Holding My Own

Dear sweet, stupid, well-meaning chauvinistic boy,

I know that you are from a small ranch near a small town in the middle of a big place with not much in it. I know that you are young. Very young. With that youth comes, pride, and stupidity, and the desire for girls to think much of you. I know that you are funny, and flirt with the boys too, even though you’re just full of yourself and don’t really mean it. I know that you are high on being good looking and young, and available.

However, where I come from, the ranch boys learn to respect a woman. They don’t base that respect on the size of a woman’s breasts, or her height, or her looks. They base it on the stance, the attitude, the willingness. Sure, they are tough and expect everyone else to be tough too, unless it is those city pansies. Don’t claim to be tough if you don’t mean it, because they will go the extra mile to let you prove how tough you are. Trust me. I’ve been there.

I’ve earned that respect on the back of a horse, in the cab of a truck, behind a loose steer, in the arena, on the fences, wrestling with the boys and beating them up. I have been kicked in the head by a wounded horse, I’ve held foals in their first few minutes, I’ve winched a dead horse out of the muddy pasture while her skin split under the chains. I’ve worked 17 hour days in the summer sun, training and building and pulling my weight. I’ve ridden out the young stallion until he didn’t buck anymore. I’ve been kicked and trampled and broken and thrown and stomped and bitten and hit and beat, and stood up and come back for more. I’ve walked between two horses in the middle of a fight and broken that fight up. I’ve backed a 4 year old stallion down, just with my eyes, my voice, the language of my body. I’ve held a blind stallion’s head until he stopped panicking, and ridden the ‘dangerous, unfixable’ mare around the arena with only a halter and rope to back me up.

I was seven years old the first time someone pointed a gun at me. I was probably 10 when my uncle got in a fight with the neighbor, and the cops were called on my grandmother because she threatened to kill the neighbor–with a trailer hitch, of all things–if he didn’t leave her son alone. I was two when my aunt drowned, in front of me, and 13 when I found out that my friend had terminal cancer. I was three when my mother was kicked out of the house by my grandmother. I don’t know how old I was the first time I remember seeing my grandfather suffering from a grand mal seizure. I was in the 6th grade when he had a seizure in front of my friends. I was in kindergarten the first time I beat up a boy. I was 18 when I became an adult and told my grandparents that I was through, and done, and moving out. I was 19 when I moved across the country without a support network. I don’t have a high school diploma. I don’t have a college degree. I don’t have a boyfriend or a girlfriend because, right now, I really am happiest on my own.

So don’t you dare tell me that I wouldn’t last a day in your world. Don’t you dare condescend to me with quips about a woman’s place, or how soft I am. And if I ever hear you say what you said Sunday, ever again, I will show you just what I can handle, and what I can do, and what my place is.

You see, that’s the shit that my family fed me, all my life. Those are the words my cousin Aaron would say, after he kicked me, or tried to force me out of his way. That’s the attitude that my ex had. I survived them, and overcame them in ways I never imagined.

A lot of what helped me survive is what I learned working with my horses. That inner calm. The focus-without-focus. Seeing what isn’t there to see, anticipating the responses that they haven’t formulated yet. Meeting anger with control, hurt with comfort, immaturity with a strong but gentle hand.

Fixing the horses that other people have broken, in one way or another, is a game. It’s a game of psychology, and strength. Sometimes, you hunker down and hold the young stallion by his ear until he stops fighting you. Sometimes, you hold his head down and share that stillness until he lets go of his fear. And, more often than anything else, you wait. Wait until he knows what you are, what you want, what you want of him. You make him come to you, on your terms, and you use the most gentle, cruel, silent, still ways of persuasion that you have.

Trust me, kid. It’s not just horses that I have used those techniques on.

Yes, you are young, and stupid, and proud. Go ahead. Tell me that I should be ‘broken like I break my horses.’

‘Cause I’ve been broken like that. It can be fixed. Talk to me again, however, and I’ll show you what happens when broken things are fixed. Careful, we don’t have to tell you how sharp our edges are, or warn you that you aren’t tough enough to handle it.

*edit* I realized, after posting this, that the mentioned exchange happened after ANOTHER exchange with the same guy. I’d made a gentle jab about men always being hungry. He asked how I could ever date a guy, since I hated men so much. I said “men aren’t the only ones out there, y’know.” That was the end of that particular subject, but the timing DOES make me wonder…


23 Responses to “Holding My Own”

  1. I am LIVID for you, my beautiful, wonderful, strong, strong friend.

    • Jaym Gates Says:

      Thank you, lovely. The situation at work has been steadily deteriorating for a while, as my ability to defend myself has slowly been taken away by the powers that be. This was the icing on top of it all.

      Kuro, darling…what on EARTH makes you think that there would be a body? I like them alive to tell the tale and further the fear. Pass the acid, please.

      • ladykuro Says:

        Okay, but can I at least come and watch/taunt while you do it? This guy has absolutely NO idea what you’ve gone through. Hell, I don’t think his comment would be appropriate for ANYONE in our circles. I’d say he wouldn’t last a day in our world. No, not one hour. Yes, the white one is considering nasty things for him.

  2. ladykuro Says:

    I’ll help you hide what’s left of the body.

  3. Jaym Gates Says:

    Kuro, his statement wasn’t appropriate for anyone. Coming from the background that I do, I understand that he might not know the severity of what he said. I will give him that leeway, and talk to him on Thursday.

    In a way, this post was aimed at about 5 coworkers, all of whom have painted some weird target on my back. I’ve about had enough of it, and am trying to vent some of it here so that I don’t get myself in major trouble.

    No nasty things. He will get what is coming to him, if that is his actual view of the world. If not, then we will work with him to HELP him understand why he is not going to say things like that.

    The dark one has trained before. She will train again, if necessary. I’m good at sharing the feeling of things.

    • ladykuro Says:

      Do said coworkers actually read your blog? I do hope that they do.

      You know..I’m tempted by just one word for him. “Understand”. Training would probably be the nicer option.

      • Jaym Gates Says:

        He doesn’t. I don’t want him to see that much of me.

        You know me. Do you REALLY think that I’d offer the nicer option? Even the villains of my life have a healthy respect for my sadism. They should, it’s their fault.

  4. I am so proud of you. You are like all the strong, amazing women I’ve seen over the years of teaching self-defense to them and their children, when young, stupid full of themselves abusers don’t bother to think. Some people don’t have the brains God gave a goose, or the wisdom in their granny’s left toe.

    Life will kick him in the teeth for you. You don’t deserve the hurt and upset and time this has stolen from you.

    You’re beautiful.

    • Jaym Gates Says:

      And yet the hurt and upset and time has brought me back, and made me realize that this is still a weakness that needs to be mended.

      To be honest, I’d rather that I am the one who takes the trauma to teach him this lesson, than someone who isn’t as able to hold their own, who hasn’t healed so much. I can handle this, and do it with some degree of stability and dignity.

      I accept this challenge.

      I only wish that you were not able to make statements about ‘all the women over the years.’ In the age in which we live, this should not be a problem. Such statements should not ever be based in reality.

      • Yes. The women’s shelters are still necessary. The teenagers going off to university still have to be given permission to ‘fight back’, to ‘make a scene’ to risk ‘being embarrassed’. Age gives us some perspective on what we bore without complaint when we were young, for the sake of others.

        One step at a time, one word at a time. We gain some ground then stupid media claws back the respect we’ve gained with such difficulty. Pink and blue and the associated attitudes are jammed into our kids brains with idiot cartoons for morons…. sorry. Yours has been the more reasoned and reasonable response. Hugs from way up here.

  5. Jaym Gates Says:

    And as women of alternative sexuality, there are even more hurdles. Perhaps this is a fight that will never end. But I, for one, pledge that I will ALWAYS speak out, I will ALWAYS fight and make a scene and embarrass others and stand up for myself and for anyone else that needs it.

    I’ve had enough.

  6. anassarhenisch Says:

    This soft city girl from a ranching area is looking at you with adoration right now. You’ve got more courage and strength than … I hate to say everyone I know, but it seems like it. I hope the people in your life see that soon.

  7. Jaym Gates Says:

    There are different types of strength, Anassa. I am perfectly at home, in control, on a ranch or wilderness trail. Cities get inside of my head and make me crazy.

    Thank you for the encouragement.

    • anassarhenisch Says:

      It’s still more strength than I have most places. I’m usually confident, but I don’t think I’m generally very strong. I understand about cities, though. Too many people generating too much crazy, I think is my problem.

  8. Christ. You, my friend, are a bad-ass.

  9. This poor pup of a want to be “man” is in need of some training. I know you can and will do him proper.
    This child sounds so much like my x. Woman’s place is in the kitchen with the kids on on the bed. Not nice words to say to that. Some will realize their mistakes, others never change. I hope this one will hon, because if he doesn’t you will flay him alive.
    Sorry he has hurt you and brought back memories. But we all know that what is in the past makes you stronger.

  10. Pfft… and you call that living? You should get out and do stuff more often… instead of that easy, sheltered life you like touting.

    *runs away before he gets hurt*


    • ladykuro Says:

      I believe that’s Ken’s way of asking to be beat.

      • Naw… I’m just in a good mood and decided to play with the witch.

        It’s not proper to hijack someone else’s blog, but Jaym won’t know this any other way unless I tell her here. SO excuse this somewhat rude intrusion please: I made the quarter finals in WOTF and got an “Honorable Mention”

        In short, that means that I finished in the top 65 out of probably 1500+ entries. Yay me.

        Sorry, but thought you’d like to know. I don’t keep up with everyone as much as I should lately.

  11. Jaym Gates Says:

    Ken, awesome! Which story?

    ST Ken: Let me know if you ever need security at a ST event. I’ll be over here, watching cartoons.

    • A foulness in Auldwood. (The filthy unicorn story) 🙂

      It didn’t win, but did well. But more importantly, it’s now free to make its rounds in the submission game. Wish it luck, maybe it will find a home in print somewhere.

  12. mgellington Says:

    ::shakes head::

    Beautiful response.

  13. Dearest,

    Always follow what your heart tells you is right, guided by your head, both in balance. If you have to fight, teach and share emotions to show others that they have to face their inner self and reflect on that, in stead of throwing words at others at whim and with too much ease, then DO so.

    But I do hope with all my heart that you will find the peace and calmness that YOU need to just be you. without the need to be on alert all the time. To simply be the person you want to be, not pulled down by your past and present, by demands made by others.

    I wish you happiness, because you deserve it my beautiful, strong – even in weakness, witty and intelligent lady.


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