The rain on the tin roof is the only sound of the morning struggling to dawn through heavy, black clouds. When I checked the weather last night, I only saw brief interludes of light rain forcasted. I didn’t expect this monsoon that we’re getting. Luckily, the rain brings warmer temperatures which is always a relief from cold blustery days and nights of remembering to leave faucets dripping so the pipes don’t freeze and we’ll still have water in the morning. Too many past winter mornings were met with just air sputtering out of faucets and the ensuing panic of just how to source water for 5 horses and a herd of goats…not to mention the house and its inhabitants.
In the bad old days I met every challenge with an I-don’t-know-what-to-do-attitude. And also fear of failure, and a fear of disappointing, and enraging the person I shared my life with. I could usually incite disgust and hatred by simply waking up in the morning, but often, I could spare myself somewhat by hiding upstairs, or out in the woods until he had left for work. Round bales of hay made good hiding places, as did the pig pen, or the cluttered garage. I did not understand at the time what emotional abuse was. I am still not sure I understand how someone can create such trepidation in the heart of another without actually physically harming them. Although there were often threats of harm or death or violence.
In the old days, I might have carried that pain of rejection and failure around with me like a worn out badge of courage, but I had already spent the better portion of my adult life “getting over” something. I was ready to stop being a victim, and start being the creator of my own experience.
Last night while pulling hay off the round bale for the horses, my mind slipped back down that slope into a conversation with the person who used to share my life. Those old feelings of helplessness and futility, guilt and shame washed over me. It’s been a year and a half of living on the other side. Most days I don’t even go there. I’m not sure why I did last night. I know we can’t always have perfect thoughts. But the thing I was able to do. The thing I wish everyone could do, and everyone CAN do, is to recognize where my thought train was heading, and stop it. In its tracks. Years ago that wouldn’t have been an easy task. Now, it is much easier, and the most important thing is that I am AWARE of what my mind is trying to do to sabotage me, and I can halt it. Some people call this negative self-talk, the devil, or satan. Certainly, giving a name to it can help identify it, and rectify it. But, I think what often happens, in the negative, devil-talking-to-us-circle-to-no-where, is that we feel guilt for switching our minds to better feeling thoughts. I know I used to. Try it sometime. In the middle of beating yourself up for not being able to be the best you can be, stop, and start thinking about the flowers you want to plant in the spring, or that new puppy you’ve got your eye on, or how good a hot tub would feel right now, and notice how you feel a little guilt, like you are avoiding the problem. And you are. For good reason.
There is absolutely no reason to think negative thoughts. Ever. Even when the world is falling apart, it does no good to think of all the ways the world is falling apart. That will never make it stop falling apart, but only ensure that the falling apart will continue. Instead, we have to focus on the solution to stopping the world from falling apart. We have to focus on how the world will look when it stops falling apart. And it will stop falling apart. Immediately. Did your lover just leave you? Well, it does little good to think of your lover leaving you. He or she can only leave you once and then they are gone…unless they come back…once they’ve left, there is nothing to be gained by thinking of their absence, but everything to be gained about thinking how much better life will be now…now that there are no arguments, you can come and go as you please, there is no more jealousy, you can finally be free to be yourself…and then perhaps, when a new state of mind is achieved, one of fulfillment and contentment, another lover will appear who is also fulfilled and content, and will be a great match to your new vision of yourself.
I didn’t think I could ever live without my partner. I didn’t think I wanted to. And I don’t blame the abuse. Or him, or his childhood. Not most days anyway. But I also don’t blame myself anymore. I am no longer envious of others marriages and partnerships. I have my own life to live and I’m the only one who can live it. I stopped measuring myself against other people who were deemed by society to be more successful than me. I am who I am…a 50 year old woman pulling hay off of round bales for horses in the rain and making soap at midnight. I have a baby goat in a playpen in the living room, two dogs who sleep on my bed, and a grandson with leukemia who doesn’t let that dampen his outlandish imagination one bit. In terms of richness of life, I am richer than I’ve ever thought possible.
Some people might look at my rusty old farm house or my falling-down fences and outbuildings and feel pity for me. They might see all the work I have to do and run away as fast as they can. I used to feel overwhelmed and in despair, trying to do it all alone. Feeling lonely. But once I realized I had control of my thoughts, which control my emotions, which control the way I look at life….I realized, I had no reason to feel any negative feelings or emotions at all. Not one of them ever served me to the good. Not one…except to help me sort and sift and decide what I like and what I don’t like.
And I like my life. I like the rain. I like catching new born baby goats on clean feed sacks in a 4 by 6 goat shelter. I like squishy mud and big rain puddles. I like dirty horses, and tarping round bales. I like hauling wood, and building fires. I like making soap in a cluttered kitchen, and writing in the morning while the rain is beating down on the roof. I like fixing up this old house and making it into a warm home. I like coffee in the morning, and a hot shower at night. I like playing games with my grandson in front of the wood stove, and listening to my dog snore while cuddled up to me at night.
I am in charge my life on this five acre piece of dirt on this backwoods country road, 40 miles from Walmart. And that, my friends, makes me a very happy woman.