The story behind The Wild Hope goes back to my own childhood. Although that won’t be my focus, I will from time-to-time reach into my story throughout this blog to share how God has prepared me for such a time as this.
In the Spring of 2012, 4 years after having spent 4 ½ months in an inpatient eating disorder treatment facility, I was sitting on my therapist’s couch (yes, literally:)) discussing what comes next. I’d been in and out of therapy since I was 14 years old. My time in the treatment facility didn’t focus so much on food, it was the opportunity of a lifetime to have 24/7 trauma-focused compassionate, caring individuals help me walk through and out of some of my own complex trauma. Although I still relapsed from time-to-time and continued to struggle with PTSD, anxiety, and depression for years, I had come a really long way in my recovery. Special thanks to an infinitely patient, gracious counselor, eating disorder Doctor, and the support of a couple really amazing friends! Finally I was in a place I’d never been before; what did I want to do with my future?
I’d been surviving for so long there wasn’t really time to genuinely and intentionally invest in thinking about, much less getting equipped for, a future and hope of a real life that held meaning and purpose. As we looked back on my childhood for positive memories I remembered a time we lived in a tiny town in Montana. I believe I was in 3rd grade. I remember walking home from school alone on this gravel road that passed along a pasture of horses. There was one horse I would stop and pet, talk to, feed grass, etc. As I was remembering this for the first time I was overwhelmed with peace, comfort, and a sense of complete safety. I don’t recall ever feeling quite like that in any other context. To this day the same feeling overcomes me each time I share that story or think back on that time.
So, we decided to explore this love for horses I’d had my entire life. Little did I know that was the start of something extraordinarily special and significant in my life. It was during this time that I was able to volunteer at a therapeutic riding center for a mental health program (equine facilitated learning) with youth on probation. WOW! I saw all my loves come together; nature, horses, and helping people. This was it! This was what I wanted to do with my life. So I had a “what”. The “how” would be a much more difficult journey.