Healing from SIV: It helps to have friends, and horses…

So I had believed that this part of my life, focused on teaching about trauma, self-injury, and healing, had ended.  No formal good-bye, still taking on work, but letting go in my heart and spirit.  I had thought, after over 20 years of this work, that we had accomplished at least part of the goal of changing awareness about the roots of self-injury and how to create opportunities for healing   So I started moving in a different direction.  My life this past year became quite focused on horses and I have been challenged, inspired, and deeply moved by that journey.  One of my last posts was about Pocket, the horse that a friend and I rescued, who has deeply changed both of our lives this past year.  Now there is another, second, horse in my life.  Harriett arrived in a circuitous way after the death of a friend who used to tend to her.  It’s been a busy time.  Let’s just say that I’ve become quite good with a shovel.

Yet now I am so glad that I didn’t dismantle this blog, nor the web site.  Couldn’t make myself do it and am grateful that it is still here, like a trusted friend.   I get to come back and start writing again.  I offer you fresh eyes, renewed enthusiasm, and a tender heart.

Why?  Two reasons.  First of all, I’ve been made keenly aware that there is still a great deal of misunderstanding and pain about SIV in our society, including the mental health community.  While there are pockets of sanctuary, there are still many people truly suffering from being judged, misunderstood, controlled, pathologized and mistreated.  Many are greatly harmed by this.  There is still much work to be done.  I tend to be an optimist at heart but now sit in the reality that I was overly hopeful about the evolution of understanding about SIV.   I am not ready to walk away yet, I just didn’t know it.

Second, a beloved friend, a young woman I cherish and respect, let me know that she and her family are in turmoil because she is cutting.  Of course I am sad that she needs SIV for now.  I love her and her family.  So we have begun talking and having adventures, planning and scheming.  We have two powerful forces in our lives: SIV and horses.  I have my journey to share about healing from the need for SIV, while she has her healing path to create.  We both find light and excitement, peace and comfort when we are around the horses.  These two passions, one so painful, the other so joyful, have brought us together.

And the journey has led here.  We want to share our journey on this blog, and invite you to return here to expand our small circle of healing.  I have been brought back to the roots of what is most important to me – people I care about, our passions, and the journeys we can share together.  It feels like coming home to a place that is familiar, but new as well.  I am eager to start the conversations.  More soon….

2 Responses to “Healing from SIV: It helps to have friends, and horses…”

  1. JiTteR Says:

    Welcome back!
    I hadn’t deleted the RSS feed for this blog and it laid dormant for..well, you know how long.

    My daughter is a horsewoman, too. She professionally trains horses and their owners (who often prove to be much more challenging). Her methods are very equine-centric. The following is her method description:
    “It is through consideration of a horse’s natural behavior that I create consistent, clear communication. This communication isn’t just about telling the horse what I want, it is also about understanding the feedback that the horse gives to me. This is the foundation of training. Through this communication I am able to reward a horse’s effort and correct his or her mistakes fairly, encouraging the horse to respond with trust and effort.”
    I’ve seen her do this - it’s beautiful. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all have someone helping us in that way?

    During your absence, I have inched further away from the Siren song of cutting. Just last night, I felt that strong pull. The dissociation was creeping in. I recognized it for what it was and was able to bring myself back the reality of the moment. I now have enough positive experience to know the relief of the cut does not warrant suffering the mental, emotional and physical consequences. There is another way.

    Sadly, at this point, I still struggle mightily with the vestige of dermatillomania. This form of SIV was my introductory drug, so to speak. My earliest memories are from when I was still in my crib - we were kept in them longer to save the price of a mattress - so I was maybe…four? Fifty-some years later, I’ve decided it is time to face this demon. The skills I call upon to resist cutting have no power here; the etiology is very different. Certainly, harshly imposed restraints were never effective. The crushing shame, self-loathing and subsequent triggers form a never-ending loop. Today, with my therapist’s input, I have chosen an OCD specialist to help me. I know I face a difficult, frightening path. Will I be able to do this? As with cutting, I am afraid of what will happen if….when…I don’t have this part of me anymore.

    We both know your young friend has a lot of work ahead of her. She is very lucky to have you aas her guide. Good luck to all of us!

  2. Ruta Mazelis Says:

    Thanks so much for writing, about your journey as well as your daughter and the horses. Her way with horses is similar to what my friend is teaching me and there are parts of my healed self that are being touched in ways that I thought were impossible. I never believed there would be horses in my life, nor how much they would change me. For a long time I never believed that I could live without SIV. The same was true for other forms of self-harm, such as smoking, comfort eating, focusing too much on others’ wants while ignoring my own needs…. Yet here I am, having written that post, living a life that I could not have imagined. I offer that to you in your journey as well. We have already done what we did not believe is possible. And we have found each other to journey with, so thanks so much for writing…

    As amazing as the horses are, they also frighten me deeply sometimes. Learning to ride has been a leap of faith that I didn’t always want to take. It amuses me that I spent years living with cuts, burns and broken bones from SIV but am really scared to fall off of the horses! Having a friend teach me how to communicate with my horse, while she wisely understand how to communicate with me, has made the difference. Harriett is a retired racehorse who excels at running fast, and to the left. She is learning western trail style (while Pocket is ridden English), and in many ways we are learning together. Pocket is teaching me what he already knows. And all the other horses and humans teach me something if I listen That’s what we can do for each other as well, here, in our journeys of healing….

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