I have been stuck for some time now. Emotionally, physically, and spiritually bankrupt. I think for me, this is a side effect of the pandemic. Like an aftershock of an earthquake, what is baffling to me is I didn’t realize it was happening until it took over entirely and engulfed me in a state of paralysis.
Of course, between years of school, masterminds, and workshops, I know what to do when the water starts rising for me; I know how to break free from the storm. I have many tools in my own kit to pull out when I need to recalibrate. I also have the added benefit of having a husband who is a therapist and is always there to support me and offer more tools for stability. Oh, and of course, this little 12 step program I attend, a sponsor, and a tribe of friends who are always there when I need someone. But this time has been different not just in how suffocated I have felt but also in being rendered completely silent with zero ability to cry for help. A visual I have is the end of the movie Titanic where Rose is yelling for Jack as he’s floating away, and her voice is so weak nobody can hear her.
Reach out; I tell clients and friends. Make sure you aren’t isolated. Be intentional with your actions and try to ensure you’re tapping into the things that bring you joy. Baby steps, all baby steps. These tips are always something I share, and it’s all good until I’m the one who needs to utilize them for myself. I can give this guidance to every woman walking the planet, even to pre-pandemic Brooke. Post-Pandemic Brooke is only capable of saying fuck it, time to turn on autopilot to get through the day. One good thing about all the personal development and growth knowledge I have is that eventually, I conclude I am sick of sitting in the yuck. I finally made the decision that I had to get out of town to not only untangle myself from the emotional upheaval that made me feel like I was drowning, but also from my life, everything.
It was time to BREAK FREE from autopilot and snap myself out of it and into reality.
The journey began last spring when I met my now soul-sister and friend, Nikki. She seemed to be divinely led to me. Like our souls knew each other long before we even said hello—that instant type of friendship. There were too many coincidences with our lives and current predicaments to not be destined for a fantastic friendship. After hundreds of miles walked late into the night talking about our lives, dreams, marriages, kids, childhoods, etc., we decided we needed to get away, on a real soul searching, disconnect from the world getaway. But where to go? We researched a lot of hotels and experiences in Costa Rica, New Mexico, California, Sedona. Then when we were overwhelmed trying to coordinate it all, it was as if the heavens opened up, as an advertisement for Miraval appeared, and we booked almost immediately. All we had to do then was wait ten weeks until it was time to take off.
Our getaway was last week; like two giddy first graders, we hopped in the Lyft and took our first full deep breath in what felt like a decade. On arrival, we felt the zen of the hotel lobby and hauled ass to our room to head to a crystal sound bowl meditation followed by Yin Yoga. The following day was my first solo experience at the resort, Rhythmic Riding. I was excited about this when I booked it because you ride a horse to the music and the beat. Perfect, I thought. This experience will get me out of my comfort zone and back in the saddle, pun intended. I was not expecting anything, and truth be told, it was cold and damp from rain the night before when I woke up. I wasn’t feeling it, and I wanted to drink tea and relax.
Since I had missed the window to cancel without penalty, I got dressed and headed to the life center to meet up with the other people in my group and the instructor. When our instructor Paula walked up to the group, her Texas twang and bright smile were comforting. So with everyone on time, we headed to the farm. We sat in a circle at first in the stable. The objective was to introduce ourselves and explain why we chose to come to Miraval and what we expected from the class.
Paula started us off and shared about being a nurse and being frustrated with mental health treatment plans in the medical industry. She has always loved horses and riding her whole life, so when the opportunity to get familiar with Equine experiences type therapy for trauma patients and more specifically for new moms who suffered from crippling anxiety, she took it and has never looked back. Next up was a Dr. from Washington DC who is fighting burnout and wanted to connect with horses to be able to connect more with her niece, who was struggling with post-pandemic anxiety. Two sisters from Dallas came to process the elder sisters’ diagnosis of a rare heart disorder requiring open-heart surgery. Finally, me, who was looking for clarity in life and needed to unplug.
After introductions and learning about how the energy we put out will help us with our ride or it will frustrate us, but one thing is for sure, she said, how you lead and communicate with your horse is how you show up in every relationship you have ever had.
It’s about connection, and the first step to healing is connecting with a horse.
That got serious pretty fast, I thought. I was getting teary-eyed out of fear I wouldn’t do this right, and I wasn’t prepared. Naturally, the first thought I had was time to run. I have always wanted to run when I’m afraid I might fail in front of others, and I felt the need to run a lot the first year I got sober; I was like Forest Gump, except I wasn’t running for no reason; I was running from myself, my feelings and my fear.
“Brooke, Meet Remp. He’s your guy today.”
Shit, I thought, no escaping now. I climbed up on Remp, who was pretty calm until he saw the grass up ahead. Lead them into the riding area without eating the grass, it tastes like candy, and anytime they see it, they want it. Not surprisingly to me, old Remp was going for the grass. I found he was a little stubborn when it came to following my prompts. I am familiar with this type of independence because my kids behave this way.
“Shift your energy Brooke, take a nice deep breath, look forward, and lean left, and he’ll go with you.” Ok, I thought, should be easy enough. Deep breath in and out and lean a little left gently guiding him to the ring; well, Remp went left and continued right on past the gate to the greener grass around the corner.
“Brooke, you have to set the intention to guide him and focus. These horses serve as a mirror to your energy system- what you feel, what you think, and every move your body does or does not make, you’re the one telling the story.”
“C’mon Remp,” I said, “We’re heading this way.” Gently pulling to the right, I felt his head and body turn just enough for me to be overconfident that my energy was winning, and then Remp took one step and sort of yelled and farted so loud I busted out laughing. Aside from the smell, I was laughing like I hadn’t laughed in years, took a deep breath chuckling to myself, and with a slight lean to the right and a gentle turn of the reins, Remp and I entered the ring together.
Now there were various other obstacles between Remp and me, but ultimately we started clicking. Focus and breathwork helped calm my energy, and Remp was in tune with a calmer Brooke. We weaved our way around orange cones, did tight turns, and by the end of the first song, we were trotting around the ring; I felt PURE JOY, the type of joy that only children feel without a care in the world.
I was FREE, finally free of all the pressure and grief I had been feeling.
With the wind on my face and the Dixie Chicks Wide Open Spaces blaring in the background, I started bawling, like the ugly crying kind of bawling. Not for any other reason than I had forgotten what it felt like to feel this free. I had been holding myself prisoner and setting standards for myself that I couldn’t keep. Now here I was, bouncing up and down, laugh-crying, grinning ear to ear, looking like a lunatic. For the first time in history, I did not give two fucks what the other people around me were doing or thinking. All I knew was that each step Remp took felt like the weight of all the pent-up stressed emotions was falling away.
“Brooke, what are you feeling?” Paula asked; I feel incredible, freedom, and just joy, honestly. When we came to the last song, Remp and I had a moment that I could feel like a punch to the gut. I have been holding myself hostage, being stubborn and resistant to the idea of letting go. I have to win and win what I am not sure, but I’m spinning my wheels trying to get to the end of the to-do lists and the kids’ to-do lists, and it dawned on me that there is no winning when I’m the only one competing.
“Remp, I have been checked out for so long, sitting idle. Drowning in fear and loneliness. Worst of all, I have been a stranger in my own body”, I declared out loud, with tears burning my cheeks.
“But you, sweet boy, in 90 minutes showed me how calming down my energy makes me much more effective in all of my relationships, including the one I have with myself. You have shown me the joy of dancing in the rain (literally) like no one is watching. Most importantly, dear Remp, you opened my heart to joy again, and that allowed me to come home to myself again.”
So, if you are feeling stuck, if you feel like you are drowning in the overwhelm, please know that you are not alone. Give yourself permission to give yourself what you need. Get grounded, do something that lights you up. Ask yourself what you love to do, what feels good in your body? It’s time to push yourself out of your comfort zone. You don’t have to keep sitting in the heaviness. You don’t have to keep running away from the hard feelings.
Keep pushing, friend. I see you. It’s time to come home to yourself.
Brooke Collins has a passion to help clients discover how to take responsibility for their health and gain awareness about their emotional wellness using a holistic approach targeting the mind, body, and spirit. Find more wellness blogs on her website.
Image courtesy of Monstera.