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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Come Home For Christmas



So many of us use our experience with horses to improve the quality of our emotional lives. Many who do so do not even realize that is what they are doing. Horses heal and sooth by providing distractions and relief from everyday stress to some people. At the other end of the spectrum they prevent suicide by people who have been through the severest of trauma.

If horses have saved your life, and continue to do so on a daily basis, squeeze every bit of knowledge that you can from your experience with horses. Your horse understands the horror. You need to understand why he understands.

As a prey animal, a horse's greatest desire is for security--that same wonderful feeling of safety that you so desperately need as you find your mind being pulled back into the horror of your past. He needs consistency. Chaos for him is not freedom. It is the exact opposite. Lack of consistency and predictability robs him of the ability to feel secure. He needs to be around other horses who are calm and secure. The security that radiates from them is every bit as beneficial as the stress that radiates from a band of highly stressed horses is detrimental.

Fun, excitement as we understand it, adventure----none of these things appeal to a prey animal seeking security.

But adult humans are predators. We are not prey animals. Our greatest goal is not security. It is autonomy. We want freedom. We abhor boredom. We crave excitement, adventure, and.....fun.

But, and here is the key point, those of us who have been severely traumatized, whether having been officially diagnosed with PTSD or not, often cease to be predators. In order to survive those who have lived through Hell, often adopt the body language and motivations of prey animals without having any idea that they have done so. 

When that happens the need for security becomes paramount. But our culture is not designed to support that quest for security. Our instincts and our friends and family who know no better tell us that we need to be autonomous if we are ever to be happy.

And that is true. But few people understand that in these cases happiness with autonomy can never occur until one first finds security.

One cannot make the emotional leap from being a full fledged prey animal to being a predator without first achieving that vital sense of security. Efforts to do so are doomed to fail--substance abuse,serial romantic relationships with partners whose "dangerousness" makes them appealing, constantly changing "homes" and running to the next job, or school, or set of friends. These results are obvious to those who understand the dichotomy that severe trauma induces--the need for security coupled with a hope for autonomy.

But autonomy is not out of reach for those who taste pain daily. It is fully achievable--with very hard work and commitment. Trauma has wreaked havoc on your mind and body in a myriad of ways and fighting back will take a myriad of strategies--exercise, sound nutrition, adequate sleep, perhaps medication, and counseling.

For most of us developing a relationship with a horse using natural horsemanship will radically enhance the effectiveness of all of these strategies. It can bring us to feeling truly secure.

And it can let you come home--back to a home that you knew before pain dripped on you like a constant, misty rain that is only interrupted by pouring thunder storms. It can let you come home to the home that was once filled with excitement, surprises, and, yes, even fun.

And there is no need to wait--no need to have New Year's resolutions. Go home now. Come home for Christmas...

and use a horse to get there.

* Please note that the term  "predator" has taken on a hostile and pejorative meaning in common usage. The term here is used in its simple and literal meaning as simply a meat eating creature.

4 comments:

Marge said...

Thank you Steve for sharing your wisdom and Merry Christmas!

LiberGrrly said...

Beautiful post. :)

Bryan Tate said...

Profound truth, Steve. I've lived the concept you describe. Thank you.

Lothlorien Farm said...

Thank you, Steve. I am so very glad that you didn't stop writing the blog, especially before this post. It is very helpful, especially today.