Change Your Story

In Yellow House Chronicles by Natalie Shaw

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It’s been a hard few weeks.

I turned 27. My horse came out of his stall unable to put weight on one of his legs. I got into quite the altercation with an overzealous cop. Oh, and I got dumped.

It’s a long story, and one I’ve told too many times. It’s also not important. We’ve been on and off for years, and he turned it off again. In a fairly brutal way. In a (hopefully) final way.

“I don’t get it,” I cried to a faraway friend over Gchat, who has heroically loaned a sympathetic ear over the years as I have told this same story again and again. “I don’t understand why I keep doing this to myself. I know he’s terrible for me, but I can’t quit. He’s like heroin.”

“Well,” she said, in her wonderful, non-judgmental way. “Maybe you should think of the farm as rehab.”

After a few days of heavy wallowing, Taylor Swift songs on repeat, and swimming endless laps at the gym to sleep at night, I realized she was right. Our falling-back-together problem before had been partially based on proximity. On being the only unengaged or unmarried ones in our group of friends. I now lived a life completely separate from him. If I just stopped making an effort to stay in touch, I could pretend he didn’t exist. I could make him disappear.

I logged off of my Facebook. I changed his name in my phone to a far off date when, theoretically, I’d be ready for contact again, or have decided by then I don’t want it anymore. And whenever he pops up in my mind, whenever my throat closes up and my stomach ties into a knot and I start to wonder what he’s doing, and why he hasn’t texted me, and who he’s with, I force myself to focus on what I’m doing. To be present, to push away the clouds in my mind and look around me, and to know that this is still my life, even if he’s not there. That I’m alive, and that that’s important.

It’s not 100% effective, especially only one week in, but it feels different than the times before. During one of my pathetic Google searches of “motivational break up quotes,” I came across this one:

“You can keep telling the same story about your life, or you can live a new one.” –Katrina Mayer

I’m sick of telling this story. I’m ready to live a new one.

Photo (Flickr CC) by Jenny Downing

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Natalie Shaw
Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, Natalie spent her college years at the impossibly idyllic Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio where she studied International Studies, Environmental Studies, and floating down rivers in inflatable tubes. After being forced to graduate in 2009, she hopped around the country for a few years, grooming wildly expensive horses in New Jersey for Olympic equestrian Anne Kursinski, yelling at puppies at a dog daycare back in Omaha, and playing corporate lackey for one long year at a real estate information company in Washington, D.C. She landed back in Omaha in the fall of 2011 and is working hard to cure her wanderlust. Natalie now lives and works at a horse boarding facility just north of Omaha with her cat Obie, 60 horses, and approximately 1,000 wild turkeys.
Natalie Shaw

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