Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Rattlesnakes on the Path of Life

Somewhere along the way, my life has gotten off course.

I've had better weeks.  This last one I ended with a huge bowl of chocolate, double dark chocolate, and chocolate peanut butter gelato topped with a huge pile of homemade whipped cream.

It didn't help.

I blame the rattlesnake I encountered Tuesday evening on a hike with my dog and one of my gentleman suitors.  If spiders are good luck and I welcome them scurrying across my life on a daily basis, rattlesnakes are the opposite.  I like spiders.  I despise snakes.  Snakes in general get a bad rap in literature, particularly in the Bible.  I've always considered them as a symbol of evil, duplicity, betrayal, or at the very least, "Proceed with Caution."

In my years of living in Wyoming I have never encountered a rattler.  Bull snakes, water snakes, and the cute little black thing that shared the backyard with Tess for a couple of summers are the only snakes I've seen since moving here.  All perfectly harmless, more scared of me than I was of them. On my hike last week, my suitor and I were strolling along having a conversation while Tess bounded this way and that, sniffing everything.  This head popped up out of the grass along the path and the air filled with the sound of a hissing rattle.  I've heard rattlers on TV, but I've never heard the real thing.  Someone told me that it's one of those sounds all humans instinctively recognize whether they've ever heard one or not.  I jumped to the other side of the path, swearing.  My companion moved between me and the snake, and Tess obliviously gamboled about several feet ahead, completely unconcerned that her human nearly stumbled into a deadly snake bite.  Truthfully I was more worried about Tess.  She's never seen a rattler either, and while she is very good about listening to me when I order her not to go near or touch something, she would be more inclined to blunder over a snake while sticking her nose in piles of grass than she would be to purposely challenge one.  The only exception here is if the snake attacked me.  Then I can't vouch for how Tess would react, and the last thing I want is for my dog to lose her life due to nasty bitch-snake bite.

I leashed my dog immediately.

The snake was quite pretty actually.  I thought rattlers are brown with a perpetual bitchy resting face, but this one was almost emerald green under its markings which is why we didn't see it until we were almost on top of it. Its appearance did nothing to soften its attitude, however.  It flicked its little forked tongue, weaved its head back and forth in striking imitation of the Real Housewives of Atlanta head wag, and rattled loud enough to warn off every creature in the mountains looming above us.

I'll take this moment to point out that on the way to the hiking path, a skunk ran across the street in front of my companion's truck, so I don't know if I want to blame the crappy week completely on the snake.

Things went downhill since the hike.  My car battery died.  My phone battery died.  My brakes died. I ended up pumping a good chunk of money into my car, and while that was a bummer, it was still better than having to buy a new car.  The ridiculous Cheyenne-esque wind destroyed my flowers, and it was 90 degrees all week causing high tempers, short fuses, and an overwhelming desire to drown oneself in a pool of ice water. The weather combined with my PMS did nothing to improve my mood all week long.  I broke my favorite mug featuring Snoopy as the Vulture by catching it with my elbow and knocking it out of the cabinet, a feat I never would have been able to accomplish in a normal week considering I stash that mug in a relatively safe place. I had three dates last week and several texts from other suitors, and while the attention is flattering, I'm pretty exhausted.  I'm not used to being the popular chick (and there are only so many evenings in a week). They are all lovely men, but I still don't know any of them very well, and seeing them once a week or every other week doesn't help with developing intimacy.

Or maybe it's as I feared, and I'm just one big dating disaster.

Perhaps this is just what "dating" is all about.  As a serial monogamist generally attracted to morons, I am not familiar with the concept of just "dating."

As long as I'm confessing my sins, I also subjected myself and the Paleontologist to the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie that I was sure was going to be a complete stinker.  It wasn't too bad actually, kind of reminiscent of the old cartoons I used to watch as a child,  Unfortunately that caused me to go on a nostalgic rampage of wishing I was still twelve when the only problem I had was whether or not I missed that cartoon on Saturday mornings because I overslept.  I definitely wasn't worrying about a full time job, how to pay all my bills, dating, was I going to die alone, or who was breaking my heart.  My small group recovery didn't do much to raise my spirits as it usually does, and I even felt like my daily devotional and my Bible were judging me based on this last weekend's readings.  In other words, even God is breaking my heart right now (but it's only fair since I break His continuously).

Worst of all, other than Tuesday night hiking with my dog, I have barely spent any time with my animals due to dates, work, and the heat rivaling the bowels of hell.  That heat makes them avoid me like it's my fault the weather is being so obnoxious.  Percy hides in the coolest place in the house, Willow banishes herself to the top of her cage so she can sit by the open window (and continues to protest by peeing on the floor), and Puckett doesn't want to get any hotter by snuggling or being around others with elevated body heat.  This is understandable considering her thick fur coat, her layer of fat, and the fact that she is a cat with a high normal body temperature.

Looking back the week really wasn't all that bad.  The crappiness was only magnified by the heat, the wind, and the PMS.  I tend to overdramatize.  The crappiness did, however, get my attention.  And also, researching snakes as symbols and spirit guides, I discovered that they actually symbolize healing, transformation and life changes, and an increase in energy.  Running across a snake in life can mean a major life transition and a period of personal growth.  I have to say, that is more spot on than the Bible reading I had this last weekend that prompted me to throw my Bible across the room in anger at feeling judged.  But then,maybe that reading wasn't completely off either. My life has gotten completely off course which I am definitely not comfortable with, but the appearance of that rattlesnake got my attention as well.  There are definitely transitions happening.  I am definitely going through personal growth from my recovery and moving through the steps. And while I don't have as much energy as I'd like (I blame that on the Snickers bars I've been eating for breakfast), I do know that tweaking my diet back to healthy eating and reinstating Pilates every morning will help with that. I don't always like what my devotionals (and my rattlers) are telling me, but I have faith that it's stuff I need to hear and work on.  I thought I was doing fine for awhile, and then I stumbled again and am back to struggling.  I am learning a lot about myself dating different guys and getting to know many people rather than fixating on one guy and obsessing (like the serial monogamist that I am).  Dating like this has also dragged me out of my comfort zone and forced me to socialize in a manner I'm not completely comfortable with.  It's helped with my confidence, and while I can get discouraged and jaded, I refuse to give up as I've done in the past.  Small group sharing in recovery is also out of my comfort zone.  I hate sharing my issues with strangers, but I have made new friends from this and now they are no longer strangers.

I don't know what I'm transforming into, what I'm transitioning to, but I do know the journey is terrifying and exciting at the same time.

Kind of like nearly stepping on a rattlesnake in the middle of a placid, pleasant hike.

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