Would you say you’ve experienced trauma in your life? Most people would say no.
If I were to ask those who said yes what those traumatic experiences were, they would most likely share things like a car accident, serious illness, near-death incident, war, losing a spouse or child, becoming an orphan, being sexually or physically abused.
But what if trauma wasn't only these notable dramatic moments in time?
The more I learn about trauma, the more I’ve come to understand that experiencing trauma isn’t about the dramatic event; it is about how you felt from an event.
So what does this mean? If there have been moments in your life that you have ever felt abandoned, terrified, never heard, never valued, worthless, waste of time, then you have experienced trauma.
When we experience trauma, we go into fight, flight, or freeze/shut down. We aren’t safe to express ourselves, or worse, told not to. When our nervous system enters this sympathetic state without being able to complete the cycle - process emotionally and mentally what’s happening and it is met with empathy and validation from another human - then those emotions become trapped inside our nervous system.
For those of us who perhaps didn't realize what trauma included, we would most likely have thoughts like: “Oh jeez, my childhood was great! I really don’t have anything to complain about,” or “sure I was bullied, but it wasn’t that bad, they were just kids and didn’t know what they were doing after all.” This denial is a safety mechanism to keep that trauma locked away deep inside us to protect us from the pain.
When we can start learning what trauma actually is, we can begin to free ourselves from it. If for your entire life, you were trying to tell yourself that what you went through wasn’t a big deal and to just get over it, those painful emotions stay trapped. What you felt was real! What you felt was painful and traumatic.
Learning how to overcome my trauma has been the gateway to understanding myself. Trauma is the root of anger, frustration, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, suicide, self-harm, and more. All of a sudden, I’m not “messed up.” I’m simply emotionally and mentally wounded, and I need to heal.
If you find yourself relating to this, I want to personally invite you into my Facebook community. Inside the guide section, I have a free 30-day transformation - Chomping at the Bit: Transition from Guilt to Freedom. This will help you get started on your healing journey. Click HERE to connect with others wanting their happiness, hope and freedom too.
Learning to heal has transformed my life to find happiness, hope, and freedom! Becoming more whole has helped my anxiety and depression; it helps me be a better mom and prevent passing my trauma down; it’s immensely helping my marriage.
Let’s be honest! You love the fact that you have children; you love your children! But then, on the other hand, you're also missing who you were before your kids. You're missing what you used to be able to do. You're missing the amount of time you'd used to spend with your horses. You're missing freedom. You're missing almost everything about your life pre-kids, and you don't know how to navigate all of those big, ugly emotions, and then the guilt that follows them, right, because the guilt is going to follow. I know that because I went through all of this.Read more...
“It shouldn’t be like this”
“Why is it so hard”
“My horse should be doing -“
“Why am I still scared”
“No one supports me”
“This isn’t what I thought my life would be like”
When we get stuck in what we think life -should be- we totally miss what life really is.
This is commonly the root of our frustration, anxiety, depression, resentment, and suffering.
Life is what it IS.
Learning to accept and love what ‘is’ allows you space to then make a plan with action steps to move in the direction you want; my friend, that is true freedom.
Let go of what you think life should be.
Let go of where you think you should be.
Let go of what you think your horse should be able to do.
Let go of what you think your marriage should be.
Let go of how you think your kids should be.
Live in this moment. Love now. Embrace now.
If you’re looking steps to help, check out the free 30 day challenge inside Back Into Horses After Babies in the guide section: “Chomping at the Bit.”
Until next time my friend 💜
Yesterday I hauled Ace and our new horse Greg to the arena. It was barrel practice night, and this was the first time going for all three of us.
Ace has been really learning to let go of his anxiety and fears during rope nights with my hubby's help, so I personally hadn’t ridden him the last few times he was hauled. On the drive, I mentally prepared myself to be a relaxed and confident leader for Ace while listening to a podcast. (The Journey On Podcast with Warwick Schiller interviewing Jane Pike)
This podcast really explained things in a way I had never thought of before, and it helped a lot! I want to share a few of those with you now summarized in my words.
My body and mind are amazing. It created defence mechanisms to protect myself during stressful/scary/traumatizing situations when I literally couldn’t process it. I am thankful my body has this ability -- but I am now aware it's time to release these defence methods as they are no longer serving me.
When I feel anxiety, stress or fear, it's like internal energy becoming bigger than my body that I cannot hold it in anymore. I am learning to tune into what my body is telling me and respond before my emotions become bigger than my body, creating a fight/flight/freeze. This is my body trying to protect myself from danger - which again is a beautiful thing! Accepting that nothing is wrong with me is extremely important.
When I start to feel anxious, an easy method to help refocus my brain is to move my body: wiggle my toes in my boots, tap my thumb against each fingertip. Yesterday I also became aware of how I wanted my body to feel to Ace while riding. I envisioned my body being connected to him through my seat and thighs, like in Avatar minus the ponytail hehe. I wanted to feel soft, relaxed, gentle and curious about his own movements. This helped me ride so much softer I was shocked!
Every single thing I learned about myself is exactly the same for my horse. When Ace reacts anxiously or fearfully, this is his natural response to keep him safe and protected. I don’t want this to disappear, or if a bear ever came for a visit, then he would be in trouble! I want to show him he can trust me and that I’ll keep him safe.
His anxiety can feel so big it's pouring out of his body, putting him into fight/flight/freeze; it is up to me to recognize when his cup of anxiety is getting too high and help him empty it before it overwhelms him.
Asking him for simple body movements can help him come back inside his body, getting his mind off his stress, but it's important to keep things very simple and basic, so it doesn’t become an additional stress source.
There is nothing wrong with feeling fear or anxiety or stress, for either you or your horse! This is an instinct meant to keep us safe from harm. Learning to accept this is the first step to understanding and moving past our fears. Invite your fear to sit at a table beside yourself; what would you say to it? Invite your horse's fear to sit at your table; what would you tell it? Loving ourselves through these feelings is so important.
Thank you, Jane, for the amazing reminder.
How come talking about the loneliness, guilt, resentment, anger and shame that comes with motherhood isn’t a thing?
How come when we try and reach out for help, we are told, “Yes, being a mom is hard, isn’t it,” or, “It’s just your hormones dear, it will all level out soon enough,” or my ultimate favourite, “don’t worry about that stuff, your babies are only babies once, sit back and soak it all in and just cheer up.” How isolating is that? We have just confessed we feel like we are drowning, and we are told to swim better.
If I asked you to describe a ‘mom,’ what comes to mind? For me, Brene Brown explains it perfectly: mom’s do everything, do it perfectly, and make it look easy while doing it.
What about being a horsewoman? According to western movies, they make us tough, resilient, stubborn, firm and can do any job a man can do, but better.
Those are a lot of expectations. If you are like me, you are both a horsewoman and a mom. The weight of those expectations is exhausting.
What’s worse is we don’t talk about these extreme expectations. These standards are unspoken by society, but they are implied. It’s not like after your first baby, a nurse comes in and says, “okay, now here’s what you need to do to be a good mom.” You don’t get a piece of paper when you become passionate about horses stating the requirements needed for you to be considered a good horsewoman.
What’s sad about these unspoken standards is that we feel like failures when we inevitably can’t do it all. Those thoughts and feelings like we are failing, unworthy, less than, not enough, who am I to do that? They haunt all of us. These feelings are shame. We hide them away in hopes no one will ever see them; because if they did, we would indeed be judge and found unworthy.
Before we go further, let’s make sure we are all on the same page. Shame is the fear of disconnection, fear of being judged as unworthy and not good enough; to be cast out. Shame is “I feel awful because I am a bad person.” Guilt is “I feel awful because I did something bad.”
As a mother of two amazing young daughters, living on a beautiful farm, with an outdoor arena as a front yard, who was I to complain? I should be the happiest person alive, shouldn’t I? But I missed myself before having children. I felt that I was a horrible mom for having these thoughts; I felt ashamed. I felt unworthy around my horses because my connection with them was almost nonexistent. I was angry, resentful, frustrated, and I felt alone.
Luckily, thanks to my horse, I started going down a rabbit trail, trying to fix our connection. Instead, I found how much healing I needed. The shame I was carrying was eating away at my passion for life. I started to see the hope that I could indeed be happy and fulfilled as both a mother, wife and horsewoman.
What I wish I had in those moments was someone to talk to. Someone, I felt safe enough to share my thoughts and struggles without being disconnected or judged. I wish I had someone to help me realize that what I was dealing with was, in fact, shame and that there was a way through it. If you recognized a part of yourself as being stuck in shame, I’ve created a free booklet to help you start unpacking your thoughts to work towards finding your freedom from shame! If you’d like your copy sent directly to your inbox, you can get that here: Finding Your Freedom From Shame
Brene Brown is famous for her talks on shame; if you haven’t read or listened to her books or lectures on youtube, you need to. Almost everything I’ve learned regarding shame has been from her, so she gets all the core credits here. But what I’ve come to realize is in my darkest moments, it was shame that kept me there. Don’t let it keep you stuck.
You are enough! You are worth it!
Finding freedom feels impossible; independence? What’s that! This child needs me 24/7. Flexibility vanishes and is replaced by structure, nap times, play dates, sports, school and more. It’s exhausting to simply not go crazy and manage everything the family needs. You feel endless guilty for wanting a bit of the “old you” back when the decision to ride or not was entirely up to you, and it didn’t require endless planning and rescheduling to make happen.Read more...
I was unhappy. I was dealing with postpartum depression, which resonated as anger. I felt lost and confused as an individual, as a mom, and most definitely as a wife. I knew life would be different after having one baby, but being a mom of two was a whole other story. I was exhausted, with uncontrollable hormones, confused, and angry. I knew I had to get ahead of things, or I would sabotage everything near and dear to me. I knew there are adjustments in becoming a mom in my head, but living through them is a whole other story.
My first decision I actively made in trying to feel more, dare I say it, “normal,” was wanting to work with Ace. Big eyes, a wide blaze, beautiful sorrel coat, and he was going to turn my world upside down. Ace was still very green and young. He was a five year old with minimal riding. Between my hard-headed, large ego, stubborn, my-way-or-the-highway attitude and his extreme sensitivity, confusion, and an excellent pinch of spirit, we butted heads. Badly! I knew my skill set was not enough to get him going under saddle again, so while he was away at the trainer’s, I set to work to learn all that I could online.
It’s funny now, looking back at it; that it took a horse for me to start looking at myself, and I mean really look. Not just give excuses for my temper or my training methods or my stubbornness. I began to see how wounded I actually was. My past was still haunting me, even though previously, I was sure I had “moved on.” But healing from abuse is never that simple. I started to find methods bringing to light areas in my past that made me see the world and myself through stained lenses. I started using essential oils to help with my moods, and I was amazed by how well they helped. Then I learned that certain oils could help release anger easier or help me forgive. I could help bring forward those feelings of being a little child again, worry-free. From then on, I was hooked!
I started researching where to apply the oils to my body. Anger is stored in my liver? Really? Fascinating. The effectiveness was only increasing. Then I experienced my first Aroma Freedom Technique. WOW! I was able to figure out, on my own, without talking to strangers, that some old buried memory of mine from decades ago was the reason I was scared to pursue this career choice. And when I was able to see this memory and pour love into it, the most amazing thing happened. The power of those feelings I had been carrying for decades inside my body -- they lifted like an early morning fog. My mind was clear! I understood that past moment for what it was, and I understood the present. Talk about liberating!
Shortly after my introduction to Aroma Freedom Technique, I heard about this Conscious Language thing. To me, it sounded like affirmations. In a sense, it is, but that is like your pinky finger in relation to your entire body. Learning about shining my light, using my gifts, and sharing with the world was very empowering. Then it went to the next level, realizing and believing that I am living my life as God intended, serving others in this way. That when I am serving and shining my true light as planned, I have immense power in my words and thoughts!
All of this because of one horse. Because of Ace. Healing myself was what I needed to do for Ace. He needed a leader, not a boss. Once I was able to be that leader, our relationship completely transformed.
Because of my horse, I released even more trauma, pain, and negative energy to start repairing and rewiring my brain to be a better wife. Because of past sexual abuse, I had walls around my heart so high and wide; they were causing issues in my marriage. I was quick to anger, easily defensive, and would default to distancing myself when I was upset. I wasn’t an equal partner; I held back part of me stuck in the notion I had to keep protecting myself from being hurt. My ego was so scared of completely removing those walls that I only gave small parts of my heart. I then learned that my anger resulted from losing my power, not in the present, but from my past traumas. It was when I learned to send love towards my anger that things started to change.
It’s amazing what happens when you respond with love. Envision a playground bully, they can either be met with fear, distaste, hate, avoidance, and that bully will stay a bully. However, if someone responded to the bully with love, they will pause, think, and most likely change for the better. (This is not a perfect example, but I hope it has you nodding your head with, “ah, I get it.”) I had to learn to love my inner bully; she was, after all, acting out as her way of protecting ourselves from pain, even if she was wrong.
I can’t help but shake my head with half a smile on my face even as I write this. All of this, everything I’ve learned, everything I’ve experienced, the changes in my life, all thanks to my horse, Ace.
My experience is why I am so passionate about teaching others about these life-changing tools. Am I all “fixed” now? Do I have everything all figured out? Is my marriage perfect? Am I the constant happy-go-lucky mom? The answer is no. What is extremely empowering is having the tools and skills to work through triggers and moments of not-so-good. No one is perfect. I still struggle, and that’s ok. I get up, and I recommit. And every time I stumble, it becomes easier and easier to get up, dust myself off and go again. The healing process becomes faster and faster, sometimes, mere seconds. For these tools, I will forever be grateful.
Would you like to learn more about what helped me? I would love to show you more.
Someone I deeply respect recently told me that, "Anger is often a result of blaming someone else for our choices."
I have always had a temper. I even received a nickname because of it as a child. I thought it was just apart of me, something I had to learn to control; stuff it way down inside and not let it out. It has been a lifelong struggle between my anger and I. When I heard my friend say those words to me, I broke down. The words were ringing in my head so loud I had to find a chair.
But then, she told me the way out. She said, "The way to the other side is through forgiveness, touching your anger/blame/shame/guilt with your great God love, letting it all be ok and then reclaiming your power moment, to moment, to moment." Could it be this simple? Yes. Simple - yes, easy - no. I was grasping for ways to end the extreme waves of anger. To stop being so easily annoyed at circumstances, myself, or others. Anger has always been my knee jerk reaction to things out of my control. And I never really understood why, until now. I was then to think back of a time where I felt this, which could be moments ago, or from a time in my past. It came to me quickly. I have not been able to forgive myself for some experiences when I was a teen that has scarred me deeply. I was holding onto self-blame, "I got myself into that mess; I should have known better." I felt shame over what happened. I felt powerless, like a puppet, and I couldn't break the strings.
Letting my great God' s-love love me then at that moment, started to take power away from the negative emotions surrounding it. These words will be on my heart and said aloud frequently as I begin to reprogram my thought patterns. "Me love me. Me love all of me. God loves me. Hey, anger, I see you, and I love you and accept you. I choose to reclaim my power."
Not suprisingly, anger was also my go-to reaction when I was working with horses in the past. I was always quick to lose my temper if things weren't going well. I had a negative outlook on the entire situation. The more I learn about my emotions, the more it changes how I interact with my horses. I can see the problem in a whole new light. Learning how to look into the past, understand where the real trigger is, and finally release that negative energy is paramount to moving forward. I'm not giving my ego the power to be easily offended if I fail. I don't take it as personally if I am struggling with something with my horse. I can give myself the grace to continue to grow right alongside Ace. Does this mean I never fall back into anger? No. But I can recognize the pattern and stop the cycle much faster at that moment.
I have a confession to make.
I haven’t caught, or ridden any of my horses since Sonny died - May 1st.
Recently, I’ve been finding myself using every excuse to not go out to the pasture. This morning I decided that I had to face my emotions — whatever they might be. I grabbed three oils that called my name, and when I had a moment from my kids, walked out to the herd.
I didn’t have a plan, or agenda. I just knew I had to open up my heart and feel whatever had to be felt, so I could start moving forward again. As I walked out, the weight of the oils in my sweater pocket pulled heavily on my heart. The closer I got to the horses, the more emotions I was feeling; but they were all jumbled up in a confusing knot. I sat down on a boulder with the horses at a distance. I took a deep breath, trying to prepare my heart and mind for what I knew was inevitable.
I pulled out the first oil I knew that I needed. Forgiveness. Just holding the bottle in my hand was bringing tears to my eyes. I opened the lid, and a few drops fell onto my palm making tiny puddles. Rubbing my hands together, I cupped them around my mouth and nose; closing my eyes I took several deep breaths. I started to have a conversation with my inner self.
“What are you scared of?”
“What do you mean? Failing in what way?”
“Of failing my other horses. Of missing health problems. Of not being a strong enough leader. Of not having Sonny to fall back on as my confidence booster.”
“OK, those are all legit concerns. But I know you. I know you always do your best in any situation. It’s time to let the fear go. It’s time to let the guilt go. It's time to forgive yourself.”
I’m crying by this point. Feeling the flood of emotions listening to this inner dialog. I acknowledge my fears, guilt, and regret. I mentally place them inside a bubble, and I let the wind carry it away. I start to feel calmer, I focus my breathing on my heart. When I exhale I visualize my breath entering Ace’s heart. When I inhale, I visualize his breath entering my heart. I’m slowly moving into a place of calm; then I hear something. I open my eyes and Ace has left the herd and is standing over me. I can feel his emotions as if he was speaking them to me. Pictures enter my mind that I’m certain were from him -- his way of trying to get something through to me. What I felt through those images was “Mom. It’s OK. I know you’re sad; I know you miss Sonny. I miss him too. But we are all OK. And it’s OK you’ve been grieving and taking time. It’s cool mom. I’m OK.” He was persistent in showing me that he was indeed OK.
I pull out my next oil. Valor. I repeat the same process, but this time I start using affirmations. “I am good enough. I always do my best. I love my horses, and they love me." It was during this that Hank, our miniature and Sonny’s best bud, came up to me. Quickly, pictures were coming into my mind again. What he seemed to want to show me was, “Hey, look, we all know you tried your best to help Sonny. But we also know he is at peace now, and not hurting anymore. You did good.” Then as quickly as his emotions came at me, he moved on to go back grazing. It was an odd, but beautiful moment. Odd to me because Hank and I have never really been on the same wavelength before, and we haven’t shared a deep connection like that.
The last oil I used was Hope. Breathing in deeply I started to envision Ace and I, regarding where I hope to be one day. I can see us loping through the field bareback. I can feel the joy and silliness as we play around in the arena. I see us exploring the fields around us without a care in the world, but enjoying each other's company. I feel the power of us running around barrels as a true team. Yet again, I’m projecting these thoughts and feelings out towards Ace. Again, he leaves the herd and comes up to me to nuzzle my hands. I get this picture in my mind, and I feel like he’s trying to show me, “About time mom, I miss you.”
I finally feel that longing to ride again. To feel that connection, that bond. To let my relationships with my horses help continue to heal my heart.
I know this story might sound made up, embellished, or way out there. But I’m a firm believer horses often want to show us how they feel. But our own minds get in the way. What happened today is something that I have never experience with such certainty. I am really trying to learn to be present in the moment, calm my mind, and to be receptive. I know these oils aren't magic, but in my experience they truly help me release emotions in such a powerful and positive way. It’s my hope that in some small way, my story and experiences can help you develop a deeper connection with your own horse.
Want to chat? Have you ever experienced something like this? I’d love to hear. Shoot me a message or come check out my private community- click HERE