the electric fence

Lately, I’ve really been feeling the feels about this whole Stay at Home new normal we’re living in. I’m stuck in a ritualized emotional roller coaster of ups, downs, backs, forths, and topsy-turvys. Most days, I’m really grateful. I’m discovering new things, embracing new moments, and enjoying the simplicity of my life here on the farm. Other days, I’m bored out of my mind, questioning what’s right and wrong, avoiding all the social interactions I can while still really wishing I could just go grab a drink with my friends. It’s on these kinds of days that I feel myself slipping, disjointed, uninspired, and weak. And it’s this kind of day that I was experiencing on Monday.

To fix my funk, I was enjoying a series of walks up and down our long driveway, indulging in a podcast, and starting to feel pretty good. On my final lap, I popped into the goat pasture to fill up water dishes. And that’s when it all came to a head.

The new hose was too short to stretch across the pasture to our Man Goat’s sanctuary. I pulled his dish out from under the flexible wire fence, filled it, then rushed back over to turn off the water source. I was banging on the old-school handle, willing it to shut off, leaning against the wood fence when – BANG! Electric jolts coursed through the entire right side of my body, causing a moment of fear, shock, a guttural scream, and utter frustration.

Still feeling the pulsation in my heart, mad at the world, I went back over to shove the full water dish back under the other fence, trekked up the hill to feed the dog, fought with a biting Mama Goat who wanted the dog’s food more than the dog, and suddenly felt an onslaught of hot salty tears rushing out of my eyes, down my cheeks and neck.

I’ve never cried like this before, y’all.

There was no warning. There was no holding back.

I hurried inside to calm myself, to splash my face with water, to catch my quickening breath. But instead I just found myself standing there in the bathroom, motionless, trying to overcome this reaction with deep breaths as I fought the hyperventilation taking hold. The tears wouldn’t stop coming. It was just. . . strange.

I wasn’t hurt. I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t sad or angry or even in shock. I was just draining. And I had lost all control.

I still don’t know what happened. Maybe it was too many emotions evolving too fast to process. Maybe it was PMS. Maybe it was an electric pulse in my synapses causing an involuntary reaction.

Or maybe, most likely, it was all of it.

The quarantine, the virus, the lack of control in my daily routine, the water hose, the electric shock, the biting goat, and the fact that I felt so alone in that moment.

You may have never been shocked by an electric fence before, or maybe you live on a farm and it’s happened to you a million times, but we all know how it feels to be living in these times. It’s a jolt. An unwelcome disruption. This virus and the effects it’s having on our lives, on our work, on our minds and our routines and our economy – it’s real shit. And we’re all processing it in very different ways. Some of us are thriving, some of us are terrified, some of us are watching the news with every opportunity that we have, and others (like me) are living almost blissfully unaware until some sort of shock pulses through our systems and forces us to take note:

THIS IS NOT NORMAL.

After my deep breaths failed to do the trick, I decided to wash myself clean under the hot stream of water waiting for me in the shower. As I undressed, I continued to wipe the flood damage from the side of my face. Standing there in the water, I breathed deep. I cried some more. And then, it stopped. I began talking myself through my day, acknowledging the frustrations I’d been feeling, admitting their worth. I realized that what I needed most of all was validation – grace – in knowing that my feelings were real and justified, when all day, I’d been silently willing myself to believe I was wrong. I had so much to be grateful for; how could I possibly be upset?

But y’all, there’s no point in fighting our reality. We don’t have answers. And it’s okay to not feel okay. Through it all, what matters most is that we continue. That we keep waking every morning, giving the best that we have to give in each moment. And that when we stumble, we forgive ourselves. We wash ourselves clean, rest, and start again.

These jolts will keep coming, but we can’t give up. We still have life to live.