A Snippet From The Road To Healing Project

Leading a horse to water.

So for my birthday this week, I requested to ride Sterling. I didn’t get much time, because again, I am not very time oriented. I tried to pull off normal during my session. It didn’t last long. I didn’t open up much, but Sterling did react to my high anxiety the moment I stepped into the arena with him. My horse trainer spoke up about it.

Anxiety plays in a number of events in my life right now. I am permanently done with the army life, therefore a second try to a transition to civilian life. I am moving to a city that’s four times bigger than my present city, and I am finally figuring out my purpose in life after long adjustments in my personal life.

When stress is high in my life, the nightmares return and I become more restless than I already am. Not the war flashback nightmares, they only come so often. My nightmares are more symbolic and line up with my native spirituality whether it involves animals or natural disasters. Most commonly, tornadoes. This past week I was introduced to rattlesnakes and other venomous snakes. I think I have some research to do to find the meaning.

Anyways, back to my therapy session. The horse trainer was concerned. She warned me that if she felt tension and no comfort in Sterling, I’d have to get off right away. It was a chance I would take just to be on him. I trusted him and he trusted me. Sterling knew what to do though with my condition, before and after I was on his back. Sterling relaxed while I was grooming him and prepping. I kept hugging him to feel him breathe and sync with his calmness. Everything went smoothly regardless of having a new intern with us and my high anxiety issues for the day.

It was a bummer he doesn’t do bareback like Joseph does, but it felt good to be riding nonetheless. Bareback is how I also prefer. You have a better connection with the horse, feeling skin on skin. It’s the spirituality in me that allows me to feel the spirit/humanity in animals, let alone horses. Not everyone has the gift, but from day one, my therapist and my first horse trainer asked if I was a horse whisper. I guess the gypsy soul in me links with the spirit of a horse.

Everybody Handles Their Shit Differently

Working on “relationship issues” by
working on my relationship with Sterling.

Equestrian therapy has been an intervention for me in a sense. A relationship intervention mainly in hope to being able to trust again fully to open myself up and fully be comfortable to be naked with my soul mate someday (I’m not talking sexually either). I seem vulnerable, because I am an unfiltered individual. It has it’s advantages and disadvantages.

Especially when you were told that children are raised to be seen, not heard. I never could take that outlook likely. I still don’t, but from positive role models in the public eye, I learned myself that actions speak louder than words and words can be powerful even if they are selective in deliverance. You just need the skill set to be persuasive. It’s easier when actions are backed up by your words.

Anyways, I had time to think outside the box a bit today considering my therapy session was light-hearten by freelance photography and interaction with the other horses throughout the pastures. Not sure if Sterling was truly happy to have the day off unannounced or not.

The advantage of today was to think of how other PTSD survivors cope with their life, because reality, we all don’t really heal fully back to our original selves, prior to the events that changed our worlds. We just learn to cope with it.

For me, I cope better due to knowing my comfort and my passions that are outlets to my anguish. For others, dogs do wonders. For me, it’s my relationship with horses. I can’t describe it, it was mystical since the day I placed my foot on ground here at Trinity. Yeah, I have dogs for pets. There for home remedies only, not social remedies. Again, that’s the horses’ job.

When it comes to socializing with friends, I have to keep my small circle close and the bar to be pretty much empty. I close up when random drunk strangers are in presence. This is why I barely go out anymore except to my regular spots in town during the week. The weekend is out of the question when it comes to socializing in public. Another reason why you see me very seldom go to concerts or big events, and if I go, I have to be in reserve seating and not on the floor with mosh pits or large crowds. Why I prefer country music concerts, less chaos. Give me a few friends and a bonfire. I am set. Just don’t try to persuade me to drink and the night is perfect.

Other survivors are more sensitive when it comes to being unfiltered. Other survivors don’t have a problem getting on stage and doing a speech without panic attacks. Other survivors need large crowds and can’t handle being alone. Other survivors need service dogs to assist them. This is just a reality of people handling their coping mechanisms differently. I can be alone, because as a geek I can keep myself company with coffee, and my favorite films, books, & music. Thank the Lord for allowing me the gift of appreciation to the arts and entertainment industry.

I try not to judge anyone’s journey or weaknesses, for I understand. I just ask for you to not to judge mine.

News From The Ranch

Squirt

It’s back to the waiting game of being medically retired from the military now. Until then, I do what I can to stay on the surface of my life, even though I am currently beyond exhausted from trying to balance two jobs, school, military, and trying to start my own business.

At this moment, what keeps me focused is the thoughts of Montreal in June & the horses at the ranch. Due to insomnia issues, we changed my schedule for my equine therapy.

I showed the owner of the ranch my book cover I created for my next book and she loved it. She wants to make sure she gets a hand on a copy when it’s released.

Randy (my recovery coordinator out of McCoy) came to witness my therapy with Sterling. Randy asks me to be apart of a documentary type project to share my story with PTSD to put awareness to fight against the negative stigma in the military and to highlight the negative stigma of “candyland” at our local VA. The video project also will hopefully be a other step towards lowering and/or diminishing the suicide statistics in today’s veterans. I get to share my military & VA experience in this video project.

We want people to know there are healthier alternatives over the over medicating and having veterans becoming zombie-like and permanently ending important relationships. Equestrian is more beneficial because it allows veterans to accept their issues, learn how to cope with them, & move on from the past and have a healthy future in society.

As for working my therapy session, Sterling was easier to work with considering I was on time (even if the therapy session time changed itself) and he got a nap in prior. He was very intuitive with everyone around and kept close to me, guarding me again from who he thought to be strangers like he did when Mario & Deuce was in town.

We did an exercise where I made an alley way and had to identify two of my biggest obstacles with moving forward with the progression I had made since my start at the ranch. My two choices was home (since it’s time to move on to bigger things) & my heart (the most valuable thing in my life). Sterling kept eye contact and listened to my commands as we walked through the alley together. My heart was represented by grain & home was represented by hay. When Sterling passed the exercise, he went straight to the grain, symbolically asking to be a part of it. It was a beautiful moment in my eyes regardless of him nibbling on the bucket when the grain was all gone.

Psychological Demons Teaser #3

Here is teaser #3 for my story, Psychological Demons. I am introducing the relationship between Eve and her mother, Cynthia, as Eve visits her mom for the first time since she left for the military. Not all is what it seems on the surface. 

Cynthia Torseman only had a couple skills for work, waitressing and bartending, while raising Eve after the divorce with Joe. The divorce resulted in a hardship for Cynthia, as she was used to being a stay-at-home mom, now had to manage herself when Joe moved out. Cynthia and Joe only lived a couple blocks away from one another for Eve’s benefits and relationships with both parents, but that didn’t change the fact that Eve wasn’t raised on a silver-platter. She developed an appreciation of her mother, as Cynthia worked more than 40 hours a week to make ends meet. There was no need for court dates between the parents, which was rare for a broken home in the United States.

As she came to age, Eve enlisted in the military to assist her mother with her bills. Eve would send an anonymous envelope with money, while she was away for training or missions, no matter where she was in the world. As Eve returned home for the first time in two years, Cynthia would discover a change.
Cynthia walks to her mailbox to get her mail. She opens it and grabs the stack in the box. Cynthia skims through the mail and notice an envelope is missing from the stack. She looks down the street on her right and then left as she pats the stack of mail on her chest. Her facial expression expressed a concern. Did the mailman drop the envelope? Did the envelope get lost on its way home? Cynthia slowly bit her lip out of nervousness and double-checked the stack again to make sure she didn’t misplace the envelope herself. The middle-aged lady takes another look around the area and turns around to walk back into her house.
            Two blocks away from both her mother and father’s houses, Eve was waiting in a taxi cab parked. Inside the taxi, the driver looks through his rear view mirror to his passenger who is smirking and flipping the envelope over and over in her hands.
“Ma’am, I know it’s none of my business, but isn’t it illegal to be digging and stealing other people’s mail?”
The taxi-driver expressed his concerns towards Eve. In response, Eve smiles and continues the conversation with the driver.
            “Not if you are the person who sent it.”
            Eve flips the front of the envelope with the addresses facing the driver and leans forward. She grabs her bills out of her back pocket and hands forty dollars out of the money stack to the taxi driver.
 “For caring, lunch is on me. Keep the change, buddy.”
            The taxi-driver responds with a relieved laugh, “Thank you, Ma’am.”
            Eve kicks open the back passenger door and grabs her duffel bag from across the seat. She shuts the door and walks across the street and up to the front door of her mother’s house. Eve puts down her duffel bag. The duffel bag is weathered and the color is faded from the use Eve has put into it. She claims it’s her lucky bag, as “lucky” is stitched across the pocket on the side, symmetrically across the pocket. The doorbell rings.
Cynthia yells from inside the house, “Coming!”

            Cynthia opens the door while still skimming the mail. Before Cynthia can look up to see who the visitor is. Eve sets the envelope in front of her mother’s face. 

2015©H.M. Gautsch


Navigating with a Notepad (Poetry)

I’m trying to sit in the dark,

Late at night, staring out at the stars,
While sorting out my thoughts to write another poem.
Yeah, it might sound like the same old song,
But the pen and pad are the only things I can depend on.
It’s hard to have family and friends
Who can’t see or understand any of my social problems.
Some days I’m quietly awkward,
Other days I’m rudely obnoxious.
Maybe I’m a good actor,
Or maybe, I just don’t know how to act.
I am sure people think I am just playin’
To get money from the government,
But if I was doing that,
I’d apply for other assistance,
Along with food stamps.
I don’t want any of that,
I just want to live peacefully before I’m dead.
If I was faking my problems,
I wouldn’t have prolonged my issues from 2009,
Or even longer, like…
…my whole life.
I wouldn’t still be walking that fragile line.
People just rather be blind,
To the facts of my short term memory distortion,
My insomnia, and the voices in my conscience,
That transfers through my body, to my fingers,
To the pen to form these words on this notepad.
In my eyes, I don’t see insecurity with my vulnerability.
If that was the case, I wouldn’t have the courage to share my story.
So what if I am a bit sensitive or even a bit pensive,
My depression and anxiety has always been repetitive,
I’ve accepted these anti-socializing traits,
The best of this world’s artists can relate.
I am sure other kids can to, but too scared to navigate,
And get lost deep inside their heart,
Emotions, and words to collate, in return create this art.
So if you’re afraid, just turn to my unique poetic philosophy, Descartes.

I wish people would stop being concern about how the world looks at me,

I’ll be the executive producer of my decisions and consequence,
Revealing the tattoos and scars that live deep down in my heart.
It’s my skin. It’s my ill mind. It’s my life.
So I’ll keep dishing these poems like my pen is a spoon or fork,
Because it seems it’s the only therapy that truly works.
So if you think I am writing to ask for help,
I’m not. By the time this poem ends, I’ll be my better self.
I just want to thank you for reading and listening,
To my rhymes, my provocative conditioning.
2014 ©H.M. Gautsch