The VA seems less than adept at handling such problems even with active-duty personnel; for those of us who are of by-gone days (makes me feel like I sailed with John Paul Jones), often the only response we receive is a shrug and a finger pointing us to the exit. To be told by some pencil-neck bureaucrat whose most dangerous activity involves driving to and from work that I am “only” a veteran of submarines and so am ineligible for assistance and/or compensation was a demonstration of how my faith in Christ has changed me. Previously said person would be either in the morgue or ICU, but I just shook my head and stood aghast at the ignorance and lack of understanding on the part of many of those who make such decisions.
The combination of one-on-one therapy in an office setting with working with the horses at the Corral is almost magical in uncovering the hidden emotions and rationale that serves only to cause more and more pain. Often what is uncovered is not pretty; the raw memories can cause us to explode at those with whom we are the most comfortable, those with whom we feel safest. The pain (as with any sin) is passed along from generation to generation (often in more than one way), but caring folks and loving families can bring healing over time.
What has been so wonderful about my experience at the Corral is the long-suffering animals that most would put off as just ‘dumb animals.’ Two horses in particular that I’ve been working with have shown me how the phrase ‘horse sense’ must have come into being. A definition I found puts it nicely; “…sound practical judgement independent of specialized knowledge or training…” These horses do not have any formal training, but they can sense emotion and tension better than many people I know (especially those at the VAMC in Durham!). Bob (a Belgian…just picture needing a parachute) and Chester have taught me much about myself and how to get along with others when it is not possible to have a conversation per se, but oh how we do talk!
One of my favorite parts of each weekly session is at the end when Amy tells me to relax against the horses’ side and relax, matching my breathing to his. There have been a few times when I could almost fall asleep; once Amy told me that the horse (it was Bob I think) seemed to be relaxing as I did.
Yeah, there is still a journey before me, but with the help of such friends as Bob and Chester (as well as Amy and Lisa), it is one that is doable. Thanks for reading along with me on this part as well.