I have not written much about the end of my relationship with Matt, nor the conclusion of my time in the employment of Val. By my nature, I like to share with others the joys of my life, and thus I limited what I wrote/said about what became the most painful year of my life. As time moves on, I have reached many conclusions on my relationships with Matt and with his mother to understand the impact they had on me. I have been blessed to have a select group of friends who have allowed me to cry and to talk as I needed while I tried to heal. As time has moved on, I have gained the perspective to recognize that I need not be embarrassed by my own behavior. I loved sincerely, I worked hard, I was loyal. Unfortunately, those traits put me in a position that made me vulnerable. Beyond the immense heartbreak I experienced through a crisis that was both personal & professional, I had such a sense of embarrassment at what had played out in my life. I realize now that I should not have felt this way -- but Matt and Val trained me very well that it was my own fault that they had to treat me so poorly, and this left me broken.
It was a great surprise and a huge honor to me to be awarded the recognition of Woman of the Year by the Franklin County Farm Bureau. How funny to be recognized in such a way for 2015, a year which I barely survived. My mother was a previous honoree for this award, and to be grouped in a realm of achievement with her was profoundly touching. The members of the committee who selected me are three women who inspire me. I cannot believe how fortunate I am to have these amazing individuals as my friends, and it humbled me completely that women whom I admire would want to honor me. Beyond this, Farm Bureau has provided me with so many opportunities -- AgriPower leadership training, the McCloy Fellowship in Germany, trips to learn about agriculture, opportunities to meet political leaders. The greatest opportunity it has given me is the chance to meet others in the farm community, and through this I have found many dear friends. As involved as I am in Farm Bureau, I was baffled that such a surprise could be pulled off without me knowing. Many people have asked me the question of whether I had any idea this award was happening. I truly did not, but I have hesitated to share the real reason why I never even considered it: Matt and Val trained me very well that I was worthless. Thus, I did not have in my schemata that I could be worthy of any honor.
Healing is a difficult process. I found myself in a situation where my relationship ended with someone who I loved dearly, which then put my professional world in jeopardy. Against this backdrop, I had many other struggles. My home was robbed, my mentor was diagnosed with a brain tumor, my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and passed onward, my relationships with extended family members suffered, and my neurological condition worsened precipitously. My whole world seemed to change. It has taken me a long time -- and oceans of tears -- to be able to now look back on what evolved. I hate that all this happened. But it happened. Writing helps me to process, so my failure to write about the end of my relationship likely hindered my ability to process and to heal. I was deeply, deeply in love with Matt, and I could not give up the hope that things could get better.
Two of the good changes to my life in 2015 were the addition of Bonnie Blue Pooch and Demelza Kitten. Demelza usually sleeps beside me at night. When I start to rouse in the morning, Bonnie jumps up on the bed and wags her tail. My first sight when I open my eyes is an adorable, handicapped kitten and a beautiful rescue dog. These two give me strength. I often reflect on their stories. Bonnie had to be scared when she ended up at a shelter, but she made it into a rescue program that eventually brought us together. When Demelza was abandoned on the side of a road -- young, handicapped, alone -- she had to have been terrified. These are two of the most loving companion animals ever . . . And they were rejected by people in their lives, putting them into difficult situations. They were rejected, they struggled, and then we found each other. Now they have very good lives. They make me believe that better days can come, no matter how awful a situation may seem.
When Matt & I were first together, he seemed to deeply appreciate my love of animals. Because I adore the story of the Island of the Misfit Toys, he would joke with me about Katherine Harrison's Island of Misfit Animals. As time went on, the jokes were less loving and more critical, until any reference to misfit toys was his way of belittling my life. It was portrayed to me that the things that were important to me made me particularly unloveable. As time has gone on, I have learned to embrace the things that make me the person I am -- particularly my love of animals. Yes, my animals are misfit toys, and so am I. But anyone who knows the story of the Island of Misfit Toys, knows that it is the misfits who love the strongest and are the most resilient.
My life has changed dramatically in eighteen months. I have learned to appreciate even more the people who have supported me and loved me and never wavered in their loyalty during this time. I have learned that those who did not support me -- who found it easy to blame me because they were actually mad at other people -- who only valued me when I conformed to their expectations -- do not deserve me. I am finally comfortable with letting people leave my life, when they do not wish to make it better. I miss the connections that I previously had with many of my own extended family members, but I have come to accept that if they judged me so harshly, they neither knew me nor valued me. I know that I am loyal, I know that I am honest, and I know I work very, very hard. I trust myself much more now.
I do not write this to complain or to accuse. Someday I will write more about my experiences at Jorgensen Farms and at Blystone Farm, and how both places grieved my heart. Someday I may be ready to say more about why I fell so deeply in love with Matt, how he made me laugh, what our dreams were for the future. Someday I may be able to share what Val said to me on the last night I saw her, which made it so painfully clear how little I was valued. Any of those stories would take much more healing to be able to put them into words. What I write now is because I have become so deeply aware that everyone has a story, that our experiences & our emotions matter, that we must support each other. Life has given me challenges I did not want -- challenges I could barely handle and hardly bear. I know keenly how precious life is, how precious love is. I want to use any time that I have in this world to help those around me.
My blog has always been an opportunity for me to share the truth of my life as a farmer. Part of the truth of life is the heartbreak, as well as the joy. If you are taking the time to read this, you are likely one of the very important people in my world. I want you to know that I care about you, and that I will stand by you. I want you to know that I did not give up, because of the good people in my life. I promise I will grow stronger from everything I have learned, and I will use my resources to make the world a better place. I promise that Harrison Farm will be a place of integrity and honesty and loyalty -- a place that makes lives better. We will live as if the world were what it should be, to show it what it can be.