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Friday, 28 May 2010

The Difference a Few Days Can Make.

I had a wonderful break in Ettrick in the Scottish Borders. I didn't take Megs in the end as I hardly felt able to look after myself, and it was the right decision. A few days with no responsibilities and no people or animals that needed my attention was just what I needed. I had a lovely, lazy time and took Henry, the Burnese Mountain Dog for some wonderful walks and runs over the hills.

Henry and I scaled the highest hills and it was as though I got back in touch with my senses again. I suddenly realised on the third day that I know who I am again now. Not half of a couple anymore but just myself and I'm doing OK in the circumstances. I found myself totally at ease with my friend and free to be me.

I was very, very low when I went away and had a panic attack which nearly stopped me from going at all just before I left but I've had no more intense highs and lows since then and I feel much more mellow than I have since David died. I still miss him and get lonely but it feels manageable now and survivable. The intensity has gone and I can breathe through it.

It's wonderful to be home and with my friends and animals again. The problems have receded into proportion at last and everything feels manageable. I can do this and I will find a special person of my own again one day, I'm sure of it, but I need to be my own person first and find out what I'm capable of.

My friend is a saint for putting up with me and I can never thank him enough for all his kindness and care.

Optimism has returned at last and it feels great!!!!

Monday, 24 May 2010

Shorn Alpacas

They are not very good photos I'm afraid but I'm off to Ettrick today so I don't have time to take some better ones.

Hilary, if you read this I decided to go on the train this time but will call in and see you next time.

I'm taking Meg with me as my friend Kevin has terrible problems with rats, which is right up Meggie's street, so I hope she won't be too scared on the train.

Back on Thursday everyone. Have a fantastic week and speak to you soon.




Sunday, 23 May 2010

Taking Stock.

I sheared my alpacas today for the first time and they were very well behaved, especially Crystal, my pregnant female, and the lovely Sam who quite likes a hug on the quiet.

It got me thinking. I'm not good at being positive about myself as I've always been my own hardest critic but I started to think about the things I've done since David died and I'm not doing too badly.

My sheep are all shorn and so are my alpacas. My horses have all had strangles now but they have never looked in better condition. My three cows look great inspite of 2 of them being ancient and the farm and house have never looked better.

I make new friends everywhere I go and haven't lost an old one yet. The bereavement councillor told me that my smile is infectious and that I looked in brilliant health. I have never had more energy or drive and I have never had so many close friends.

I still get panicky about things and I still find it hard to hope for the best sometimes as I know that the worst can and does happen, to me as well as to everyone else.

I'm hoping to go and stay with my friend in Scotland for a few days to escape all the responsibility and clear my head. My escape last year was to take Grace out for a ride and not being able to that because of the strangles has been very hard, on top of seeing them all so ill and feeling responsible for it. A few days away with someone who understands about surviving loneliness and having sole responsibility will be good for us both, I hope.

I'm also hoping he might let me have a go at shearing one of his Llamas, to add to my CV, but that might be too much to ask!

I will take some photos of my alpacas tomorrow. They look really cute shorn, especially Crystal.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Renewed Resolve.

I got very low again today and went for a bike ride to try to cheer myself up. I ended up in the local churchyard looking at the graves. I couldn't believe how many of the modern headstones were for people who died very young, in their 30's, 40's and 50's.

I began cycling home still feeling miserable when I suddenly got mad with myself. Here I am, healthy, fit, with my own business and loads of choices and all those people, including David, had theirs stolen from them years before their time.

When David died I read that anger was a normal reaction but, apart from anger with one of the consultants, I never had any at all for anyone except myself. I was so lazy for all those years, never learning to drive or doing anything very much except horses.I left everything else to David and although I worked very hard indeed I never stretched myself and I let my horizons steadily shrink instead of expand. I'm a strong, determined person but I was too obsessed with horses to find out what else I was capable of, except for showing sheep when I took on the lifetime pros as a total newcomer and beat most of them!!!

I was left useless and incapable of looking after myself when David died and I should never have allowed myself to get into that position.

That anger with myself kept me going and determined to prove myself and my own worth for the last 14 months and now, just as I've done all the hardest bits, I start to fall apart at the seams!!!! It just isn't on!!!!

I gave myself an almighty kick up the backside, proverbially speaking! I have nothing to complain about compared to nearly everyone I know and I refuse to start feeling sorry for myself now. It won't change anything except for the worse so what's the point?

I was really mad with myself and felt that I'd let myself down, which I did, but now my determination to stay positive is back I can see why I've been struggling still.

I am living in what was David's mum's part of the house with her furniture and interior decor and it all holds painful memories as she was not a happy or an easy person. From a practical point I had to move out of our part of the house, which I used to love, but no wonder I feel as though I don't have a home anymore or anywhere inside that's mine.

We used to live up in the yard and were very happy there until the building began to have problems. I could see my old pony, Ben, in his stable just outside the kitchen window and the house was small and cosy. I don't like big houses and big rooms unless they are full of people. I like small and cosy.

There is a concrete strip between the barn where my horses live and the barn where the alpacas and sheep live in the winter. I'm going to get a small room of some sort, summerhouse maybe, and try sleeping in it this summer, as soon as possible, and see how I feel. At the moment I just avoid going inside the house as much as possible as it oppresses me. When I first came here and stayed in the house, before we converted the old barn to live in, I remember David telling me that I needed somewhere here that was mine. I still do.

I had to go up to the barn where my horses are at 4.30am the other day and the atmosphere was lovely. My ponies were all dozing or lying down asleep as they weren't waiting to be fed or turned out. It was peaceful and companionable with no unhappy memories to spoil the aura.

I feel that I should be making the most of the house and not wimping out, and I have started making changes to it, although I can't get excited about anything to do with it, so I'll get myself a holiday home for a while, within sight and sound of my horses, and see if it helps.

It will be my positive reinforcement for getting tough with myself again. I am so sorry for David and the fact that he couldn't stay here with me and all his friends when he wanted to so much, and never gave up the fight to do so, right until the end, but I refuse to feel sorry for myself when I have so much to be grateful for.

I will still try the councilling as long as it doesn't feel like wallowing because I'm finished with that.

Chin up, deep breaths, keep smiling and start moving forward with purpose again!!!!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Bad Weekend.

I had a terrible weekend and was back to where I was this time last year. I thought I was doing really well but I have to try something else now so I'm going to get some counselling.

I think the reality of my situation is only just starting to seem real now. Until now I had days and even weeks when none of it seemed real at all and on some level I didn't really believe it had happened at all.

I still don't really know why David died of lymphoma when one of the world authorities on the subject said that he was clear of it. I don't know if searching for some answers would help or not.

I have so many close friends who are all so kind and patient with me and do so much for me. I feel so guilty and ungrateful for feeling like this.

I'll try some professional help and hope that I can start to see a way forward. It can't be that hard, I just need a few pointers as to how to pick myself up again. I have so much to be grateful for but I just can't bear the gut feelings that creep up on me when I think I'm doing fine. There has to be a way to fight them off.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

How Many Horses?

I was talking to a young friend of mine today about someone she knows whose family have bred Arabs for many years. Their accountant stole all their money and they (mother, son and daughter) ended up living in a stable rather than part with their horses, who are now mostly in their 30s. They have over 20 of them plus donkeys and alpacas and they work all hours and go without themselves so they can keep their animals.

My young friend said that theirs were the best Arabs in the world and that they were amazing people.

It made me feel very guilty and humble, worrying about how many I have as though there should be a limit. It's the responsibility that scares me now that it's mine alone, and maybe it would them too if it wasn't a family concern, but I firmly believe that mine are the best Dales and Fells in the world too, even if I can't take the credit for breeding them.

I can't keep all of them forever but I'm very, very lucky to have them at all and I will appreciate and enjoy them for as long as they are here. Bella, Jack and Grace I will keep no matter what it takes, and Bertie too, if he turns out to be half the pony I think he is.

And I must stop angst-ing over everything and everyone before it becomes an ingrained habit!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Bertie Update.

Bertie is a complete sweetheart. When I lost my old pony, Ben, I never thought I'd find another pony as sweet natured and kind as he was. Despite having been very nervous when I bought him he grew to love everyone and was such a happy pony. Bertie reminds me more and more of him and I can't look at him without smiling. He has the kindest eye I've ever seen and wouldn't hurt a fly.

He was very nervous and difficult to catch but he's first at the gate now and pushes his nose into the headcollar. I could have got to this stage without clicker training but it's taken days instead of months using it and Bertie has already decided he likes being with me because he has fun and gets to use his brain.

He is a beautiful, kind, co-operative pony and I am very lucky to have him. At just 6yo he has his whole life in front of him and I paid £400 pounds for him.

David would have loved him as much as he did Ben. I wish he could have met him.

When the strangles is over I must find homes for Kate and Crystal as they are wasted with me. Next year at the latest I need to find homes for the three young Fells, who will then be 3yos, but I don't think I could bear to part with Bertie. Russell is in his twenties and retired now so five horses, only four of which need work, isn't too many, is it?

Please tell me what you think.



Here he is learning to be a family pony, tied to the washing line post and chilling out next to the pigs.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Talking Things Through.

I've had a strange but ultimately very useful and healing week.

I sold the last tractor which was David's pride and joy, and the man who bought it insisted I count all the money. I hated it - all those filthy, dirty notes in exchange for David's lovely, shiny tractor - but that made me feel really guilty as it was the man's hard earned money I was reviling (he and his son were struggling to find the money to buy it) and I knew they could make far better use of the tractor than I could, and maintain it better. It will be their pride and joy now but it still felt like blood money.

I had a couple of really dark days which I tried to cover up as best I could but I think my face gives too much away!!!

One of my best friends, Michael, who I hadn't seen to talk to properly for a while, took me to get fish and chips on Thursday, teased me endlessly in his gentle, kindly way, and made me feel so much better. He always has a calming and soothing effect on me.

I have spent a lot of time in the last few days talking to him and to his brother, the two people who knew David best apart from me, about everything that happened in the hospital and it's had s very healing effect for me. I am so grateful to both of them. I owe them so much and could never have made it this far without their endless constant watchful help and support. They seem to know me better than I know myself now.

I have become a chronic worrier since David died - a role he used to fill! He worried for both of us so I never had to. He used to say that I didn't live in the real world and lived on "planet classical dressage" but the truth was that I kept the balance and stopped him sinking into depression as he used to before he mat me. I did a pretty good job on the whole as everyone thought he was very chilled and 'happy-go-lucky'.

It came as a total shock to Peter and Michael that David was treated for depression as a teenager. Even though we lived with his parents for most of our years together, and they were far from easy, we were mostly very happy and always sort out each other's company. Not bad for a couple who spent practically all their time together!

After a lot of time spent talking to Peter today it suddenly came to me that David would have given everything and anything to be there with us both. He would have given anything to stay with us and fought so hard to do so.

Here I've been, with all these friends around me, endlessly worrying about everything - all the horses and livestock I'm now solely responsible for, money, inheritance tax, Strangles, which is dragging on and on (Jack now has it and has a big abscess under his chin) upsetting anyone, hurting anyone's feelings, making sure I'm upbeat, cheerful company, not being ambitious enough or trying hard enough, not being organised or capable enough, trying to be perfect and do everything myself - it goes on and on....

David would have given anything and everything to be back here with me and his friends, especially with Peter and Michael who he thought the world of and never got to spend a fraction of the amount of time with that I have, or got to know them half as well as I do now. He would have gratefully taken all the worries back onto his shoulders if he could be here now. He knew how precious life becomes when you feel it slipping away from you.

A few days ago I made myself laugh as I could feel myself starting to panic because I could feel those all too familiar feelings of separation anxiety creeping over me yet again. Even I had to laugh at the ridiculousness of panicking about panicking!!

I am so lucky still to be here and still to have them both looking after me for him and doing everything they can to keep me smiling and laughing. I am so lucky that I am still here to be able to worry and still have the farm to worry about.

Please may I never again take that for granted.

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I am a clicker training addict and there is no cure - thank goodness!!!