Year’s Reflection

Dixie National Forest 12/2016

Dixie National Forest 12/2016

As the year is nearing the close, I can honestly say I am not the same person I was 12 months ago. I have changed in many ways I have never thought possible. I grow every year, but this year was incredibly traumatic, painful, and reflective of how far I’ve come.

Nappy, my very happy boy!I started the year by meeting an incredible guy. Literally, on New Years, I found Rob. I found him and kissed him, and stole his heart. He’s the most incredible, self sufficient person I have ever met, and he has big dreams. Guess what? I do too. The more I learned about him, the harder I started to fall. He’s amazing. He’s done amazing things, has really great stories of parts of his life, and has taught me so much about what is possible in this life. It has been an absolutely crazy journey, but I am so in love with him, and together, we can move mountains. We can do anything. The problem is we want to do EVERYTHING! We have gone through intense good times, but also heavy traumas and very deep, dark things. But we are going through it together. So, here’s to many more years to see what happens! Hopefully, the hard parts are subsiding, and we are building a fruitful foundation for the years to come!

I sold the house I bought with my ex husband all those years ago. I fixed it up with help from my friends, and sold it. I learned how to do drywall, do mudding & taping, painting, flooring, I laid cement, and learned to use many different kinds of tools I didn’t know how to before.

Upper Setting near Mirror Lake, Kanab, UT 06/2016

Upper Setting near Mirror Lake, Kanab, UT 06/2016

I learned how to take care of my own landscaping. And I learned more about all the legal hoops you have to jump through when you do something like get married or get divorced. It’s all ridiculous, but I learned more about everything. I learned more about the processes for buying and selling property, commercial buildings, licensing codes, how city ordinance works, and what to do when things get tricky.

 

 

I lived in a 900 sq ft studio where I shared space with my 5 dogs, and all my business visitors. Clients and dogs alike were invited to the only space I could call my own (which wasn’t even mine). My bed sat next to my kennel room. My Jedkitchen was in my living room. But I managed, and I kept up a positive attitude. I was forced out eventually, and I moved to a loft above my friend’s tack room on her ranch for several weeks after a house I had an offer for fell through 4 days before closing. She was incredibly generous, as I really thought I would be living out of my truck, while continuing to train dogs to make a living. That family is one of the sweetest families I know, and every single one of them are beautiful. I thank them from the bottom of my heart that I didn’t have to live in my truck for weeks while I found another house. I had a roof over my head, and a safe place for my dogs to live.

This gave me a brand new appreciation for being grateful for what I do have, and cherish the things and the people that I used to take for granted. Most of the time, not on purpose, but now I see the world much differently. I love more, I cherish more, and I don’t take running water, electricity, money, or life for granted. Material things mean little to nothing to me now. A ‘rich life’ means a happy lifestyle to me. That’s all I want. I don’t care about what I have, how much money I make, or material possessions. I just want to be happy, and live an emotionally, spiritually, and mentally rich lifestyle.

Moab, UT 10/2016

Moab, UT 10/2016

I found a house, and I moved in to this old, cottage-type home I fell in love with in May. Yes, it’s a project house with a shit ton of landscaping and yard work, but I loved it. I had help moving in from my friends, my clients, and my family (Rob’s included). It was an emotional experience, because moving into this house meant all the shit I went through before now is over, and I could leave all that baggage behind me. And I did. Slowly, I let it go. I didn’t have to continue to move every few weeks/months and I could start rebuilding. The work I had planned on doing on my house was quality work. I want to take the time to fix ‘er up and make ‘er mine. A few months later, Rob officially moved in with me. We are so happy, and this just felt right. Not rushed, and not because it was more convenient, but because it was right. We are together because we want to be, and no other reason. That’s the way it should be.

Horsetail Falls hike, Alpine, UT

Horsetail Falls hike, Alpine, UT

This house has many problems that we knew about, and a plethora of even more we didn’t know. It’s old, so some of the issues are because of wear and tear, old materials, and things that are outdated. But some of them are because of how things have been updated, band-aid fixes, or shoddy work on the house. We will slowly fix everything, and update what needs to be updated. The yard work in itself could take us years alone.Redoing the work others have done will also take years. That’s ok. We have all the time in the world. Life is what we make it!  No rush. This isn’t a race.

We have a bedroom, 2 bathrooms, the dog house, and the kitchen that are under construction all at the same time (we didn’t plan it that way…obviously). We are working on fencing projects, landscaping, and flooring all at the same time. Big projects are a constantly here, and it can be overwhelming, but we are trying to make the best of everything, and not let it overwhelm us. I feel it’s a direct relation to our life right now, and even though there are projects, all of them are repairable.

I have also had quite a lot of trauma this year. I have lost 3 of my personal dogs (Jed, Napoleon, and Marshall), 2 client dogs, and a foster dog. Plus all my friends who have lost animals this year. heather and marshallIt all hits me so hard, and it seems I’m so sensitive to loss now. This year was incredibly traumatic. I have a passion for life, but my heart has been broken over and over this year. It feels like it won’t ever totally heal. I want a lull in the disasters for a while. One thing after another, it keeps crashing. Devastating chaos keeps hitting, and before I’m able to fully recover from one, another one happens. It makes me want to stop working, and spend all the time I have cherishing the ones I do have. I wish life would allow that.

My heart has been broken so many times this year, I feel like it doesn’t know how to fully heal anymore. Happiness is a dream. It’s like something that if I try hard enough, I may see it again. Not that I’m unhappy or miserable, but I have an overhead gloom over everything that taunts me with ‘What’s Next?’ questions. What happened in this universe to cause all these things to happen? What energy am I putting out to allow this to continue happening? I started learning about energy transfers and similar things several years ago. I didn’t believe I was putting anything out that would cause these things to happen to me. I felt like a victim. Terrible things have happened. But I don’t see myself as a victim anymore. I see it as I need to learn something. I need to learn what energy I am putting out, and make it more positive, so I attract more positive events in my life. Happy, positive events, rather than chaotic, traumatic ones. That’s my take away. I’m working towards a more uplifting, happy life. I don’t want complicated or hurtful anymore. I want to do away with the negative. Not a New Years’ resolution, but a goal. I want to focus my energies on spreading positive, happy vibes. So, when life gives you lemons…Fuck the lemons and bail! Haha, no, I want to go with the flow of life, and accept even the bad things with grace. I want to be and let be. Make lemonade… anyway, you know all the metaphors, you know what I’m saying. I want to be able to roll with the punches! Ok, I’ll stop. I’m done!

Fallen Eve

eveReading more of “Captivating” by John & Stasi Eldredge, and this particular part is regarding Adam and Eve. Now, I’m not religious, but I can appreciate some of the stories, without believing in God. The morals and concepts are still very valuable. Yes, I’m reading a book that is very, very Christian. So sue me. ANYWAY, this section talks about the story of Adam and Eve. We’ve all heard it. Adam was put on the Earth, and something was missing. Something wasn’t right. It was Eve. God gave Adam…Eve. They were told not to eat the forbidden fruit. The serpent told Eve she could and it would give them immortal, godly powers. God told them they would die if they ate it. Eve ate the fruit, and then offered it to Adam.

What I’m getting at is not how we pay for these sins, or that because of their ‘greediness’, we opened Pandora’s Box or any of that other shit. (Forgive me all my religious friends…) No, I’m asking different questions. Why did Eve eat the fruit? Why didn’t Adam stop her? Why did Eve question God’s word and listen to the serpent? Those are the million dollar questions, aren’t they?

Ok, Eve ate the fruit first. She suggested it, she was coerced into eating it from the serpent in the first place. Alright, why? Why did she lose faith? Because she was curious, she didn’t know another way, the serpent swayed her?

Ok, so Adam’s side.. maybe he was curious too, and he thought the serpent had a point. Maybe he was frozen and was scared of what Eve would do if he stopped her. Where was he when this was happening? Right there next to her. He didn’t do shit to stop her from taking/picking the fruit, eating it, nor giving it to him. He went silent. He froze. He avoided a confrontation. He avoided a fight. Now, in the story, things would have been all dandy if this didn’t happen. But it did. In allowing this to happen (on both sides, Eve and Adam), sin was ‘born’ and women were graced with loneliness, control and dominance, men were cursed with futility and failure.

Let’s talk on the woman’s side of things.. known as “Fallen Eve”. Fallen Eve protects herself against the hurt of the ‘sins’ by either being controlling and dominant….because the fear vulnerability. Or desolate and needy.. because they fear abandonment. Sometimes, she can be both. I tried to kill my heart’s longing for intimacy so that I would be in control. A symptom of this ‘Fallen Eve’ the book talks about.

It asks about what my biggest fear is. Spiders? Failing? Being alone? No. Betrayal. Abandonment. Desolation. Being unimportant. Coming to terms with this as my biggest fear makes me vulnerable. I’m ok being vulnerable… to a point. I can be vulnerable with myself. Not with another person anymore. That requires trust.

Now, reading a little more in the book “Healing from Trauma”, there were a few sentences that struck home that also tie in to this story in Captivity.

“Traumatic events are like thieves that take something precious from us.”

I had something stolen from me. But I’m not curling up in a ball and letting my life go on without me. No. I’ve acknowledged it, I’m moving forward, and I’m making the best decisions on what I see fit for myself. Sometimes this a convoluted decision to some. No one needs to understand but me. I’m determined to get back my something precious. Only I can do that, and I won’t be crippled. I don’t need to explain my decisions to anyone, and no one else lives my life but me. I’m in this. I make my own path now.

“You didn’t choose what happened, but you can choose your path now.”

Trauma

trauma

“Hearing about other people’s trauma is particularly difficult if you’ve experienced a lot of trauma yourself. Your nervous system isn’t starting from neutral, and you may not have the hardiness of those for whom hearing about such events slide right off their back.” – Jasmin Lee Cori in “Healing from Trauma: A survivor’s guide to understanding your symptoms and reclaiming your life”.

I just started reading through another self improvement book, and within the first few pages, I realized this is literary gold. I come across a few of these books from time to time where I learn so much within just a few sentences. This particular book is a good one for me specifically because the author doesn’t recount her memories, traumas, or tell stories about specific events. She teaches you some tools to use in your recovery, no matter what the trauma. The above quote is from the introduction section of this new book and hits close to home. I just recently learned how to ‘start from neutral’ when faced with a trigger conversation or event. The two tools the author teaches first are conversation and journaling. Which I do a lot of both when I’m healing. One of the tools I’m learning how to do know is take perspective. I mentally take steps backwards and observe the situation. I stop focusing on my story and listen. I breathe. I don’t recoil, freeze, or get upset. It’s not my story, I’m there to listen and help support others. I don’t pass judgment on anything anyone ever tells me. Again, it’s not my story, we all have our skeletons and mistakes. I just choose to be a clean slate and think about everything in it’s entirety.

“We take in our traumatic histories in layers, and the denial and dissociation that helps us originally may still be at work as we learn about trauma. This denial and dissociation try to protect us from painful truths by blocking them out or not staying present to take in what is happening.”

healingfromtraumaThis is so incredibly true. Some people distract themselves, others claim they are fine, and others avoid it entirely. Learning to handle the trauma is not something that can be learned though a step program. Seems like common sense, right? The human brain is a complicated place, and you can’t just rewire how things work overnight. But ‘how do I get over ___?’ or ‘how to become balanced’ google searches aren’t going to tell you. They say ‘time heals all wounds’… that’s not true. It’s knowledge that is gained over time. Maximize the knowledge by teaching yourself how to observe, learn, and act on the information you now possess.

Shit happens. No matter who you are talking to, someone somewhere has suffered a trauma of some kind. These skills can help anyone with dealing with a drama. I recommend giving this book a try to anyone who has ever felt pain from some shit that has happened to them in their life. This is a gold mine of information, and it’s incredibly powerful if you can absorb the information being given. Take the time to read and understand the message being taught in this one.

 

Backstory

A story about my life, and the struggles I am currently facing. It’s difficult because my life would be out there for everyone to see. But… maybe it will help people who also struggle with depression and/or have gone through a personal trauma.

Now, about me. I was diagnosed with clinical depression at the end of 2010. At the time,
there were quite a few traumatic events that took place leading up to a nervous breakdown, and eventually ended up with me at the therapist…because I tried to kill myself. Since then, I have realized I have always been depressed, though unable to accurately describe how I was feeling. I felt I had no reason to feel that way, and felt guilty because I was unhappy and sad when I should have been feeling happy and grateful for my life.

Since then, I have been medicated, gone through talk therapy, done self-improvement
programs, and discussed feelings. Some of it was effective, but when I was drugged, I was
numb. Instead of feeling sad and worthless, I felt nothing. I welcomed the lack of
feelings for a while, but then I felt like an empty shell of a person, just being a zombie
– going through the motions, but not really feeling anything.

In March of 2011, my husband and I adopted a gorgeous yellow lab, who is now a member of our family. He has helped me so much, and I can talk to him without feeling judged, lost, or walk like I’m on eggshells.
People don’t understand. When I open up and actually tell someone how I feel, they get
defensive or say ‘Don’t feel like that’, ‘Don’t talk like that’, ‘You know I love you’, or
‘You have friends you can talk to. Just talk it out.’. Yeah, well – because I haven’t
tried those before, right? Well, my dog doesn’t tell me those things. He just rests his
big head on my lap and licks my hand. In my world, he’s telling me that he understands and wants
me to know he’s there for me. With no words. He understands, and with just one look at me,
takes some of the pain away. He has become a crutch, and I depend on him to be there for me when I get home.

Napoleon

We thought about training him as a therapy dog. But his personality isn’t the right fit.
That’s alright, he’s still my crutch at home. I just can’t take him with me on trips or to
work or the grocery store. I just have to hold on until I get home and I’m with him again.

I love my husband, and I have talked to him about all my feelings. But again, there’s a
difference between a dog and a human. It’s not that I love him less, it’s that it’s
different. He tries to be supportive, but doesn’t understand how painful it is to be alive sometimes. When I try to tell him that, he gets upset. He doesn’t understand. We have been working through it, and he is trying to learn more about depression. He wants to try therapy again. Last time, my therapist wanted to talk about my childhood. I don’t want to
talk about it. There are a few reasons for that, which I won’t get into. Not yet.

This blog is about handling my depression and how I have/will overcome challenges. Right
now, I am in the process of opening up my dog training business. It has always been my
passion, and I am finally doing it. I am a ‘baby’ in this field, but I want to learn
everything there is to know, and become great in every aspect. I want to handle any
problem, any dog, and have any discussion (this includes the incredibly difficult
discussion of euthanasia). I want to be great, not just an average trainer.

Some of the challenges my husband and I have faced over last year have been trying on our marriage, on my career, and on my sanity. And I don’t exaggerate when I say ‘sanity’. We bought a new house in 2010 and had massive flooding problems. In 2012, we believed we had completely fixed the problem since we didn’t have problems for over a year. We struggled for 2 years to fix the problem, and rebuild 1/2 our home. Finally, we rebuilt and laid down new carpet. We refurnished our home – almost every piece of furniture in our house was bought new. We were finally done. This constant stress point put my stress levels and ability to deal with anything else at an ultimate high. For the last two years, this chapter of my life has been a constant struggle and pain point. Above that, we dealt with death, broken promises to each other, and loss of work.

This blog is going to be personal, challenging, and a journey for me. I hope that in writing this blog, I won’t be judged or seen any differently. For those of you who already know me, some of what I post will be a shock. I’m putting it out there, I’m not hiding anymore.