I have shared this before. My dad died when I was very young. Not only his death, but the ripples from it, shaped my early childhood and all the years since. We were lucky. He was in the military, so we did not go hungry and always had a roof over our heads, but just the same, there was a very real toll on my life and I have had to struggle to find peace and closure.
As a young child I was ‘diagnosed’ with ADHD, but knowing what I do now, I am pretty sure it was truly PTSD. I was not an easy child. I could be resistant, disruptive and downright rebellious! Boundaries were not my thing. I struggled in school, not because I wasn’t capable, but because I was so distracted. I can’t tell you how many times my mom heard ‘Laurie would be a good student if she would only apply herself’.
But you know I was lucky. There were many good people in my life and though I still spent many years engaging in challenging behaviors, I never got into real trouble. Using food for comfort was my biggest (pun intended!) issue. My weight has bounced up and down for many years, and to this day, it is all to easy to seek the comfort of ‘filling the whole’ with something that tastes good when I am stressed, but I have been fortunate, that even this has only been mostly manageable for me.
In truth, most of us have experienced some type of trauma in our lives. Death, assault, an accident, some emotional loss, that may have passed unseen by others, but that has left us with that ‘whole’ in our hearts that we desperately want to fill with something. Drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping, food, sex….anything that might push the pain away. Untreated emotional pain causes people to look for something, anything to make them feel better in that moment, even if they know on some level, that they are making a bad decision.
For me, this Huffington Post article is spot on. The sad truth is that “Approximately 59 percent of people in the U.S. have experienced an adverse childhood experience” and our society will never be able to help people struggling with addiction until we face and deal with the underlying mental health issues.
There is help available, but for many it seems out of reach. Even if you have the resources, it may seem that it is much to painful to take the steps needed to reach a better place. Traditional talk therapy alone may be scary, and that is where Equine Therapy can be helpful. As a supportive, non-judgemental intervention, participants are often able to work through difficult issues without feeling overwhelmed or put on the spot.
Through work with horses clients working through addictive issues may practice effective communication skills, setting and maintaining safe and healthy personal boundaries, seeing themselves in a positive and empowered way and being present and in the moment…fully feeling right now (among other things).
If you or someone you know is struggle with any form of addiction, seek help. We are here to be part of a comprehensive treatment plan. We are happy to meet with you, show you around the ranch, introduce our horses, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help. Call of email and we will schedule a visit.