ImageA good friend posted this on her facebook status this morning:

I just LOVE learning from master horsemen…. [Their] teachings are showing me incredible parallels in my horsemanship journey and my own inner journey…changing the thought changes the emotion/feeling which changes the action/behavior…

That got me to thinking about how my relationship with Galahad mirrors larger issues in my own psychological journey.

Right now, the big issue between me and Galahad is fear, and the effects of that fear on my relationship with him and my capabilities both as a rider and as a partner in relationship. I hadn’t thought much about that last bit until just now, but clearly, fear does affect us in relationship.

How? It causes me to shut down my senses to everything other than what I perceive as dangerous, doesn’t it? I’m only aware of, and reacting to, what seems to be a threat. This is just the way our animal brains and bodies work to keep us safe. And it works that way not just with physical threats, but also with perceived emotional threats.

I have noticed lately that I perceive Galahad differently than I used to, maybe in part because I’m working on, or through, my fear of him. And I don’t just mean my fear of physical harm, but fear of intense emotional bonds/bonding, even with a horse who so clearly is in my life for the very purpose of relationship.

I noticed an increase in the intensity of our connection the other day, walking down the road after a day of hiking and riding. We were both tired, in a good way, and we had had a very pleasant interaction. We had been through situations, like being in the huge, open meadow, where he had to choose between trusting me and running off in a panic. Every time, he chose to trust me and stay by my side. So I think that demonstration of trust opened things up between us to a greater-than-normal extent.

When I think about it, it feels like it’s fear that keeps me from relating to anyone, human or equine, in a deep way because I fear being hurt. I fear losing emotional control. My experiences early on with relationships, with people I loved—or for that matter, with animals—were not good ones. My father was a often a beast, my mother was usually unavailable, and my beloved pets kept being taken away from me because of my allergies. All were profoundly painful experiences, and not ones I would willingly repeat. For a long time, I have been to some extent imprisoned by fear of relating.

That’s interesting on many levels. Although I’m much better now, how many times in years past have people said to others, or to me directly, how influential I have been in their lives, and how much “our relationship” has meant to them—but I didn’t even remember them, much less anything deep or meaningful about our interactions.

That, and my “face blindness,” which has apparently been with me from childhood. People in my dreams never had faces (though they usually do nowadays). It’s terribly embarrassing when, for instance, clients with whom I’ve sat and talked and listened intently for hours are unrecognizable out of context, and not because I don’t remember practically every word that was said, but because I cannot remember faces.

And to think this may all have been the result of my emotional defensiveness! (“Duh!” right?)

In some way, maybe Galahad is inviting me to discard the armor and the baggage and be in relationship with him, deeply and willingly. That is a scary thought. But if I could do it with him, maybe I could do it with people.

Hmmm…. That’s not an easy task. Even just thinking about Galahad, I’m aware of fear. Wow—I did not know that.

What does the fear feel like? I feel it in my stomach, and around the sides of my abdomen. I feel it pulling me backwards. This could easily—EASILY—be the source of much of the procrastination I engage in: a fear of moving forward into relationship with my horse. So it’s fear, all right, but not so much, or not only, fear of getting physically hurt; it’s fear of what comes next if I do step forward. Who will I be? What will I be like?

This is very interesting indeed: This feels exactly like the fear that causes me to procrastinate about doing anything “spiritual”: What changes will be required?! Who will I be if I begin to meditate each morning, if I willingly invite my Guides to have a more active role in my life?

Oh heck. I can feel the tiniest bit of a smile—the kind that says, “Busted!” from somewhere deep inside. Oh, this is NOT GOOD.

No, actually, it’s REALLY good. The journey continues.