sticks and leaves

sticks and leaves

I have spent the past two weeks reassessing this journey that I am on. My experiences with the animals have left me full of questions about what I am doing, why I am writing, and where this path is taking me. A year ago when my life changed unexpectedly with the end of my marriage, it felt like whatever path I had been on was suddenly blocked by rubble and debris from a landslide. I began writing because the place I found myself in felt so new to me. I felt a surprising connection to my pioneer ancestors. Writing about my experiences felt like a modern day version of the letters and journals written by women who recorded their story as they traveled by wagon train across the prairies into landscapes that few white women had laid eyes on before. In the beginning I had some preconceived notions about what I would find in this new territory. I had read some of the accounts by women who had been here before me. I imagined that I would encounter and feel the grief and sadness about my marriage ending, the excitement and challenge of new experiences, the empowerment of doing things on my own, the joy of reconnecting with interests and parts of myself I had put to one side, and the fun and heartbreak of inviting new relationships into my life. What I had not imagined was the deeper work involved in reclaiming my relationship to myself. I did not realized when I started, that rediscovering myself and exploring what it means to start life over on my own at 55, also meant reconnecting to myself as a women, exploring my relationship to my female ancestors, and unearthing and discovering my inner feminine at the deepest level.

My experiences with Horse and Hawk have caused a second landslide. I find now that a new path has opened up and I am following it more deeply into myself.  What felt like a practical journey to explore the surface feeling and experiences of rebuilding my place in the world during my separation and divorce, has become a deeper journey into my lost relationship with myself as a women and my lost relationship to the feminine.  I did not lose myself in my marriage. I was already lost before I got married. I was smart, successful, highly educated, beautiful, and desirable but completely lost. If I am honest with myself I knew it and felt it then. I saw marriage and family as something that would fill me up and complete me. I was unaware at 23, that that feeling, being filled up, is only possible within ones self.  I did not know then that it is not possible to feel filled up permanently by external experiences or by someone else. After all those years of marriage and motherhood, I feel again a little of the same emptiness I felt over 30 years ago.  I thought at first that the feeling had returned because I was letting go of my identity as wife and mother but I am beginning to understand that it is actually the same emptiness I felt before I got married.  It has been waiting for me, quietly gnawing at me and seeking my attention all of this time.  This is no longer a journey to reclaim the woman I was before I got married or a journey of starting over. I need to reach back even farther and more deeply into myself before I can move forward.

When I set out, when I began writing about my experiences, I thought I was leading this journey. I knew where I was going and what I had to do to get there. I now find myself following the animals that have shown up as my guides. They are leading me in an unexpected direction down this new path that has opened up. Up until now, I have imagined myself walking on a trail in the mountains where I live. I have seen myself steadily climbing towards a summit called Eagle Rock, on a trail where it is possible at any point to look back over my shoulder and see where I have been. Instead of climbing, I find myself now descending into a cool green valley. It is a place very much like the shady mossy creek side spot where my horse fell on the way home the other day. It is filed with soft light that filters through the canopy of oaks and the sounds of birds, frogs and of water flowing over sticks and rocks.  I hadn’t really imagined heading into this area, or exploring this material, any more than I imagined falling off my horse, but here I am. It appears the thing to do now is to become curious, to open my eyes, to walk down and through, and to see what I find.

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