How many dead horses do you have in the fields or alleyways behind you? I have plenty, I imagine them strewn across the Hubbard County prairie (near where I live) like the great decimation of the buffalo back in the day. Great hunks collecting flies and bloating in the sun, but not too much (they never really get too stinky) They just lay there (like most dead things do) waiting for me. From time to time I imagine my younger self bolting around those great fields and beating the hell out of every single one of them. It used to be my favorite past time and they all required a good beat down on a daily basis. In fact I beat those poor dead things with such ferocity and on such a schedule that you would have thought that I was concerned they would get up and run off and then what would I have done with my time!?
I can’t really tell you when it happened – it certainly wasn’t a big light bulb flash over my head or anything dramatic like that. It was a process (like everything else) and it took a real certain amount of bitchiness on my part. Quite frankly I started liking myself a little bit more every day and started having issues with assholes, and fake friends, and bitches, and really anything I thought was abusing me, my time, my friendship or my anything. It sounds selfish and even a bit “hoity toity” like I’m a pompous brat that thinks she can look down on other people and their choices, but, to be quite frank, we need to save ourselves first. Giving up on people is never a fun thing, neither is realizing that a lot of folks in your life are just dead horses whether you’re trying to love them or beat them – it’s all the same thing.
It can be yourself too. How many times have you beat yourself for doing the same stupid thing time and time again embracing fully the ever loving definition of insanity? And how’s that going for ya?
It dawned on me the other day that I had been beating a dead horse. Just one (and considering how many of the things I have – one isn’t bad… however, it’s bad for me) I tried not to get down on myself about it. I’ve been in Dead Horse Beaters Anonymous for about five years now and everything is a process and we certainly don’t recover over night. Instead, I forgave myself and spotted something to be proud of, I recognized I was beating a dead horse, and I stopped doing it. Instead, I looked for a way around it because it certainly wasn’t going anywhere! It was then that I realized that I was, in all actuality, on the other side, way down the path to recovery and I was going to be all right.
The big change for me came when I got tired. Looking back at it now it’s really no wonder, the vast prairies full of dead horses that I was beating on a daily basis would have exhausted anyone. Quite frankly, even in my svelte 24-year-old body I just couldn’t keep it up! And I was irritable and I hated myself and I was angry all the time. Seriously, who wouldn’t have been angry? I was out there, day after day, month after month and (oh yes) year after year doing this all consuming and thankless job! Was I thinking those damned things were gonna change? Get up or something? I threw everything I had at them but all they did was lay there. It was as though I had been so busy beating them that I never realized they were dead. And, like all dead things, they really were not going to get up anytime soon, they would still be there tomorrow and forever into infinity. I didn’t need to beat them every day because they would always be there, I could leave them be for a long time and come and visit and beat them whenever I felt like it.
So then, I wondered, why was I spending so much energy beating those poor dead horses at all?
Everything in my life began to change for the better after that. Like I said earlier it was a long change that I look back at now. The truth is I kept beating those horses for a long time. A few of them were my very favorites and I was fully addicted to them – convinced I was going to accomplish something. Convinced I deserved to beat them – like a dog on a bone. Once I started recognizing dead horses it turned out there were a lot of them in my life. People, things, memories that only existed because I was holding on to them, far more dead horses then I ever would have imagined. But, I found, once I started recognizing them as dead horses, it was much easier to let them go. It never occurred to my that my acceptance of dead horses (and learning to work around them in my life) would change so much of my life and my relationships for the better.
I embrace dead horses now, some of them are in me, some of them are in the people I love. Some things just don’t change about us, we are who we are and that’s where the acceptance really lies. People suck and no matter how much we love each other there will always be things we have to accept or all we’re doing is beating dead horses. We need to start with the dead horses in ourselves and then those in our most important relationships otherwise its all just the definition of insanity: Beating a dead horse – repeating the same behavior again and again and expecting different results.
I looked back today at the vast prairies of dead horses behind me and realized that my vast prairies are becoming more and more empty. I guess I was right after all, if I didn’t beat them every day they would get up and leave. When I realized I was wasting my time beating them I eventually forgot them. It’s almost funny after all of that – we humans really are such time wasters.
And that’s what I’m working toward now, forgetting about all of them, letting them ALL go. But I also know some of the hurts run just too deep, there will always be a dead horse lying there, a reminder of the most horrible time that I can’t let go of but I think that that’s mostly about pride. It seems that I honestly think I deserve some of those dead horses as a monument to the pain no matter how much I want to forget it and let it go. And here I am again, learning to accept another of my own dead horses.