• Tara Vaughan

Stepping-Stones



Life is like stepping-stones. Getting through my brothers wedding was a huge leap forwards for me which I landed only to fall in backwards on Sunday when I found out that they put my horse, Bella, down on Thursday without telling me. Nobody asked my permission to put her down. As I wasn’t told until after the wedding I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye and I didn’t get to give her the burial I had planned – she was to be buried at home on a hill with a view and I was going to plant a Willow tree next to her so that she could grow into it and keep on living.

I am devastated that I did not get to say goodbye to her and so upset that my choice to do so was taken away from me. I understood that Bella was old (28 years old) and that she would die eventually, however much I dreamed that she would be around forever or that I’d ride her on my wedding day. In the recent winters I’d say goodbye to her in case she didn’t make it through and every year she did. I was prepared for her to go and am just so upset because my choice was taken away from me. I am finally learning that I have choice, something that I haven’t realised that I could have.


I feel betrayed by the people closest to me. I am grieving and I am angry.


I understand that they thought they were doing the right thing at the time. But it wasn’t their decision to make. It was mine. They should never have kept something like that from me.


In meditation the other week I learnt that we are blamers. We are very quick to blame. As soon as pain comes along we look for someone to blame. Our parents, siblings, the taxi driver, the boss, the government, we are always looking for someone to blame because our mind wants to believe that wherever we go we’re in control and then when these things happen we realise how fragile our world is, how fragile our existence is. And I want to blame my aunt and my mother; I want to lay the blame at their feet. They are the reason that I am angry. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to react. I feel angry. My brain is telling me to be unhappy, to be sad, to be furious, so I’m going to do all those things. And I need to learn that I don’t have to. I can still have those feelings and that’s okay but what I do with them is another matter. I need to remember that these are feelings that will pass because otherwise I’ll become stuck.


I don’t bond well with people I much prefer animals. I got Bella when I was 15 years old. I had her for two weeks on Easter holidays before I went back to school and she went off to livery. Six weeks later it was half term and I went and had a lesson on her at livery. My instructor told me that she had never seen a bond form so quickly between horse and rider, especially when we had only spent two weeks together.

Our relationship grew and I trained her to a whistle. My bathroom window over looked her field and I could call her from it and she’d come galloping to the corner of her field and look for me. When I was there she would line herself up against the fence if she wanted me to get on her back. The times that we did this I’d go for a ride, wherever Bella wanted to go. Sometimes we’d go out of the field and around the farm, all at her own pace. I’d let her do whatever she wanted to do.


“Those who teach the most about humanity aren’t always human.” – Donald L Hicks


Moments after this picture was taken, six canoes paddled passed us and Bella didn't flinch.

Bella taught me so much. Three owners before me, she was loved – they were family friends. She was beaten two owners before me. The girl I brought her off spent a year calming her down and a year eventing her before she lost her way to boys and drugs. Bella taught me to be kind, how to love and be gentle. She was there for me for all of the bad times. I couldn’t talk to my parents. My father told me when I was 14 years old that I couldn’t tell my mother my problems because the stress would be too much for her MS. So I told Bella. She knew everything.


I often wonder what I did in my past live(s) to deserve this chain reaction of shit all the time? I feel like if I died no one would notice. My family could rest easy, not having to worry about me any more. I tried on Monday night after hearing my mother scream at my father. She was trying to protect me from something he wanted to say to me. That pain that I’m causing her is unnecessary and I believed that if I wasn’t here anymore she could be out of that pain. I obviously didn’t kill myself as I’m here writing this; my sowing scissors were too blunt to cut through a piece of paper let alone slice through my skin.


I understand that that can be hard to read. But this isn’t meant to be an easy read, it’s real life, it’s real feelings and my mind plays tricks on me all the time so trying to figure out what’s real and what’s not is really difficult. I know that I didn’t really want to die on Monday night; it was just a part of me that did. And I have many parts. There’s part of me that wants to run, to create a new live for myself where nobody knows me, to start over. A part of me needs attachment, someone to look after me. And there are so many more parts.

I have to learn to listen to all of my parts and learn to negotiate between them and it’s exhausting. But I’ll get there – I hope.

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