuff? This was not good for you, and I’m making sure you notice, and recognize what’s going on. That way I can protect you.” Yup, that voice.

A good friend made the smallest infraction, and hurt my feelings. After this incident, he silently did a favor for me to make up for his small transgression. The relationship was important enough for him to make amends. I appreciated it very much and told him so, because the relationship was important to me as well.

The pattern itself triggered my dread, not the incident. That’s Important Thing number one to note. My body saw this pattern that looked a lot like the old abuse and went into hiding mode. That’s Important Thing number two to note. When I realized this feeling of dread was my body recognizing this old pattern and was only protecting me, the dam burst wide open. In a good way. Now things were making sense and I experienced a huge sense of relief. My body had been on high alert. At this point in my life I can easily say my body was over reacting.

In retrospect I realize this pattern had not really surfaced since before the divorce, and my body was in total denial about being in that same nightmarish life. It was back peddling so fast as if to say ‘Oh no you don’t!’ I have to thank my body for knowing to tip me off to the old pattern.

The body will hold onto trauma way longer than the mind will. Out of a sheer sense of survival. It’s doing it’s job.

In my mind, my friend’s infraction was small. But my body recognized the pattern BIG TIME and it was trying to protect me. It was getting me to hunker down in order to survive. My body was really sending me a huge signal that it felt something was wrong. Now that I’ve had this experience, I realize my body is still on guard. I can recognize this feeling, look to the pattern first, analyze the situation, have compassion for where I’m at, and tell my body all is well.

After this realization I can say with honesty when I look around, I see the beautiful and fruitful, totally happy life I have built for myself. I am living the dream! ❤ At the same time I realize some side effects of abuse take longer to dump than others. Some never go away totally. Trust your body if it is giving you signals, but be shrewd about why you are getting signals to see the origins. If necessary set your sails for a new direction. Thank your body for the message. Take notes and move forward.

The reason I write and share blog entries like this is in the hopes that other people might find some relief at knowing they are not alone in how they experience the world, how they handle trauma from old wounds, and how they pick up the pieces and move on. 🙂

Live long and prosper!