My Mom Told Me So

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“You haven’t fully stepped into your role as a writer.” she gently prodded, “I encourage you to take your writing more seriously.”  I know she’s right.  “There’s a book or more inside of you.” Said another.  All the while I can hear my mom’s smile and it says, “I told you!!!”  It’s as if I am dipping my big toe into a familiar and yet unfamiliar pool of pure, beautiful, cleansing water.  I write as therapy.  I love to write.  I process things by writing about them.  I have huge epiphanies that come out as I’m writing.  As an elementary age child I won awards for writing contests.  I once submitted an essay for a contest the Arabian Horse Association was hosting in hopes of winning the grand prize, a horse!  Lol!  My parents would have died if they’d known!  Fortunately for them I didn’t win!

My wasband didn’t understand that I needed time to process through things.  Honestly, I don’t imagine he would have cared even if he had known that introverts do all their processing internally.  It was his way or the highway (in all things).  He was sure that if he demanded I talk and put a ton of pressure on me, then he’d get what he wanted.  It never did work that way.  I journaled, sometimes multiple times a day trying to get out what felt so stuck inside of me, as if by writing I was twisting on the pressure relief valve so the steam could release.  I kept my journal tucked away.  Not hidden by any means however it wasn’t out in the open begging to be snooped in either.  I poured out intimate pieces of my heart onto the paper in that book.  He’d helped himself to it in the past craftily using words I’d written against me every opportunity he had.  I’d made it clear that it was to be left alone.  I didn’t appreciate being told that what I had written on those pages wasn’t true or that the dreams I scribbled about would never be possible.

I stepped out of the shower one morning and wrapped myself up in a towel stepping into our bedroom to get the clothes I’d laid on the bed and forgotten to take into the bathroom with me.  There he stood scrambling to put my journal back on the shelf pretending he’d not been reading it.  “What do you think you’re doing!?!” I asked angrily!  He stammered around trying to find the words (rare for him) and finally told me that since I wouldn’t talk to him about what was bothering me, he had every right to read what I had been writing.  I had no business writing anyway, he stated.  He told me nothing was private in marriage (what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine … grrrrr!  And oh, how this played out in every aspect).  I remember various emotions flooding over me including feeling violated.  It was as if someone had ripped the towel from me and stood scrutinizing and criticizing my naked body.  I took the journal and threw it in the dumpster that afternoon.  I swore off writing, locking that part of my soul up and tossing the key away.

Several years later I was given a journal by a church member for Mother’s Day.  She had no idea I was trying not to be a writer.  I thanked her for the thoughtful gift, went home and shelved the thing swearing I wouldn’t write in it.  The pen and paper kept whispering to me.  I decided I’d use it to write daily gratitudes.  I wouldn’t be pouring out pieces of my heart onto the pages, just little one liners, “I’m grateful for the sun’s warmth, I’m grateful for a roof over my head, I’m grateful for books to read…blah, blah, blah.”  Seemed like a fair compromise to me.  Each day I would pick five to ten things I was grateful for and write them in that book.  Even if they weren’t true, I wrote them in hopes that by putting them on paper, much like an affirmation, they would become my reality … and then that gratitude journal showed up in court.  My wasband hid it, using it as his evidence that our marriage was a good, solid one, abuse was nonexistent, I was just crying wolf in an attempt to gain the courts sympathy, after all, I’d written pages of all the things I was grateful for.  My credibility came in to question over it.  I was so angry.  Once again, my writing, my hopes, dreams, those things I was grateful for on a particular day at a particular moment were on display for complete strangers to shred apart and twist into little resemblance of what they were written to mean.  Damn that journal!  And yet, the pen kept calling……

It’s risky to write.  I consider that what I write could be rejected.  It could be used against me in a court of law, those pieces of my heart being shredded until nothing remains.  Gives me the hebe gee-bees!  Been there!  And yet here I am, sharing intimate pieces of my heart … publicly.  I laugh at the irony of it!  What I am learning, or maybe it’s more what I am accepting, is that what I have to say begs to be shared.  I don’t think this gifting was offered to me to be kept to myself.  The gifts and talents we are born with are not meant to be selfishly stowed away for our own gain.  They are meant to be used for the greater good of all.

My experiences demand my attention, begging to be shared.  There are countless women and men who have traversed the same twisted, rough, almost impassable road I have and feel utterly alone, just like I did.  Their ravaged hearts beg the same questions, “What the hell was I thinking!?!”, “I knew better!!!”, “Maybe I’m the crazy one!  Am I the crazy one!?!”, “I feel like I am losing my mind!”, “No one is going to believe me!”.  These people meet with their lawyers, have lunch with “friends” and stand before magistrates and judges feeling unheard and recognizing that most don’t care about their plight.  I remember feeling like I was being buried alive.  I was kicking, punching, screaming and raising holy hell only to have it fall upon deaf ears.  It felt hopeless to say the least.  There is nothing more defeating than confiding in someone, sharing a tidbit about the wretched abuse you’ve suffered, only to have them shrug their shoulders and tell you it’s alleged, it’s hearsay, you never called for help.  Unless there is “proof” then essentially the nightmare you’ve suffered and survived didn’t exist.

And so, I write.  I am learning to step into my gift as a writer.  It feels a little strange, a little odd.  The more encouragement I receive, the more confident I begin to feel and the more brave and bold I become in sharing my experiences in hopes that someone, somewhere out there will be able to take a deep breath, sigh and understand they aren’t alone.  Life is short, it should be sweet too!

“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave”

Shoulder the Load

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This work (EGCM) honors and respects the horse as an equal coaching partner which resonates deep within me.  I think about the level of competition I was at once upon a time where there was no wiggle room for an off day, period.  The horses I claimed to love paid the price.  We have disrespected, used and thrown away our horses for centuries.  We claim to love them and then get all up in their business when they’ve acted … well …  like a horse.  We yank and crank on arguably one of the most sensitive parts of them, their mouth.  We gig them with our spurs and drive our seats down into their spine.  Even with all they suffer, (an extremely one sided “partnership” we stake claim in) they show us what unconditional forgiveness looks like, what it is to continue to give of themselves when they are being treated pretty miserably.  It’s powerful…

I was at my limit.  I have the patience of Job however there are times I near the bottom of that deep, deep well.  I was tired, exhausted really, and the hopelessness of my situation felt completely overwhelming.  I couldn’t believe that what I was tolerating, what I was dealing with day in – day out, it was insane.  I had put the kids to bed and my ‘wasband’ was consumed by his phone not paying a lick of attention to anything around him.  I slipped out the front door and walked amongst the shadows along the fence line to the pasture gate where I knew I’d find fresh air.  I crawled between the barbed wire strands and found the dark corner along the loafing shed where I knew I could see the stars most clearly.  I stood there enveloped in the darkness staring up at the night sky.  The stars were so brilliant, the sky so clear.  My heart was heavy and tears banged on the back of my eyelids threatening to spill over.

He came, as stealthily as I had slipped out there.  I felt his breath at my shoulder and I stretched out my hand for him to touch.  I knew by the hesitant way he was standing with me that it was “Kade.”  He hadn’t been with me long.  I was still letting him down after his career on the racetrack.  He was afraid of everything and would flare his nostrils and get wide eyed if a strand of my hair caught the breeze!  As I stood with my hand outstretched he sidled over to me so that we were standing shoulder to shoulder.  I placed my hand on his shoulder letting him know I wasn’t going to hurt him, I was here for him.  Tu′ shea!

The wave of emotion that begged to be released from within me was strong.  I could feel it welling up inside.  I didn’t want to let it out.  I didn’t want to ruin the moment we were having.  I was sure all that emotion would scare off my new friend.  Almost as if on cue “Kade” shouldered me.  He offered me his massive copper penny colored shoulder to lean on.  It was as if he said, “Here, your load is heavy and I want to help you carry it.”  I hesitated.  How could I possibly allow this beautiful soul to bear the burdens that belonged to me.  I had picked my poison (and married it), not “Kade”.  He took another step toward me so that he was literally leaning against me, my only option was to counter him and lean back.  His love, honesty and loyalty consumed me and I stood with my face buried in his neck, crying the tears that had been putting so much pressure on the dam I had them secured behind.  It was a moment I will never forget.

We’ve had “moments” since then.  Not long ago he stood by the gate with me.  The sun felt so warm, the breeze playing in our manes.  I had a hand on his wither and we both had our eyes closed absorbing all God was whispering into our souls, my heart much lighter now.  My young Thoroughbred, “Liam”, busted in on the moment, nipping me on the butt and then dancing away gleefully like a naughty junior high boy who’d just goosed a girl in the hallway.  Jackass!!!

People ask me what the horses do in this work.  I can’t begin to explain it really.  I wouldn’t do it justice if I tried.  The more I have opened my heart to the true giftings these horses are here to offer, the more I am blown away!  I feel as if I’ve come full circle returning to a place and time when I was a little girl just being with the horses with little expectations of them.  Humans have got to be the most dense creatures on this planet!  To know that these amazing, sentient beings put up with all the white noise going on in our lives waiting for us to be right here, right now so they can work their magic … it is beyond words.  To know that they are so willing to take our hurt, our pain, our trauma, our bad day and lift the low energy vibration of those emotions helping to carry the load for us … how do you express that in words?  I’m so honored to be a student of the horse … to be offered the opportunity to step alongside them and coach people as they work through and heal the wounds in their souls.  They are not actually my client’s, rather the horses’.  I am merely the conduit for them to offer what they so willingly give, unconditional forgiveness, love, and healing.

“You are beautiful, powerful, brilliant & brave”

Coming soon … 2019!!!

Acknowledgment is Salve

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Writing is therapy for me.  I stopped writing many years ago ( the reasons why are a blog of their own).  Many of the things I write are personal epiphanies that work their way into my awareness asking to be shared.  This time last year I shared about how I quit celebrating my birthday 20+ years ago (https://untetheredheartscom.wordpress.com/2017/04/).  I am a couple days away from my birthday and I wanted this year to be different, to finally step out and own my day!  However, that same twinge of fear and anxiety as the day approaches is creeping in to my gut.  The protective side of me whispers into my heart reminding me that it’s best if the day passes without notice.  The other side of me, gently reminds me that there is no reason to fear celebrating.  How fun would celebrating be!?!  We’ve got a lot of lost time to make up for.  And yet …..

It was the evening of April 18 many, many years ago.  A storm was brewing though I was unaware.  My ‘wasband’ was quietly raging inside.  I can remember feeling the heat coming off of him as he smiled and acted as though all was normal.  I knew something was off but I couldn’t put my finger on it.  Friends of ours had us over for a birthday dinner and the night should have been fun, and yet…

I was buckling the kids into their car seats to leave when he pulled me back by the collar of my coat and said with an agitated tone that we’d ride home together.  I was a little suspicious but obediently walked to the passenger side not wanting to ignite whatever spark was looking for a match inside of him.  I knew we were in trouble as soon as we pulled out of the drive.  His eyes hardened and he began raging through clenched teeth.

We were doing 85 mph down a rough dirt road, the kids were in the back seat crying.  The louder he yelled, the more intense their crying.  It was as if the fear in their cries fueled him.  My son was an adorable 4 year old at the time, my daughter was barely 2.  My ‘wasband’ was yelling at the top of his lungs at this point.  I couldn’t even make out what he was saying and I couldn’t wrap my mind around why he was so enraged.  I remember speaking to him in a low, calm, monotone manner asking him to please slow down and calm down.  I tried to reason with him that he was scaring the kids and they would be hard to settle down and put to bed.  He didn’t hear a word.  I dialed 911 on my phone and had my finger on the send button.  I silently prayed asking the Lord to allow me to be conscious enough to push the button if we careened off the road.  When he saw the numbers on the phone screen he laughed as he snatched the phone out of my hand, throwing it on the floorboard.

By the grace of God we made it into our driveway.  As he put the car in park I was already out and reaching into the back seat unbuckling my daughter, wiping her crocodile tears.  I can still hear the click as the five point safety harness released and all at once gravel was flying!  The car door hit me in my back and knocked me to the ground as my ‘wasband’ hit the gas and sped off down our long driveway.  I can still feel the extreme fear in the deepest part of my soul as I watched the tail lights of the Jetta getting smaller.  I had no way to call for help.  As my mind was racing I heard the skidding sound of tires on gravel as he slammed on the brakes and then the whine of the transmission as he sped in reverse back to the front of the house.

He shut the car off, threw the door open, ripped the key out of the ignition,  grabbed my phone off the floorboard and stepped out.  His eyes never left mine as he dug his fingers into the back of my neck.  Through clenched teeth he yelled less than an inch from my ear, “THAT FAST JESS!  YOU WILL LOSE THE KIDS THAT FAST!!!”  And then he stormed into the house.  I was shaken to the core.  I scooped the kids out of the car holding them tight, one in each arm.  Their sobs felt like someone pulling barbed wire out of my heart, each barb shredding the flesh.  I held them tight, kissing their little heads and whispering,  “We’re okay.”  I remember tucking my son into bed, kissing him and wishing him the sweetest of dreams.  I went down the hall to my daughter’s room and laid her down, patting her little back and reassuring her until she fell asleep.  I tiptoed down the hallway, filled with dread, praying the tirade was over.  It wasn’t …

I walked past our closet and into the bathroom working hard to maintain my composure trying to wrap my mind around what had happened.  As I turned on the faucet I saw movement behind me in the mirror.  He’d been laying in wait in the closet.  As I turned he grabbed me by my wrists and pinned me to the bathroom counter top.  With less than an inch separating us he began yelling again, the veins in his neck bulging, his spit all over my face as I bent backwards as far as I could go.  Then I saw him …  there stood my precious baby boy in the hallway watching the whole thing.  My ‘wasband’ caught my glance, letting go of me as he turned and demanded he go back to bed.  He ran past his father and into my arms, sobbing and scared.  I saw my phone sitting on the night stand and grabbed it.  911 still on the screen ready for me to hit send.  My ‘wasband’ tried to grab it from me though I was able to hang onto it.  Knowing I was trapped, I crawled into our bed with my son, holding him tight, kissing his head and telling him everything would be okay.

As I cuddled him and settled his racing little heart my ‘wasband’ leaned over and whispered into my ear, “Help is an hour away.”  I heard him go into our closet and I can still hear the release of the gun safe door as he opened it.  I was sure that was it for me.  As he walked by, pistol in his hand, he laughed, mocking me.  I lay there shaking with fear, praying for the kids and begging God to spare our lives.  I don’t remember falling asleep.  I opened my eyes the next morning with my son still in my arms, the phone still in my hand feeling like I’d been hit by a truck.

I didn’t tell a soul what happened.  My ‘wasband’ had successfully gotten his point across.  He was not only willing to abuse me to keep me under control, he was willing to kill me.  I felt so much shame, embarrassment and utter hopelessness.  I was trapped in so many ways.  I knew that calling for help or telling anyone what had happened that night or any other time, sealed my fate.  Help = Dead.  As I allow myself to relive that night, remembering that birthday, it’s as if I’m tenderly applying salve in the form of acknowledgement to my heart’s deep, raw wounds .  Sharing and shedding light on what happened instead of keeping it packed away in amongst all my baggage.

Bloody Your Tongue

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The collateral damage caused by divorce is extensive and far reaching.  It decimates people financially and emotionally.  The kids pay the highest price.  Their world is leveled by this one decision and the tide of it quickly sucks them out into an ocean of uncertainty.  Amidst the upheaval, turmoil and organized chaos of divorce proceedings, many parents choose to behave like politicians in an all out smear campaign defaming the character of the other person in front of anyone and everyone, including their kids.  And this tactic isn’t limited to the parents.  Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, they all participate in the campaign with little to no consideration for how their words may be affecting the kids.

I learned a fancy little buzzword, more of a hot button, while journeying through my high conflict divorce.  I was being accused of it in every document, court appearance and counseling session.  That word is ‘alienation’.  What I quickly discovered was that if the judge or magistrate heard that cute little word, their hackles came up faster than I could blink and suddenly I was in the hot seat, my every word being dissected under a microscope.  Alienation is defined as “the state or experience of being isolated from a group or an activity to which one should belong or in which one should be involved; loss or lack of sympathy; estrangement”  In other words, one parent talks enough trash about the other that the kids feel forced to choose sides wanting nothing to do with the “trashy” parent.  It’s easier to spew venom about someone we believe has wronged us than to bite our tongues.  Alienation destroys kids and their relationships with people they love and care about.  For the sake of these precious kids, bloody your tongue!!!

The things my kids have repeated back to me after a weekend at their father’s house can only be filed under the heading, “Can’t make this up!” I have often bit my tongue in half as I smile, hug the kids and tell them, “Meh, it’s not really important what your father or anyone else says about me.  What matters to me is who you believe me to be.”

Those who choose to shred apart the other parent only hurt the kids (no matter how old those kids are).  After all, they are half their mother and half their father.  The words meant to vilify the other parent are in actuality disparaging the kids.  In the long run, the parent actively alienating the other will lose out.  The idea that ripping the other parent to shreds in front of the kids in order to influence them is poor strategy at best .  Kids grow up and begin to form their own opinions about things.  Often times the alienator becomes the alienated.

It’s not easy to bite your tongue.  I get it … do I ever get it.  It takes great discipline to ride the bench when everyone around you is engaged in a wicked game of mud slinging.  Keeping quiet and holding my head up as I was maligned in court documents, within the community, with “friends,” my kids and anyone who might bend an ear my ex’s way was beyond hard.  I desperately wanted to yell through a bull horn from the highest point what I knew to be the truth, to tell the whole world about the abuse I’d silently endured for all those years and yet I knew I’d only be playing into his hand.  I sat in court as he spun his tales and accused me of alienation with the poker face of a pro.  The high road is not usually the easy road.

There is a place where all those angry, hurt filled, trashy, ugly words can be said, screamed, thrown, etc. in complete confidentiality.  A place that bears no judgement around the words that need released.  In this place, those words hit the arena dirt and stay there once and for always.  Here, people will find the support they are so desperate for.  With a deep understanding of what it’s like to walk in the shoes of a parent doing the best they know how, stuffing down their hurt and all out rage as their kids share all the awful things the other parent is saying about them, people will finally feel heard.  The horses and I cannot wait to share this life changing work with you!

Coming soon ….. Untethered Hearts™   ❤

“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave”   

 

Challenges in Choices

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I have been asked (many times), “What attracted you to your ‘wasband’ in the first place?”  A fair question and a good one at that.  What was it about him that drew me in?  “Ummmm…..  okay, Jess, let’s think about this.  The answer couldn’t possibly be this hard to come up with!”

I have wrestled with this and I mean rolled it around, beat it, kicked it and dug deep to find the answer.  I finally came to the conclusion ….. I have no idea what attracted me to him!  Lol!  He wasn’t tall, dark and handsome.  He didn’t sweep me off my feet showering me with gifts to show his affection.  I honestly do not know that anything in particular attracted me to him.  It was more like a relationship that had to happen in order for me to find and fulfill my purpose on this earth.  I know, I know, even I am rolling my eyes and shaking my head as I type this however without this challenging relationship in my past, I wouldn’t be on the path I am now.

Narcissists are quite cunning and covert in how they intimidate, manipulate and control their prey.  I was a naive, trusting, honest, compassionate person when I met him.  I was the perfect source of fuel to feed his covert narcissism.  You see, these people need someone who will believe every word they say, stand loyally by their side and stroke their egos.  I did all of that and more.  I think I was a bit of a challenge for him too.  He knew in some deep, dark recess of his brain that he didn’t deserve me.  I was too good for him and far too intelligent to be fed lies and fallacy for long.  Much like a saddle bronc rider stares down that one bronc that can’t be ridden for those long 8 seconds, he saw me as something he had to conquer, master & break … and he almost did.

Prior to walking down the isle, my dad cautioned me saying, “You don’t have to do this.”  My mom repeatedly asked me if I was sure marrying this person was what I wanted.  Friends (I use that word very loosely) were wagering on how long the marriage would last.  I knew this wasn’t a match made in heaven and yet, as if pulled by some invisible force, I walked down that isle.  I remember getting to the alter and hearing him say through clenched teeth and a forced smile, “What the F*#^K did you do to your face?”  I considered turning on my heels and walking right back down the isle at that moment though instead I smiled and quietly said, “I’m wearing make-up.”  Anyone else would have bloodied his nose and yet I was already so well trained not to rock the boat.

I look back over the course of those almost 2 decades and I, admittedly, do not regret that relationship.  Aside from two amazing kids, my greatest gift from that relationship was that it showed me exactly who I am.  It takes trials, challenges, strife and standing inside the fire as the flames dance about your feet, to find who you truly are.  That fire looks different for everyone.  For me it was being entrenched in a relationship with a covert narcissist and surviving the swim against the roaring current of divorce and the family court system, battling for my freedom.

I didn’t come out unscathed.  The relationship and the exhausting battle left it’s mark.  After so many years of living in a constant state of fight or flight my parasympathetic nervous system is cooked.  I have an inverted “t” wave and scarred lungs.  My cortisol easily goes through the roof when it senses the slightest bit of stress, causing my body to pack on the body fat.  I deal with forms of post traumatic stress though I hate calling it that (everyone uses that stupid phrase now).  I’m guarded and protective and there’s plenty of work still to be done bringing up old emotions, hurts and past traumas in order to heal them.  And yet, you know what?  I wouldn’t trade any of it.  I am who I am due in part to that relationship and I like who I am and the path I’m on.

Those years of manipulation, abuse, intimidation and control offered me the opportunity to see the horses I work with through very different eyes.  Much like me, they put their trust in a relationship with a person they believed had their greatest good at heart.  I chose to be in partnership with him just the same as horses choose to be in partnership with people.

I compassionately hold space for the troubled horses that cross my path, as together, we sort through and unpack all the baggage they have tucked away.  My heart sings the most beautiful of songs as I witness the shift they make as they begin healing, their eyes becoming bright, filling with life again.  Several of the horses that have crossed my path are now part of my own herd.  These beautiful souls are who they are because of their experiences and much like me, they will hold sacred space for those who come to us seeking healing & wholeness.

When your heart has been buried and tethered beneath the rubble of a toxic, destructive relationship we will be here to support you as you begin to clear away the debris.  And much like the horses and I, the new found discovery of who you truly are will bring a glorious song to your heart too!  Untethered Hearts™, will open it’s doors in 2019.

Coming soon …

“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave”