Dark corners

065BW

For 20 years now, I have convinced myself that it’s best not to celebrate my birthday.  People do this for varying reasons from not wanting to get older and sticking their heads in the sand to hating the attention.  I decided a long time ago that if I stuffed my birthday in a suitcase and tucked it away in the deep dark recesses of my heart then maybe, just maybe, nothing bad would happen.  You see, every year on and around my birthday there was always an “incident.”  An “event” that left me traumatized and terrified and in later years, my precious kids were exposed to this vicious cycle too.  And so, I decided that if my birthday wasn’t celebrated then there wouldn’t be/shouldn’t be any reason for anything scary to transpire.  Of course that wasn’t ever the case.  Abuse doesn’t negotiate.  Abuse loves when you are compliant, snuffing out your own light.  In doing so, you’ve done the dirty work for abuse.

So here I am ….. I turned 40 yesterday and I felt off all day.  I don’t think it was the big 4-0, which in our culture is quite the milestone.  As my husband stated, “It’s just a number.”  I agree.  However, I went through the day feeling, meh.  I really couldn’t put my finger on it until this morning.  As I was preparing for the listening exercise I participate in for my EGCM certification, it hit me and tears welled up; I felt forgotten.  I wasn’t forgotten.  I knew I wasn’t.  However in my heart, I felt sad and forgotten.  By denying my birthday was I denying myself?  By staying tight lipped about it and not mentioning my birthday, was I causing my own heart, my very soul, to feel rejected and unloved?  Definitely worth pondering to say the least.

My birthday wasn’t made public on social media until recently.  When I re-signed up for a Facebook account (I don’t like Facebook and had deleted my account after my abuser had hacked into it for the umpteenth time.  Facebook is this necessary evil like Walmart), I decided it was okay to list my birthday for others to see.  I had plenty of well wishes yesterday from others via Facebook and each and every one made me smile.  Social media reminded people that love me but are bad with dates that it was my birthday and plenty of others who otherwise wouldn’t have known at all.  Most of my family sent text messages of love and my baby brother called me from Italy.  However, my kids have no idea it was my birthday yesterday.  They’ve been raised by a mother who makes a big deal out of their birthdays but essentially has never had one of her own as long as they’ve been alive.  There was no cake or hullabaloo over it.  No one gathered together for a yummy meal to celebrate.  It was an ordinary day like all the rest that have passed.  And I did it to myself.  It’s not anyone else’s fault I felt forgotten.  I intentionally and quite deliberately have made myself small and no one is responsible for that except me.  And I take full responsibility.

I have decided that it’s time to fish the suitcase out from the dark corner it’s been stowed away in, dust it off and begin to unpack it.  It’s time to heal that hurt and trauma and celebrate me because well ….. let’s face it ….. I’m kind of a big deal 😉  Really, aren’t we all kind of a big deal!  Our very conception, birth and life is a miracle that should be celebrated every day but especially on our birthday, not stowed away in a dark corner.  I was given a 50% chance of survival when I made my entrance into the world.  Day in, day out my parents sat in the NICU next to an incubator praying I would live.  Is that not reason to celebrate!?!  We all have our reasons for feeling blah and sometimes life is pretty convincing when it argues that there’s no reason to celebrate anything however that simply isn’t true!  The very miracle of the sun rising in the east painting the most magnificent of water colors is reason to rejoice and celebrate!

Marianne Williamson wrote to Nelson Mandela something that I’ve heard read many times,  I quote:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I don’t know what birthdays moving forward will look like however they will be celebrated, even if that means I organize the get together and buy the cake 🙂  I owe it to my heart and soul to rejoice and be glad everyday but especially on the day I breathed my first breath and was given the miracle of life!

Our Inner Dragon Slayer …

IMG_1596

I was utterly exhausted … I’d been slaying dragons and jumping through each and every hoop laid before me.  Just when I thought I had jumped through them all, another one would appear.  Did I mention the hoops moved?  Just as I went to leap through them, they’d shift.  A moving target that I tried desperately to hit … I couldn’t win.  I felt like the very life, spirit and breath in me was all but gone.

I slipped outside into the darkness unnoticed and out into the pasture.  I wasn’t sure where the horses were but at that point, I didn’t really care, I just needed fresh air.  Tears began to fill my eyes as my heart ached.  They blurred my vision and as I turned my gaze skyward to stare into the brilliant star filled night sky, those precious tears rolled down the sides of my face .  I could hear coyotes yipping in the distance.  Sobs slowly made their way up to my throat from the deepest parts of my soul and as I tried to muffle and stuff them back down, Kade appeared.  At that time, he was fairly fresh off the track, hot, snorty and spooky.  I hadn’t spent enough time with him for him to feel safe with me at that point.  And yet there he was. He’d left the herd that gave him security and sought me out in the middle of the 40 acre pasture.

He quietly walked up to me, touched my shoulder with his muzzle and then stood next to me leaning his shoulder into mine.  This precious fellow was quite literally offering me his shoulder to cry on.  I buried my face in his neck and the tears and sobs I’d been stifling overflowed and soaked his copper penny coat.  The warmth of Kade’s shoulder was comforting in the cool night air but more than that, I was filled with a deep sense of amazement and gratitude for the special moment we were sharing.  To think that he’d gone out of his way to find me, comfort my aching heart and offer me the support I needed at that moment in time … a shoulder to literally hold me up.

We all experience times in life where we dig deep to summon our inner warrior. Sometimes the “event” is short lived and you’re through it fairly quickly.  Other times these “events” last for months, even years.  Your arms tire from swinging your sword much like Moses’ arms grew tired as the Israelite’s battled in the old testament.  Aaron and Hur stepped alongside Moses to help him keep his sword held high and Israel prevailed.  We don’t all have Aaron’s or Hur’s in our lives to raise our worn out arms in the midst of battle.  And for that reason, I am drawn to this work of equine gestalt coaching.

I was blessed to have people step alongside me as I, at times, clawed and crawled my way through the consuming fire that was the hell I battled (sailors would blush if they heard the words I muttered, crawling with what felt like the last remaining “oomph” I could muster, jaw set, teeth clenched).  My “Aaron’s and Hur’s” were family, friends, professionals and my horses.

We are conditioned to believe that horses are merely beasts of burden, put on this earth to do whatever we ask.  We are told they are beneath us in the hierarchy we’ve established.  Horses are here for so much more than satisfying our ego and whimsy.    “We are after all a mere part of creation … And we stand between the mountain and the ant, somewhere and only there, as part and parcel of the creation.” Oren R. Lyons, Onondaga  As sentient beings, they offer uncanny insights into our very souls.  They teach, guide and share messages in a way that offers powerful healing to our brokenness.

And so, I ask myself, what about those precious souls that don’t have the support of family, friends or access to professionals and the horses?  What about their broken hearts, tarnished spirits and lost hope?  Who is stepping alongside them as they tire in the midst of their own battles?  Who is offering them a shoulder to lean into and to cry on?  It is my heart’s desire, my heart’s calling, to pay it forward.  To offer support, love, compassion, encouragement and yes, horses, to these battle weary warriors.

In what way are you called to love and encourage others?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories of stepping alongside others in the midst of their battles 😉