Chapter 33 - Angelina
"We have to do something different today," said Daisy. "We're doing therapy with Debra from Colorado Horse Rescue."
"Equine Therapy, you mentioned that before," I said. It has been several months with the Canine Therapy, and Animal Therapy, but with Equine Therapy, I'd have to be brave.
"Try not to get anxiety and breathe," said Daisy.
Daisy drove us inside her black Prius to Longmont, and it wasn't long before we reached the country side further from the city, closer to the Loveland areas. We saw horse ranches, farms, green grass and tall green trees that helped me felt safer, peaceful, and less burdened. It felt carefree and although there was no cell phone reception, Daisy and I were in bonding.
"I didn't tell Deb what happened," said Daisy. "It's not her job to be your therapist, remember, but you can tell her your anxieties, and your fears. She isn't trained in counseling, but she is trained in violence prevention and trauma informed care. It's different than therapy. She is sort of a para-professional in counseling, but not a professional counselor. If you can understand me? I hope you're not scared."
"I'm not scared. I just have the tendency to over-share, I think. It's hard to control my emotions, and I just overload someone and I didn't mean to. They end up ghosting me," I confided, with all of my truth.
There were so many times when I truly wanted to share something to Daisy, about being taunted and bullied because I felt lesser than normal since the assault, and especially, being Asian American. I felt lesser than Asian, and lesser than every race or ethnicity, and lesser than human. I felt like the girl everyone hated, the ones who gets kicked around because she was different, completely in contrast to the Angelina "China Doll exoticized" Lee that perhaps people had inside their minds because I was Chinese and dating Colin. Now, I was always scared, always humiliated, and excluded because I was compared to other women who were more capable, without mental illness.
"I came to the realization that you being an only child, might have something to do with that. If you had supportive siblings, you might be able to share with your brother or sister, but since you're all alone, you tend to feel alone a lot," said Daisy. "You feel unsupported a lot. It makes you shaky doesn't it?"
"I can only load so much to Samantha, and she gets overwhelmed, too," I said. "She is only human, and I think she's normal and it's okay for her to say she can't take the negative or the trauma. She needs a break. If I don't have anyone to share, most days, I'm so alone."
"Well, with Equine Therapy, we have the horses to relieve ourselves to. They have a huge heart, and literally, ten times the size of ours, and with that, comes a more grounding capability compared to dogs But with dogs, even with their small hearts, they can be with you constantly. Horses can't. Believe it or not, the heart and its peace is the source of grounding sensation and spiritual healing. If you can ground yourself with a horse, you can help yourself to control your emotions."
"Do they hug?" I asked.
"Yes, and oh, you will love them. Once, when I was getting treatment with Deb, a horse named Diamond, and Cupcake hugged me and I bonded with them. I felt their heart beating in sync with mine, and I felt my heart become stronger," said Daisy.
"It's a huge help, and I love horses. Can we ride them?" I asked.
We arrived at the Colorado Horse Rescue site and the first thing we saw were the trailer and office entrance, leading to the barns and the farms.
"You won't be able to, and they're also abused and neglected horses. Some were sick, and some were treated badly, and the ones we work with will be the ones that Deb worked with after their healing process were completed," said Daisy.
A pretty and fit woman with a button-down jeans shirt, denim pants with buckled boots came out of the trailer office.
"You'll like her, she's right there waiting for us," said Daisy. "She's nice and honest."
"Hi, how are you?" said Debra. We shook hands as she met me outside the office. "Let's join the group."
"Angelina is one of the new girls, Deb," said Daisy. "A critical case, if you don't mind me being truthful, Angel." Daisy told Debra and Debra nodded to Daisy. "I'm going back and will pick you up later, Angel," said Daisy. to me "Enjoy the day."
"We have three other women with us," said Debra to me. "We will do some ice-breakers first, then go outside."
"Thank you, Debra, for accepting me," I said. "Thank you, Daisy." I waved to Daisy as she drove off.
I walked in with Debra and we sat around the table towards the back of the office, behind the organization T-Shirt store.
"We should introduce ourselves, and talk about what gives us peace," said Debra.
We each discussed different methods of healing after we each introduced our names and our jobs, and where we all originated from.
"Now, let's share about how we came to Colorado," said Debra. All the group members talked about our past, our histories, and our familiarity with Colorado and the Rocky Mountains.
"Now, let's just dive deeper," said Debra. "What gave us trauma, and where were you at the time?"
Each person took time to discuss our own traumas, and shared as much as we felt we needed.
"Notice we shared only at the level of our comfort," said Debra. "With some of us, we are so much more cautious, and for others, we share as much as we felt we need to get everything out of our chest. It's different for everyone and no one is wrong in doing so. It's about healing, not judging."
We did a few breathing exercises, and the long and short breath of it. Then, we discussed the different methods of communications, what and how and how much we can talk and share, and how to break down the anxieties of fears and worry, which was two of the most common crutches the group had suggested we discussed. How to communicate our vulnerabilities, and how to know to trust, and what to do and what to avoid. How to resolve our own differences with others, internally, spiritually, then psychologically and physically.
It was several hours until we went outside. The Equine Therapy was a weekend full of learning, sharing, bonding, and talking.
"We can start with Diamond. She's older, and a bit more fragile, but she's soft inside," said Debra. "Just stand next to her, and if she felt your fear, she will step back. If you're hostile, she will fight back, but we're not doing that, so be as gentle as you can with her. Try to be stable, if you can breathe in first, and try to have some control of your soul and spirit."
I stood about a foot in front of her, and Diamond stepped closer. She placed her nuzzle on my hand. "Hold her cheeks, Angel. She's ready to be your friend," said Debra. "You have a fan."
Diamond took her left foreleg and wrapped me around my waist with her leg. I closed my eyes, and embraced her, and felt her heart beating. For a minute, I was inside the dark with my eyes closed, but no longer in darkness. I was afraid of what happened to me, but I was not fearful of life. I was in peace inside the dark and felt peace when I opened my eyes. I was in peace with my eyes closed and my eyes open.
"That's a strange sensation," I said to Debra. "I felt sweetness inside my soul. As if something so kind held me together."
"That's her soul. Most animals are kind. They speak kindness, and it is only during hunting and being hunted will they become feral if they must," said Debra. "But, if they felt safety. And this is true for humans too, they feel stable and safe, then they're kind. Is that true with you all?"
"Yeah, I feel safe with Diamond," said a girl in our group.
"I felt her sweetness, too," said another.
"I felt at peace with my eyes closed and open. I've never felt that before. I usually cry when my eyes are closed, and fears when my eyes are open," I told Debra.
"No fears, no doubts. Just keep going, keep shining. You're meant for the light," said Debra. "The next session, we will hold the horses with some saddle, and we can get closer to them with the saddle on and lead them to teach them to jump over a course."
"How do you get rid of the fears?" I asked.
"You have to train yourself. Trauma is very specific to the brain, and it shakes our cores and the functions of our souls. But, we can retrain our brains and our spirit, by being educated and aware of our responses to it. Through reading, through therapy, through communications, through relationships, through meditation and words of comfort. You get better. You will feel safer, because most of time, it's a sensation and feeling that alludes us, not a factual happening, unless you're living in war at this time, then you have to move out of the place you're in," said Debra. "Since we have resources for the healing. We all have the right to heal, and to gain safety and treatment and therapy to heal."
I felt a step closer to healing, and to a life closer to a bright future.