Have you ever seen a cattle trail?
Cows and horses are creatures of habit. They live near water of some kind and always take the same path to it.
Yesterday, my Dad called me from his hospital room and asked if I would please run out and take some pictures of his horses. He wanted to show them to his Doctor. I went to a few different locations because Dad keeps a few here and a few there...
His favorite stud horse resides at the Lower Field. I have to make it sound really fancy because the Lower Field where the stud resides is actually a wide open field next to the town sewer pond.
Not exactly fancy.
But we like to pretend.
The ground is always unpredictable in that field. In some places you can barely walk because it's been flooded, horses have made deep tracks in the mud, and then it's dried up... pockets and holes and all. Yesterday when I pulled up to the Lower Field, the horses were nowhere in sight. I tried honking and clicking my tongue. I even went so far as to desperately call their horsey names out.
But horses are high-falutin' and they refuse to respond to rude callers... as is especially the case in the residents of the Lower Field.
Eventually, I climbed carefully over the fence (barbed wire!) and hunted them down.
It didn't take long to spot them once I was inside:
As I headed in their direction, my foot fell in one hole, and I stumbled to gain balance. Just then I teetered into another hole.
And then I saw it: The Trail. I hopped quickly over to their sturdy, well-worth path, and I didn't stumble anymore.
It was comfortable and easy. The next thing I knew, they were on the path as well and we met halfway.
Which is to say: they plowed right past me to the bucket of oats my son was guarding.
My marriage is a well beaten cattle trail.
I've lived so long one way. The dynamic has always been the same: same patterns, same behaviors, same responses.
And guess what? It isn't going so well!
At the end of July, I jumped off the cattle trail. I jumped into the holes and pockets. I stumbled and I swore a few times. I cried and I became frustrated.
But I kept at it... what's more, I went over the same places again and again and again.
I began making my very own... new trail.
But the ground is untamed, wild, and scary. It takes more than one going-over to make a true cattle trail.
It isn't like I can take one day and focus on making a new trail... I've got to start making a new habit, a new trail, a new lifestyle that involves CHANGE -the everyday kind of change.
The holes aren't as steep today, but they're still there. I keep faltering and failing.
But on that path, I am free. I can choose for myself. I can skip or jump or trudge or swear or let or my hair down or roll around on the ground until I'm covered in dust.
In the last few weeks, I strayed from my path and found myself walking The Old Path. The Old Path involves letting choices be made instead of my making them. I've been feeling the tightness in my chest, the stress, the second-guessing.
It's frustrating. It's FRUSTRATING!
The path that is worn and comfortable is also maddening because it never actually leads to living water... it just leads in circles... waterless, nutrient-void, Godless, insanity-inducing circles.
And there is absolutely NO holes... it's a predictable path that winds around and around and around and around.
Finding myself on the old path was no fun.
It made me throw up my hands at me, at my husband, at the Lord, at porn, at the UNIVERSE! I cried out from the depths of my soul... and I said!
And then I stepped off of the predictable trail and went back into the fray of potholes, rattlesnakes, mosquitoes, weeds, and hard work.
"I just want a machete," I bemoaned to my sponsor, "I don't just want to go back to my new path and trudge methodically. I want to tear it up and REALLY make it count today."
She said I could.
Because I can't physically go out into a field and trample around (well, I could... but what good would it do?) I have no physical representation of the work I'm trying to do.
There is no physical evidence of SOUL work -no immediate evidence, anyway.
And this is why I ordered a gaggle of hatchet charms.
One is for me to wear on days like today. The others are for me to give away to women who have machete and hatchet days -days where they need to chop and tear at their new path. Days where they FIGHT with every fiber in their life blood for the prospect of FREEDOM.
This is hard stuff. This is really hard stuff. I never thought I would find myself so beaten down that I would have to FIGHT to stand up for my choices and for my right to follow what I feel is right.
In Addorecovery, we were told that we had been trained to ignore our instincts. Seeing the truth of that in my own life has been gut-wrenching, heart breaking and just AWFUL. No one wants to look in the mirror and say, "So, I've been letting you down for 9 years..."
Today I can look in the mirror and say, "So, I've been letting you down this last week, but I didn't realize it. Now I do. So it will stop now."
Well, I don't say that out LOUD. I just put my hatchet on, and the Mirror Me understands.
Do you want a hatchet charm too?
I'm too poor to put one on a chain, but I'm happy to send you a single, solo, lonesome but POWERFUL little hatchet charm.
It will make you strong.
Just leave me a comment telling me you'd like one, and I'll pick a name out of a hat. Or I'll put the names in a bucket of oats and let the horses choose! Ha!
(Or email me if you're not comfortable leaving a comment... firstname.lastname@example.org)