EOY P&L… my last post of the year always has some math involved. I don’t have the math skills to quantify the number of ways I hate math. I panic and tip 50%. I’m self-employed, I do my taxes armed with wine and Netflix. As much as it takes.
The hardest year-end reckoning happens here on the farm when I look around and do the math. How many did we gain this year? Who did we lose? On New Year’s I’ll want to remember each, mine and my clients. As if I could forget.
Can we pause here? Is anyone getting weepy? Anyone choking up? I truly hope not. Can I tell you the hardest part of this wonderful blog of mine? Really, it’s ungrateful for me to complain.
There is one thing that has been a challenge for me. It’s the number of times people tell me they are in tears. Sure, sometimes I write about death because where animals are concerned, I like it natural. There is nothing more natural than death. My friend says that all dog stories end the same way, and she’s right. Horse stories, too. And we cry tears. Fair. Even expected.
It’s all the other tears that upset me. Sadness about things that I had no idea would make people cry. Sometimes I go re-read what I just wrote because clearly, I’m pushing buttons, unintentionally hurting readers. It’s never my goal to make people cry, it wears on me.
Maybe I have bad boundaries. Maybe I should come with a trigger warning. Maybe I’m just a walking plague of tears and desolation. (Please don’t cry, I’m making a joke. And being paranoid.)
Maybe we are all just too full of un-cried tears. Or maybe we take things too personally. What if we all drown in justified tears? There’s a term for it: Compassion Fatigue. It’s an emotional and physical burden created by the trauma of helping others in distress. It’s a huge issue for caregivers like vets, rescue groups, and some trainers, but what about you? Have you become a victim of your emotions?
The antidote for compassion fatigue is self-care. Most of us aren’t great at this. Maybe it’s time to call your emotions back home. To become, not less caring, but more protective of your heart. To love yourself at least as much as you love horses. (Yikes, that’s a high bar.)
It’s the reason I’m so concerned about all the tears; I deal with my feelings by writing. Some of my most positive posts about training come from abuse that I see. It feels good to make that turnaround.
I also know that I have to pick my fights. The older I get, the more losses I gather, the more I try to make peace with death. Because someone is always dying. Since death is inevitable, I want to normalize it; talk about it like the weather. Yes, there’s a lump in my throat, but scary things shrink in broad daylight.
Of course, I do that with writing, too. I spent Christmas writing a poem/eulogy but didn’t post it. One person’s life celebration is another’s pain and tears. I’m trying to find that balance.
Back to our EOY P&L (end of year profit and loss.) This year we lost our oldest herd member and our very youngest. Chronology has failed one more time. Sure, it’s silly to think I’ll lose them in an order that I can predict. I’m only human.
When I lose an animal, I send off a donation in their memory. Amounts vary, it’s the action of generosity that matters. It’s a way that I give power to my tears because if tears don’t motivate us, they depress us. So hey, Colorado Horse Rescue Network, lunch is on me.
We’ve added two souls on the farm, as well. That’s a photo of Jack at the top of the page, demonstrating his favorite mental health technique. He’s a foster dog, staying for a while as his owner deals with some health issues. Meanwhile, teaching me what some people like about sleeping with hot water bottles. Really, this under-covers thing, who knew?
Norman has joined our barn family, a young Percheron/TB. He’s a handsome, serious young horse and we’re encouraging his sense of humor. I look forward to learning from him (and writing about it.) We’ve all fallen in love. Despite him being mortal.
It’s almost New Year’s; toast the lives we have had the wild luck to know and love. It’s also the day that horses all get a year older on paper. That must mean gray mares like me add one on, too. It’s just common sense that it also means one year closer to dead. Cover yourself with animal hair. Sing off key! Dance with your demons! Celebrate life! (I say, in a dark-hearted and cheerful way.)
I hope that after expressing sadness about a loss, it also spurs us to action. I hope that we weep and howl against injustice and cruelty. That we share stories and laugh till we cry. That we cuddle our own heart like a lost puppy.
I hope that tears make us stronger.