I spend a LOT of time in my coaching practice supporting clients with processing difficult feelings.
Guilt. Shame. Fear. Loneliness. Grief.
The list goes on.
Feelings that, more often than not, people try and run away from. Pretend they don’t exist. Bury their heads in the sand hoping they’ll disappear when they come back up for air.
And guess what?
I’m not immune to this either, as I recently discovered.
Last month, Silja died. She was an Iceland pony that lived on our little farm here.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a deep connection with animals. I even had a horse when I was a kid, so it made me incredibly happy to be reunited with them when my wife and I decided to rent our stables out to people who wanted to keep their ponies here.
I was a bit tentative though. I mean, it had been a long time and I was suddenly faced with 7 ponies living a stone’s throw away from us.
Silja melted my trepidation away. She was calm, gentle, and sweet. I grew to trust her deeply. While I love and enjoy all the horses that we tend to, she had a special place in my heart.
So I was naturally upset (devastated, really) when she became unwell, and the vet said there was nothing more we could do for her.
While it didn’t look like much from the outside, I devolved into a state of internal panic. I was scrambling around to avoid reality at all costs, which was that my beloved Silja was going to be put down in the yard outside my door.
I didn’t like the thought of that. Nope, not at all.
So I avoided Silja while trying to work out how I could physically remove myself from the situation. Could I book a hotel for the evening she was going to be put down, or stay with friends?
I went about in circles for a few days until it hit me.
Yes, grief is hard. Awful, in fact. But there was no point trying to avoid the reality of the loss I was about to experience.
We all do this in one way or another. We’re only human, after all.
Whether it is through binging on Netflix, burying ourselves in work, prioritising everyone else’s needs over our own, drinking, gaming, gambling…we all do it. And it’s because the actuality of it feels far too overwhelming. Painful. Heartbreaking.
Once I realised what I was trying to do, I made the decision to face reality instead of trying to pretend it didn’t exist (because, trust me, that never works for too long).
I spent a few moments with Silja every day, saying goodbye and telling her how much she meant to me. I helped with the preparations leading up to the event in any way that I could, making sure all the other horses were away, and helping her owner light the yard so that the vet could see what they were doing.
Once Silja had been put down, I went into the yard as she lay there. I sat with her, stroked her and stayed with her as her spirit left her.
Was I heartbroken? Yes. Would I do it all over again? Also, yes.
Through my tears, I realised that being present is to be human. The moment I surrendered to my feelings and stopped trying to avoid them, I stopped spiraling. I felt far more in control, and far more at peace even through my profound sadness.
So, the next you’re faced with a situation bound to stir feelings that seem insurmountable, try stepping into them instead of away.
You’ll be okay, I promise.
PS: In March, I’m co-hosting a coaching and somatic workshop again. Do you want to come and join us?