To Quit or Not To Quit

grey scale photography of horse s face

Photo by Jazlyn Oliver on Pexels.com

“Getting up at the ass crack of dawn sucks.”  He said with a cocky grin, “But it is soooo worth it!”  

“Truth!” I said with a smile on my face and a heart that was cracked wide open.

We were closing out for the week.  Each morning we had all come together at 6:00 a.m. to work with the horses before the 100 degree temps stole the day away.  The horses were making big shifts, the kids were making even bigger shifts!  As I rode out with my baby girl along the ditch banks to a pond she and her brother had discovered the day before, I disappeared in thought.  Here I was on this 1,000 acre ranch south of Albuquerque, where many young men and women call home.  If I had a hard time with the label, “troubled youth” or “at risk teen” before my time at the New Mexico Boys and Girls Ranch, after having worked with a handful of the kids in the program, I couldn’t even get those labels to my tongue let alone out of my mouth!

These kids, so much like the horses that have found their way to me, aren’t troubled, they are doing the best they can with the limited skill set and the minimal tools they have in their kit.  Like the horses, they haven’t had the best start in life, they haven’t been handled, taught and encouraged with the steadiest of hands, and in some cases, they’ve been outright abused by individuals choosing to exert dominance over another living, breathing, being.  Kids and horses are much like computers, they are exactly what we’ve programmed them to be.  They have learned ways of protecting themselves, strategies to get at least a few of their needs met and they’ve employed defenses that ensure they’ll survive in this world.

“Here mama, this is the path we took yesterday!” she said, excited to show off the hidden treasure.  Her little pixy voice snapped me back into the present.  As we approached the ponds I could feel Cricket begin to tighten up.  I saw the backs of fish swimming up along the surface of the mucky water and then like a flash they would drop and torpedo through the water leaving dark, blackish muddy trails behind them.  It was all Cricket could do to stay in his skin!  We giggled as Moon Bugs lead the way along the path between the ponds.  It was best if we moved on so that I didn’t wind up in the mucky water swimming with the fish!  I drifted off in thought again to an evening several weeks before …

We were finishing supper and it was said that for most of the kids, their parents had quit on them.  They’d thrown in the towel and walked away.  Not all, but most.  I asked, “What is it in people that most are quitters and a few don’t know when or how to quit?”  Not one of us had an answer however the last evening we shared together it was mentioned that possible stubbornness was the root of that ‘To quit or not to quit” spirit.  I laughed out loud, “Yep, I’ve been accused of that one a time or two … okay, maybe a few more times than that!” I could hear my husband in my head sheepishly sharing that I may or may not have a bit of a stubborn streak in me when he was helping me work on my mandala for class!

I watched that beautiful brunette of mine smile at me from the back of her blonde little buckskin cohort.  I couldn’t imagine quitting these kids here at The Ranches much less my own kids, hell that not knowing when to quit spirit in me kept me in an abusive marriage far longer than most and generally attracts some pretty broncy, rebellious horses into my pasture!  These kids were here at The Ranches voluntarily choosing to face their pasts, their demons and their unruly behaviors in order to set themselves up to make better choices in life than those of their biological, step and foster parents.  Instead of quitting on themselves, they are choosing to dig their heels in deeper, set their shoulders more squarely and work at not quitting.

As we rounded the corner of the trail, crossed the bridge and rode down to the trailer to unsaddle and sponge the sweat from our horses I contemplated all we’d accomplished this week.  The horses had begun to really step up and receive the kids exactly where they were each day.  Some days they had more on their minds than others.  Some days pieces of their own weighty past hurts, traumas and gunk were being shouldered and other days they were light and smiling.  It didn’t matter, the horses showed up to teach those life lessons that they are so gracious in offering us.  And ….. the kids showed up.

We walked our horses to their pens and my daughter sprayed them down with bug spray before we put their fly sheets on them for the day.  I thought about my simple prayer, my little petition to the Lord, each morning before the sun would rise and the kids showed up.  It sounded something like, “Lord, guide me, allow Your words to flow through my mouth to these kids in a way that they might be able to truly receive what I’m sharing.  I am so very proud of all they are learning and applying.  I humbly pray that they are proud of themselves too.  You say in your Word, “For this reason I am telling you, whatever things you ask for in prayer [in accordance with God’s will], believe [with confident trust] that you have received them, and they will be given to you.” Mark 11:24 AMP” I can’t imagine this wouldn’t be in accordance with your will for these kids.  After all, they belong to you.  They are merely on loan to us.” 

I cannot express in words how grateful I am to have the opportunity to share that roundpen with some really nice horses and kids with that ain’t quittin’ spirit.  The grown ups in their lives may have quit them however it made room for The Ranches and all it’s staff to step in and they aren’t gonna quit.  For me, as long as I see the slightest bit of try in a horse, I won’t quit them and for The Ranches, the same holds true.  As long as these kids show the slightest try, no one is quitting them.

I wrapped my arm around my baby girl as we walked to the pick up and kissed her head, “Love ya kid.”  She beamed, “I know.  Thank you for bringing my brother and I with you to New Mexico.”

To learn more about The Ranches go to their website, https://www.theranches.org/

To learn more about what my horses and I have to offer, go to my website, http://untetheredhearts.com/

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

 

On My Way To You

 

asphalt blue sky clouds countryside

Photo by Nextvoyage on Pexels.com

We were gifted the opportunity to be V.I.P.’s at a music festival in a beautiful mountain valley where the kids were going to be able to meet one of their most favorite Texas musicians who has recently signed with Nashville.  I packed a book with me that I’d been meaning to read for quite some time now.  With my husband at the helm, driving us down to the festival, I took advantage of my position as co-pilot to sit back, relax and read!

Brook D. Olsen, founder and director of ~ High Conflict Diversion Program, says in his book, “The Black Hole of High Conflict”, “What I am suggesting is that if, sooner rather than later, we focus on our children – meaning, we act as if the other parent didn’t exist and there would be no help from them at all – we will find a way to make our life work and no longer worry about what is taking place when the children are with the other parent.  In doing this, we will be released from the prison of the high conflict cycle and will be free to have a simpler, easier and more connected relationship with our children.”

I did a lot of things wrong when I bolted.  I didn’t have a plan, hell I didn’t have any intention of leaving that June 7th day until I found myself tucked away in my sister’s garage assuring the police officer on the other end of the phone line that I was well and in no way, shape or form, suicidal as my ‘wasband’ claimed and in fact, I was nowhere near the location he claimed I was with a loaded gun.  I had no money set aside.  That goes with the lack of an exit strategy!  I wrongly assumed that justice is and or was the kind of justice that I was raised to believe in.  You know, the kind where right is right, wrong is wrong and all those involved in the judiciary process are capable of seeing bullshit for what it is.  The list goes on and on however there were also things I unknowingly did right … way right!

First and foremost, I have put the kids first.  I have weighed each and every decision and choice with one simple question leading the way, “What is in the best interest of the kids?”  I refuse to acknowledge his existence as part of my own.  My attorney offered me some very sound advice when he said, “Do NOT depend on this asshole for child support or any other money he may be ordered to pay.”  And, thank goodness I heeded his wise words.  We (family, friends, my now husband, etc.) chose a long time ago not to waste our time or energy on trash talking about him or his partner.  What he is to me is a hassle.  He is someone I am court ordered to hand my kids off to so that he can continue to exert power and control through the means of physical, emotional and spiritual abuse over kids he claims to love.  What he is to me is a person I had prayed for and hoped the best for that takes up little space in my life now.  He is a piece of my past.  What he is to me is sand paper.  His roughness, his crazy, highly repulsive, rough grade grit sand paper-ness is what has smoothed my edges.  Or at least most of them 🙂

Mr. Olsen goes on to say, “People with high conflict personalities are very good at the adversarial process.  Their conviction and dedication to their cause can be very persuasive to inexperienced professionals including counselors, attorneys and family court services mediators.” And I would add even those with years of experience in their fields with little to no training in the deceptiveness of a sociopathic, covert narcissist.  He continues, “People displaying high conflict personality traits tend to view relationships from a rigid and adversarial perspective.  People with these traits naturally find themselves in the adversarial environment of the court system.  Most of the cases that are unable to find resolution are those involving high conflict personalities.”  I read this aloud to my super hero husband as we ambled along the highway.  I looked at him and said, “Holy Cow!!!  Ain’t that the truth!” 

“Their conviction and dedication to their cause can be very persuasive…”  What others don’t know, what they may never “get” is, that man they thought was such an all-American charming guy was something and someone entirely different behind closed doors.  When the curtains dropped, the lights shut off and the audience was gone, Dr. Henry Jekyll would remove his mask to reveal Mr. Edward Hyde.  Those intimately involved with the covert narcissist are equally as clever at putting on their own mask.  You know the one, the mask that says, “Everything is fine.”  

Brook D. Olsen says, “The time after a divorce or separation from the other parent can be a time of great transformation and freedom.  The realization that we are no longer under the influence of our ex can have a strong positive effect on our own sense of control.  Our beliefs create our reality.  The thoughts we select during this time will either free us from the conflict or keep us enmeshed with the other parent ….. The future literally begins with a thought, either positive or negative.”  

Cody Johnson was our Texas headliner at the music festival and he along with his fellow artists did not disappoint!  One of my favorite newer songs he sings from his album, ‘Ain’t Nothin’ To It’, is a song titled, “On My Way To You”.  It goes, ” …

Every curve, every ditch

Every turn, every bridge

I left behind me up in smoke

Every fork in the road

It was all worth while

When I finally saw your smile

Every highway, every heartbreak

Every mountain, every mile

All the boats I’ve missed

All the hell I’ve caused

All the lips I’ve kissed

All the love I’ve lost

I thank God for that, I guess He always knew, I was on my way to you …..”

As I danced and sang my heart out along with Cody Johnson (seriously, my throat was sore! lol!), I couldn’t help but think about the words I had read in Brook D. Olsen’s book and how not only did this song ring true with regard to the precious man I share my life with, it also speaks to the me I have come home to.  That bumpy, hellish, fiery, path was bringing me home to myself.  I was on my way to me ….. in many ways, I still am …

Are you are feeling the tug to come home to yourself, to begin building a positive future for yourself where the past no longer controls your future?  Reach out, my horses and I are here to support you along your transformative journey.  You can discover more about what we offer at:  http://untetheredhearts.com/

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

All Dressed Up & Hamstrung

horse face in focus phography

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“Mom you need to come get us NOW!!!”  My son was on the other end of the line, hysterical.

“Take a deep breath sweetheart.  What’s happening?  What’s wrong?”  I said trying to mask the concern I felt rising up from my gut.

“He’s lost his mind!  He’s crazy!  I can’t be here one more millisecond!” He yelled into the phone.

I had dropped the kids off earlier than usual so that they wouldn’t be late for their junior high dance.  It was the last big event for my son as he moves on to high school and I knew it was important to him.  Both kids looked great!  My daughter in a beautiful dress we had bought several weeks before and my son in his Riata slacks and pearl snap shirt.  The arrangement was that if their father wasn’t going to be home in time, I would take the kids to the dance, picking up several classmates along the way.  IF their father was home in time, then I was to drop the kids off 30 minutes early and he would take them to the dance.

In the time that it took for me to drop the kids off, drive home, fill grain bags and start feeding horses “it” hit the fan!  There’s this polarity in me, the part that knows damn well nothing ever goes well when “he” is involved and the other part of me that naively and hope-filled-ly wants to believe it will all go great!  Clayton commented off handed to his father about how he couldn’t wait until he was 16 years old (what kid can wait!?!) and he could leave when he needed to so that he was on time to things that were important to him, like this dance.  The kid is like his mother, on time is late and early is on time ….. especially when other people are counting on ya for a ride!  Apparently that is disrespectful in his father’s eyes and so he flipped a u-turn in the middle of the dirt road and took the kids back to his residence instead of to the dance.  As you might imagine, it escalated from there.

I temporarily forgot my mantra where I remind myself that he’s flat out bat-shit crazy and not to try to make sense out of anything he says or does and I did just that ….. I tried to make sense out of the madness.  Who in their right mind does these kinds of things to their kids … for fun?!?!?!  As I talked my almost 16 year old, taller than me, muscly, athletic, smart as hell, kid off the cliff I caught myself saying, “You’ve got to take some deep breaths love.  Count for me, when you breath in and the breath out, count it.” 

“WHAT!?!”  He yelled into the phone!

“Count your breath for me, please?”  I felt as if I was begging at that point.  “I want to help support you in calming your parasympathetic nervous system.  I know where this much adrenaline and frustration can lead and I don’t want you to go there with him.  He doesn’t deserve the satisfaction of getting this rise out of you.”

I’m pretty sure his face said something like, “My mom is a nerd!”

“Please hear me.  He will not hesitate to file verbal harassment charges against you.”  I had listened as my son had used words I couldn’t imagine hearing him yell at me!  “Please hear me.  You do not want this to go to blows.  You will wind up with charges filed against you and you are up against his wife who’s with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department.  Long, deep breaths baby boy …”  I felt like I was pleading.  I knew what my ‘wasband’ was capable of and I knew, he had no qualms about going after those he claimed to “love”.

My son was a rock in a hard place.  He was convinced he wasn’t going to get to go to the dance at this point however he was justifiably mad as hell that his sister was in the house, crying, make-up running, hair all a-mess because their father had decided he really could use an opportunity to “get off” and this chaos was perfect fuel for his fire!

I heard my son yell at him, “This isn’t fair to her.  You at least need to take her and pick up my classmates!  Just because you’re mad at me doesn’t mean she has to pay the price or them either!” 

Then he said, “Mom, I don’t understand her!  She says she’s not going without me!  You have to tell her to go!”

“Baby boy, I will not tell her to go.  She has drawn her line in the sand and like it or not, she has your back.  You won’t budge that girl.”  His sister was willing to take her pretty dress and hang it on a hanger, un-danced, to make sure her brother knew she had his back.

He said his father was sitting in the car with it running, doors locked and the window cracked.  He said he was going to see what was up.  I asked him to be very careful, told him how very sorry I was for the chaos and I told him I loved him with all my heart.  And that was it.  The phone lines disconnected and I was left standing in disbelief, tears staining my cheeks as I hugged Cricket’s big ol’ neck picking up grain bags and shutting off the water.  Who the hell does that kind of thing to their kids!?!

I repeatedly reminded myself not to try to make sense out of something that made absolutely no sense at all.  My heart ached.  I got a text message well after the dance had started.  It said, “We’re here.”   I said, “I love you.” and that was it.  I didn’t hear anything more.  Both kids looked rough when they got home a few days later and I can only imagine what hell they paid for going to that dance.

The sociopathic covert narcissist only cares for themselves.  They have an insatiable need for chaos and destruction and it does not matter who pays the tab.  You see, I had to lawyer up from the get-go and I learned quickly, I’d best be on my “A” game, 24/7 because if I hadn’t heard it or seen it, I was about to!  My kids are learning the same lessons and it’s painful to watch.  What I’ve learned is that these manipulative liars are amazing at spinning reality and truth.  They will fly the “alienation” flag so fast your head and mine will spin double time however the irony is that they are amazing at alienating their kids all on their own.  I could not alienate my kids the way he alienates them all on his own!  He’s dug his own grave.  I know it, my kids are starting to recognize it and he will forever blame it on me!

Take a deep breath if you are in my shoes.  Your kids are smart, intuitive and far more “worldly” than you’d like to believe.  They will form their own opinions with or without your influence.  Take the high road, screw the filter on your mouth TIGHT and bite your tongue clear through.  Your kids will be better off for it.  That asshole will bury himself and you can rest easy knowing you took the high road.

For more information and what opportunities are available to you, go to: http://untetheredhearts.com/

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