My relationships have changed drastically in the past ten years.
First, is my relationship with horses. Second, is my relationship with my body.
Both of these relationships are now based on a two-way street of communication, mutual respect, trust and compassion.
I grew up in the ego-dominated world of showing horses competitively where it was strictly a one-way street of communication. The horse had to do what I demanded in order to “look good” and receive external validation from the show judges so we could beat the competition.
Even though my body was in the saddle, I was mostly “riding and living in my head”. When my horse would act up, giving me feedback that he was confused or frightened, I would grit my teeth and do what I was taught, which was to tighten the reins and get my horse under control immediately.
As the rider, I was programmed to be in control at all times and to make my horse do what I wanted.
Funny thing is, this was the exact relationship I had with my body for many years. I controlled my body by “holding onto the reins” as tightly as I could. I accomplished this through extreme restriction and desperately trying to look perfect to receive the external validation that my ego craved.
Always in a matter of time, my body would revolt and act up out of hunger and exhausted, I’d “drop of the reins” momentarily. This allowed me to buck and kick and run wild, eating everything in sight. Then I would capture my body and beat it back into submission through purging and then depriving it of any basic needs or nourishment.
Whew, I think back on the amount of energy it took me to keep my horse AND my body under control and it was a constant struggle which turned me into a shell of a person.
Through my personal journey of healing from an eating disorder, I discovered the profound impact of listening to my body. This gift was uncovered in my treatment process, through partnering with horses in an experiential way, with no agenda.
By connecting with horses and with the help of a facilitator, I learned to ground myself, experience emotional clearing and healing and stay present which allowed me to tune into my body. This was not about horsemanship at all, but about listening…to what the horse was communicating and to what my body was communicating.
Today, I no longer “tighten the reins” when I get scared and desperate to control things. I tune into what my body is communicating to me through awareness and quieting my mind. Then I can decipher what it is I need in that moment; many times it has nothing to do with food!
Horses have taught me the profound impact of a two-way street in a relationship and this is the juncture in which healing occurs, in all of our relationships.