House on fire

I drove past a burning house last night.

A blue house that was smothered in flames.

The outside still maintained structure while the guts of the house were being eaten alive.

I felt my heart drop as I put myself in that experience. I imagined myself watching after years and years of accumulated memories dissolved. Years of artifacts, pictures, loved belongings, pets, walls, and structure came tumbling down. The flames were beautiful; vibrant, raging, fully alive, and larger than life. The heat could be felt by any passerby, and so could the pain.

It was metaphorical for me because my life feels like it’s currently on fire.

Everything has gone up in flames and I’m resting on a burnt and crispy foundation scrambling to find hope.

Looking from the outside in you’d hardly notice any change at all.

You’d see that I’m still standing, still living in a cozy space with my daughter, still have food on my plate and in my fridge, and I can still dish out smiles.

If you were able to peek in a bit, you’d see that my fingers are chewed apart. You’d learn that some days it’s really hard to take care of myself in simple ways like brush my teeth or eat properly. Maybe you’d see me trying to numb my brain with over excessive stimulation time or you’d hear the tone in my voice shift.

Dig a bit further and you’d see that I’m actively pushing everyone away. You’d hear my daughter and I bickering more and more at each other. You’d see how hard it is for me to get out of bed and see the fluctuations of weight that my body is storing as I fall back into fight or flight.

Keep digging and you’ll hear how sad I am. How heartbroken I feel. How I struggle with feeling like a fraud in every aspect of my life. You’d notice how dark and sharp my thoughts have become and how I can’t even begin to imagine a future because I’m locked into a heavily shadowed present moment.

And when you get to that point you might ask why? You might try to show me everything that I have and everything that I am. You might try to mention how much support I have or how strong I am.

The details are inconvenient.

There are too many small pieces compiled into a bigger picture that doesn’t make sense to anyone outside of myself. I’ve been living this life that really only made sense to myself, and I’m okay with that. But now that I’m here I realize how lonely it is to be scraping the bottom without anyone understanding what brought me here.

You see, I’ve lived a fast paced life that brought me brief moments of happiness that have built my present day character. Conformity was never something I dove into, so I wiggled my way through odd jobs and life experiences to make ends meet.

I have failed and flailed; I have needed help and I have hit rock bottom. I’ve danced through these last 30 years only to arrive here unsure of what’s next.

When I was young, I used to tell my mom that I was going to die at the age of 28.

Young me was super convinced that I wasn’t going to live very long.

Why? I have no idea but that reoccurring thought eventually became the reason for me to live fast.

Do it all, go against the grain, even if none of it makes sense.

And so I did.

I’ve bounced around the country. I’ve worked “dream” jobs. I’ve avoided anything that was a long term commitment and committed to what I wanted or needed right there at that time.

In September of 2020 I started working as a part time barn manager of a farm animal rescue. After being told that I could bring my (two year old) daughter with me, I started to work 4-5 days a week and eventually worked up to being the Chief Operations Officer of the nonprofit.

My daughter was by my side everyday. She helped me feed, raise, and care for over 200 animals. We had 8 acres of land to explore with a creek, blueberry fields, a horse pasture, kids playgrounds, indoor spaces for us to get out of the heat, ponds, and often got to interact with all forms of wildlife.

We were in love and we were thriving.

Our hearts were poured into the land, the animals, the people, the community, the magical atmosphere, and the bigger picture.

For once, I saw the bigger picture. I felt like I had landed in a space that allowed me to feel nurtured in ways I needed and that set the groundwork for me to prepare for our future.

I was finally about to support myself and my daughter, emotionally and financially. We moved out from under my mothers roof and got our own place. Our bond was blossoming and so was our connection with the outdoors.

It was more than a dream job, it was my sanctuary.

At the end of June, we caught Covid and had to take 10 days off of work to build ourselves back up. Just as we were nearing the end of a rocky 10 days, our foundation collapsed.

On July 3, I (and my entire team of staff) were fired and banned from the property.

Due to heartless greed (and a long story that I’ll save for another day), our sanctuary was ripped away from us.

Not only the land but the animals. The animals who came to love and trust us after they had been in previously neglectful homes. The animals that we bonded with so deeply that we were able to communicate without words. The land that held me in times of sadness, fear, joy, accomplishment, love, and new beginnings. The people who helped us to build up a safe space in the community.

We lost it all.

My world exploded.

And due to legalities I had to stay quiet. I couldn’t shout off the rooftops with how angry I was. I couldn’t curl up into a ball and cry all night because my daughter was watching. I couldn’t take revenge or fight back because you’ll never win a war against stupid greed.

I had to sit back and watch it burn.

I am still sitting back while it burns, and my heart is shattered.

“It was just a job,” says everyone around me. “You’ll find something like that again.”

It was more than that, it will always have been more than that.

I’m grateful to have had an opportunity to feel so deeply, to have planted my roots, to have watched my daughter grow and thrive. But this fucking hurts.

My world is on fire, just like the dream I had last night of the blue house burning.

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