The Great Divide

I read once that a woman’s mind alters for life during her twenty-sixth year.  I heard that when I was twenty-three.  Of course I didn’t believe it.  Her body changes, and with it, her hormones become altered and her entire pattern of thought changes radically.  The whole world can appear different to her from one day to the next, and she won’t know or understand why.

I’m not sure if that’s my problem.  But three weeks or so ago, everything changed.  I woke up from what appears to be a bad dream, and am now wondering what the hell I’m doing, why I’m where I am, and how quickly and how rapidly I can change things and take care of myself – only myself, once and for all.

“If anything, you don’t know when to quit on a horse that’s already dead.  So I wouldn’t go with a lack of trying.” is my best friend’s text message response when I explained to him that I finally let my partner know of the impending doom of a changing heart.  I told my best friend that I felt ashamed for being this tired after this many years of trying and trying, to just wake up one morning and realize it’s all too heavy for me.  I just can’t do it anymore.  It was making me feel like a quitter.  I should try harder.

But when do I get to come first?  When do I get to do what I want?  Be who I want to be?  I’m twenty-six years old.  Can’t I be just that?  A twenty-six year old woman?

It’s a tough, straight up mentally damaging road for any stepmom.  For any “younger” wife.  To walk into a family that you were never part of, and love kids that may never love you back – to love a man who is constantly torn between you and other people.  To give input and assistance to raise adolescents and teens when you have no parental know-how, and everyone looks at you with judgment in their eyes every time you fuck up.  Because you can fuck up, and you will.  A lot more than you will ever like to admit.  To stand by the man you love while he reminisces with his kids about the good times with the woman before you.

I don’t blame my partner for any of it.  It’s a damn hard road for everyone involved.  Him, his ex-wife, her boyfriend, the kids, and lastly, me.  It’s easy for me to fight with any one of them.  But now that I’m so disengaged, it’s easy to realize that they’re all humans, struggling inside the very same rocking boat as me.  I wonder if any of them have days like this.  Days of complete exhaustion.  “I’m done.  I can’t do it.  I can’t keep up.  I tried.  I need to look after me now.  It’s too heavy – I can’t hold up.”

And I just don’t want to anymore.  Everything I used to love – painting, writing, raising the goats and sheep – I’ve entirely lost my compassion for life and after three weeks of feeling this way, I’ve made the step toward advertising and preparing my livestock all to sell.  I’m going to send my dog to a new home.  I’m going to donate nearly all of my wardrobe to charity.  I’m putting the pens and the sketchbooks away.

I’m sad and ashamed to feel this way.  I feel as though I’m about to let everyone down.

But at the same time – I can feel something, like a small spark trying to ignite.  Way down in the deepest, darkest part of my subconsciousness, desperate to light up and burst through to the surface.  It’s the real me.  I can bring her back to life, if I take the time now to nurture myself and make the changes I need to get me to where I want to be.

And so I find myself standing before a divide, with umpteen people standing on one side, and myself on the other.  The choice is mine to make.

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To The Fullest

My lifestyle could be labelled as “busy”, “pressured”, “blue collar”, you name it.

I live the fullest lifestyle.

I live a life of stress, work overload, anxiety, etc., but I use all those qualities of my life, and more, to make it the best it can be.  Leading a stressful life means for incredible days off.  The road trips are that much more wondrous and relaxing.  The camping is that much more appreciated.

Anxiety is quelled by many things when the effort is made to cope with and deal with it as a chronic ailment.  My ways of dealing with it are relaxation, hobby farming small animals, and doing anything that is calm, safe, and creative.

If my husband and I quarrel, we bounce back twice as strong in love and spending time together to make up for damages.  I don’t think we would love one another half as much as we do, if it hadn’t been for the quarrels and struggles we have faced along the way.  We’ve had to learn to understand each other and continue to love and support one another, even at our worst.

Years ago I lived day by day in pessimism and misery.  Nothing was positive.  I wasn’t grateful for anything.  I dreaded waking each morning and facing the world all over again, feeling as though I had no purpose.  Back then I lived a quite depressing lifestyle.

It’s taken a long time and a lot of hard hits and bad experiences, for me to realize what the negative does for me.

I will forever stand by the statement that life is what you make of it.

One day, I finally understood the balance between negative and positive, and how to make the most of what I had.

I give it everything I’ve got now – for my sake, for my husband’s and kids’, and all those around me, to live the fullest lifestyle.  To appreciate the bad experiences because I know that it will make all the good ones that much more worth it.

7008102-dandelion-field-sunsetLiving the fullest lifestyle means living with gratitude and compassion.  It means choosing to be happy no matter what the circumstance, because even though it can get very dark, the sun always rises the next day.  Every moment is absolutely worth it.

Find your balance.

Peewee

On Thursday, April 27th, a small bundle of joy was left freezing outside in the cold winter/spring mixed weather in my goat pen.

I don’t normally talk about or write about my experiences with my livestock.  I am overly attached to my livestock, and I feel like a failure and a bad owner any time I have an animal come down sick or pass away.  The local vet has likely made most of their income from me alone.

I was doing chores as per routine, in the evening after work, and I saw a very young nanny walking about with after birth shedding.  I assumed I would be finding a dead kid.  (Goat kid.)  I rushed into the pen, cursing at the nanny as I went, and surely enough found the little baby lying outside in a bundle of straw, soaking wet and nearly frozen.  I thought she was dead, but she made the tiniest movement to my surprise.  I grabbed a rag immediately and rubbed her down, attempting to dry her off.

My daughter came outside to help me, and together we put the baby in a birthing pen and caught the mother and brought her in.  She would have none of it.  She didn’t want her baby, she was kicking and fighting, and she nearly stepped on the baby twice.  I felt overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next.  I tried to milk the mom goat, and she had not one drop to give me.  The baby was a preemie.

My husband got home from his work, and I asked him immediately if he could finish feeding the animals while I struggled with what was at hand.  He informed me that he couldn’t, as he’d been obligated into a favor for a family member, and they’d been exclusively waiting for him to get off work so he could go do the favor.  I expressed anger, but didn’t object.  He left and I was alone with the kids to handle the livestock and this new baby.

We fought with the baby.  She wouldn’t suck from the bottle, and was losing strength with every passing moment.  I was going to lose her.  I’ve lost seven so far this season, and have nine on the ground.  I’m only a quarter of the way through.  It hasn’t been the best start this year.

My daughter and I tried again taking the baby out to the barn and trying to get the mother to take her.  Not a chance.  Then we found that another nanny had kidded, and we attempted getting her to take the baby by smearing the after birth over her to give her the new mother’s scent.  It was a noble effort, but it too failed.

Last resort.  I phoned my father.  He and my mother live over ten hours away.  But if I need any sort of advice, they are my number one.

It was both a surprise and a bloody miracle to learn that they were within an hour’s distance from our home, and they decided to head straight to us once they got my call.  I was a complete mental wreck.  I couldn’t hold everything together – I still didn’t have chores done.  We hadn’t eaten supper yet.  My husband was still MIA.

But my mother and father showed up with smiles on their faces, told me not to worry, and walked into the house with me to look at my baby goat.  My mother had her drinking from the bottle in five minutes.

I got a laundry basket and laid towels in the bottom for the little goat.  That night we set her next to our bed, and I watched her for a long time before I was willing to let myself fall asleep.

She’s two weeks old tomorrow.  I call her “Peewee” now.

I struggle with anxiety every day.  I know I’m not alone.  I have an acute restlessness that mixes with fear and causes me the inability to mentally, and physically relax in any way.  It can be debilitating, and has left me struggling quite often in more ways than one.  My husband struggles to understand it, and as a result, has a difficult time helping me cope and deal with it.

Some days the restlessness is so overpowering that I work until I almost cannot stand anymore.  I get home, I do chores, I come inside and clean and cook (and often skip eating, as eating makes it only feel worse), and then at the end of the night, if I feel exhausted enough, I can then finally lie down to rest.

Until two weeks ago.

Peewee 4A little goat has come into my life, and she has brought back my laughter.  She’s brought back my appetite.  She’s brought me the relaxation, of sitting down and playing with her in the living room and laughing while her milk bottle warms up.  It’s only for ten minutes at a time.  But it’s making a huge difference.  It brings back all the memories of when I was a child and we raised goats.

The anxiety still exists.  I wake every morning, afraid to look over into her basket.  Baby goats are hard keepers, unless they are being fed properly, on time, and are closely monitored.  And even then, you can lose them at any moment.  I’ve grown so attached to her, that I feel like I need her as much as she needs me.

It doesn’t matter how old I am, or how much I have on my plate, or what responsibilities lie before me.  I will never be at my full potential as long as I am weakened by my own anxiety.  I must take the time to relax and reset – even if it’s for ten minutes per day while I play with a charismatic little baby goat.