David, my partner and soulmate night and day for nearly twenty eight years, died ten weeks ago and I have been told that there are stages of grieving that have to be gone through, a 'roller coaster ride like no other imaginable' I've heard it referred to, and there can be no escape from the probably years of despair that have to be worked through.
I hit rock bottom last weekend and even ended up phoning The Samaritans. I thought that maybe someone could say something that would help me but no-one could. Loneliness and desperation seemed to have swallowed me up completely and everywhere I looked I saw the same tale of the inevitability of a long time more of the same.
Well, I can't do it. I don't have years to spare, or even more months. I have a life to be lived and I need to get on with it.
I hate the word 'grieving'. I think it's an ugly, frightening word and I refuse to have any more to do with it. Sadness and loss are gentle, kindly words and I can cope with them but having to 'grieve' - no, no more, I refuse to.
I have spent my working life, as well as farming, training my own horses from a young age. Young horses are often highly emotional animals. Being nervous and suspicious is how they survive as prey animals.
For me, the secret of successful and compassionate training is to teach them how to control and alter their emotions for themselves, through positive reinforcement and the feelings of comfort and success it inspires.
If you can get a horse to look like a confident, happy horse it will behave like a confident, happy horse and start to feel like a confident, happy horse. I use clicker training but the above in itself is self reinforcing - the horse loves feeling confident and happy and joins wholeheartedly in his own training.
I don't find any positives in crying. It slows me down, wears me out, gives me a headache, makes me feel ill, stops me eating and upsets those around me.
I have been in the pit of despair for most of the weekend and I can't do it anymore. I can't live like that. It's taking away any self respect and dignity I have left.
David was full of praise and admiration for the way I handled myself and the doctors at the hospital. It made me realise how much I had longed for his admiration before. I intend to really earn it now.
I've already noticed that if I put a brave face on things people are lining up to cheer me on but if I look like bursting into tears any moment most people want to run.
This isn't just about making it easier for other people, this is also about me and what I need. I don't want pity - I want respect and admiration and David would have wanted that for me too.
I'm already a kinder, more gentle and intuitive person than I was before but I want to be a strong, inspirational one too (I don't want much, do I?!!!). I want to be happy in my own company and I've spent the last few weeks wishing I could get away from me for a while. I used to be a happy, optimistic person and I intend to be again, asap.
This may all sound unrealistic and unachievable but I believe in myself. I've got everything to win and nothing but months or years of misery to lose. I've been a great believer in 'keep taking the body and the mind will come along with it in the end' for a long time.
I'm not going to force myself to smile, just gently encourage myself, from first thing in the morning onwards, then bask in any good feelings or pride in myself that comes with it. I am going to notice and revel in every positive feeling or action that I can manage and ignore everything else, as if it doesn't exist. This isn't about repression - it's about rewarding success and finding comfort, and having the courage and confidence to try and keep on trying.
I have managed to gently and patiently encourage profound and lasting changes in my horses, who love me for it and can't get enough of it, so there's no reason why it can't work for me too.
I had forgotten that the doctors and nurses were in admiration of me too. They said I should have someone with me but I told them it had always been just him and me and there was no-one else that I wanted there. They told me that I was a very strong lady because I did it all alone with courage and dignity, right to the end.
I always concentrate on the positives with my horses and ignore everything else and I've been doing the exact opposite with myself. My driving instructor has been telling me off every time for being so hard on myself. I try always to be kind and thoughtful of other people and yet have found it so hard to be kind and generous to myself.
Since I watched him die I have felt David to be totally and utterly lost to me but, since I decided upon my plan, I'm sure he's near again, cheering me on.
I used Cat Stevens and Donovan's music, David's favourites, for the funeral and one of them (can't remember which) wrote a song called 'Decide to be Happy'. Well, just as I decided some weeks ago that, no matter how bad things got I wasn't going to try to join David, I have now decided to be happy and I'm not going back.
There will be times of sadness I know but I refuse to do black despair anymore and I think it would be an insult to his memory and the love he gave me for me to do so.
He helped to make me the person I am now and, for him and for myself, I intend to be amazing!!!
I believe that there are always positives to be found in everything if you look hard enough and long enough. I am going to find them all and marvel in every one of them.
It isn't often in life that you get the chance to be amazing and I'm going to grab this one! Today is the first day of the rest of my life (trite but true!) and I'm going to make the most of every minute of it that I can!
This is my new blog to continue my journey with my Dales Ponies. It will also be the story of my building a new life for myself, alone now, except for my friends, horses and dogs, since my partner died in March 2009. We had lived and worked together, mostly twenty four hours a day, for nearly 28 years and I have never lived alone before. It is a tribute to my wonderful friends that I am still here, still sane(ish) and ready to re-invent myself. I love them all more than words can ever say and can never thank them enough for all they have done and are still doing. It is also a tribute to Alexandra Kurland and 'The Click That Teaches' that I know how to save myself now. To new beginnings.......