Monday, October 4, 2010

On Asking For Help-- And A Horse Named Dude

Last week, I took a little road trip to Virginia where I attended an onsite visit at Remuda Ranch. Remuda is a residential treatment facility for girls and women with eating disorders- they just recently updated their website, and it's worth checking out (follow this link to view it!). Anyways, while I knew quite a bit about Remuda Ranch before visiting, I was really impressed with the quality of care that they provide to patients. I was also impressed with the commitment and value placed on spiritual healing as well! Remuda's treatment program is centered around a Christian approach, however, girls and women of all faiths are respected and welcome and can decide how little or how much they want to participate and interact with the faith piece.

Anyways, Remuda really is a ranch- it's not just called that:-). There is a full service barn complete with horses. No cell phone service, no Starbucks, and nothing but dirt roads and beautiful scenery. Among the therapeutic activities used with patients is equine therapy, which uses experiences and interactions with horses to teach the patients things about themselves, facilitating insight and growth. I was a little skeptical before I really knew anything about it, but after learning more and seeing different demonstrations, it is amazing how much you can learn about yourself from a horse!

I volunteered to help out with an activity and got to meet Dude, an Arabian horse:-). My task was to get him over a jumping bar without touching him. Last time I checked, I wasn't a horse trainer-- and I had NO idea how to make this happen. Once I was in the ring with Dude, I secretly regretted volunteering because I was feeling a little in over my head!! After several frustrating minutes of Dude eating dirt and ignoring my commands to jump over the bar, I finally asked Dave, the man in charge, if he had any suggestions! He didn't (of course), but some of the other therapists that were watching were able to give me some ideas. They told me to take the bar off of the jumping post, and lay it on the ground and have Dude walk over the bar. After much coaxing and guiding him from behind, Dude finally stepped over the bar!!

After processing what happened with Dude (I love that the horse's name is Dude, by the way), Dave mentioned that this particular activity can be useful in illustrating how important it is to ask for help!! He said that he will watch people struggling with an activity like this, not knowing what to do, and watching them get frustrated (like me!), and angry- and yet they don't ask for help. Or, if they do, they wait a really long time before asking. You might see how this applies to eating disorder recovery, and even more so, life!! We were not created to be alone, to have no support or community in our lives. And yet sometimes our pride or life circumstances keep us from reaching out and asking for help! Sometimes admitting we need help and are unable to do things on our own can be a huge step forward... and what a relief to know that we don't have to carry a burden all on our own! Sometimes we don't ask for help because we're not even sure of what we need! But just being able to share a burden with a friend, family member or loved one can be a way of reaching out for help and support.

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