There is a strong desire in me to help others. I want to share with them what I’ve learned about finding balance in life, how to find peace and joy in the small pleasures and to be grateful for every day. My own transformation has been intertwined with my relationships with animals, especially the horse. The horse represents for me the freedom to be who I am at every moment, without fear or hesitation. I find it easier to see myself as whole and worthy when I am with the horses. I find it easier and more natural to assist others in their growth when I am with the horses.
In the past I’ve hesitated to offer my help to others for fear that I would be asked that difficult question, “how could you possibly understand?” What do you know about being divorced, losing a loved one, suffering abuse or being broke. How could you know what it’s like to be alone and sad, hurt or ill with no one to take care of you? What do you know about trauma and tragedy?
When I began my own path down self discovery lane, I was sure that I would never qualify as someone who could speak from experience. I searched through my story to see if there was any serious trauma. No, I hadn’t been physically abused, lived in a parked car or given up for adoption. I hadn’t experienced a series of personal tragedies, multiple spouses or lived in a war torn country. I was sure that I would need all of these things on my life’s resume to qualify for teacher, healer and coach. I wanted to share my story with women in transition, women looking for something in their life they could attach meaning. Women searching for a connection with others to create new experiences and enhance the value of each person’s life. I’ve been there, haven’t I?
While I was busy judging myself for living a life that was too calm and carefree, I continued to meet people who carried the same stories of shame and insecurities that I had, often as a badge of honor and identity. Instead of discovering trauma and tragedy in my life, I found common ground in the hurt and pain that shows up during every person’s early years. I discovered that it is born there, it lives there and gets comfortable with the surroundings, with the face, first, of a child, then adolescent, then adult. It tells it’s stories in short bursts of narrative and creates the same ending until it’s tale is memorized, chapter and verse.
I realized that the stories of trauma and tragedy I was hearing had all begun the same way: hurt and pain had been passed on by someone close to them. Family or friends, communities and cultures had lived with the feeling of inadequacy and loss. A feeling of not good enough, not smart enough, not lovable, not attractive enough, not strong enough, not rich enough and on and on. It brought each person to life choices that became the new normal, no matter how harmful or destructive. The pain and hurt was carried through the years, housed in a fortress of defenses-judgment, isolation, anger, criticism, compliance or numbed by alcohol, drugs, dysfunction and disease.
I watch horses in a herd line up to drink water at a large basin. The horse who can move the others away with physical intimidation is the first to drink. With a glance, ears pinned, head down, he says “step back, it’s my turn”. Each horse jockeys for position and waits their turn. Each horse gets a drink of water. Some will share their space at the trough, others want the space to themselves. The herd will survive because there are individuals willing to wait and take care of the others and those who will step up and be first to take the risk, move forward, advance the herd. BUT, no one is made to feel less because of their differing personalities, temperaments and energy. Each has a role in the larger group. The differences are what make the herd strong and sustainable.
I think this is at the heart of all of our pain and hurt. We see our differences as a sign of weakness and an opportunity to step over others on our way to being something we’re not, just to please others and feed our ego. It leads to great disappointment and distress and forces us to submit to a lifelong habit of trying to live up to unattainable goals. The horse who must change his personality and individuality to suit another (usually humans) is a horse in distress, acting out, resisting, suffering from mental, emotional and physical pain. A herd in nature would never accept this false creature.
I do understand what it means to be a person who lives a life formed from the pain of wanting to be like everyone else, accepted and loved, acknowledged and appreciated. I too have kept my individuality and personality under wraps in order to fit in and keep the stress of conflict out of my life. I am also a person who keeps seeking a place in line that best suits my personality and temperament, that allows me to be who I am without sacrificing what I need to thrive and be happy. I can be part of the larger whole without giving up my unique individuality. The horses taught me that!
I am qualified to help others. I know the sting of pain in my life from feeling unworthy. And, I choose to find the way to greater balance and peace in my life. I don’t accept the stories. I consider them life lessons not life sentences. I am here for anyone who has a lesson they want to share and a new story to tell. The horses are listening….
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