Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tao of Equus - the story of Noche

Noche was an abused horse. When the author took him in - she watched him and thought he was a very aloof, distant, tired old horse. It wasn't until she started spending all day long just hanging out in the pasture, that he began to trust her. He came alive with his own personality.

Still, if he felt threatened and couldn't get away from people, he would dissociate. She would watch him recede back into his own head. She could tell he was getting as far away from the people as he could get while still being tied to his hitching post.

The author talks about how careful people have to be in working with an abused horse:
"If you're going to work with an abused horse, you have to recognize exactly what you're feeling at all times. Like a traumatized person, Noche is hypersensitive to the blood pressure, muscle tension, breathing rate, and unexpressed emotions of anyone approaching him."
"There is a purpose to his fear. Whether they have two or four legs, abused animals tend to become hyper vigilant. This means they turn the volume up on all their senses to gauge the arousal level of others. in this way, a distrustful horse like Noche can tell what state someone's in long before that person can get close enough to cause him harm. "
That is part of the reason I'm so good at empathizing with others. It's a powerful defense mechanism that has allowed me to stay safe, and has also allowed me to help others. It has given me abilities others don't seem to have, but it has also been blown way out of proportion. I am afraid when I don't need to be... I feel others' anger when it is merely a small frustration.
"YOU have to be calm to reassure Noche. He doesn't want you around if you're afraid or angry. These emotions plug him into his own unresolved issues and probably trigger memories of past abuse."
I know that is true for myself. I don't like to be around people who are afraid or angry. It makes me uncomfortable, panicked, afraid, angry, anxious, nervouse, and so much more. I feel silly that I get so worked up about it. Other people don't seem to have the same problems I do. I react to others' anger before I even know what I am doing.
"In order to work with Noche, you have to own your feelings. If you don't, he'll continue to react to the anxiety you're carrying around and be triggered by it unmercifully. Whether you're dealing with an abused horse, or an abused human, you have no hope of helping someones heal his own trauma if you're inadvertently setting him off with your unconscious emotions, then freaking out yourself, and falling into a state of dissociation."
Which is what I do all the time with Dann. He has his own healing to do. He has had his own traumas, and although they don't effect him in the same ways, we are still constantly triggering each other. We go through the same cycle that Noche goes through!
"Listen to the message behind the emotion and respond to it. If you're afraid, for instance, you need to locate the threat and move to safety. Anger usually arises when someone has violated your personal boundaries in some way. You need to determine who stepped over the line and reinstate a boundary that makes you feel comfortable."
This seems so simple, and yet I struggle to even begin to think about what this means. Logically, it makes perfect sense, but when I try to apply it... it feels like I am trying to fly. I feel rather... stuck!
"To work with Noche, you'll have to develop a certain level of emotional agility, and you won't be able to do that if you're always running away from your feelings, which in your case means deflecting your attention to the emotions of others."
She says things like this several times. I feel so selfish and a little crazy, but I feel like saying if you want to talk to me about the things that are important to me, you have to be emotionally agile enough. There are very few people who fit that.

I think I have always known who I can share things with - probably because I was hurt when I was young. I figured out how to protect myself, and I don't just mean physically. I figured out how to keep people from hurting me emotionally. When others are in a good place, I easily share with him. When he's not, there is nothing inside me to share. It is the same with new people, sometimes I feel like sharing quite a bit of myself. Sometimes, I feel like I have nothing to share. Its just not there.

1 comment:

  1. I think I have some of that hyper sensitivity as well. Probably not nearly to the extent you do, but I sense negative emotion and greatly dislike it. It's caused a few situations where I react to a minor frustration Robyn has. But for the most part, her calm spirit has helped me to overcome a lot of things. I suppose she's been emotionally agile enough to deal with me in my times of need.