I have been on a two-year journey to learn the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method — and in the process, I have changed my own life much in the way I want to help you change yours. Before we get into what the EGCMethod is and my training, I want to share my story with you so you’ll know who you are working with and how addiction has touched my life.
I sat down with my Dad — the man who’s addiction most touched my life — before I wrote what follows. I wanted him to know — to not be blindsided by what he would read on my website or what I was about to share with my clients and potential clients. I did it out of concern for him. I did it because it was the right thing to do. He is, afterall, my Dad.
What took me aback was that he cried when I revealed what I wanted to share. He cried because he had no idea how deeply his addiction had affected my life. The path I am on now, the nature of the business I am building, the focus of the people I want to help, and the inspiration for the woman I am learning to become were a direct result of his actions. Many of those actions were traumatic for me in ways I don’t think he completely understood until this very conversation. The moment I shared what was on my heart, it became a wakeup moment for him — even now, after all this time. Although the result is what any father would want — a successful daughter driven by her father’s example — the way this happened for my dad and I was anything but positive. I am sure in those tears my Dad shed, he would have liked to wash away the past and change the way he inspired me to something that didn’t involve addiction.
We can’t change the past, however. All we can do is hold onto hope for the future. As the daughter of a sober alcoholic, I know this fact well.
At nine, my parent’s shared addiction caused a rift in all our lives — mine, theirs, my brother’s, my grandparents. There was a moment, forever tattooed onto my soul, where I stood on the front porch with my brother at my side, watching my drunken father hook up our camper all the while exclaiming he was never coming back. I begged him not to go. I cried. I pleaded. I was everything a nine year old little girl should never be — terrified, sad, worried. The camper left our driveway and I watched it disappear into the night, beyond my control. That moment changed me forever.
My parents drank frequently as far back as I could remember. It was hard for me to reconcile their alcoholism. On one hand, there were the frequent fun and joyful family parties. On the other hand, there were the drunken fights they would have with each other when we got home from the party. The fights were never physical, but the verbal abuse stung like a lash heavy with poison spikes. The fall out rained down both me and my brother. There were broken promises, manipulations, blame, and constant chaos.
After my Dad left that night in the camper, things became even more chaotic. My brother and I were shifted between parents and grandparents. Everything felt out of control — my Dad, drinking more now, kept telling us he was never coming back. Those words still haunt me to this day. Eventually, he would come back. He and my mother would reconcile and, through faith and hard work, both would become sober. But I did not know that at the time. I could only live within the world that was presented to me and that world was hard.
My saving grace then, as now, were my horses. My grandparents had had horses before I was born, so I had come to love them through my time spent with them. I would talk to the horses, tell them everything I couldn’t tell anyone else. My horses were my safe place to get away from everything. I had a sense of peace when I was with horses which was in direct opposition to the chaos of my home. With them, I was happy and comfortable. They were my best friends.
After my parents reconciled and became sober, they became foster parents for at-risk youth. They chose to work with kids who had been affected by the worst of traumatic circumstances. I was only 12 when I became actively involved in this part of their lives. The stories of the kids who came through our home changed me and I saw the impact addiction and substance abuse had on families other than my own.
Addiction has touched my life in very profound ways — some good, some not-so-good. I now know addicts use their substance to cover up reality. Many have suffered abuse themselves, and they have unfinished business that they need to reconcile before they can live sober. I also fully understand what it is like to love an addict — to defend them; to make excuses for them; to change your life, your words, your reality to keep them happy. I discovered in myself at a very early age the strength to carry the weight of addiction even though it is something I should have never had to bear. As I have grown, I have learned to have compassion for that little girl who walked in my shoes, her choices, and her strategies.
Because of addiction I have become responsible, reliable, steadfast. But I also have learned to not form deep attachments, to keep love at arm’s length, and to be very cautious. It has made me highly conscientious of others feelings, but at the same time I am reserved with my own feelings. Because of addiction, I have never lived carefree. Even as a child, I took on responsibilities no child should have to take on.
Because of addiction, I have become an expert on addicts and what it is like to love an addict. I am on an ever expanding journey to understand how addiction changes both the addict and those in their lives — and how to reset the future to be brighter, healthier and free of guilt, remorse, and fear.
Lastly, because of my experience with addiction I have become driven to lead others in a way that honors themselves and, if appropriate, the addict they love. My horses have become an integral part of this vision as well. Their support to me was, and is, immeasurable — and I want to offer access to that support for others who are experiencing or have experienced the trauma of loving an addict. My ultimate goal is to see those who work with me find freedom from the pain of loving someone with substance abuse.
About the EGCMethod®
The Equine Gestalt Coaching Method® was developed by Melisa Pearce, a core founder since 1989, of the horse-human healing movement. The experiential nature of the method involves the horse as an active partner with the coach in the client’s exploratory process. The integrative approach of the equine’s interaction combined with positive coaching, somatic awareness guidance and Gestalt methodology, assists the client in examining their life and choices made with a focus on designing a positive future.
Horses were my safe place as a child — and they are my healers now that I am an adult. I have undergone a tremendous amount of training — and personal growth — to facilitate you being Touched by a Horse ® in a way that changes your life. Horses see us for who we truly are — the same way God sees us — and they can show us how to look at ourselves through the eyes of love and compassion. They help us set aside the pain — and the bullshit — once and for all. They create powerful and lasting healing within us and show us how to walk in the present moment, with joy and love.
Preparing for your EGC Session
Your EGCMethod session with the horse will be outdoors or in an enclosed arena. Be sure to dress appropriately to be outdoors and in the weather. Although you may choose not to go into the pen with the horse, almost everyone does — please wear close toed shoes. You will not ride the horse. No horse experience is necessary.
Meet our horses …
This is Bella, she is a 14-year-old quarter horse mare. She was born and raised on my families’ ranch. Bella has a super cute personality that is full of character! She especially loves anything little, children, goats, mini horses, and anything else small. She is extremely sensitive to the emotions and energies of people. She loves her job as a coach at Renewed Spirit.
Agreed they felt better about themselves at the conclusion of the Equine Gestalt Coaching session than at its beginning.”
Would participate in this coaching program again.