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.


Dear Neighbor

I was in a session with the psychiatrist one evening, and we were talking about my sadness, when I brought up the year of my undoing.  She’d heard the story once already, since it was told to her right when I’d first begun to see her as it is such a large part of my life’s story.

She asked me why it was on my mind.  I told her I was unsure.  I began to speak of the memories.  The good ones.  And then the bad ones.  The lack of support and love from my own family, who’d only taken part in the abuse of me during that tragedy.  The loss of ever seeing you again.  I felt like I was throwing the “slight possibility” of an opportunity to have a relationship with you, out the window when I ran away.  It’s ironic how much I cared for you when I never so much as held your hand as a lover or girlfriend.  It was a heated teenage infatuation at its best, and I was swept up by your charm and supposed kindness.  At this point in time, it had already been four years since I’d so much as spoken to you.

The conversation began to fracture, breaking into all the millions of little fragments that composed my mind, and soon I was revealing the entire heap of disappointments.  In myself, and my life, and all the ridiculous choices I’d made and kept making.

That day, my session lasted twice as long as it had ever before, and my psychiatrist brought out the true issue behind my unstable mental foundation.  I felt unlovable.  From even before the day I met you.

It is late January now, and I work the best job I’ve ever worked before, and I wake up every single day with optimism and readiness to face the world.  I can’t count my blessings because there are so many.  I as a human being, have finally learnt a compassion for myself, and a love for myself, that no one else, not even my own husband, was able to give me.

I am proud of the woman I’ve become.  I am forgiving of myself for choices that I made in the past, even if others are not.  And I am vindicated.  Free of the chains that bound me to a ball of self-hatred and misery.pic-1

I’ve learnt patience.  I’ve learnt kindness.  I’m proud to say I’ve learnt faithfulness and devotion.  I am a strong, healthy woman, and I am so grateful for the life I live now.

And what brings me back to that fateful time eight long years ago, is learning not to regret.  But accept it as part of who I am and part of my betterment as I undoubtedly learnt from such a dark experience.

I spoke to my good friend the other day about the past.  He told me he felt stuck in it.  He said he was afraid he would be stuck in his past forever, unable to let go and move forward with his life.  He knew all the details of my past – he was there to witness much of it.  He asked how I was doing these days and how I was about moving on myself.

I thought you might like to know what I said to him.

I said, “I’m learning more every day.  I used to have it stuck in my head that one day I had to come face to face with (you) and be able to face my past without fears or regret, and prove something to (you).  What I was supposed to prove, I am not sure.  But I’m not fighting my past anymore.  I don’t need validation from (you) to feel good about who am and where my life is at, and I’m finally figuring that out.  It took a really long time, but I’m letting go a little more every day.”

This is one of many writings – created in direct correlation with you.  If I had to guess how many times I’ve begun to write, or even finished writing, letters or messages to you, I would not hesitate to say over a hundred, at least.  I’ve even written out make-believe scenes with you and I “running into each other” by slim coincidence, and reconciling our past.  Finally hearing you apologize.  Finally hearing whatever magic words that I thought you were supposed to say for me to say, “Ok, I’m glad we got that sorted out.  Now I can move on with my life.”

But I don’t need that any more.  I never needed it from the beginning.  I was holding myself back.

And now?  I wouldn’t trade this life for anything.  I can probably even say that everything I took from my past with you in my life, has helped to make me as strong and as grateful for my blessings as I am today.  I am wise, and empathetic.  I am able to step back from a conflict and consider the other person’s point of view, most times reconciling myself with their actions before even needing to “hear an apology” from them.  I am loving, and thankful, and as a result I treat my partner and my children well, and I make them feel wanted and needed, and get exactly that much in return.  I never knew a sense of belonging like what I know now.

At this time, on this day, I can finally tell you, with or without acknowledgement, that I’m letting go.  I survived.  And for everything I went through with and because of you, and every other person who’s come and gone in my life, I’m grateful.  Because maybe I would not be where I am now if things had gone differently.  And I wouldn’t want that.

I love my life and I especially love who I am.  I’ve never been happier with myself as a person.  And this emotion.  This knowledge, that I am capable of setting myself free.

I don’t need you to set me free.  I don’t need anyone else to but myself.

Thank-you for being a part of my life.  Your impact helped me gain independence, strength, and wisdom from experience.  I don’t regret it anymore.  I have accepted it, and forgiven myself for my choices, and I’ve forgiven all those who’ve hurt me.  I’m on a great path, and this is where I’m dropping my chains.  I’m moving on.  And I just wanted to say, Good Bye, neighbor.  Perhaps we’ll meet again on the other side.  And if not, I’m okay with that too.