I was living in a man’s house, packing up my belongings after living there for less than a year. I’d moved my child, two cats, and everything I owned to this property per an invitation to “make a life together,” and here it was, the winter holidays, and he was in Ohio with his mother escaping the situation that was going down in his 920 square foot house. Which was: me, boxes everywhere, and everything he didn’t want to face.
I had actually paid him rent.
He invited us to live with him, but he had wanted some rent. I paid it because he wasn’t rich, we were both entrepreneurs, and I didn’t mind contributing. I will never again move into a man’s house and pay rent. But there were a lot of things we potentially should have made clearer agreements on to prior to making the decision to move in together.
Live and learn – isn’t that the name of the game?
I had sent him an email that asked for the last rent back, since I wouldn’t be staying, to reallocate to the moving costs. I think it had actually been his suggestion, and I was following up on it.
I sat down, at dusk, surrounded by piles of boxes at the kitchen table (my barn wood table that I’d now be moving back to storage), just moments before I had to host an online women’s group, and opened his reply email which said, “I will assess how you’ve left the place, after you’ve moved out, and if it is in a condition that I approve of, I will refund you your money. I will be assessing the house, the barn, and my wood pile.”
“His wood pile?” I thought.
Why the wood pile? Why would I ever touch the wood pile? The wood was his to use when he lit the wood stove in the barn, which I never did. Why would he even think to “assess” me on the condition of his wood pile before he gave me back the money that he’d already agreed to give me? These new conditions didn’t even make sense.
And, it angered me, because I had never once disrespected the property or the house. He had invited us to make a home, and I had treated it as such. I was not at all the kind of person to take vengeance on his property. Why did he all of a sudden assume this?
I couldn’t even begin to imagine how he had managed to rationalize whether or not I would get the money he’d already said he’d reimburse me, now conditionally based on the quality of his wood pile. Of all things!
I was so tired of being assessed. He had asked me and my child to move in with him, to “make a life with him,” just months prior. It was six months from our move in date to his “never mind” date. A man who had never lived with a woman, let alone her child and two cats. A man who had seemed like a sure thing, like a safe bet. He volunteered with teen boys’ groups, he woke up early to pray every morning, he had even prayed when he made love to me and miracles happened (which was essentially the reason I had said yes – it was like God was there between us). He felt like a safe bet because he’d seemed innocent and good hearted, and I was trying to ensure that this kind of shit would never happen again. Because I’d seen it all before.
Going after the girl, getting the girl, wanting the girl to reflect your manhood to you, and the “never mind” moment when they saw themselves in me (Oh, I’m not actually the man I promised you I was), and then, it is amazing how men will blame a woman for that moment of felt-inadequacy. I’d fallen for the man many times who wanted to be “that guy,” and then realized he actually wasn’t, but it’s easier to dismiss the woman than to be the man who actually looks at his shit.
Not all men. I’m not a man hater. But I know this pattern really, really well. There seemed to be a tangle when I got involved with men – where my resources would somehow be threatened. I had been an entrepreneur for three years at that point, and this was the second relationship that I’d involved myself with that ended up making my life much harder rather than easier or more pleasurable. This was the second relationship in three years that ended up costing me a lot of money rather than resulting in me having more time and energy for my business and family. And, these relationships, not surprisingly, in the end looked and felt a lot like my relationship to my father. I’d seen this pattern with a previous boss and with prior partners too. It seemed to be everywhere and I was somehow late to truly waking up to it, even though I analyzed masculine and feminine all the time.
There was always the really good beginning, and then the really surprising ending. There was wanting to believe the man, and then the dark shadow of the man revealed something much different. And I was the common denominator. I was somehow getting myself into a revolving pattern. And I was determined to figure it out and put a stop to it for absolute good.
I was depleted.
I was having to find energy where I didn’t know if I had any left.
I had cried with my forehead to the soil on this sacred, sacred piece of property, asking “Why?”
I had even allowed myself to get to the point where I was sending this goner an email saying, “Hey, can I get that money back please to pay other men to move my things for the second time this year?”
You could say I was at a breaking point. But not a mental-break, the kind of breaking point where you say “no more” about a pattern in your life, and you fucking mean it.
The wood pile comment, and his promise to assess me based on his bizarro parameters, and decide whether or not I would have access to the resources that he’d already volunteered to reimburse me for my move, was the last straw.
I was a grown woman, a mother, who had made a home in his home per his invitation. There was no part of me that would want to harm anything here. I had a deep connection with the land, and experienced deep and corresponding spiritual realizations and awakenings in relationship to this sacred place. I was having a harder time leaving the land than I was leaving him. Him, I was done with. He could drop me and my child when the honeymoon period wore off, and this lack of allegiance, again, I’d seen before so I wasn’t even that emotional about it. Fine. I’d put my eggs in the wrong basket. Now I had to pack up my entire life of belongings, give away the new trampoline and basketball hoop I’d bought for my son, be unsure for months what exact next move I would make – and all of that felt more like a pain in the ass than something that victimized me. Before, I would have fretted and felt like a victim, but not this time.
This time, it was just a pattern. This time, it was just the end. Here was this pattern, showing up with this man, who, I was sure months earlier would never have dreamed of or approved of the sort of behavior he was now demonstrating. He was a stranger now.
It was like a dark, trickster bug got into these men, these men who had loved me and laid with me, who wanted to see themselves as my partner and as a parental figure and masculine influence for my son, and then would get to a point where they literally did not care about my wellbeing. They did not care. At one point he had said (in a text because he never even had a conversation to my face), “I don’t care where you go. Just get out. And don’t pull that single-mom card with me.” They always turned on you. Starting with my father. The dark got into them and they would turn into something unrecognizable.
And, there was always an element of control. “If you behave to my liking, I’ll reimburse the money you’d given me. But it’s based on my assessment. And the state of my wood pile.” Control, control, control.
Which is when I snapped.
Snapped in the best possible way.
Snapped in the way a woman who has been trying to be good finally breaks free of the bondage of contortion. Snapped like that lead character in Fried Green Tomatoes as she screams “TOWANDA!” as she smashes the young guy’s car because she’s tired of being a doormat. Snapped like I was going to get that reoccurring dark trickster bug out of my fucking life if it was the last thing I did.
I had to stand up to it. If I didn’t, it would never go away, and it had hunted me down so many times, and I didn’t have the resources to keep losing. This was the end. This trickster who took without replenishing, who would cause a man to watch my demise and detach from his heart. This trickster that would withhold resources, time and again, just like my father had, until he approved of my behavior.
I knew that trickster inside my father, inside previous partners. I had known this energy my entire life. It used to scare me, but not any more. Now, I was going to get it the fuck OUT of my life.
“The wood pile? You’re going to assess me on the condition of the wood pile?” Game on, fucker.
The heat rose in me, fueled by an eruption of previously-suppressed, primal emotion. I was clear headed, decisive – I wasn’t crazy. My movements became bigger. I became bigger.
I looked at the clock and gauged that I had about eighteen minutes before I had to host my call. I found a headlamp and shoved it over my messy hair to see in the dark. I put on the old garden gloves I’d almost pitched while packing the day before. And I put on my winter coat, though I would be sweating by the time I was done.
I found my way in the dark to the wood pile.
THE wood pile.
I knew the one he was referring to. Some of it had been chopped, and some of it was still in large, round pieces. And I carried each piece of that fucking wood pile through the yard, to the nearby cliff. And then I heaved each piece, one by one, over the edge. Towanda.
“Assess me on the fucking wood pile!” HEAVE!
“Go right ahead!” GUH!
“Hold my resources over my head and look what happens!” THROW!
“A few hundred dollars? Really? You want to control me based on a few hundred dollars?” HUH!
“Best money I have EVER spent!” GAHHHH!
I’m sure the neighbors heard me. I no longer cared about impressions.
Fifteen minutes. Ten. I had time. I’d be there. And I’d share my choice – this conscious and wild choice – with them, unashamed. The call was, after all, about women taking our power back through a process I call Sacred Remembering. I teach energy sovereignty. I have been doing the work of actively reclaiming my energy from trickster energies and outdated paradigms, but I’d be damned that I had let myself get into another situation of feminine depletion.
It was exhilarating. I was standing up to this fucking trickster that had haunted me my entire life, I would no longer, not ever again, be controlled by it. The trickster that for my entire life would seek to control me with one thread of direct threat to my resources and then another. Through various men. Always a similar story.
A destroyer presence. A taker of my energy. A power-player over my resources. But it was getting weaker, clearly, because it was grasping for a few hundred dollars and controlling me over what, a wood pile? It was certainly losing it’s power. And I would ensure that this would be it’s last grab as far as I was EVER concerned.
I had felt it’s presence forever. The way it lived in men, in people in positions of power, in patriarchy itself.
The threat that was immanent in so many ways – behave, or lose. Conform, or lose. Obey, or lose. Listen to me, or lose.
It was done when I threw the last, giant second of log over the edge.
I felt the trickster’s power die in that moment.
I’d been fighting this thing for so long, and I had sworn that before I left this place, I would figure this out. I had actually said that to him, when he said one day in October that he was done. I said, “Well, you can wait a damn minute until I figure things out.” And I also said, “I’ll go when the land tells me it’s time to go.”
The land and I weren’t finished yet. And I wasn’t leaving a victim. Not this time.
I would figure out why I could be loved by men and then just as easily depleted and discarded. I was somehow attracting and allowing it, yes. And, that trickster entity was not inside of that man when we started. It was like he was infiltrated and then began acting against me. I believe he was. It’s the dark arts of the Destroyer. Sending it’s dark forces into men when women get too big for their britches. These poor men don’t even see it coming, this ego-identification that makes them a pawn to destroy the feminine.
“Fuck her and her resources,” they say.
I had finally stood up to all the ways I had been taken advantage of, all the ways that my resources had been threatened in my life by a man invaded with the trickster.
And I was done.
I was sweating and panting. I was dirty and unpresentable. I was a wild woman. And I went in, sat down at the table, surrounded by boxes, and told the women what had just happened.
Because I wasn’t ashamed. I had just taken my power back.
Best money I had ever spent.
In the end, in the email he sent me with his arbitrary tally and justification of what he was reimbursing and why, he only deducted $50 for the wood pile. (Wink.)
Learn more about Heartland for women to move from depletion to replenishment at www.sarahpoet.com/heartland.