Before my first year in the Army was complete, I was standing in the sandy desert of Kuwait. A couple of weeks later I was in Southern Iraq on a tiny outpost wondering to myself what the heck I was thinking. Fourteen months later I was home and a month after that, I was back to being a civilian without the slightest clue as to how I was going to function in the regular world. I didn’t know my family or friends anymore. I was older than people my age and came to the realization that life had gone on without me. I wasn’t necessary or needed at home for my loved one’s lives to continue. There wasn’t a clear place for me anymore. I was 21, divorced, relied too much on alcohol, had recently quit smoking, had been to countries no one wanted to see, saw things in broad daylight most people don’t want to see in their nightmares, and didn’t have a clue how to apply for a job or write a resume. My whole body was in constant pain, my brain was still in shock, I was lost.
After more than 10 years in therapy, numerous anti-depressants, serious bouts of contemplating suicide thinking I would never fit back into life outside of that uniform, something had to give. I made up my mind that these demons needed to be laid to rest once and for all. I had met a woman who told me about the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method and how it didn’t involve riding or obstacles to work with the horse. I knew there had to be some merit to it because every time I showed up to the barn in tears, my horses carried me through the pain and I left a little bit better even if I was simply sitting in their stalls while they were eating.
In January of 2019, I started on my own journey to my Equine Gestalt Coaching Certification. For the first time in my life, I have clarity. Not only am I sleeping better more often, my anxiety and fear, and depression are gradually finding their way out of my body and laying to rest in the sand in the arena with the help of my equine partners. I have, once again, become part of something so much bigger than me. The difference is that this time, it’s working for the good of humanity without the use of force and bullets. A little bit at a time, I have healed and am continuing to heal in a way I never thought possible.
Now, my ultimate life mission has become clear: Walk with my fellow veterans on their own healing path and encourage my horses to help provide them with the clarity they need in their own lives. I am determined to leave no soldier or their family behind. I will partner with my horses and encourage them to do what they do best and show each person the strength and support they need.
I will never experience what happened at home during the 14 months I was gone; I will never be able to look back without the memories of my deployment; I will never know what life would be like without the military being part of my story. I do know that I am now OK with these things; I do know that I can move forward despite my history; I do know that deep down, I did what I needed to when I needed to and my life is better for those decisions.