I am realizing now how the daily stress and sheer immensity of the looming failure of this place has impacted us. It just slowly eats away. Everything else just falls away, pales in comparison. I am watching this progression and am so taken by the changes in us both. I try very hard to tell myself, it is okay, let it be. Move on. and most of the time I can get by like that. But there are days when the magnitude of what needs to happen crashes over me. I can barely breathe thinking about failing. This isn’t just “failing” a test, or flunking in school. Lives balance here, yes, I know they are animals. But it isn’t just the animals. It is my relationship, it is my partner’s sanity. The reality of it can no longer be brushed aside. No longer can good intentions and pollyanna optimism hold the tide. That is no longer an option. The relentless ringing of the phone as bill collectors chase us, or the daily choices of how to cut which corner that day. This morning I found myself looking at the art hanging on these walls, thinking what could we get for that painting. But in that split second I envision myself sitting in an empty house. Completely devoid of anything. It is crushing, right to my very marrow. When did it get so awful. When did everything go so very far off course. I never could have foreseen J losing all that money. As is often the case, I was blindsided. But here I am teetering on the edge. Trying so hard to get thru another day. I realize we aren’t even moving anymore- our stress and this situation has hobbled us both. There are a thousand things we could be doing, but we can’t seem to even function. Beyond the work here at the farm, we cannot climb out from under this. It goes so far beyond the $ and the bills. I goes to the very heart of what we started here. We swore, somewhere in our hearts to care. Each of these animals was brought here. We have tended to their needs, loved them and deeply bonded to them. Each and every one of them. Some so deeply they have become a part of us. How do you look at a creature you watched take it’s first breath and come to terms with losing it. Not because it is sick or dying, but because you have failed in your ability to care for it. That rests on our shoulders, it is unlike any pain I have ever felt. It is not something I can let my mind dwell on. I becomes so obvious why torturing myself for an hour at the gym is welcoming, but it only holds for so long. I have watched now, and it seems to be weekly I have a day or two when it just becomes unmanageable. Even running and hiding at the gym cannot make it go away, no matter how hard I push or how loud the music. It finds a way back in.

I realized when I woke up this morning I have been having the same dream, over and over. But it wasn’t until today that I realized that. It is so raw and brutal I can hard think about it.I am standing in a clearing, surrounded by the herd of horses we care for. Each lays dead at my feet, a single bullet hole between their eyes. Eyes that once followed me with love and trust, now sightless and fixed. The rich deep smell of gunfire lays in a haze over us. I look down and realize I am holding a gun, still hot and smoking. One round remains in the gun. I wake up.

I know I could never take the life of one of these animals. Perhaps if they were suffering immeasurably, but to walk up to an innocent horse and take it’s life. Perhaps it is just my subconscience grappling with losing them. To say goodbye is so daunting. I am looking for a way to come to terms with it in my dreams. It is still a graphic and disturbing dream. Maybe shaped by so many mass shootings, perhaps.

The fact remains, there will be loss. On an unimaginable scale. You cannot put so much into a place like this and not become attached. It isn’t an easy departure. It is that looming possibility that colors ever minute of our days. Every time she or I looks at one of these creatures we love so deeply, there it is. I can compartmentalized this only so far. I can hide behind a harsh exterior, and exclaim they are “only an animal”, but I fool nobody. Least of all myself. I can create distance, and make myself completely devoid of feelings most of the time, but on days like today it does crash back down on me. That is the problem with that coping skill, it doesn’t work, not for long, especially as the situation and the emotions grow more intense. Numb is a place I spend a lot of time, it is a skill I learned long ago. It allowed me to survive, but it also comes at a great cost. Especially now, when I understand the complexity of the emotions it masks. Back in the past, I knew nothing of what was there, just knew it was far too “bad” to experience. I know now it is beyond intense and painful. I know running from that, and hiding by cloaking myself in insensibility only increases the risk. Because there in the shadows those emotions just build, layer upon layer. It will come around eventually, when there is no place left to hide them. In that moment when the reality of what lies there piled in heaps comes clear that an end game becomes inviting. I cannot return to that. Instead I seem to understand that I have to look at these feelings, and even if it is just one day or two days a week, it is something I have to do. Maybe the dream is a function of my old coping mechanism finding a place to show itself. But I can’t imagine leaving this mess and all these animals with my partner. Would it be easier? sure, it would make the stress and the pain stop. It would only compound her suffering. I have my doubts she can handle this situation, as it is now. I doubt she could if I removed myself from the picture. Nobody wants to think about that. Least of all me. I have come such a great distance from where I was. It is not a time to revisit old behaviors, rather a time to explore new ones. Challenge this new-found strength and figure out a way to survive. I may not know how, but I can get through this. Even if it means having days like today, where I must spend some time bathed in the rawest of emotions. It is bad, and the situation is beyond trying. It is okay to feel this way. It is okay to suffer. In this suffering I can see how deeply I care, and how strong my bond is. This suffering only further highlights my capacity to love and to cherish, to hold these creatures dear to me, and to give a piece of myself to them. Yes, I can love and in return be loved. I am special, special enough to have the ability to create these bonds. There is a reason for my pain,, it is not in vain.


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