A find

While sorting Christmas ornament boxes came across this. What are the odds of this letter surviving all these years. It is simply amazing…1520608_796721630353356_1685502625_n


Animal House

No real change today beyond my body arguing bitterly about the strain I have put it under. I’m on week three of a mileage increase to put my weekly running in the 23-29 mile range. That for me is a lot. Though in the sport of running it is not. I have run solely off feel for the past three weeks. I have run as far as my body felt it could go that day, or as short as it needed- though none have been under 4 miles. 5-6 has become my comfort zone. My longer runs, usually two a week (rather than one long weekend run) have been in the 10 mile range. I have run to stay grounded. I know I need it. It drives me out the door. It gets my sneakers on when every ounce of me wants nothing to do with running. I am strong enough fitness wise to be able to force it even when I don’t want to. My legs just go along. I let my mind wander. It usually flits from thought to thought, no one ever staying all that long. Some deep, some not. Mainly it is just the act of running that I need. It can be hard, as today’s run was. The kind of run you think you’ll fall over if you stop your forward momentum. The past two have been like this, though today really was one of the worst I have ever had. I wanted 6. That is what I set out for, but knew in the first 1/2 mile that today was not a good day. I should not have run at all. My body is aching. I can’t barely list my arms over my head but like a stubborn mule I pulled on my tights and headed out into the cold. I HAD TO run. And run I did. I pushed myself. It was a mistake. I knew it the whole way yet I’m too damn stubborn to concede a loss. I ran every hill and refused to back down. I felt for sure my staggering pace was slow, but my GPS told me I was running at my normal easy run pace. Each foot step felt jarring and I returned more sore than I left. It was not my brightest moment. Though what was my alternative? To sit in this house and stare at the walls. To not run and beat myself up over it like I did yesterday? My inner voice was merciless yesterday. It never let up. I wandered the house and watched the snow. I did not set foot outside till it was 10 PM and time to check the horses. I walked back and forth in the house. From room to room. I could not find anywhere that gave me comfort. The time spent in the studio felt uncomfortable and forced. I let myself leave the work I was doing since it was not going anywhere productive. I looked at the paperwork stacked high on the desk, the dishes piled in the sink and the mound of garbage the dogs had dragged across the living room. I could not bring myself to do anything about it. It is registering there in my head. I just can’t find the desire to fix it.

The house is a disaster. and I mean a real mess at this point. Neighbors stopped in and I was so ashamed of it. It is not uncommon for the house to be a mess. Neither my partner nor I are much in the domestic department. I did not get my mother’s cleaning gene. I am no Martha Stewart. In my barn you could eat of the floor. In my house that move might bring the CDC calling. This day is no different. It registers and I feel blanketed in the mess. It is suffocating. but I do nothing to address it. The bird has demolished a lamp and shade. It sits a shambles in the TV room. The drapes all have holes from him pulling on them. There is bird shit all over. I see it. All of it. I just do nothing. When did my life become like this? When did I stop caring about anything? I like when it is clean and the counters are sparkling white. When no dishes clutter the sink. I am lazy I guess. Lazy and living in the filth of this life. The mess of the bird, dogs, cats. All of them. It is disgusting and repugnant yet I do nothing to change it. I can’t remember the last time I changed my bedding, or cleaned the bathroom. I just don’t know. I don’t know when our life became like this. It is horrifying in so many ways. but most of all I feel the shame of it. My skin crawls when people come in the house. I imagine their eyes taking in eyes inch of the filth. I can only wonder what they think of me. “who keeps a house like this?”. My mother stopped coming all together. I know she can’t stomach it. I can’t. I can only imagine how it makes her feel. This is someone who has been known to vacuum more than once a day. Her house is never out of order. It is pristine as if waiting for Home & Garden to arrive for a photo shoot. There is no clutter, no mess. Just shining surfaces, and order. It makes me feel sick to walk in her house. It makes me see how horrid our existence is. I guess I gave up along the way, unable to stem the tide of dirt and disorder. There have been times along the way that I just lose it. My partner will find me on my hands and knees scrubbing a floor thick with grime. This is usually alarming for us both. I will clean until my fingers ache and my back won’t straighten. It is a frenzied place of no stopping. It is irritable and angry flashing with anxiety. It is a place of being pushed one pile of shit too many. It is my breaking point. This house has exceeded that and I have nothing to give it. No frenzy to unleash. No fix and so I sit amidst the filth and just have to shudder. There is no way to look away. No avoiding it. I live like this. I guess I am a pig. A slovenly creature too lazy to make it any better. Sad to say even my pigs are cleaner than this. I don’t think I could hate myself more as I take in the state of this place.


As I try to make sense of the depression, fear has become my companion. In the struggle to remain upright and moving it is there. A constant. Steady and dull in my chest. It is not a flighty running panic. It is far closer to a deep dread that has set up camp beneath my breast bone. Not a breath goes by it without the reminder. I know I am scared and this is just my way of controlling it as best I can. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I do not know if my judgement and coping will depart as they have at times. I cannot help but envision me at my darkest moments. I know what I have done. It remains there in my head. The shame never left. In this fearful state it is ever-present. I do not want to be blinded by this depression and lose sight of everyone around me. I don’t want to be miles away and disengaged from my life. Yet I don’t know where this is going. I know how it feels and how quickly it arrived. Least it felt that way. I think I just avoided seeing all the calling cards left on my doorstep. I looked away. Denial hid the truth. But it grew too deep to deny its existence. Here I sit trying to put words to the dull ache in my chest. I have worked so hard, but depression doesn’t care. It doesn’t change or pull any punches. It is here, just as it has always been. Terrifying in its ability to grow all encompassing and dark. I think about all the times I have been in this exact place. All the years. It just doesn’t let go and leave me alone. It does not matter how hard I try, nor how far I have come. It is meaningless. It arrives unwanted all the same. I do not know what I ever did to deserve this. I can not think of a worse punishment, for it truly is to be dead on your feet. To see passion and interest cease. To lose track of days, and even hours in the haze. So little even registers while holding still and fighting to get through. It becomes only about the fight. I could just lay down and give up. Sure a part of me wants nothing more. That does nothing for me in the long run. I could bury myself beneath my blankets and sleep through the days as I have in the past. That only seems to drag it out longer. There does not seem to be any right answer, only the wrong ones.

so I continue on in this unsettled place. I’ve learned enough not to let myself disconnect and disappear. I know that. But in the wake of its absence I can only feel pain I want none of. What is the answer? How do I find the grace and strength to bow my head and shoulder this burden with reacting to it. How do I find acceptance? I have no answers. but I will grow tired of holding off old patterns. I have changed yet I know the old familiar roads are still there. they don’t just vanish.

I know Virgil and Beatrice want me to continue on this new path. I am trying. I just feel woefully unprepared for the journey.

Middle Ground


As I said I would, I went out into the snow today. I returned to the trails of our park next door. It has been a while since I ran those tough hills. It was brutally cold. My app registering 9 degrees. The wind and snow blowing nearly horizontally. Beneath the canopy of trees it eased up as I picked my way across icy rough trails. It is never an easy run doing that loop and today was no different. Today I had the beauty of the snow. I ran around the length of the lake. Climbing to the highest spot and looking down at the stark black trees contrasting against the background of white. I can’t help but remember a trail run last winter when all I wanted was to sit down under on of those trees and peacefully go to sleep. It was my suicidal mind at it’s most docile. It wasn’t violent. It wasn’t angry. It was letting go and giving up. I didn’t stop that day though I wanted so badly to. I forced myself onward in the fresh snow. I have made that decision many times. I have made the right choice so many thousands of times. I should be proficient at it by now, though I don’t trust myself to do the safe route. I have made the wrong choice before. Why doesn’t the thousands of times cancel out those numbering less than a dozen? The ratio is so skewed. If I were a betting person it would be easy. My successes far outweigh my failures. But in my head that ratio doesn’t hold. I only see the failures, the weakness and the bone numbing depressions. I lose sight of the work that has brought me so very far. I lose sight of all the times I held on and rode it out. The times I survived. Those should be what lives in my mind. They should be my defining moments, not the others. That isn’t the case. I can only see the worst of it. The scary parts. The terrifying disconnection from everyone and everything. I see only my ability to do myself harm. What is there to do when you are the one traumatizing yourself? It isn’t some masked stranger that creeps in the night, it is me.
So how does one accept what they have done and move on? Can I find distance and peace from the fear I feel? Is there a way to move on and realize that it is in the past and does not determine the future? It seems all I have really accepted is the worst case scenario? I have not accepted my pain, surely I have not. It only suffering now. I cannot even begin to understand how to embrace this state of being and find acceptance. My only instinct is to move away from this, not toward it. Yet, I am different now. I am not in either place. Instead somewhere in the middle and unsure of this new middle ground. It is not disconnecting and drift off from everyone though it isn’t coping well either. I am not really sure what to make of it. As I slide closer to my normal departure route I come back to the middle. I somehow can’t make that swift shift away like I used to. Is that a good thing??? Seems a healthier route than those walked in the past. I can figure out this place. I just cannot accept the pain that comes with it. Do I need a thicker skin? Do I need to find devotion? religion? anything- something? I am at a loss here.

A loss for words, and thoughts. I know I’m in new territory here and don’t even have a map. Who knew to grow emotionally could be so damn confusing. Don’t get me wrong I am amazed at how far I have come. I’m just unsure of where it leaves me right now as I battle the usual demons and the temptation to follow old worn paths is all too easy. So I stand here unsure and tentative. I just don’t know.

Icy Roots

When is snow not just snow? Well for me it was hanging myself from the nearest tree. I think the snow was just collateral damage that night. I don’t think it had anything to do with my plan, though of course it complicated it immeasurably. I would go so far as to say it was my savior. With no storm, no snow and no brutally cold temps I could easily have tied that knot. It would have been the end for me. Instead I learned just how bad it feels to freeze. I always run cold. I can have every layer on and still find it hard to stay warm. But I had no layers that night, no defense against mother nature at her most wicked. That stiff northern wind that stops your breath in its tracks. She is mighty in her power. In those first moments before dawn I lay humbled by that power. I was an insignificant nothing but a blip on her vast surface. In that moment I felt as small as I ever have. Powerless to change. Fugitive to my mind and it’s violent impulses. I had fell victim to myself and I lay there shivering knowing I was weak. I had succumbed to the impulse. Yet there I lay beneath a blanket of thick snow with nothing but my bone chattering shivering to keep me company. I made a decision. It didn’t matter less than an hour earlier I was intent on ending my life. I chose to get up out of that snow. I did not want to freeze to death. In fact, I could not think of a worse fate. The panic that swept me was thorough and to my core. There was no ambivalence. Zero. Yet just that day I had wanted nothing more than to end my suffering. The rope taut on my neck still evidence of that truth. But something changed. Was it the freezing cold?. The biting wind and snow? Would I have even gotten up had I not been buried under that pile of cold ice? I may not have. It is easy to blame the snow for my failure that night, but I can just as easily blame it for my survival.

I can trace the cold through so many awful nights in my life. Experiences tightly bound to the feeling in my body. It wasn’t just the Nor’Easter. It was the frigid predawn hours that I lay curled on that bath mat unable to fathom what had just happened to my body and soul. It was my shivering that kept me awake and aware till the sun finally lit the window of the small bathroom. I had never been that cold, in body and mind. Nor felt as small. They go hand in hand. Standing pinned to a walk-in freezer, shivering beneath the hands of a man I didn’t know enough not to trust. Squirming in the chill dark air as rough long fingers penetrated me. Years later sitting shivering in a police station, feeling just as small and frozen. They link together. My emotional state wrecked in each. Broken in mind and spirit. Both at the hands of others and of myself. Cold is a state of being in my head. A brutal lonely place. A place of mistakes and errors of judgement. A place that comes at such an extreme cost. I don’t like the cold. Nor does my head. I find it hard not to dwell in the past as my core temp drops too much. I’ve found my defenses, and try not to think much about snow and storms, or sub-zero temps. They register. They always do, but I fight hard to see the beauty and peace. In the past year I have fled from the house out into the snow and cold. To run till I no longer felt the cold and all its icy triggers. I bound in the fresh powder, alone and free. Nothing but my breath to keep me company. Tomorrow will be no different. I will fight hard and see the wonder, not the horror. I need not dwell in the worst the cold had to offer my soul. Instead I can change and seek a new dynamic with the cold frozen conditions. They don’t have to define my experience anymore. It won’t be easy. I know that. I can try. Snow doesn’t need to be a death knell. Though it once came so very close to being one. Yes, it was one of the worst nights of my life, just as all the other awful brushes with the cold were. They do not define me, not if I don’t let them. It is finding the skill and power to unteather myself from them. So, no a snow storm may never be just a snow storm. I know that. But I can find a way to see the beauty in the clean slate mother nature has created for me.

The day

Today dawned much like the ones that preceded it. I’m disconnected in a desperate attempt not to feel anything. But Beatrice is right, I’m not like I once was. I’m in touch with myself and my world. I see it and feel it. I appreciate it for all it is and isn’t right now. There was once a time when I could just shut down and disappear. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. If anything I am far too aware for my liking. There is no going back. I’ve grown into a different more complete person. I am viewing my existence so differently than I once did. I can not disentangle myself from that which I love and those that love me. It is staggeringly hard to create space now. I feel my partner’s fear. It is palpable here in the house. I don’t know what to say. I retreat and all the words unspoken hang listlessly around me. I see the sentences slouching in the corners of my vision. They taunt me, yet I still say nothing. What is there to say? Here I am again sliding. I couldn’t remain in a solid place. It has been a year. Just one year. How can we both live like this? She looks away rather than come closer. I do nothing to change that. I am irritable and sad in this silence. Beatrice is right, for someone as articulate and well spoken I can’t communicate with my partner for shit (my words, not hers). Would it even make a difference? Does talking change anything? I am not even sure. The words what live in my head are not anything anyone wants to hear.
Much of my day was spent alone in my studio. It was good to be lost in my work. I did not produce anything I liked, but at least I was not sitting and worrying. Instead I surrendered to my art. My hands spoke for me as I listened to music. It is a light airy space. It is so conducive to working. I don’t know why my work returned to me now. I can only say I am thankful for the refuge. Yet I still left the studio lost and hopeless. I forced myself out into the frigid air for a run. I did not want to go, I’d have far rather curled up on the couch lost in my thoughts. I knew I had to go. In the brisk air and the bright sunlight I found my stride and breath. I watched thoughts flip by in a never-ending news reel. I saw them and let them go. And so it went. I pushed myself hard enough to make it hurt. In that moment I found myself much more centered and less “watching” my thoughts. I was more connected, but feeling less pain. In some strange way the physical pain of running hard replaced the pain in my head. It was as if I swapped them in the course of my run. I returned home in a different place. Less hopeless and lost. As if the strength in my running stride brushed off and influenced my thoughts. I felt stronger. It has been a few hours now and I am still less hopeless than this morning. I will need to force myself to run again tomorrow. I’m willing to do anything not to get lost in that dark awful place I call depression.

I’m pretty much at a loss for words. I am crashing and burning here. To say I am fearful and worried at this point would be an understatement. I want nothing more than to just disappear. If I can’t disappear than I want to sit really still and try to let myself believe this descent isn’t this fast and this deep. Just a few weeks ago my life was consumed with running a faster mile. Like that remotely matters at this point. I could careless if I even put my sneakers on, let alone run anywhere. Where did it all go so wrong, so fast.
I can’t do it again. I cannot. But I can’t stop this. To step away and take a break is just not even possible. Where would I even go. My life is here. my life is this work, this farm. The priority is feeding and caring for these animals, not me. It isn’t about me. It is all about making sure this place keeps running at all cost. I guess that cost includes me. Sad really.
The saddest of all is the rift between my partner and I. It seems the worse things get the farther apart we get. I want nothing more than to talk, but that doesn’t happen. Instead it is awkward and distant. So I pull back into my head and the deafening silence of this black place I find myself in. clearly my attempt at writing tonight isn’t going all that well. guess I’ll try again tomorrow.

The aftermath

There is a crushing moment, in the stillness after our job is done. It was raw and cold. The arena was dim and quiet but for the whisper of the wings of the birds roosting above. The vet had gone. The owners had gone. It was just me and the horse. He was gone as well. No longer in pain. His big frame laying in the dirt. It is always the same. Least for me. It is in that moment when my “job” is done. I have done what I needed to do. I’ve stepped away from my emotions and my thoughts. With some it has been days, others, like today, just a brutal 24 hours. It is a combination of exhaustion and being overwhelmed as all the emotions I have kept hard in check slip back in uninvited. Today it was there in the indoor and so I stood still letting a heavy blanket of emotions envelop me. I understand the cost. It doesn’t matter how proficient I become at their care. It doesn’t matter how many times I walk this road of desperately trying to save them. The cost is still the same and it is huge.