(The Man Who Taught Me About Breaking Free)
Last night as I drifted off to sleep, I thought about Ribbon.
Not quite twenty years ago, I rode Ribbon. She wasn't the most gentle horse, and little kids weren't allowed to ride her. She was stubborn and spirited -only experienced riders could manage her.
"Take her out as far as you can," my Dad said as I mounted her, "And then turn around and let her run back."
I'd never done that on a horse before. I was terrified of animals, but I could manage well enough with the kiddie horses that walked slowly and never chomped at the bit for anything. But Ribbon? She might as well have been a fire-breathing dragon. I was terrified of her and the idea of running her.
The only thing more terrifying than the task at hand was disappointing Dad -the John Wayne of my life. I never argued with him.
I started walking Ribbon away from the rest of the horses, away from the truck with a bucket full of grain and oats in the back, away from my Dad... She didn't mind at first.
But when I took her farther than she wanted to go, she tried to turn around. My heart pounded with fear.
"No," I said, "No..." my voice was shaking, but I was determined, "We have to keep going."
She fought, she tossed her head, she stomped.
"No," I said, fully aware that she could tell how scared I was, "No, girl."
I forced her down the field, the hacked off, dead remnants of corn at her hooves... farther and farther away. I looked back to see how far.
I had to gauge the distance just right -far enough away that she'd have ample time to pick up speed... if I gave into fear and turned around too soon, it would be for naught. Dad would send me back. I'd have to start over.
My heart pounded, my hands shook. I hated Ribbon in that moment.
The feeling was mutual.
In what felt like an eternity, I finally reached the point where I could let her break free.
I would have to let go of the control I had on the reigns.
I had no idea what was before me. I was putting my small ten year old life in the hands of an animal I was terrified of.
I pulled back on the reigns and took a deep, halting breath as she came to a fighting halt.
"Okay," I whispered to myself more that Ribbon. I tugged on the reigns so slightly -gave her a faint HINT that now she could run, and that was all she needed.
She took off.
My heart wanted to beat out of my chest as I slackened my grip on the reigns and felt the ground beneath her hooves. Control was not mine in that moment.
Her rough gait soon evened into a something surprisingly smooth... I exhaled as exhilaration replaced fear. I felt the fresh country air breezing past my face. I felt... strong.
And just as soon as it started, it was over.
"How was that?" My Dad asked as I climbed down.
"Crazy!" I gushed. I couldn't believe I had done it. My Dad was so proud. I was so proud.
I fell asleep last night with that memory -one I hadn't thought of since the day it came to pass in the mid 90s.
Last night, I broke free.
All it took was one slight tug on my reigns, and I turned tail and RAN.
I'm done with this marriage and the man in it. I'm tired. I'm emotionless.
In the coming month, I'm opening my own checking/savings account. I've also secured a job. I'm not leaving. But I'm done investing. Did I say that already? That I was done?
It seems to final, so intolerant, so FINAL.
I'm still living with my husband, but I'm not in this marriage anymore, nor do I want it.
"Investing in this marriage is like pouring water into a bucket that's taken a buckshot round," I told him, "And then getting mad when my feet get wet."
It's all on him now.
I'm running free in the country, seeking independence, and leaning on the Lord -my John Wayne in the sky, prompting me on a journey I've never taken. I'm afraid. It's the fire-breathing dragon all over again.
The gait is rough right now -I'm only just beginning. But if I let go of control, if I hold on for dear life while the ground flies under my feet, if I focus on my Father, I know that before I realize it, I'll be breathing easy and the gait will graduate from rough to even and eventually? to smooth.
And there will be strength.
I do love my husband. And today, I like my husband (let's not talk about yesterday, okay?).
I do pray for him and want success for him.
But I don't want to be married to him anymore.
If my future includes marriage, it won't be to the man I'm sleeping next to tonight.
If my future includes marriage, it will be to someone different.
The marriage will be different.
There will be change.
I have no expectations of my husband, I have no hope.
I have only the knowledge that I will do the next thing the Lord has for me to do. Right now, He's prompted me toward independence, toward packing money away, toward loving my own husband as a deeply personal family member and nothing more... pure love.
I'm breaking free.