I won’t lie, this past week was a tough one. And not just a “oh it’s cold outside, the water froze, I forgot something at the store” kinda tough. This week was a punch in the gut, so hard that coming up for air, at times seemed impossible.
I know you’ve all had days, weeks, maybe months like this. For me it started with a text.
For those of you who don’t know me, I lost my sweet TB Daiwik to EPM last July. He fought hard, and I fought even harder. We tried everything, but in the end, his body was in too much pain. Letting him go was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. He was only 10, and we were supposed to have a long journey together. As I am writing this, tears well up... my heart hurts. I loved that big guy so much… still do.
So getting this text from my vet was… petrifying. I went into shock. My sympathetic nervous system took over and there was no flight or freeze, instead I put on my superhero cape and chose to FIGHT. To be real, that wasn’t necessarily a choice, it’s what I am wired to do. (I teach a lot about this in my training). Fight is about taking action, it’s about movement, and that I did. 1) Text back. Order meds. 2) online purchase- the herbs that seemed to offer Daiwik relief. 3) Research any new studies since I last went into this battle. 4) Start a GoFundME for all the horses in our herd that need EPM treatment which is four out of five.
I received the text around noon. I sat at my computer, without food or water, without taking care of any other needs, until 9pm. It got dark. My dog whined a few times. I kept going. I knew as soon as I stopped I would fall apart.
This may not have been the healthiest approach, I teach people to be in touch with their emotional world. To allow themselves to experience the full range of what it means to be a human. But just like all of you, I am far from perfect, and sometimes I .just. Can’t. Deal.
Afterwards though, when I had no more distractions, the reality hit me.
To say I am scared is an understatement.
To say that I am angry is less than the truth.
To say that I am sad is downplaying my feelings.
This is life. And even when it gets this bad, I’m in.
I was raised in an overachiever family. Both mom and dad were very driven and successful. I learned early on that hard work is valuable, and I developed a pretty intense need for perfection. It was never verbalized that attention and love came from achievements, but that is what I internalized.
I think what I carefully wrote on the cover of my first journal says it all- “I am the best at being the best”. Yeah… no pressure kiddo.
Here’s the thing, having goals, working hard, is fantastic, but not when it means that I feel less worthy or get upset when things don’t go as planned.
And boy, do things often take some interesting turns with horses.
I started The REAL Equestrian to help humans, but also to help horses. If you are a race car driver and you get upset about your performance, you can scream and yell, or internally freak the ef out, and your car doesn’t care. Your car doesn’t have his own emotional world.
They feel what we are feeling, they react to our emotions.
I’ll be honest. This is frustrating as hell to me.
I swear the only reason I am still married is because my husband stays grounded and sane when I spin off into emotional tornado land.
My horses though, they really can’t. Understandable as their reaction is based on survival.
Here’s where my perfectionism really messes up my riding. Perfectionism is linear- I work, I get better. I work harder, I get even better. I continue to go up the achievement ladder with my eyes on the goal of being perfect.
But… that’s not how life works, especially not life with horses.
For a perfectionist, when things don’t go as planned, the world falls apart and the unworthy hole opens up.
Now, just to be fair, I’ve done a good amount of work on this over the years. I am no longer the girl with the Eating Disorder, or the woman who would leave the table if she lost at cards. (Ok, at least not often)
But our core issues are called CORE for a reason. They are buried deep within our subconscious. They take a lifetime to disassemble, and it’s very possible that we will die with them still intact to some degree.
Ack… being human is HARD!! Being human and working with horses is even HARDER!!
But, the more we experince the darkness, the more we can acess the light. This stuff is actually only hard until we dive in. Then all of it, living, relationships, riding, gets easier.
I will say this. The more you become aware of your internal world and how you relate to others, the more you dig in and explore those yucky parts of yourself, the healthier your relationship will be with your horse (and others).
Get honest about what is happening for you. Find the people who will listen without judgement.
Make a choice to Get REAL. If you don’t know how, book a Get REAL clinic in your area. We’d love to help.
Oh and one last thing. When we are caught up in being perfect, we don't have fun!! Let go of the pressure, and join the laughter. We'll be over here waiting for you.