Friday, July 30, 2010

Hello, Here I Am

What a journey I’ve been taking these past six weeks! It feels like it’s been six months and I am so glad that I have reached a point where I can feel my life getting somewhat back to normal. My horses were really good, despite the serious lack of time and attention that I gave them.

A little background --My mother, who lived with us for the last ten years, began her scary trip into the nightmare of dementia about a year ago. I had been coping with the hallucinations and delusions that she experienced, but it was growing more and more difficult. She is turning 96 in August and her hearing and eyesight are terrible. It’s been like watching someone become trapped in a dark closet. In early June, she had a small stroke and was in the hospital for about three weeks. The doctors insisted that I wouldn’t be able to handle caring for her at home anymore. I raced into an eye-opening, depressing search for a place that she could live where I felt she would be treated well and kindly. It’s shocking how we warehouse old people in these expensive storage units known as nursing homes.

I was able to eventually finally find a great place where the people really care and are like a big family. There is even a dog and three cats who live there. My mom likes the place, but desperately wants to come home. The unfortunate part for me and my family is that it is about an hour and a half from our house, so each visit takes up a five or six hour portion of the day. I come home exhausted emotionally and don’t have much left to give to anyone.

Luckily, the horses can go in and out of the barn and pasture as they like. My neighbor checks on them and gives them hay and water , especially when the temperatures get up in the 90’s. Increasingly, I could sense the annoyance and the disconnection radiating from Silk and Siete. After coming so far with my exploration of the Waterhole Rituals, I felt that I had lost everything that we had gained.

I knew that I had to somehow regain the equilibrium in my daily routine. My entire focus had been on my mother, and I was losing all sense of who I was. I forced myself to take care of me, and of course, that included paying attention to Silk and Siete. This week, I began sitting in the pasture with them, sharing territory again. At first, they stayed in the barn and didn’t want to come out to be with me. I was so sad and wished I could turn back the clock. On the second day, Siete came out and eventually Silk joined us. I didn’t allow myself to have any expectations or judgments or an agenda. I just sat and tried to find the feeling that I remember I had before all this chaos began. Finally, yesterday afternoon, I found it.

I had an understanding that what I’ve wanted for my mother came from what I had learned about what my horses needed. I know that my mother must feel that she is loved and respected. I want her to have as much freedom as it is safe for her to have. Wherever she is, she has to have some sense that she is still in control and has some choice about what happens. These are all elements of what I am doing with Silk and Siete when we practice the Waterhole Rituals. Everyone - no matter if you have two legs or four - deserves to have those three basic qualities of life as a foundation for how they exist in this world.

When that thought came to me, Silk was eating from a small pile of hay next to where I was sitting. She suddenly stopped, looked at me and extended her nose so she touched my hands. In that moment, I realized that the horses had accepted me back and that we are going to move forward together.


detroit dog said...

So good to hear from you again, and know that equilibrium is finding its way back into your life.

billie said...

Sending good thoughts to you and your entire family. It sounds like you're finding some balance in the new normal - hopefully a sign that things are leveling out for now and you can refuel yourself. Take good care.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

You have my sympathies for the whole nursing home experience and for not having time for your horses. I know how hard it is to find a good nursing home where the staff remember that they are dealing with human beings who have needs and emotions. My mother had to be admitted to a nursing home temporarily, and she was begging me to get her out of there each time I visited. I actually did load her up in a wheelchair and break her out of that place with her doctor's blessing after I witnessed the way she was being neglected. I'm glad you found a good place and have been able to reflect upon it in a productive manner.

Anonymous said...

Horses are very forgiving, and they don't forget those they are bonded with. But of course they don't know why we have been away, and have to have time to reconnect.

Be sure to take time for yourself - you have to have that base of stability and support at times like these.

Will be thinking of you.

Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks Everyone - It makes me feel so good to know that you are still out there. It took me over a week to be able to slow down and gather myself enough to write any kind of post. Hopefully, I'll be checking in more regularly. I've missed you!! I'll be coming to visit your blogs this weekend to catch up on your lives.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I'm glad to hear that everything is settling down a little.

Your horses were probably just a little confused as to why they weren't spending as much time with you as usual. But I'm sure that now you can sit with them for a while they'll revert to their old selves.

Hope your mom is doing okay. I know it's hard right now but hopefully you will all get into a rhythm and things will start to flow smoothly.

deejbrown said...

Welcome back, Victoria! Thank you for sharing these difficult times in your life and for the lessons you are learning. "Teachings of the Horse" is still true to its name and mission!

Breathe said...

So sorry about your mother, and glad you're finding sometime to be with Silk and Siete. Horses sometimes are the only way I escape stress, and taking care of you is vital during such a tough time.

M. C. Valada said...


I was concerned that your lack of posting had to do with your mother. I'm sorry for this recent turn of events and I hope you realize that you have been a most dutiful and attentive daughter. Sending good thoughts your way.


Merri said...

We went through some of that with my mom a while back - it's tough.
Your horses will always be waiting for you when you are ready.
- The Equestrian Vagabond

Deborah Carr said...

This is truly a beautiful post. You are such a loving, caring person, Victoria - open to the needs of others. Your mom and horses are lucky to have you.