When Your Horse Says NOW!
The Importance of Releasing Emotions
A few weeks ago, while recovering from my breast explant surgery (removal of my implants placed after my bilateral mastectomy), I had a profound experience. After having been stuck at home for just about a week, diligently following my doctor’s orders to “rest,” I decided to go to my farm to see my horses. I knew I would only last an hour or two, but it was definitely time to get out of the house! (I am very active, so the down time the doctor requested that I take in order to heal was incredibly hard for me.) As I headed to the barn, I was feeling good, but tired; the normal fatigue one would experience after a major surgery that the body was busy repairing from.
While at the barn, I sat quietly and watched the equine dentist work on my horses. During that time, I learned a few new fun things about the inside of a horses mouth. Like did you know that it is really important that horses graze on grass as the motion of their front teeth pulling up the grass actually has a huge positive impact on their bite? If they do not graze, the dentist needs to fix their front teeth so they can chew properly. Interesting, isn’t it? After some time spent gaining new knowledge, it was time for the dentist to work on my last horse, D’Amour (“D”). While I am connected to all of my horses, D and I share a very deep and profound connection. It is super special and also wildly frustrating at times! This connection has caused tension between us because, for years, I could not hear what he was trying to tell me; therefore, I could not respond appropriately to his needs. As a result, eventually he began to slowly shut down, blocking me and the rest of the world out. This is a habit he developed after being there for me for so many years when, just about every day, I was terrified that I was going to die from cancer.
After years and years of living with or fighting to keep cancer away, I finally found the right doctor for me. I got healthy, without toxic chemicals, and knew that cancer was not going to be what took me out! Once D knew this too, out of sheer exhaustion from keeping me afloat for so many years, he shut down completely. He went from effortlessly performing in the 3’6 AO hunters to not wanting to do anything more than walk and trot around the arena. He was drained emotionally, mentally, and physically. I took all the life out of him the the had to give. The special thing about D is that he dug deep into his big heart and just kept giving and giving and giving for so many years. His focus was on me, no matter how much it took from him. (And, I did not see this because I was too stuck in my fear.) He was one of the biggest forces of life, vitality, and energy that kept me alive; he and my amazing husband, Mike. My dynamic duo!
D shutting down not only broke my heart, but frustrated me endlessly! I kept asking myself how such a talented, athletic horse that had no limitations in the hunter world, could now barely break out of a walk? A horse that loved to jump, won many championships, and took me to the Devon Horse Show no longer wanted to work. A horse that everyone knew and loved. After many sleepless nights, tirelessly researching on the internet, and reaching out to more people than I can remember, an incredibly special friend found us help in the form of a young, energetic, joyous young lady – Jess Roberts. Jess has helped D bring down his walls and has taught us how to start communicating with each other again. I can now hear what he needs, and he has the energy to tell me. He now wants to move, and be that horse he once was. I will have to explain the events of that transformation in another blog sometime.
For now, back to the story at hand. Jess was there the day I went to the barn to see my horses and watch the dentist. She was riding D for me. Before D met with the dentist, when Jess was taking him into the indoor arena to ride him, as I was watching the dentist work on my other horse, D stopped dead in his tracks and looked at me with his deep, compassionate, loving eye and said “you really need to cry, let it go.” I was pretty shocked to hear this from him and I knew he was right. (When you learn to open up the lines of communication with your horse, you might hear more than you ever though you wanted to hear.)
What I needed to let go of was all of the fear I had built up around having my explant surgery. I had had my implants in for over 10 years. I had been feeling pretty sick for the past few years before having them removed, but was not sure why. I did not know, until just a few months ago, that there is a disease called Breast Implant Illness (BII). BII is what happens to many women as a result of having implants placed in their bodies; they are foreign objects and a lot of women suffer debilitating side effects from them. Basically, in layman’s terms, our own immune system attacks them as it knows they are not natural. After hearing a podcast about BII, I decided to do more research. After researching BII extensively for many months, I fought against having my implants removed for many reasons. I agonized over what to do for so long that, at times, the agony made me physically sick. I was terrified of having another surgery as the two surgeries I had undergone in the recent past has both ended with the words “you have cancer.” Ultimately, I looked fear in the face, dug deep and poured everything I had into finding the best surgeon for me as I knew, without question, that it was time for my implants to come OUT!
After several interviews, I found the right surgeon and my body knew it and stopped fighting against the implants; it simply shut down. My body, knowing that I had finally gotten to the bottom of what had been wrong for many years, wanted me to take care of it like it had taken care of me for so long. I got the message loud and clear and decided to honor it by canceling all my summer horse show plans. I headed straight for surgery.
Everything I had been through, leading up to the surgery, finding the surgeon, the surgery itself, and then the recovery was hard! Really hard! It was emotionally exhausting, which turned into physical exhaustion (and I already had plenty of physical exhaustion from the toxicity of the implants that were in my body). After I had gotten to the other side – the surgery was a success and the implants were out – I needed to grieve all that I had been through. I needed to let that experience go. It was over and behind me and I was on my way to healing; really truly healing this time! But foolishly, I had not taken the time to grieve. (Side note: We must take time to grieve. It is a natural and necessary part of being alive.)
Before D stopped on his way to the indoor ring to tell me to cry, I had known for a few days that I needed to cry, but refused to as so often I forget that it is not a sign of weakness, as our culture dictates, but actually one of strength. My old mental patterns crept in and said NO! My brain was screaming “CRYING IS WEAK AND YOU ARE STRONG.” So I proceeded to stuff it down, down, and then further down yet. When D looked at me and told me it was time to cry, as I said, I knew he was right, but I told him I would get to that later and asked him to go into the indoor with Jess.
After Jess rode D, he was the last one to see the dentist. As he stood on the cross-ties getting worked on, Jess and I stood next to him. About 5 minutes in, with the dentist’s hands and speculum in his mouth, he looked over at me with that same eye as he had earlier. Only this time it was a very intense and serious look. The look that clearly told me that he knew best and it was time to listen! The second after my eyes locked with his, he very clearly and firmly insisted that I “GO CRY NOW!”. I did not have a second to respond as nothing was going to hold the tears back, nothing! Even with 3 others standing next to me and a barn full of people, I had NO choice. The tears began to stream down my face. Knowing this was not something that needed to be released in public, I ran (post-surgical drains and all) out of the grooming stall and stood outside and wept! I let my body feel it all; every ounce of everything I had been through. The good, the bad, the ugly. Then I wept and wept and wept some more. You know the kind of crying where tears are streaming down your cheek, snot is running down your nose, and your whole body is shaking…well that is what was happening to me! I embraced it, letting my body take as long as it needed to let it ALL go. After I knew my body had done what it needed to do, I wiped the tears from my eyes and cheeks, the snot from my nose, and then took a big deep breath of gratitude, and turned and walked back into the barn.
I cannot tell you how much better my mind and body felt after this release. As I walked back into the barn, I was smiling and laughing because not only did I feel the relief but I knew that once again D was back, but this time to help me thrive in life, instead of merely surviving. D has always had a very big purpose in his life, a purpose God knew about the day he created him. God has also had in mind a very big purpose for me. He knew we needed each other to achieve our purposes, but we ended up getting a little lost. But, as God would have it, He brought us back together again with the help of two very special friends! What a gift this is!!
Now that you have heard my story, let me ask you, what do you know you need to let go of, but you feel like if you do you will be perceived as weak? What is your horse, or dog, trying to tell you that you might not want to hear? What emotions are holding you back? You don’t need to know why they are holding you back, you just need to release them so they don’t impact your future. Honor your body and feel what needs to go and then allow your body, mind, and spirit to release it. My friends, this is not a sign of weakness as our culture dictates, but rather one of profound STRENGTH! Trust God, maybe with a little help from your friends, to get you back to where you need to be. Sending love and holding space for you to release the emotions that you know are not serving you any longer.