The first place and a spot I still use now as an adult was the barn. There is always something soothing about the smells and sounds at the barn. The warmth of the breath of my animals as they nuzzle my cheek. The soft furry bodies snuggling up to me. The quiet soothing sound of the horses munching on hay and the rustling of straw as they shuffle around. The soft thump-thump-thump of the farm dogs laying patiently as I brushing manes & hug necks. The throaty purring of the barn cat perched nearby stretching out for a rub.
the barn to do some chore or clean the stalls. Some days I needed to throw buckets at the wall and the physical work of doing chores to work out frustrations as I cursed the world under my breath. Other days I needed to cry into the soft fur of the farm dog snuggled on my lap in the pile of hay licking my tear-streaked cheeks. Or sob into the neck of my horse while he steadily munched his hay and nuzzled my hair reassuringly. Eventually, the physical exertion would burn out my frustration and I would begin to analyze the situation or the calm repetitiveness of the animals and their rhythmic habits would sooth my upset and allow my jumbled thoughts to begin to organize themselves.
But the barn was easily accessible to those around me and as I got older and the turmoil in my house grew, I needed to escape a bit more. I was about 10 when we got our first dog, Dillon He was about 10 and was a huge black lab. He was very bonded to me and I was allowed to take him for walks. That's when I discovered my creek hideaway. About a 1/4 mile from our house through nothing but a corn field lay a small stream that was a drain-off from a local river. This creek ran through a culvert under the road and was lined with small trees and scrub. On our side of the road was pretty much nothing besides rabbit and woodchuck holes and a few big rocks to perch on. On the opposite side of the road was a large rock pile on one side and a cow pasture on the other. Both sides offered a few trees and bunches of brush for shade and to hide in. When the corn was short and then later when harvested, the spot was in clear view of the house. I could see who was coming and going and unless I was hiding out, they could see me if they knew where to look. But I was out of hearing distance and out of arm's reach.
I don't know how much uglier things would have been for me if I had not been able to get out of the heat of the moment. As it was I did have a lot of issues with depression, self-injuring and self-esteem from the times I couldn't escape. But when I was able to get out of that pressure-cooker, I was able to find that center of balance and remind myself that life moved on. The animals continued about their daily routines and the creek still flowed and changed and shifted with the changes around it. I was able to calm down and remember the values and the positive things I had learned. I would remember the stories my great-grandma would tell me about the good in life and God's love for me. I was able to sit and sketch and pour my feelings out on paper with drawings and stories and poetry and it helped. No one was around to judge my work or tell me my reaction to the things happening was wrong - I could just feel...
And she comes back with a happy smile on her face and a healthy flush to her cheeks and a giggle to share about some silly thing the goat did or a proud grin that this time she wasn't scared to walk up to the big horse by herself and give him a pat on the neck and a treat from her hand.