This is written in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words. It started as a free writing exercise, calling upon the memory of a dream I had a couple of weeks ago, an experience in a restaurant where you eat in the dark and years of therapy.
Recently I made a major decision to move my horse to another barn.
The process of deliberation did include “What if?” but it was more in terms of “I don’t want to be looking back 10 years from now and asking ‘What if?'”
This actually made the decision a lot easier. Who wants to live with regret at an opportunity lost? Certainly not I. I know what that’s like and it’s taken some time for me to let go of that negative way of being.
At this stage of my life making mindful decisions is more important than ever.
Being mindful of my horse’s needs as well as my own was an important part of the decision process. His physical and emotional care are paramount. He’s been well cared for where he is and I have no dispute with it.
But, after nearly eight years for him and 13 years for me of being in the same place, it’s time for a change. Time to see life differently. Time for new perspectives and input and friends.
I am really happy with my choice to move Bear to this new farm. He will be well cared for and I will be one step closer to my dressage dreams. Our world will expand in wonderful ways and I’m really looking forward to it.
I am certain that 10 years from now I will not be looking back and asking “What if?”
This highly-charged prompt brought the word “father” to mind.
Two fathers, actually. My Heavenly Father, with whom I have a good relationship and who has no need to write me such a letter.
And my Earthly father, who is a completely different story.
I do not wish to disparage him. Certainly, he had trials enough growing up that scarred his life. Still, as Iyanla Vanzant (@IyanlaVanzant) tweeted last evening … “Parents are people with hurts, wounds and stories – still children have the right to expect parents to be present.”
He was not present. Not in mind, body or spirit and, in fact, he declared during a phone call when I was 16 that if anyone was going to be hurt in this relationship it wasn’t going to be him.
So, is it possible that such a man, an intelligent one at that and a good writer, would ever know or understand my heart enough to know what to say in such a letter?
I doubt it.
And I have accepted it.
Our life paths have taken far different routes. He makes no effort to be in touch with me and I have no need to be in touch with someone who willfully hurts me.
Not all relationships are meant to be.
Conversely, I have always felt a strong connection to my Father in Heaven. He is the one, in the midst of life’s storms, who tells me everything will be alright. He is the one who wants only the best for me. He is the one who surrounds me with love and shows me my potential.
(This image is so full of meaning for me I hardly know where to begin.)
There are no coincidences. This is something in which I have firmly believed for some time. For good, or ill, life gives us what we need to learn and develop as spiritual beings in a mortal experience. It also makes available the tools we need to negotiate each challenge. It is up to us to be open of mind and heart so we can recognize them when they appear.
Here’s an example from my own life.
As all who follow this blog will know I have a horse whose registered name is “Shakespeare.” This is a beautiful and meaningful name in its own way, however it’s a bit cumbersome as an every day name at the barn.
So, while I was waiting for him to come home for the first time nearly eight years ago, I spent a bit of time noodling over what name I could give him that would evoke his larger than life personality, cuddly nature and solid physical form.
The name “Bear” came to mind fairly quickly. My home is populated with several collectible bears, and “Bear” includes a letter formulation of “ShakespEARe.” On the surface it made perfect sense, so I soon decided this was going to be his barn name.
Still, I had no idea of the deeper meaning to be held here.
During my trauma-filled childhood I comforted myself with stuffed bears. I’ve always had them around me. I guess they are, and always have been, a totem of some kind.
A couple of months after Bear came home and while I was studying natural horsemanship, I was introduced to the idea of the bear’s spiritual meaning. When I considered the trajectory of my life and the healing that was already in progress, things began to make sense.
The bear has several meanings that will inspire those who have this animal as totem:
The primary meaning of the bear spirit animal is strength and confidence
Standing against adversity; taking action and leadership
The spirit of the the bear indicates it’s time for healing or using healing abilities to help self or others
The bear medicine emphasizes the importance of solitude, quiet time, rest
The spirit of the bear provides strong grounding forces
Let’s look at the list again and how it relates to my experience.
The advent of my horse, Bear, acknowledged a significant time of healing in my life (no. 3). A time where I’ve had to go to ground (no. 5) and practice solitude and get rest (no. 4). Doing this has brought a greater sense of self-awareness and helped me to reclaim my life. Mr. Bear, as he is often called, has helped me to find the strength I need (no. 1) to smile in the face of adversity (no. 2) as I take action to manage, and heal from, the traumas released by therapy. And he’s helped me to find the confidence (no. 1) I need to move into a new and exciting phase of personal growth.
Bear is an incredible catalyst for positive change. I throw my arms around his neck and thank him every day for the beautiful healing role he plays in my life.
Is it a coincidence my beautiful dream-come-true should attract a name that represents healing on so many levels? I think not.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, our passion ~ whether it’s golf, sailing, horses, knitting, music or whatever ~ is our teacher. At a deeper level it speaks a language that touches our hearts and can heal us. All we need to do is choose to listen and respond in ways that lift us up, not tear us, or our passion, down.
My teacher, my catalyst for positive change is my horse ~ my Spirit Bear.
I am blessed.
This is my response to this week’s free writing challenge with Kellie Elmore. Slightly off the beaten track, but I don’t question these things in a free writing format. 😉
Dans Le Noir is a novelty restaurant with locations in several major cities worldwide. When we were in Paris a few years ago we thought it would be fun to have a culinary experience where the enjoyment of the food is enhanced by the fact you cannot see it.
Check your phones and digital watches, cameras, etc. at the door, enjoy a glass of champagne, select your menu option and form a human chain to be lead through several layers of heavy drapes to absolute dark by a visually-impaired, i.e. blind, waiter.
Not a speck of light, anywhere.
I lasted less than a minute. Didn’t even make it to my seat. Claustrophobia swarmed me almost immediately and I had to be led out again.
I recovered my dignity, and ate alone, in a fully lit bar while my husband and his daughter enjoyed (endured) the experience without me.
Like all writers worth their salt I immediately wrote my experience and feelings down on a bar napkin, filling every scrap of space with imprints of my terror, panic, relief and a, yes, food review.
Do I fear the night? The dark?
Hmmm … I believe it would be more appropriate to say I embrace the light. 😉
As part of my healing process I’ve been writing letters to different aspects of my Self that need resolution. So far I have published a complete series to “The Panicked One.” Another series to “The Guarded One” is in progress.
Recently, I embarked on a series of letters to “The Critical One.”
I know I am not the only person who struggles with this miserable character, so I have opted to publish these letters in an ongoing occasional series of posts as well as store them in their own page in the menu.
If The Critical One stands in the way of your self-expression and dreams I hope you will find this even mildly cathartic.
The date of each letter is the actual date it was written as a free writing, and freeing, exercise.
Herewith the first two letters to …
The Critical One
Perhaps one of the most devious and undermining aspects that requires addressing is The Critical One.
In fact, it’s hardly worth addressing the other aspects and hoping they’ll heal without also taking to task this damaging menace.
July 5, 2013
Dear Critical One ~
That is a harsh name, isn’t it?
Is this why you are so unhappy?
It lends itself to your unforgiving and harsh assessment of The Creative One and The Guarded One your, dare I say, fairer sisters.
Are you bitter?
If so, why?
Who rained on your parade?
The Perfectionist? That cruel mistress of illusion?
Ah … this makes sense.
Really, you must learn to let her go. She is phoney ~ the weaver of lies; the standard bearer for the unattainable; the spinner of unhappiness.
How can you even listen to her?
When you can let her go we shall re-name you to something more positive, softer like … not sure yet. We’ll need to think about that.
In the meantime, you have something to think about.
Perhaps, like your sister, The Panicked One, you should consider retiring.
You, like she, have exhausted yourself by serving as my “protector.” It’s time to release the manic need to control my interactions with life so as to keep me, supposedly and in your estimation, safe from, well, criticism, rejection and the like.
I can take care of my Self.
Please give this some serious thought. I have your, and my, best interests at heart and I can feel you need a permanent break.
I need a permanent break from you …
Pick an island. I’ll pay your one-way fare.
July 7, 2013
Dear Critical One,
You always seem to find a way to get in the way.
And I would love you away …
Surely you have exhausted your resources. Are you not yet spent in your need to nit pick everything I do, say, experience?
Your need to control these aspects of my life must surely end at some point. Aren’t you tired of having to be in control all the time?
Have you not yet learned to trust me?
If not, I wish you would.
In your effort to “protect” me from the criticism of others by undermining me first, you actually do more harm than good.
Let me enlighten you …
Every time you nit pick, second guess, question, dismantle, dissect and just plain destroy my self-expression you destroy a part of me. You curtail my confidence, stifle my voice so I can barely hear myself never mind engage my thoughts, feelings and opinions with others.
While you maintain the stance of being helpful you’re actually being counter-productive.
Sometimes I think you must actually dislike me to be so cruel.
Why are you so cruel?
What did I ever do to you?
You don’t protect me. You prevent me.
And don’t harp on about the past. The past is just that ~ past. Gone. No longer relevant to who I am, or who you are today.
You need to adopt a new attitude ~ an attitude of acceptance. In fact, I would be happy to anoint you as The One Who Accepts if it would help you to see yourself differently. Wouldn’t you like to see yourself in a more positive light?
Please … relax your need to cling to the lies The Perfectionist has whispered so manipulatively into your ear.
She is not your friend.
She is our enemy.
The Perfectionist weaves her web of lies and ensnares the unsuspecting and you, dear Critical One, are just such a victim. The lies she tells you are the lies you unload on me … and I’m not taking it anymore!
So, wake up before it’s too late, before you are so deeply bound by The Perfectionist’s deception that there is no escape for either of us.
You don’t need to be a victim, and I don’t need to be victimized by you.
I can help you to be free. And the amazing thing is that once you are free I am too.
Kiss The Perfectionist goodbye and walk with me in the more supportive role of The One Who Accepts.
It’s never too late to let go of the damaging old ways and embrace new affirming ones.
The light had gone from her eyes by the time she was four. A vacuous wary stare filled the big, dark eyes with an expression of distrust.
“I cannot trust you,” she seemed to say.
Not a word was spoken but I could tell, as she gazed vacantly in my direction, that nothing was registering. It was as if she was looking right through me, her gaze distant; her aspect disengaged.
She would not be hurt again.
At least I could see this was her intent. But, sadly, it was not her truth. For even if she were able to defend herself completely from the predators that prey on such as she, her defences would also seperate her from those whom might help; might love.
But she trusted no one.
What choice had she but to take care of herself the only way she knew ~ like the tortured animal fight back, run, hide ~ anything to stay out of harm’s way.
It does not make her happy.
It doesn’t even keep her safe. For though she might avoid the demons without, the demons within linger, and torment. They are already there ~ already telling her she’s not good enough to be loved; not pretty enough to be adored; not smart enough to be successful; not loud enough to be heard.
The well-meaning voices she doesn’t trust out there cannot quell the dissenting voices she hears in here.
She searches for her truth, but cannot find it cloaked, as it is, in a blanket of carelessly woven lies that have already, at such a tender age, defined her destiny.
The burden of it suffocates her, and yet she has no idea ~ yet ~ that she cannot breathe. Breath means nothing because it is as if she is not living. She exists. She already survives. She bears the weariness of the aged … and she is four.
I can see in her eyes how she longs for release. She longs for something she does not understand; doesn’t know … yet.
She longs to trust someone but doesn’t know where to turn.
She turns to me.
“Can you be trusted?” she seems to ask, silently, vacantly, as if she’s already made up her mind that I cannot.
Will she understand that if I reach to hug her and say “Yes!” that this is truth?
Our truth together?
How long does it take to reason with a broken four-year-old?