Bad by Myself

I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline yesterday when I came across a BuzzFeed post soliciting stories about how people knew when they were ready to get divorced. My story will never top the scandalous replies they typically receive but I think that’s how it usually works. You will always hear dramatic stories about cheating, etc. but more often, marriages fail one tiny moment at a time.

My ex-husband and I owned a few acres in rural Idaho. We lived close enough to Boise to commute but far enough away to have horses and silence. My three mares were pretty young and two of them were batshit crazy. Miss Olympic Gold was the oldest and we were working on her manners under saddle. It wasn’t going well for anyone other than my chiropractor.

I took Olympic out for a short ride one Saturday afternoon while my ex was in the house with our two Rottweilers playing computer games…as usual. Olympic was being her usual stubborn self and I was working hard at being consistent but not angry. I was attempting to prove to her that my ideas were better than hers. She actually got the message and I was pretty proud of myself so we headed back to the house to end our ride on a positive note.

Our house was set pretty far back from the road, kind of in the middle of the property so the pasture wrapped around three sides of it with a long gravel driveway on the other side that went all the way back to the barn. The gravel had been mostly packed into the dirt so it was hard like concrete. Olympic was trotting up the driveway like a civilized horse until she randomly started bucking like a fucking lunatic.

I was using an Australian stock saddle with a deep seat and a high horn as a precautionary measure. Unfortunately, that just meant the horn slammed into my abdomen over and over while she kept bucking harder and harder. I was finally thrown over her head onto my head. Because I was wearing a helmet, the left side of my head bounced off the hard ground without cracking my skull. My left shoulder was also driven into the ground and I ended up with gravel embedded in the palm of my right hand.

I got up and limped with my horse to the round pen where I was able to remove her bridle and saddle. The thought of taking her to the corral to put her away without letting the other horses out was just too much for me to handle. Instead, I walked to the house to ask my ex to help me. I had apparently locked the door behind me so I knocked for him to let me inside while leaning against the house trying not to fall. He didn’t hear me knocking because he had the surround sound going while playing his computer game. So I made it to the office window and pounded on it until I saw his annoyed face scowling at me. I pointed toward the back door and waited.

When he opened the door, I was again leaning against the house to keep from falling and I told him I needed him to put Olympic away.

His exact words were, “You can’t do it?”


I said, “No. I can’t.”

So he and the dogs went out to deal with Olympic and I went into the master bathroom to wipe the blood off my face and dig gravel out of my hand. I noticed a giant mark on my abdomen in the shape of the saddle horn. When I became too dizzy and nauseated to continue, I took a washcloth soaked in cold water for my face and kicked back in a recliner with my eyes closed. It was not my first concussion by a long shot.

The dogs rushed back inside ahead of him and started whining at me. It was at that point my ex finally realized I had been hurt and wanted to help. I didn’t even open my eyes when I told him not to touch me.

It was at that point I realized I can do bad by my damn self.

Stone Cold Killa

This is Sherman. Sherman is dumb as a bag of hammers but he’s very sweet. Because he’s such a lovable cuddle bear, people refuse to believe he has a ridiculous prey drive. (RIP all of the lizards.)

The other night, he and his sister, Lulu went outside at about 0300 for whatever dog reasons and I immediately heard them losing their damned minds. I ran to the backyard to prevent my neighbors from hating me and saw a coyote right on the other side of the view fence.

My house backs up to a wash with tons of cacti, trees, and rabbits. Coyotes and javelinas hunt back there all the time. Most nights, they go about their business quietly and my dogs sleep through it. But nooo…

Sherman was barking like an absolute lunatic and I grabbed his collar right as he tried to lunge at the fence. This coyote lunged at the fence at the exact same time. There is plenty of space between the wrought iron bars for noses. Sweet fancy Moses, my Sherman was less than two feet from fighting with a wild animal through the fence and still barking in kill mode.

I marched him inside, blocked the dog door, and went back to bed. My dogs jumped on the bed and crashed like nothing unusual had happened. I, on the other hand, lay there with my heart pounding in my chest like I had just run a 5K in my flip-flops. Sherman didn’t even thank me for saving his life.

Here…this is you.

I was at my mom’s house one day in late 2004, probably to mooch some food and complain about my life. She handed me a photo she had printed from the internet and said, “Here…this is you.” I looked down at a black and white image of two steam locomotives that had crashed head-on. The coal boxes were sticking up in the air and several men were standing around with their hands on their hips gaping at the mess around them. And then we both laughed.

She wasn’t wrong. I was a train wreck and I stayed that way for a few more years. On that day, I was 29 and had been divorced nearly 3 years. I was in a light bulb (off and on) relationship with an alcoholic who was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder. My anxiety was off the Richter scale and I wasn’t handling things well. I had moved back home to Kansas and was living in my grandmother’s rental house in a terrible neighborhood. I hated my job and myself for moving back to my hometown and basically failing at life.

14 years later, we still laugh about that photo and that moment. Now my mom tells me I should write a book because there are some things which could only happen to me. Once again, she’s not wrong. Writing a book about about my experiences seems a bit extreme but I have reached a distance sufficient for me to see them through a very humorous lens. It’s on the list.

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