The teacher I never anticipated
This is Kett, a mustang rescue from Jackie's Butte and a resident at the Wild Horse Mountain Ranch. From the moment I stepped into the arena with him, I found myself very emotional -- and in total awe. I have never worked with horses or even stood next to one. And yet for some unexplainable reason, they are calling me. The moment I stood next to Kett, I knew why.
Horses are sensitive by nature and very "in tune." Standing next to this 1,000 lb. animal had me speechless with a kind of reverence I've only ever experienced one time in my life. Not just speechless, but overcome with emotion and tears. I wasn't sad. I felt seen and just in awe.
For the next 90 minutes, I worked to invite, send, guide, and convey energy with Kett. This is Equus Coaching, and my coach Linda used powerful questions and reflection as I worked with Kett about how it mirrored my life. The experience was uncanny with real life. I won't go into too many details because I am still digesting it, but it certainly cracked something open in me.
As a rather sensitive and empathic person, it was inspiring to stand next to another empathic being, but Kett could do something we humans struggle with: be unattached and totally let go. It got me thinking - What, exactly, are we holding on to? Does suffering serve a purpose? Is letting go an allowance of that injustice?
Prolonged suffering is basically a decision to KEEP the awful, scary, dark, terrifying experience PRESENT in your life as though you can't survive without it.
There are 4 ways we ALL suffer and one of them sort of takes the cake. (I am sure there are more than 4 but here are the ones I see over and over and over.)
1.) I am not worthy
2.) I am not powerful
3.) I have no purpose
4.) I can't lose
Read number four again. I have an entire career ahead of me still so I don't want to make definite statements just yet....however, I can say this with plenty of confidence: most unnecessary suffering is caused by LOSS.
Loss of a loved one. Loss of our sense of self. Loss of innocence. Loss of an identity. Loss of a thing or money. Loss of control. And the FEAR of loss in the future.
We basically hate losing. Which is why you hear over and over that the antidote to suffering is detachment or letting go. As well as...Forgiveness. Release. Acceptance. Self-love. And my personal favorite - to own our place in our own suffering.
I want to share a story. This story is about a girl who had a pretty charming childhood. Plenty of love and support. She had a wild imagination and loved people. She could see the good in everyone and was always adopting stray cats.
Then one day her love for people was overshadowed by a fear that she didn't belong, and she began isolating herself. She replaced loving people with fearing people. She lost her sense of self. And every time someone would leave her life, she took it as proof that not only was she alone, but she was unloveable.
For 10 years she would hide her ideas, creativity, and optimism in hopes that people would take her under their wing and accept her. She fell into a deep depression and began identifying as "the sad one" and "the broken one." She was horribly miserable, but she knew how to play this role. She kept people around that proved this right. She took this out on others, but mostly she took it out on herself and her body.
It would take a ton of support, inner work, and a total change in her environment to reconnect with the girl she once was. To be able to look out into the world and see and feel love again. It would take her totally accepting that she was creating her depression to seek love and know there were better ways. Less painful ways.
She took her lessons and returned to wholeness again. And when she did, she found a kind of joy she didn't know was possible. She was thankful for her suffering, for it taught her compassion. But she was ready to let it go, to let it die, so she could be reborn. Which is exactly what she did.
This is my story.
And although I can look back and remember what I went through, I wouldn't change a thing. Yes, I suffered unnecessarily and when I was finally ready to let it GO my 10-year experience of depression was done. Just like that. It would take me a bit to mend relationships and pick up the pieces but when I was done suffering I was DONE. I had to lose my story of what it meant to be sad.
Did I suffer unnecessarily? Absolutely. Now I wouldn't take any of my experience back because I can't and because I learned so much about myself. I also know that level of depression would not serve me now or in the future. And hopefully I learned enough to pick a different strategy should there be a next time.
This is what happened that day with Kett. I found myself over-inviting him in and feeling like if I couldn't show him how much I could handle that I was somehow wrong or not valuable. The more I wanted him to come near, the further away he stayed.
When I was instructed by my coach to only play, send, and be in the space without attachment...Kett couldn't get close enough to me. So yes, when we let go we inexplicably get what we were after all along.