There comes points in everyone’s life where we can get stopped in our tracks. Life events, health, family, friends, relationships, work, circumstances, etc.….These can all play a part in our physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing. My mental wellbeing is my number one priority. Everything else must follow from my mental wellbeing. I can say this with conviction as I have walked through hells gates, looked at my inner demons and done my inner work. It is not pink and fluffy. It is hard, very hard, but so worth it.
I have not shared until now my story. It was too brutal to share while raw. But now I will share my story. Why? It is part of the healing process for me to accept the journey. To celebrate being the other side. I share my story as may be it could help in some way for others to see they can reach out for help and not suffer in silence. Or take their life.
In February 2018 I found a lump in my breast. By March 2018 the whirlwind of cancer treatment started, tests, scans, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. No one can prepare for a life altering diagnosis, or know how they will cope. My biggest fear was becoming mentally unwell. Chemotherapy was so toxic, my body reacted so badly it had to be stopped as it was too dangerous to continue. And yes mentally I spiralled into the darkness. I reached out for help in total 14 times to different professionals connected to my care. And all that happened was assessment after assessment to be passed from pillar to post into a system that is oversubscribed, under-funded and at breaking point. I eventually got help via the hospital in 2018. Limited help, but extremely good help that I am so grateful for. I was lucky to receive amazing healing from Sally Anne Roberts. Plus I used my own Reiki healing. Along with the love and healing gifts from family, friends, Marley our dog and Kez our horse.
Cancer is a friend filter. For so many reasons. It is really hard to witness another soul suffering. Not many can just be with another during the darkest times. As the human condition is to fix, save, rescue and leave. Yet no one could fix, save or rescue me. The very acts come from a good place to rescue, fix or save me, the links to cures, the links to charities that offer help, the well-meaning unsolicited advice did more for the person giving them than it did for me. At best I feel unsolicited advice is misguided and at worst word vomit. All I needed was for my soul to be seen, someone to just sit with me in my suffering. Not many people have the strength to do this, as it is hard, really hard. Cancer filtered out the people who had conditions attached to the relationship. When I could no longer do or give I was no longer of use to them. And a few even kicked me while I was down.
2019 I slowly tried to rebuild my life from the carnage cancer had done to it. It had taken my work, my independence and my identity. I struggled to find my pathway forward. At this stage I had been out of the hands of help with my mental wellbeing. But I was far from in a good place. I struggled on trying, however try as hard as I could I didn’t make progress. My healing journey wasn’t done. It was far from done. The anti-cancer drugs I have to take have a list of side effects as long as your arm….and I have most of them. Plus the physical changes including lymphoedema cancer gifted me I was struggling to adjust to living with this too. To accept, adjust and learn I hadn’t yet done. From my experience of reaching out for help and knowing how hard it is to get help….I struggled on the best I could. However I reached a crisis point and could no longer cope and at the start of 2020 I nearly took my own life. If my mum hadn’t been about I would have done it. I wasn’t waving I was drowning. I knew I needed urgent help.
After a long wait I got assessed again and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and fragile self-identity. And then the familiar rounds of being passed from pillar to post….round the system and no help arriving. Eventually I took the courage to self-refer to Arty Folk and Able Futures. Both have helped me in very different ways. I also accessed help again via the hospital psychology department with the same psychologist I saw in 2018. All of 2020 was inner work. The PTSD had not only issues relating to the cancer, but to my childhood. It triggered and brought back what I suffered at the hands of my abusive biological father. The PTSD I had the most terrifying flash backs, anxiety and fear. The inner work had to dig deep into my very soul, the essence of me, including the inner child. The healing had to travel back in time to the abuse I suffered as a child. It had to heal the past and present and give room for a future.
The end of 2020 I was finally signed off from the help and I went into 2021 ready to start finding my path. The healing journey from diagnosis has been 3 years, and I have learnt it will be ongoing. I invest heavily in my own wellbeing. I have to or there is nothing I can do for others. It’s not being selfish. I cannot pour from an empty cup. I have also learnt a great deal about myself, the good, the bad and the ugly on this journey. I have learnt that I have coping strategies that go back to my childhood. To run and hide, to remove myself from situations when I cannot cope. Just as a child I would try to make myself out of sight of my father. They are deeply engrained, and many may struggle to understand why when I am not coping I withdraw. I am now aware of this trait. Plus how I became a people pleaser, due to never being good enough in my father’s eyes. How I repeated the same pattern in an abusive relationship as I felt I wasn’t worthy. And how I have always pushed myself harder to prove myself, when in reality, just being me should be good enough. And plenty more I learnt about myself.
I now know to look out for my warning signs. And when I see them I know I must not ignore them. We are culturally conditioned to take on more stress, pressure and wear it as a badge of pride. So it goes against social conditioning to say no to stress and pressure yet this is the one thing I must do before my limits are reached. Yes my limits are far less than many other peoples. As I am a sensitive soul. Being a sensitive soul, many have used this against me, judged me and ridiculed me. I can no more change this than fly to the moon. Being sensitive is in fact a gift that enables me to have compassion, empathy, and a spiritual awareness.
My mental wellbeing is the key to me being able to move forward. To tap into my intuition, energy and spiritual pathway. It enables me to gift this to others. To make meaningful contributions to other souls.
I sit at a crossroads again in life. With decisions to make. This time in regards to the non ridden agenda I started back in 2017. Thousands have joined the original Non Ridden Equine Facebook group. And a small group of us got together and launched the not for profit Non Ridden Equine Association UK in 2017. I was a very different person when I started this ball rolling. I had no idea how it would grow. Or how life would take me down my own healing journey. The crossroads for me is the non ridden equine agenda is out there. It has always been out there, now more seen. I am delighted it is in so many rich and diverse forms. The Non Ridden Equine Association UK is a platform to celebrate this diversity. However the equine industry isn’t an easy place. I knew this when I started out in 2017 as I was a horsemanship practitioner. What I have become aware of is I have changed. And I have zero desire and tolerance to be pulled into the stress, pressure and unpleasantness of this world. And recently exactly this has been my experience. So I am left pondering how I balance my own emotional wellbeing against continuing with the Non Ridden Equine Association UK. There must be a balance in all things for it to be sustainable. What I put in to what I get out. I put in plenty and what I get back is mostly stress and pressure. It has got so bad recently it has reached my limits. It feels like a thankless task and a heavy weight. So I have stepped back and away for a while to give myself space and time to reflect on if I continue or walk away. This is where I am at…..pondering.
I ponder my own views on what I want to be doing with non ridden. Do I want to be pushed and pulled about by others and their agendas? No I don’t. Maybe the industry is so fractured and divided they will never treasure a collective platform? May be I am better just doing my own small thing in my own small way? I certainly don’t owe anyone anything. As everything I have done for non ridden I have gifted from my heart for free at a period in my life I have profoundly struggled. So if I do decide to walk away from the Non Ridden Equine Association UK it will be because of the pressures of the industry brought to my door because I am the one leading the Non Ridden Equine Association UK not the because of the needs of non ridden equines and people who choose not to ride. If I walk away it will be with hand on heart I tried my very best. If I walk away I will take all my hard work, intellectual property and lessons learnt with me so the Association will be no more. May be I will be use it in a different direction. May be not. At the moment these are all ponderings….ifs....something has to change. I am realistic to know the industry is slow to change. I am realistic that not many give up their time and expertise for free. So I will be surprised if change arrives. And I can no more change to be a different person….and this person has reached her limits.
May be people need to step up and appreciate what has been gifted for FREE before it is too late. Or was the Non Ridden Equine Association UK never wanted or needed? Feedback is minimal. Mostly when people do get in touch it is about negative inner fighting between professionals or fighting and bickering with fellow non ridden equine Facebook members or about their personal agenda / business.
I refuse to be pulled under by pressure and stress. I will put myself first. I may have planted the seed. However the garden management is not something I wish to deal with if it is unruly and puts me in a position of compromise.
I only started the non ridden ball rolling because of our horse Kez. I don't get paid for this work. I have done it all because I care....bit by bit the joy is being taken away. I pray the joy can return.
Update - Since writing this blog the decision has been made. The Non Ridden Equine Association UK has been closed down. Not a decision made by myself. The committee of the Non Ridden Equine Association UK have been very concerned for my wellbeing. Plus none on the committee need the stress, pressure or harassment
The Non Ridden Equine Facebook group remains, strong, healthy and now with added protection so this cannot be destroyed by the equine industry.
I personally I stood up for non ridden and over the years been shot at and been on the receiving end of plenty of harassment. It had recently become unbearable. The unpleasantness and bullying from external professionals including leaning legally on the not for profit Non Ridden Equine Association UK made it impossible to continue. My health was suffering. Sadly the industry is rife with in fighting and bullying. The feedback since closing is the general public really appreciated the offering and are sad to see it close. However very few professionals who we showcased have been in touch. It shows the industry didn't cherish the platform that was set up for them to showcase their work for free. I will say this is just typical of the equine industry that says it cares for equines. In reality they are only interested in serving their own interests above the wider agenda. They are happy to treat me unethically too. I am sure everyone will agree it is unethical to push me to the point of my wellbeing suffering serious harm. I am a sentient soul, so are equines…..and I have suffered significantly. My husband and family will happily tell anyone who wants to know to what extent I have suffered. To save myself was at the price of the Non Ridden Equine Association UK.
I am taking time now to ensure all my intellectual property that I created for the non ridden equine agenda is kept safe. I have started to put the resources I wrote for the Non Ridden Equine Association UK onto my own website so people can continue to access them for FREE. You will find them on the Horsemanship Resources section. My own personal path non ridden continues. I will continue to promote non ridden, however not with shared platform for others. My lesson has been learnt here. 2021 has shown me how little people really treasure others, how little is appreciated when gifts are given. It has shown me how people will bash me and not care about the damage they inflict because it is more important to further their own interests. It will not stop me gifting out to the world. If you check out the resources section I have a huge body of work I freely gift, no strings attached.