Another Time is Now

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My parents had planned a trip to Mount Rushmore and my sister and nieces were traveling with them.  We were invited however I could not get an answer from my ‘wasband’ about going with them.  I wanted to go.  He kept putting me off.  What I knew would happen, because it had happened so many times before, was everyone would leave, vacation and have a great time together and after the fact he would say, “Man, wish we could have gone.  Oh, well.  Another time.”  The day after my parents left, I decided I’d had it.  Enough being told we’d go next time.  I was sick and tired of work being the top priority and the kids and I fitting somewhere under the bottom of his priority list.

I hastily loaded the camper with what we would need for a few days, beach towels, swim suits, bedding, food, etc.  I greased the hitch, checked the tire pressure and made sure all the lights worked.  I called him and let him know the kids and I would be back in a few days.  There was a lot of back and forth and him hem hawing around saying how he’d sure like to go with us.  That turned into me being a real bitch for leaving him behind which turned into me being a terrible mother.  I was so used to his slanderous onslaught and so hell bent on leaving to spend time with my family, I didn’t much care.  So on down the road the kids and I rolled with that old Sandpiper 5th wheel in tow.  I made it an hour and a half up the road …..

What happened next was something out of a Steve Martin or Robin Williams movie.  I probably would have laughed about it later if it hadn’t turned into the shame and blame game.  If you’ve hauled much, you know that your mirrors are your best bet at keeping tabs on what’s going on behind you and around you.  I’ve avoided disastrous, fender chewing flats because I watch my mirrors.  This particular day was not different.  I looked in my mirror to see something fly out from under the camper.  My first thought was, “Oh great, a damn flat!”  As I watched my passenger side mirror though, it wasn’t rubber that was dancing along the side of the camper.  It looked almost like insulation but where on earth would insulation be coming from?  No sooner had the question popped into my head as I searched my mirror and the whole side of that old thing started peeling back!!!  I eased on over onto the shoulder and slowed that rig down as fast as I could.  I flipped on my flashers and sat for a minute.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing in my mirror and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do to remedy it.  I told the kids to sit tight and I jumped out of the pick up as trucks, cars and pick ups sped by.  Upon inspection the seam at the nose of the camper had given way and at 70 mph it didn’t stand a chance.  “Okay Jess, think … think … think …”  I decided my best bet was to hunt down a roll of duct tape.  I was sure there had to be a roll in the camper or the pick up.  After what felt like hours, I came up empty handed.  I knew what I needed to do however I was sure I might die doing it.  I needed to unhitch my wagon so that I could run to the Home Depot I’d seen several miles back and get some duct tape.  The issue was the oncoming traffic!

I held my breath, squeezed my eyes closed and began cranking that old sucker up off the pick up.  It was sketchy every time an eighteen wheeler would go by and I prayed that she (that old Sandpiper 5th wheel) didn’t get hit while I was away.  I jumped in the pick up and smiled at the kids, “Not to worry, we’ll get this fixed in a jiff!” and off to the Home Depot we went.  I can remember as clear as day loading the kids in a shopping cart to keep them near and walking into that store headed for my simple purchase.  I grabbed six rolls of that magic all-around repair tape!  I stood at the register to pay and my debit card was declined.  Wait, what!?!  Four … more … times I swiped it ….. my ‘wasband’ had shut off my card.  That was the game, right!?!  Didn’t want to go, but didn’t want the kids and I to go either.

I was embarrassed and walked out of the store empty handed.  My only option now was to call my ‘wasband’ to let him know we’d run into a problem.  There are walks of shame and there are calls of shame.  This was a call of shame.  After being lectured on how asinine it is to “play games” with him and a subsequent lecture on doing something half-assed, he decided he’d drive up and fix the camper so that I could limp it home ….. after he was done working.  It’s hard to describe the emotions I felt at that point in time.  The strongest emotion was defeat.  I remember feeling so deflated, defeated and hopeless.  What I was desperate for was time with my family, enjoying my kids with a little space and air to breath.  What I got was more of the same, feeling suffocated as I breathed the stifling air that was my marriage, my walls closing in on me.

I limped the camper home so it could be repaired … with duct tape.  I called my mom, trying not to cry and told her how sorry I was that we wouldn’t be joining them.  I unpacked everything and repeatedly hugged on each kid as I told them it was okay, sometimes crappy stuff happens and things don’t go according to plan and … ugh … I told them we’d try and go another time.

Work is a part of life.  I think we all understand that.  What I knew to be true was I wasn’t a priority in that man’s life.  Shoot, neither were the kids.  I wasn’t his first thought in the morning or his last thought as he drifted off to sleep.  There was only money for the things he wanted and what he claimed were “work expenses”, nothing extra for us.  He was perfectly okay with his wife and kids (who should be his most prized possessions) sitting on the side of the highway hitched up to a worn out camper waiting for help from him while he “worked” or rather should I say, “punished” them for having the audacity to load up and go on an adventure.  Instead of a hug and a, “Man am I sorry this happened.  You must be so disappointed.  Let’s figure out how to get you back on the road.”  I was met with lectures and ridicule.

A narcissist MUST shame you and treat you, including speaking to you, as if you are the smallest, most insignificant crustacean on the planet.  It’s how they manipulate and control you.  It is also how they drain the life out of you.  When you show a little spark of who’s inside, they up their game to extinguish that little ember.  It’s psychological warfare and they do not care who might be affected in their wake, including their kids.

Healing from narcissistic abuse is work.  I have learned that my greatest weapon I wield is taking all that I’ve learned and continue to learn from this past relationship and use it to redesign my life with a more positive outcome.  I’ve taken the toxicity of his continued abuse and used it to fuel my own success.  I’ve taken the ashes he’d hoped would scatter and blow away in the wind and risen up out of them more bold, stepping into my purpose and power.  You too can rise up out of your ashes!  You too can take what was meant to harm and debilitate you and create a more positive future for yourself!  You too can learn great lessons from that toxic relationship and use those lessons to propel you forward stepping into your own power and purpose!  Allow my horses and I the humbling opportunity to step alongside and support you in your healing.

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“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave”  ❤ 

Re-traumatization and Dead Horses

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If you’ve traversed the path I have or anything remotely similar, you know how utterly exhausting it is.  It’s hard to reach out to anyone because unless they’ve been there done that and have the battle scars to show for it, they don’t get it.  Divorce is one thing, divorcing a covert narcissist is a whole other animal.  Narcissists are relentless!  They don’t quit.  They don’t get over it or move on.  They cannot live without chaos and strife and their best weapon to continue to fuel themselves is the court system.  Judges and magistrates cannot put a stop to their endless, insatiable need to continue to exercise what little power they have over their prey.  You see, even when boundaries have been set and orders have been given, it is their constitutional right to have their day or rather days, weeks, months and years in court.

In an article in Psychology Today, Peg Streep writes, “It takes two people to end a relationship and many narcissists refuse to leave without a fight. Translation? Continued re-traumatization. It’s no wonder so many of my clients panic when they see an email from their ex.”

There is so much truth to the above statement.  Re-traumatization is why my mentor, in utter disbelief after I finished convincing myself (not her) that I was not under the same amount of stress, laughed as she said, “Just because you aren’t under the same roof as he is doesn’t mean he isn’t continuing to abuse you and cause you great stress!”  The reality of what she shared hit me square between my eyes like a 2×4 coated in concrete!

Peg Streep goes on to site in her article:  “That’s why recovering from a narcissist is something else entirely.  When you divorce a narcissist with whom you have children under the age of majority, emotional recovery may not be immediately possible because the legal jousting post-divorce is ongoing. Here’s what one woman—the mother of two now adolescent children—wrote me:

“I was married for five years and I have been divorced almost 12 years. The divorce has been ongoing in the sense that after finalization he has tormented me and the children for the past 12 years. I have been through two custody battles and endless amounts of money. I could go on and on. Yes, I do blame myself for being so stupid. I realized almost immediately after the wedding. Yes, I am angry. He has made my life a living hell. I’ve been working on dealing with him for years. I have a great therapist. No, I haven’t been able to move on because, as long as the kids are under 18, I have to deal with evil. There is no truth to the statement that the abuse will stop after the divorce. The only difference is that he is not living in my house.”

I have been in and out of court since bolting out of my marriage, 7 years ago.  If he can make it up and file it, he has and up to this point, I have spent close to $100k defending myself.  Understand that I walked away with the clothes on my back, my pick up and mostly my kids (he has every weekend and half of all school breaks), nothing more!  Not a portion of his retirement, not a portion of his investments, the house, the land we owned, etc.  I wanted out THAT BAD!!!  After our year long battle in 2016 which culminated in what was equivalent to yet another permanent orders type hearing in October of that year, my ‘wasband’ couldn’t make any filings with the court over any of the things that were dealt with over the course of that year, for two years.  Two years was in December of 2018.  Since January of this year, 2019, he has been slowly and steadily spinning up.  He’s hired his 5th attorney to date (he doesn’t pay his attorney’s, just hires new blood after burning his previous counsel), some poor fellow out of Oklahoma is his latest victim.  His attorney filed to enter an appearance in our case recently (slap your hand over your face).  They’re drudging up things that were settled within the legal system in 2012!!!  You read that right … they were settled, dealt with, handled, done!!!!!  And here we are, bringing them up ….. again ….. and why?  Because he didn’t get the answer he was demanding, the outcome he was sure he was owed, entitled to and so he’s gonna ignore the court’s ruling and try to steam roll over everyone to get his way.  I’m exhausted and the next court battle has yet to commence.  There are no filings as of yet however I am hesitant now each time I open my post office box.

As I vented to a friend over the phone about the whole situation the other day I found an answer to something that had been bugging me.  I haven’t been able to figure out why I feel so restless here at home, why I want so badly to move away from here.  As I ranted about the latest barrage of B.S. I said (actually, I probably whined), “I just want him to leave me alone!”  The root of why I cannot wait until the day my kids are emancipated and able to decide for themselves when they will have contact with their abuser.  The root of why I cannot wait to pack up all of our belongings and move far, far away from here!  The constant and relentless court filings and the fact that he lives a few miles from us is why I feel so restless.  Emails from him, his voice on the phone, his vehicle driving past our driveway, feeling his evil walk into the school gym before he’s visible, all constant re-traumatization and my spirit is restless as we wait for the kids to grow, mature and turn 18 years old!

You may be in a similar situation, holding your breath as you wait for yet another “other” shoe to drop.  You may be feeling utterly exhausted as you stand and stare at the ground where he’s been beating a dead horse for sooooo long that there isn’t any flesh left, there’s no hide, bones or even dust left of what was that dead horse.  He’s beat on it to such a degree there’s an indentation in the earth!  You may be counting down the days until your kids turn 18 much like we are.  If this is you, if this speaks to you, come and spend some time with my horses and I, we get it!  In the midst of your storm, we can offer you sweet relief and peace filled rest to heal some of your wounds so that you can head into your next battle stronger, bolder, less reactive and triggered, steadier and more purpose filled!

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“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave”  ❤

 

 

 

Grit, Grace & Heaping Doses of Faith

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“Think about a time when you were in your darkest hour.  She paused for a moment.  What carried you through?”  She explained a bit further, “This could have been a traumatic event, a difficult season in your life, a loss of a loved one, any time when life knocked you to your knees.  During this time when you were in the deepest, darkest, hole you’ve ever known, what carried you through?  What kept you from throwing in the towel and giving up?”  I remember sitting there and pondering this question though I already knew the answer.  Even as the question was unwrapped before me, I knew what had carried me through.

“A heaping dose of faith.”  I stated,  “And a whole hell of a lot of grit!”

The darkest, deepest hole I have ever found myself in was my divorce.  That hellish marriage, a close second.  My faith carried me through it all.  Each day was it’s own new battle.  The uncertainty of what lay ahead, what the future held, the knowing-ness that my fate and that of my children, was in the hands of a broken, corrupt, system.  There were moments of hopelessness, times when I wasn’t sure we’d get through.  As my enemy revealed his true nature and dark underbelly, I can remember feeling ill equipped for battle, I stood on that battle field feeling naked and dazed in a pair of blue jeans and boots, wondering where my armor was!  During those times I pressed hard into my faith.

“Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].”  Hebrews 11:1 AMPC

Faith and religion, for me, are NOT the same thing.  As I type the word faith, I think of those who may mistakenly confuse it with religion.  Please understand, for me, religion is man’s way of controlling large groups of people laying down rules and law they base on their loose (at best) interpretation of what scripture says.  They feebly attempt to put God in a box.  That doesn’t work for me!  How could my Creator, that designed the heavens and the earth, galaxies of stars, whose palate of color blows my simple little brain each time the sun sets or rises, who imagined flowers blooming, aspen changing color, who created everything that lives, breathes and doesn’t ….. how could that ever fit in a box!?!

I decided from the get-go that if God put so much energy into creation, including creating my incredible kids, there was no way He wouldn’t see to it that we made it through that hell.  I set my mind on focusing each day on that which I was grateful for and being the best version of me that I could muster (and I assure you, there were days I was anything but grace filled and sweet!).  I prayed … at times feebly and at other times fervently, always pleading, “Whatever the outcome, let it be for the greatest good, especially for the kids.”  When a voice would creep in and begin whispering all the possibilities of losing my kids and even our lives, I fought back, beating that evil until it was black and blue!

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.”  2 Timothy 1:7 AMPC 

I remember my first court appearance.  I felt bewildered, off balance and lost as if I were in some sort of twilight zone.  I wore high heels, a pretty dress and panty hose for that court appearance not knowing that by the time opposing counsel was done with me, the hose would be shredded, the heels busted and the dress covered in the mud they slung at me!  I’m sure I looked like a doe in the headlights of an oncoming semi!  Several years later, as I walked into that ever familiar court room, I remember feeling so solid, assured and firm.  I walked in wearing my go-to-town boots, jeans and a nice shirt.  The look on my face having shifted from startled to all business.  Yes, I had become more comfortable with the process and yes, much more weathered.  I had been naively hopeful that final orders would be the last time I was in court however I learned within weeks of that hearing that the battle was far from over.  For several years following final orders I was in court regularly defending myself against false allegations and non-existent contempts of court!  And those court battles definitely seasoned me.  I’m not sure how I would have maintained through it all had I not pressed into my faith.

I think we have a choice to make when we are faced with events in life that are completely out of our control.  We can get caught up in the chaos and drama of it all depleting our bodies and minds, exhausting ourselves.  Or … we can be still, surrendering to the process that is out of our control, choosing to be steady, calm, and decisive rather than reactive and defensive.  I would hear a whisper in my heart nearly every day that repeated to me ever so tenderly and gently, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)  Be still, let go.

I didn’t choose my niche so much as my niche chose me!  Had I not journeyed down the firey, hellish path I did, I don’t know that I would have the deeply rooted desire to step alongside others traversing a similar rocky road.  I am grateful for that hell on earth … weird, right!?!  Lol!  It showed me who my true friends are, what support looks like (support shows up in many different forms) and most of all, it showed me what I am made of!  Not every person has rock solid faith.  Not every person has a support system.  Not every person has awareness of their inner strength and capacity in the midst of the scariest storm in their life.  That’s why we’re here!  My horses and I will step alongside you, supporting you as you rediscover your inner compass, tapping into your deep well of inner strength, creating a more positive future for yourself as you  walk boldly down your path with conviction and grit, seasoned by a heaping dose of grace!

Learn more at:  http://untetheredhearts.com/

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“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave” ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

Royal Garnet

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“Happy Birthday Beauty!”  She shares my daughter’s birthday, though she’s a year younger.  We have made a habit of visiting her each year on her special day.  Her coat is raven in color and her eyes are innocent and searching.  I took a leap of faith, writing her into my vision.  It’s hard writing about those things that have yet to happen, those things that aren’t quite real, those things that part of me knows are possible and the other part of me feels doubtful about.  She is my mare, the particulars just haven’t been ironed out.

I legged up horses for Sylvia McDonald for several years.  She was a pillar of the Arapahoe Hunt Club for over 50 years.  She had raised many a foxhunter and polo pony and when I met her she had a few horses in need of starting.  Royal Garnet or “Mouse” as they call her, was one of them.  “Mouse” was an oops, as I understood it.  Her mother having been bred by a stallion that had been diagnosed as being sterile.  She’d been started under saddle when we met, though not very well.  She was labeled stubborn if not out right bullheaded!  My kinda girl!  When she came to me for training I did what I do with so many and we started completely over working together as if she’d never been handled before.  She was very opinionated at first, sure to let me know when she disagreed about any one thing I might be sharing with her.  Slowly, she began to trust that she and all her opinions were safe with me ❤

I exercised hounds on her for a summer, introducing her to her career.  The first exercise we went out on, the huntsman commented rather disgustedly, “Afraid you can’t stay on without a horn to grab hold of?”  I had chosen to take “Mouse” out in a western saddle for her first few exercises.  As the hounds set off down the road and the staff took their place, “Mouse” leapt about like an excited puppy experiencing snow for the first time!  We spent the majority of that exercise with one, maybe two feet on the ground!  She couldn’t contain herself and it was all I could do to stay over the middle of her as she performed impressive gymnastic feats!  I was exhausted when we made our way back to the trailers.  The huntsman winked at me as I dismounted at the trailer and said, “You’re a hell of a hand!  I understand your choice of saddle after observing your ride this morning!”  I winked back at him and said, “This ain’t my first rodeo!”

We hunted that first year, mostly hill topping.  My job, aside from taking “Mouse” out to help her learn her job in the field, was also to keep an eye on Sylvia (in her late 80’s at the time) and her friend Fritzi.  As we followed the hounds from afar and I listened to the two women banter back and forth, I worked on teaching my mare how to work gates, how to stand quietly as I opened and closed the gates from her back.  At times, I had to dismount to open and close the wire drop gates that are common out west here and she learned to stand patiently as I mounted from various objects including, much to Sylvia’s dismay, barbed wire, yucca and trash piles!  Lol!  “Mouse” went from going out on her hind legs hi-ho silver style to going out in lady like fashion, quietly and patiently.  We even won Reserve Champion that spring at the hunt trials that Arapahoe hosted.

I spent three years riding, training and hauling “Mouse” around with me.  She spent several months here at home with me after the hunt season had ended learning to work cattle and jump (strange combination, I know!  Lol!)  We bonded deeply over those few years.  Normally, I don’t allow client’s horses to creep into my heart the way “Mouse” did.  Sylvia decided to sell the mare and it was my job to find her a new home.  I began advertising her and fielding phone calls.  With every call I answered, the more my heart hurt and my stomach churned.  I finally decided I had to come clean!  I shared with Sylvia that I could not sell “Mouse” for them.  I explained to her that I was sick in the pit of my stomach, that I truly loved the mare and I offered to buy her for fair market value and repay what they had paid me training her.  I went so far as to offer to have an agreement drafted that stated I wouldn’t sell her, that she was with me for life.  After many weeks, holding my breath and praying she’d be mine, I was told that the mare was not for sale … to me … and the ranch manager was sent to our ranch to pick her up.

As he pulled out of the drive with my mare, I cried big crocodile tears like a child who’s lost their most prized possession.  My mare was turned out on the north side, 800 acres, to rot.  She hasn’t been touched in over four years now.  I later learned that Sylvia wanted to give “Mouse” to me as a wedding gift however her husband refused, having convinced himself that I’d sell the mare for “big bucks” and he’d miss out on making a profit 😦  Sylvia has since died.

So, until things work themselves out and “Mouse” comes home, my daughter and I drive the hour and a half to Sylvia’s ranch and go out to the north side each year and wish her a happy birthday.  I scratch all of her favorite spots, whisper to her how much I love her and miss her and I promise to continue to visit her.  My experience tells me that though every horse is loved, there are those few that can see through to your soul and those horses ….. those are the ones that nestle themselves deep inside your heart, bonded to you in a rare, special way.  These few horses are the ones with whom you communicate with on a heart level where no words are needed.  It’s this beautiful bonded space where you know and trust one another in a way that’s next to impossible to explain.

“Mouse” will be beautiful in this work as an equine coach.  She’s feminine, innocent and gentle with a knowing, searching way about her.  She is the horse that can tenderly look into your soul and leave you feeling as if you’ve been touched by the hand of an angel.  She is the horse that can stand next to a client and offer them the quiet confidence and strength they need when their world feels shaky and unlevel.  My “Mouse” is the kind of coach that will leave the client feeling hope-filled and uplifted as they leave our ranch.  Here’s to learning how to step out into the unknown with the faith that though I may not be able to run my hands through her black coat today, she is mine.  God’s just working out the details 😉

“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave”