By Katherine WoodAugust 24, 2020
Being a kid is supposed to be a care-free experience, full of love, trust and learning. Being a child of an alcoholic is anything but that—especially as the family scapegoat. Days spent lonely, drowning in responsibility, crushingly over-medicated, and the stress relief for the family makes a kid grow up fast. Hope is intangible when surrounded by uncertainty.
For many years, I wandered in an over-medicated fog. Two tranquilizers and an antipsychotic, I wasn’t allowed to feel, think or live my life awake. I could lift my head above the mire to see that they needed me. The hope was that I could save them, and I held onto that.
DARE in 5th grade helped me, as I learned the signs of an alcoholic. I was angry. I was duped by the people supposed to be protecting me, but I held strong. My family was broken, four different people inhabiting one experience, each with their own role.
They let me have horses, as I disappeared inside myself, only emerging when the barn dust filled my sinuses and brown eyes were there to confide in. My family was falling apart, my life was shattered, but I had horses. They were my solace, my family and my security. They loved me. They taught me all the life lessons my family struggled to have time for. It made me strong. Horses were the love I so desperately needed. I would help the broken ones become who they were supposed to be. It was the greatest gift. It taught me about how I could help my family in the same way.
Horses helped me learn to appreciate everyone as the individuals they are. Every important life lesson I needed help learning, they were there to teach me. They are my purpose, my passion and half my heart. My family is the other.”
I was angry for a long time, but as time keeps passing, and I keep learning lessons, I realize we all were just trying to survive. My sister wanted to make everything OK. My mom disappeared into herself. My dad shut down. I watched it all, allowing them to use me as stress relief, but I never gave up hope. Hope that they could become who they really were, just like the horses I rehabilitated. Hope we could become a real family—for once. Hope that I wouldn’t be the only problem, anymore.
Horses kept me alive. They helped me learn to appreciate everyone as the individuals they are. Every important life lesson I needed help learning, they were there to teach me. They are my purpose, my passion and half my heart. My family is the other. Horses kept me sane. They gave me wings. They made me feel important and enough. They mostly gave me hope. Hope that things can be OK.
My family made it out, because they never gave up, on me, on themselves and on life. The horses made it out, too.
Hope is tangible, real and alive. Hope is what gets us up every day and sends us to bed, grateful, despite the day.
Through hope, all things are possible.