Self-esteem always improves when you share your reality with someone.
– Colleen DeRango
I’m eating frozen chicken, mashed potatoes, and corn from a gas station for dinner. The diner is closed and I’ve already exhausted The Dollar General’s grocery aisle.
We just got back from a two hour ride where Lance almost bucked me. I ran him up and down the wash getting him to break his quick canter habit. He spooked and jumped to his right without notice and everything got blurry and I leaned back and yelled “Woah!” and assumed I was going to be splattered into a tree. But I was able to pull myself off his right hip and get back centered on the saddle.
Earlier today I had two full-grown adults rocking me back and forth in their hands while I held a horse. As you can imagine, it was a unique situation. Colleen on my left telling me to let go of my thoughts and Buddy on the right not saying anything. Hard to get out of my head and not think about what all my friends from high school were doing at that exact moment. And what they would think if they happened to walk by.
I did not believe they were holding me right. I didn’t think Colleen was strong enough to hold me if I fell into her. Buddy’s hand was a little forward on my shoulder. Ultimately no trust that they were able to do the thing that they probably do every single week. They caught me though. Which showed me that knew what they were doing. It built some trust and allowed me to turn over control. I just swayed back and forth and tried to focus on a quiet line of stillness between my ears.
Buddy was not what I expected. He wasn’t warm. He was hardened and had the pursed lips and hollow cheeks of a former drug addict. He was quiet and always looking around taking stock of everything. But his cowboy hat was on fleek.
It was 95 degrees while we were working. We did a guided meditation – well first we ate our breakfast burritos together at the plastic round table under a tree – then we meditated. Cowboys are more practical even in their spirituality. You walk through enough shit (literally) every day and you stop worrying about perfecting and controlling every fine detail and just take care of the things that need taking care of. So it didn’t matter that we had a sausage and cheese burrito before doing deep healing work because we were hungry and hungry people eat.
After the visualization they made me ‘Walk the Line.’ Essentially, walk down the property until I made a connection with a horse.
I was thinking, WTF does that mean, make a connection? I mean, I already knew which horse I wanted because she was fucking gorgeous and looked like she had won awards for being such a perfectly sculpted beast. But I thought they were probably looking for something deeper than that. And then I thought maybe I’m not that deep.
I walked around a little more and stopped in front of a little tan horse that had a nice way about him. I decided he was my guy, Ranchero.
Buddy had me take him into the round pen and work some drills – walk, trot, canter in a circle. I failed miserably because I had no idea what the fuck I was supposed to be doing. And when two grown cowboy healers are staring at you from the periphery it makes you think that if you don’t do it right the first time then you’re not treatable.
Colleen kept asking me what I was feeling and where I was feeling it in my body – the somatic work. The mere asking of those questions was giving me tremendous anxiety but I tried my best. Eventually the tense ball in my chest started to dissipate and got replaced by a more fluid sensation down my neck.
After multiple failures Colleen could see frustration on my face.
“What are you feeling?”
“Like I don’t know what I’m going.”
“What would help with that?”
“If I could see an example of how it’s done.”
“Very good,” she said. Like Mr. Miyagi.
Buddy walked over on cue and showed me a few techniques that made perfect sense. I applied them and got results immediately.
“How does that feel?!” Colleen asked enthusiastically.
“I don’t know, good I guess,” with a little kid grin.
“Okay great. Now give the reigns to Buddy and walk away.”
As soon as I felt calm in my body she wanted me to leave the horse and stand by myself and let it spread through me. Eventually the tight ball of anxiety would come back and then I would re-approach the horse. The somatic work. We went back and forth like this for maybe twenty minutes until the anxiety would not come back even if I tried to summon the worst thoughts on Earth like dog hair on my black pants or not eating for over two hours.
I keep hoping for a big cry, a release. When they asked me to look into Ranchero’s eyes I came close. I started to well up for no reason. “Look at him and let him see you.” And I was searching for the reason when Colleen said to just let it happen. Tears started to roll down and the most beautiful sadness took over my entire body. This particular sadness is the most familiar feeling in my body.
“Get out of your head!” They kept yelling. Wouldn’t that be fucking nice.
I took Ranchero for a walk down this long path and at the end there was an opening and we stopped to look. Soon, three other horses and a funny looking mini horse came running over to say hello.
Then I took Buddy’s photo next to some giant rocks on his horse and he did not smile. I was lingering around waiting for him to tell me something nice but no.
The desert was green. The sky was pink. We heard the coyotes yelling in the distance. Hawks flying through the brush. So much space for things to take their time.
Tomorrow we are doing EMDR therapy in the morning. Hopefully it’s like the first time I did shrooms where the foundation of my perspective shifted forever.
Oh, did I mention that I bought a cowboy hat and plaid shirt and said, “Howdy,” to someone? Because I did.