What I Haven’t Said ~ Horses

Many people have commented over the years that I don’t share much about the horses – and with the one exception of when I was living in Maryland, attempting to possibly make a go of it one last time – this true. It was simply too painful to write about them. Things went skewed for my plans with the horses and farm, but my time on the Eastern Shore was priceless in terms of experiences and events that led on to other ones. Once it became clear that at this point in my life, there just isn’t a place for me to work with horses (and be able to support my own). It was time to change focus. Accepting that, I slowly started the mental process of selling my Andalusian mare and finding a more permanent boarding place/home for my beloved older horse Domino. These things are hard in person, and 4 time zones away and strained communication with family made things 100x more difficult. I don’t really want to go into the details, but after months of attempting to have conversations with family members starting in the late Spring – I learned in mid July that my Father had sold all the horses, tack, and associated equipment. I can logically understand that it was time for the horses to be sold. My issue with Dad is not that he sold the horses, but how he sold them, the fact that he didn’t tell me beforehand, didn’t let me know after, and then had everyone else in the family keep it a secret. For weeks. Again, I’ve no desire to go into the details (I am sure I have already upset a few people by now as it is), but to say that this didn’t affect me – is a huge understatement. See, my mare Domino I had since she was about 4 years old. Or to put in terms you may know – since I was around 12 years old (possibly younger). This horse SHAPED how I approached all other horses and eventually their people. Domino is the main reason I got into horse training. Domino is why I learned more about equine psychology than any other type of area I could have spent my teenage years pursuing. Domino was my best friend, when the human world didn’t understand. I had Domino longer than my best friend Lorien and I have known each other… And I didn’t even get to say goodbye. By the time I tracked down the man who had bought the horses (no one in my family was forthcoming with this information due to reasons still unexplained to me) – he had already auctioned her off to somewhere in VA. I cannot explain the heartbreak and distress the weeks during and after these events brought me.

Even now, months later, I have little to say to my Dad. I love him, always will. But I have little to say to him now. I don’t expect most people to understand, nor do I need them to. The way he handled the events following his selling of the horses just doesn’t lend to a casual conversation over the phone or a ‘nice’ family visit on my part. He rationalized that due to me spending next to no time at the farm or with the horses, it somehow wouldn’t bother me. He couldn’t have been more wrong. My time at the farm and in TN is clearly a thing of the past. People move on, and often to places you cannot be in.

My last horse – Mikka – who was originally Mom’s horse is safely being boarded long-term with the Myerson family (who have been beyond amazing in helping me with her and all things that involve TN). She will stay with them as long as it works for them or more subtle place for her becomes apparent. As the last living animal that my Mother dearly loved, I will not give her up (unless it is because I can no longer safely care for her) even though horses don’t seem to have a place in my life anymore. She is very well cared for and living with horses she knows, and gets to spend time with people who genuinely enjoy her. I couldn’t ask for a better home away from me. As one of my Mother’s good friends – Barbara gets a lot out of having her as well. For all of this I thankful.

At this point in my life I have my faithful companion River, and make sure Mikka is getting what she needs. All my other animals are gone, some in the most heartbreaking of ways. Everything about who I used to be as a horse person is gone. Even my saddle. After the way this went down, I cannot say if I’ll ever try my hand with horses (outside of Mikka) again. To not even get to say goodbye to one of my most loved animals of all time – is particularly devastating to me. This experience, like many others – is just another painful part of my life that I hide behind pretty pictures and book quotes. Because in the end, it is mostly just I who cares, and will still feel this loss and lack of consideration years from now. This is another of those ‘what I haven’t said’ events.

~J

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5 Years Now Without Mom

I read the ‘4 Years Gone’ write up I did a year ago basically to the day, and I am struck by how much things have changed – and how much they haven’t. I could just copy/paste most of the words again for this year. The emotions, the thoughts, the memories; very little is different in those areas, even with another year for perspective. That in itself is a little scary. Makes me want to rage at those who quote that insufferable phrase ‘Time Heals All Wounds’. Dumb fuck who wrote that was clearly in-denial or hadn’t lost very much. I rarely feel angry, except at shallow empty words thrown in my face to ‘console’ me (but only them, in reality). Then the extraordinary pissed-off redhead temper comes out in force.

As you may have guessed, I don’t feel any less grief this year then I did the last 4. I do however feel more sadness than anger (or at least I believe I do) with the world. I also find myself looking back at my experiences with people those first few years, and having much more anger now than I did then, at the level of shit I went through. All it takes is a misguided statement made by a family member or friend and I feel the slow burn of angry pain that they still don’t get it. Maybe my increased sadness is that they and most of the world never will and its unfair of me to want them to be able to grasp the faintest idea of it.

Last year I attended a Tracker class with the 3 women who many know as my ‘Element Sisters’. Though I was around people and not trying to shove everything down, I also didn’t share much – and what I did share was mostly through the girls. Tracy, Linda and Afsoon’s support that year was the beginning of me not trying to hide 24/7. This year, the Healing School I have been apart of ran the 3rd class during the corresponding weekend (the dates are set when we sign up). So not only was I in another class, but this time it was even more hands-on with the emotions of life. Instead of fading into the background and only letting people know the significance of the dates via my Sisters, this year I had to do it myself and beforehand. Instead of standing on the edge of the 130+ group of classmates – many whom I didn’t know – I was in the middle of a very close knit group of 13 that I have worked with before. Not only did I not sit in silence all day, I shared my experience with classmates and friends, many of whom are quickly becoming true family.

I keenly feel the lack of contact from most people in my life, particularly this day. Lorien, best friend, person that Facebook says I am ‘In a relationship with’ and many people do believe that (which is totally okay by us) and the first person who ever sat with me in the long silences always makes contact this day. Even if its just through text. This year I had more people than I honestly know what to do with make contact with me. Interestingly most were not actual family members – or even old friends. I also shared my experience with feeling for the first time since the first weeks of 2009. In class, while words can be important and are often used to jumpstart an event, its the feeling, the emotion that we are most concerned about. I was the ‘group project’ to experience past events – all 12 classmates and the 3 instructors at the same time. Those of you who really know me, will realize that it is close to the last thing I would ever want to do, share ‘feelings’ while actually in contact with a shit-ton of people in person! But I did. Many may think that the ‘talking’ part is hard. Its not really, I’ve had to tell that fucking story over and over again. For family, for friends, for police, for doctors, and lawyers, therapists and teachers. I’m so not in touch with my emotions when I talk about the days leading up and shortly after Mom was killed, that I learned to ‘fake’ some reaction so as to not upset family or alarm the doctors for the first few years. In the past I’ve been accused of not caring, being a cold heartless bitch and having ‘something really really wrong with me’ because I can’t talk and feel at the same time very well. Clearly the world isn’t as ‘aware’ as they think they are about things like PTSD. The worst part was never how I felt talking about it, but how the other people felt. The shock, the disbelief, the looking for the silver lining, the inability to grasp, and of course; the wondering of how I ‘didn’t know’, which eventually leads to questioning of my intelligence, the darkness I must have to attract such people. The ways in which I am broken that I could be a part of such evil – even as a bystander. My grief, anger and pain I sit with everyday. Its the rest of the world and their judgements, their dismissal and lack of awareness that is so fucking impossible to be with.

By year 2 I had stopped calling people. Asking for people to sit with me (Lorien never had to be asked, but then I moved away) or be supportive. Some friends would take it upon themselves to be around in any way they could. Something I am very grateful for and applaud for dealing with my despair. It was a strange feeling to be the one who explained to the new people in my life (Shaun, classmates, etc) what the days leading up to the 4th meant to me. It was even more surreal when even after I explained that there is only ‘dark and twisty’ on that day that I found myself accepting them in my experience of it. – I will write up another post going into more detail for those interested.

I wish there was a positive spin I could put on things from the kids and Dad. But I am not really privy to their experience with this anymore. I texted the ones who have cell phones, reaching out in between the madness of driving through snow, DC traffic and flying to Alaska. To the younger kids it is probably more of ‘another day’ in the time span of not fun days that makeup this time of year. I can’t really say how they are doing other than just getting by. I like to think I have moved from the space of surviving to living, but some days I am not as convinced. Or maybe it is more of perspective, that in my own way I do live; in the moments possible, and when not, I survive.

I do know that the various places the boys and younger kids are, Mom still smiles. I watch my brothers as they mature, and even with their anger and pain and their struggles, at their core they are amazing young men. Every single one of my 8 siblings is unique, with their own talents. I hope for each one that one day they live, fully and lovingly, their own lives.

I see my Mother in every red sunrise and sunset. I spy a cardinal on a branch and think of her. A waterfall. The Mountains. Roadtrips. All these things she loved. All these things she inspired us children to love. Thinking back to one of the many gifts she bestowed upon her loved ones, I don’t think love was the biggest one. Or even hope. But maybe was inspiration. I have countless (literally, I forget the them often) stories of the people out there who were inspired to do and be more in life from knowing Mom.

Even in death my Mother somehow inspires people to live more fully. To laugh more often. To love more fully. To nurture and care for the lost children. Below: Early 90’s in Alaska, with (I believe) a baby Jeremy. She didn’t let things like having 3 young children, 9 dogs and winter keep her tied down. She had fun anywhere she was.

Mom in Alaska with a baby brother

Mom in Alaska with a baby brother

In one breath I can go back to my last day with Mom. The brightest most beautiful light. The hope. The love. The laughter. 5 years ago in the space of a moment. And in the same space, the 5 years is also an eternity of hell. Of pain. Of a deep black hole of grief that never goes away. A breath of love and an eternity of hell in just one moment. I walk in both worlds, as they are both true. It almost feels as though it should be strange, that just a breath of love can inspire someone to live through hell for eternity. But then that is the type of love my Mother inspired. Not strange at all. Beautiful.

~ J

Horses & Journey

Some of you may be familiar with my relationship to horses, but others hardly at all since I do not talk about them or write on here of them all that much. Leaving the horses was one of the harder things I’ve done in my life. To me, they are not pets or animals, they are not something to ‘have fun’ with, they aren’t pasture ornaments or a status symbol. The words ‘friends’, ‘family’ and ‘mentors’ could be loosely used to describe how I feel about them.

All my life I struggled with fitting in, feeling isolated from people (not because there was no one there, but because I couldn’t be myself with most people) and feeling alone. Particularly as a child and teen, the only friends who I could be myself with were my horses. I would take whatever book I was reading on a nice day and sit upon the round bales (large rolled bales of hay that usually stand about 4 feet tall and wide enough to lounge on) in the middle of the pasture, where I would of course be surrounded by the horses eating their hay for large periods of time. If I was upset, I would go and tell my horses. If I needed to get away, I would just sit on my mare Domino in the pasture. If I just wanted to run away altogether, I would take her off the farm for a run – just the two of us. Sometimes we would be gone half the day.

I never felt alone, I never felt isolated or misunderstood when I was with one of my horses. Many of you will probably scoff at this next statement, but the horses talk back to people who know how to listen.

It wasn’t until my teen years that I realized it wasn’t just me who the horses helped on such a deep level. As some of you may be aware, they use horses in therapy for Autistic children/adults, trauma survivors, and so much more. Corporations will send employees to a seminar on leadership where all they do is work with horses. So when I say that my horses are some of my best friends and mentors, I am not talking as a little girl who only has eyes for her pets; I am talking about the few beings on the planet who have always been able to anchor me to this world, regardless of the amount of shit it throws at me.

Obviously I am a fan of all animals and horses, but not all horses are able to or will interact with humans on this level. My horses ended up with me for a variety of reasons, and were very cut out to work with people in these ways. So when I had to sell/give away many of them, it was a horrific process of deciding who would stay with me, and who would go on to their next home. None of them wanted to leave. Some of them were in very poor shape, and none were getting any attention and only the most minimum care (this was in the first year after Mom was killed). Yet not one wanted to leave the farm, the family or me. All of my horses handled very well, so when I say that they refused to get into trailers of their new owners, you should understand this was them knowing and understanding what was about to happen.

The horses I did decided to do my damnedest to keep were: Domino, my grey Arab/mix mare who I had the longest; Journey, my black grade Quarter Horse who I had only bought the year before, but with whom I knew we were to do great things; and Mikka, my Mother’s Lipizzaner filly. I had one other young mare out on long term lease, Juniper.  To the rest, I said goodbye. There are no words for what it was like then, and now over 3 years later I can still barely talk about it. If you are curious, I wrote just once about it a while ago. https://lifeofjourney.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/the-horses/

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Myself with Journey (left, black) & Domino on the Solstice, 2010.

Juniper ended up coming back to me over a year ago, when the lady who took her on an extended lease — as part of the deal where she got my stud colt Cohete, who is worth thousands of dollars — went back on our agreement. Maybe I’ll explain another time, but since I have neither money nor resources, I cannot get him back – just another scar that doesn’t fade.  So these four mares: Domino, Journey, Mikka and Juniper, are the ones I am trying to find a place for, where we can all live and do our work with other people who would like to learn the skills of the Horse. This Summer is when I will put the plan into action (hopefully).

While I was at the farm in March (2013), I was able to spend a little time with the girls as well as ride. I kept getting the message from them and particularly Journey that while they were content to wait for me, the girls were very excited to begin the next part of our lives together.

 

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Journey, early on when she first arrived to the farm. Here she is in her full winter coat.

 

Now the reason for all of this background and explanation is two-fold: one, to update everyone on how serious I am about the horses you’ve barely heard anything about, and two; to give you understanding of why I now feel the way I do upon learning that my black mare Journey died a few days ago. My family doesn’t know why, their only guesses were lightning from all the storms that they had, or that she was a victim of livestock shootings in the area. Both are just senseless.

Journey was around 10 years old (peak age for horses) and healthy. She was in good condition when I saw her in March, and very much full of life. I had even started telling a few close friends that she would be the one they would work with when they came to learn once we were settled.

 

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Journey after a hard days work.

 

I have a lot of thoughts rattling in my head, most of which are angry and bitter at the moment – so I won’t share them.  I may or may not write more about Journey on the blog. She was very special to me and to my mare Domino. Journey and Domino were inseparable, and always loved to work together. I had visions of them growing old and cranky like two peas in a pod, dying within days apart so that they could always run together.

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Domino & Journey (right), playing around while warming up.

~ J

The saddest Birthday

Today Mom would have been 53. November 12th.  If the world were still whole everyone would have done something sweet and meaningful for her. Jesse usually got up early (often dragging me out bed with him). Made an amazing breakfast usually included perfectly warmed rare steak, crepés, rice pudding or some other favorite creation that we would whip together before she was even awake. Coffee with tons of Bailey’s in bed. Jackie and Jeremy often dealt with the kids so she didn’t have to do anything till she felt like it. All the little kids made her cards, poems and love notes from scratch. Dad would prance around the house as silly as could be or if he was on the slope he would call multiple times before noon. Mom’s favorite movies were often dragged out, surprise birthday gifts from all. Super nice dinner that I made of all her favorite and requested foods, birthday cheesecake, Bailey’s cake, coffee ice cream, special made  bakery items from Tellico Grains Bakery that Anissa would make on request. And anything else she could possible want for desert. Sometimes friends were included, in the more recent years was just family and the Myersons. Dad once sent her an amazing collection of flowers that everyone was envy of when he was stuck on the slope. Mom’s birthday’s were always well celebrated. She loved every minute of it. Always proclaiming to have to best children a Mother could ask for. Every child had his or her own special way of making sure she blatantly knew how much we love her.

Now it’s a maker worse than Mother’s day. Another year gone by without her. It doesn’t hurt less. It doesn’t make any more sense then it did the first year. Those that say time heals everything know NOTHING of loosing someone close. You hide it better. You plaster a smile on so no one asks whats wrong. If you’ve ever been burned badly enough that the pain turns into a numb ache or maybe if you’ve experienced frostbite you know of that awful ache right before the intense consuming pain hits. That is loosely how our hearts feel. Like a limb taken, you learn to live without but you never forget the whole feeling nor stop wishing for it. You never are the same, the wound heals just enough that life continues but is never useful or solid again. It’s a hole in the soul that will never close. An old wound that can barely be called a scar. Many want us, need us to move on for their sake. We often act like we have some semblance of life so as to pacify the friends and family who cannot accept or understand that there is just no healing, no getting over whats been done. I’ve stopped trying to explain, to ask people to understand, to hope that they might see and stop telling me how I need to live my life now. More often than not I can’t help but feel that the mere fact we’re alive should be enough to celebrate.

I try everyday as I know my brothers and sister do to make choices and to live lives that make her smile. But most days we think it’s a success when we don’t completely lose it or silently cry ourselves to sleep. I for one am very bitter on both Mom’s and my birthdays. I didn’t get to spend that last one with her. We had a plan for next year that never happened. Everyone has the same line, you couldn’t have known this would happen, you can’t go there. My response is of course, do you think that helps??? Do you think it makes me feeling even a once better? No. Not even close. I believe that the biggest difference is that someone chose to make this happen. Not some random criminal on the streets, not god or whomever you pray to or chance. But some fucktard that we used to call human and friend, some of us even family. I can’t explain it. But I know from the look on my family’s faces they agree. It doesn’t make sense. It will never be okay or not hurt so much. I use to consider myself fairly intelligent. follow the chain of events that brings chaos about. 3rd birthday without her and no one is any closer to answers.

A Mother was never loved (in my opinion) as my Mom is. My heart bleeds for my siblings that don’t get to say that in person today. For my Father, my Grandmother and her sisters. All those who knew her.

It’s not happy anymore, but it’s Mom’s Birthday.

Dec 2008 in the Cherokee national forest. She would probably comment about getting old or some silliness but to all of us she was just as glamorous here as she was when Jesse was a baby and 10 years ago. No one thought she was a day over 40 and her energy that of a 30-year-old.

World’s Best Mom was Renée Roissier Miller.

Originally written March 4th 2011~ Today it has been 2 years

Today it’s been 2 years.  So hard to believe yet with the changes in our lives and the shape of the world it must be true. Somehow two years seems worse than the first year. The first for everything was (this time last year she was with us. She was here. She was our life.) This year its memories of the first time she wasn’t with us.  There are no happy memories of how it was with her amazing life force the time before.  Now its how it was without her the first time, and how the second time around feels.. well the same only without the sweet memories of a happier time before. Now it’s the look on Jesse’s face as he tried to be brave for the first Mother’s day we can’t give her that comes to mind. It’s how we planted a tree on the year one mark and how empty it was, how unresolved things were and how fucking awful everyone felt. And now a year after the first year mark, everything is still empty, NOTHING is resolved, there isn’t even justice. 23 years in jail and that’s supposed to be justice? No one has agreed with this statement of justice yet.

I don’t know how it is for others, but my mind struggles endlessly with putting the memories in the proper order. I keep going “last year.. wait no. The YEAR before” she was doing this and the world made sense. I try to recall what “this time” last year was happening and more often then not I draw a blank. And upon investigation I find its because the memories are cold frozen images of grief, pain and despair.  Of being unable to comfort innocent children in agony of needing their mother and having no answers as to why she is not here with them.  It’s the pain that etches new lines into every face that is recalling life before.  I remember now why I didn’t want to remember.

On Mom’s Birthday it’s a bittersweet memory. On Mother’s day is a sad but happy memory of the most amazing mother. And the rest of the holidays its up and down with the wonderful memories of what was and the sad ones now without. But there is always something to be happy for, to smile in the face of pain for having such memories of those great days, to have been given the times we did have. But today, there is no happy time, no light to recall in the dark and pain. As a realist I believe it is more honest to say this than to “try” to remember all the good days because that is what we do every day. But today there is the dark hole because until March 4th 2009, this day was like any other soon to be spring day. Now it a mark on the calendar of our hearts, the darkest of days, the end of the world as we knew it and sometimes there is nothing to be found in such pain. This is one of those times. To me it ‘s crueler to “try” to smile, to “try” to enjoy things, to “try” and remember the good times; of course I remember the good times! Don’t we all? But to down play, to try to say anything but the truth of what is, is simply too much. Tomorrow I will smile. Tomorrow I will light my happiness candle and feel joy. But today.. today is sadness, today is a grief so great that words cannot be found in the dark trenches of my mind. And by accepting what is somehow gives me peace.  By not holding back my dark thoughts, I am given peace to experience tomorrow.  I can only hold the space of thought (my version of prayer) that you will do whatever you must to find the same peace in  darkness so great.

On the note of peace, I was sent an invite on facebook a while ago (those of you who use it -you may have seen it) that we celebrate a day of peace. And for reasons nonrelated (I asked) this person picks March 4th as his day to remind the world to celebrate peace.  I don’t know if it will continue or not on the web nor do I really care. I just thought ~ what a message from the grand scheme of things it is, and how I received it was to be at peace with how things really are. And to many of us, this day is truly hell and there is little to smile about.  I get through by being at peace with the depth of pain I am in and not forcing myself to be something I am not today.

The Pain ~Written March 22 2009

I wrote this when I was still at the farm, not even a month had gone by yet..

Pain, Grief, Fear, Agony, Rage. These simple words are supposed to describe the emotions of a human being. The overwhelming intensity of feeling that one does even know how to express it. These four and five letter words are supposed to tell you how I feel. How I view the world. How it affects me. And I wonder how can these simple silly words capture the moment to moment emotions that I feel. I can’t find an answer. Yet I keep writing, because maybe one day, if I’m a good enough writer, others will understand, will feel and see as I might.

I smile. With pain to a favourite memory that will never be created better because she is gone. I cry. With a pain so intense that I cannot do anything but feel the tears course down my face, raw with salted grief. I laugh. Pain tightens my heart even as I try to lift my spirit. She always laughed. She sang silly songs she’d make up just because. My laugh is hollow compared to hers. Empty and mocking. I buy some cookies I like. Pain rushes in as I remember…their her favorite. Every good thing in my life, is now accented with pain. She had something to do, say or simply enjoy the things in my life. I go through my day, doing what needs to be done. And every time a quiet moment sneaks up, a memory surfaces and the pain touches for a second. And a far off voice tallys the pain as it steadily climbs in amount. I sigh tiredly, there is nothing I can do. I tell myself, don’t focus on the pain. Don’t let it touch your thoughts. For than it will affect your actions. So I accept the pain, and wonder how much more will come. How much more I can feel without being dead inside.

My body hurts, my mind hurts, my heart hurts. My Soul hurts and there is nothing I can do about it. Never again will I know something other than pain.

Today:  I wish I could say I feel different now, over two years later. But I don’t. Actually with my recent back problems I’m probably in more pain. I’ve developed a way to “deal” with the emotional pain. It goes into ‘cannot feel this’ section of my brain. Later it becomes a deep ache in my head or often my chest, then when I notice the physical I’ll wonder what it is and when I take a deep look I remember and let it be. So it just sits there for a while until it eventually goes away. It’s not the healthiest way to deal I know. But right now it’s all I can do. Sigh…that line  “How much more I can feel without being dead inside” it haunts me now. The answer I can say now two years later is more than I could ever fear. Ever dream up in my worst nightmare. Ever believe if someone had told me just how much more I could take and feel. See it still hasn’t stopped. I never could make myself completely turn off, I couldn’t be the very lie I despise the rest of the world for and just stop feeling. Gods know how I wanted to. The closest I ever get is when the PTSD kicks in and I dissociate from whatever is going on. But I’m not in denial. I know it’s there and what it is. When the physical pain wears down the barrier that keeps the emotional pain at bay I am overwhelmed with pain. I’m left with no choice but to go into the very heart of the pain (I guess the other option is massive amounts of drugs that I have never taken). For alcohol or any basic pain medication won’t touch it. By diving into the bottomless sea of physical and emotional pain I find peace for a while. The process leaves one wrung out and used in every manageable way. The next day I could eat a moose, sleep for a year and not feel ever again and it still wouldn’t be enough. But that process is what saves my ass in the first place. So I shouldn’t complain but it’s rather hard to explain how I get to such a state. I happened upon this purely by accident. In my life I have had times where there was NOTHING I could do (or felt that I make happen at that moment). In respect of others I had to just lie there and wait for morning. No bathtubs to ease the physical pain, not books to forget the emotion pain (or light to read them by) no phone or computer to distract me from my state. Just lie there silently (or sit depending on where and when). That quiet silent battle is quite possibly the hardest one any of us might ever face in life. And I’m a veteran of many wars.