Friday, October 13, 2017
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Recently, while dining at Lake Hope Lodge, McArthur, Ohio, with a friend, we stopped after lunch in the Lodge Gift Shop to browse. As horse-lovers (always), we caught a glimpse of a metal horse with a stone in the center. There were many really cool metal designs - ranging from very tall lawn/garden hooks/figures, to small frogs and bugs. Of course, we each had to buy a horse... what should be a yard ornament sits in my office (see below). The stone in the center of the horse is unique and the horse is shaped around the stone...
Visit www.colonialwagonandwheel.com for more, or if a local, stop by Lake Hope Lodge. The designs are quality, heavy art pieces that will stay in your yard/garden (office) forever.
Thanks Colonial Wagon & Wheel!
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
The Chestnut Mare: A Horse Story
by Author Clyde Hoch
A few days ago, I received this note from a friend. I almost forgot about this until she reminded me of it. Remembering back, I remember the horse, I remember feeling very confident about getting on the horse. I felt in my heart this is something I can and will do. I just knew I could do it. My friend writes…
I remember the time my first husband and I had horses and one of them was only “green broke.” Autumn had never been ridden. She was a beautiful chestnut mare with a black mane and tail that reached the ground. She was a very spirited horse and you volunteered to break her for us. I was very nervous and tried to persuade you otherwise, fearing for your safety but you insisted you would be fine and up you went into the saddle! Well, that horse bucked and bucked, hooves into the air and every which way but you had one arm in the air like a true cowboy and stayed on that horse until she quit bucking and just settled down. Something I will never forget. Thank you for that memory!
Your friend, Ruth Harvey!!
I remember this horse. As the horse bucked I started to enjoy the ride, it was fun. My friend Ruth said I was smiling the whole time. When Autumn finally settled down and stopped bucking, I felt let down. This was a big rush for me. I was probably 25 years old at the time, a few years after returning home from the Vietnam War. After Vietnam few things gave me a rush in my life. Riding Autumn was surly one of the few. In my area there was not a lot of demand for breaking horses, unfortunately.
About the Author
From Pennsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, Sergeant Clyde Hoch is an acclaimed author, recently winning the coveted Readers Favorite Bronze Medal for his book A Man Down! I have several of Clyde's books in my library; recommended reading!
Connect with Clyde…
Read Clyde's childhood story about Spike, a cherished Clydesdale...
Books by Clyde Hoch:
Tracks Memoirs of a Vietnam Veteran This is Clyde’s military experience as a tank commander in Vietnam.
A Tribute to Tankers has a short description on a type of tank and follows with stories of people who served in that type of tank in combat, starting with WWI and ends with Iraq.
B. A. R. Man Browning Automatic Rifle Man is the story of a young man who does some amazing things in the Korean War until he is wounded and captured by the Chinese. He is forced to march 200 miles with no medical attention. He is held as a POW for two and a half years.
A Man Down is the story of four young men who gave their lives for their country. This book won a bronze medal from Readers Favorite.
Albion is Clyde’s first work of fiction. It has eight chapters. Each chapter is a different story and different period in time.
God Help Me! Cause No One Else Will is Clyde’s sixth book. It is about post-traumatic stress disorder and veteran's suicides and how to prevent them.
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
|ROYAL COLOURS |
Acrylic on handmade paper.
(c) copyright Marian Duncan
Dreaming Arabians: A Visit with Fine Artist Marian Duncan
by Gina McKnight
Archived Article from the August/September 2017 Issue of Arabian Finish Line
No duplication without permission
“Whatever you ask of them, they will do it.”
From Manildra Australia, New South Wales, welcome fine artist Marian Duncan! With a passion for horses from a young age, Marian combines photographs, imagination, and her love for horses to create an original masterpiece. She has had many of her designs and artwork used by the Arabian Horse Society through the years for different promotions. Marian just completed the design for the 2019 WAHO (World Arabian Horse Organization) logo, to be held in Australia. She has captured the beauty of prized mares and stallions, and embraced her own Arabians on canvas.
GM: Marian, you are known throughout the world for your art. Arabian horses are your specialty. Each of your paintings showcase your passion for the Arabian horse! How do you develop powerful imagery in your artwork?
MD: When I was a little girl, I would sit under the big old pine trees and draw my neighbor’s horses, dreaming of owning one. I saw my first Arabian in my father’s newspaper, I remember thinking it was the most beautiful horse I had ever seen. It grew from there. Everything inspires me; the horses, color, light and shade, movement, the landscape. I think and dream Arabians. I just love to paint and draw, it’s like breathing to me.
GM: You have won many awards and accolades for your art. Congratulations! Your art captures the soul – both of your subject and the viewer. Your studio must be aesthetically inviting to enhance your design and talent. Tell us about your studio and your schedule…
MD: I live in a 100 year old mud and straw home. I have old furniture and things (clutter), lots of art materials, magazines, paints, paper, etc. I like to try and paint nearly every day, after feeding my horses and my husband David, and a few household jobs, usually bare essentials, so I can get painting.
GM: Besides the beauty of the horse, do you have a muse or two that drives your creativity?
MD: I have my little friends – two Australian cattle dogs, Soda and Tom; Soda lies next to me when I paint, and one fat cat, Harry. I have three Arabian mares; Danjera Shaania, Delraki Saakifa, and Hideaway Farm Just Imagine. I have just bought a very pretty gelding, Bey Illusion, who will be one year in August; Bey Illusion’s sire is Echos of Marwan; dam, Hideaway Farm Gabriel. Bey Illusion is extremely pretty, and I hope to be able to ride him when he grows up. If not, I’ll use him for my art. The first two mares are retired. I ride Hideaway Farm Just Imagine just around Manildra.
GM: As a world artist, have you traveled to paint outside of your studio, to far horse stables? If so, where have you been?
MD: Over the years, I have traveled to Arabian studs to see many of my favorite horses. Dassefa was one of them, plus many others. I would take my camera. I now have my trusty Nikon. I love it. I also love to photograph horses at the Arabian shows, canids mostly, anything that takes my eye, that I think would make a great painting. Sometimes just their feet for detail. Sometimes I paint straight from my photo, or I might change the color, or even the sex. I might use one photo, or twenty to thirty. Sometimes I might just get an idea and just draw it. I did sit and draw horses from life, but these days I like the comfort of my own home, at my easel.
GM: Arabian horses are known for their keen spirit and exceptional disposition. I know you fell in love with Arabians at an early age. Of all the horse breeds, why have you chosen the Arabian horse to be the center of your creativity?
MD: The Arabian Horse! I can draw or paint anything I would like to choose, sometimes I might do something different. The Arabian horse is my passion from that first photo I saw as a child. To me they are the most beautiful of all. I love everything about them. I try to capture that in my art. I feel so lucky to be able to create art about a subject I love so much. I hope people can see what is in my heart through my art, especially if they share that same passion for the Arabian horse. I think they have the smartest sweetest temperaments. Whatever you give them, they will return it. Whatever you ask of them, they will do it.
GM: Bravo! Your passion does shine through in your art! To create a masterpiece, what is the best medium to use?
MD: Mediums all have different properties. I love them all. I like to change between them to keep a change for myself, also to try and freshen up my ideas. I think I love oils the most, the rich vibrant color, so lovely to blend, so full of life. I also like to experiment and try something new.
GM: What masterpiece are your currently creating?
MD: At the moment, I am working on an oil on fine linen, three desert mares, two greys and a bay, with just a simple background; palm trees, a mud wall, and desert. It is from a recent trip to Nankeen Arabian Stud out west from my place, from a photo I took of three young colts. I turned them to mares, changed their colors using my imagination. I loved the way they were grouped, looking at the colors and shadows.
GM: People want to see your work! You have a large following from around the world. Where are you currently exhibiting?
MD: I have paintings always hanging at Jayes Art Gallery in Molong N.S.W. I like to display my art each year at the Australian Arabian National Championship Show.
GM: Do you have advice for novice artists looking to capture the essence of horses in art?
MD: Just draw and paint. Just do it! Learn as much as you can, then take the part you like and apply it to your own style that you like. It is like throwing a ball through a hoop, the more you do the better you can become. Look for your mistakes. Nothing is perfect. Then learn from them. Art is a lifetime of learning. Most of all, enjoy it!!!
Connect with Marian…
Gina McKnight is an equestrian and writer from Ohio USA. gmcknight.com
|Marian in her studio.|
(c) copyright Marian Duncan
Oil on color from photographs.
(c) copyright Marian Duncan
Oil on linen with permission from Jenni Ogden.
(c) copyright Marian Duncan
|HEAD STUDYFine ink, white pastel on paper.|
(c) copyright Marian Duncan
Oil on color from photo, inspired by Oriental drawings.
(c) copyright Marian Duncan
Oil on fine linen.
(c) copyright Marian Duncan
|THE NEW FOAL|
Oil on fine linen.
(c) copyright Marian Duncan
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Danny the Dragon Learns to Floss:
A humorous hygiene book for boys age 3-5
Danny the Dragon wakes up one day and breathes crooked fire. What's gone wrong? Join Danny as he gets tangled up in the solution and discovers the simple cure.
Intended for children from preschool to 1st grade, this book features:
-- Full-color illustrations of adorable characters
-- Situations like trying something for the first time, taking responsibility, and more that children are sure to relate to (and will want to read over and over!)
-- Life skills portrayed in an easy-to-understand way
If you're a parent or grandparent, be sure to pick up Danny the Dragon Learns to Floss for your kids today.
Available from amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M0GFGXA
Ty Mall is a fiction writer, blogger, and copywriter who's loved words for as long as he can remember. He lives out in Illinois with his family and one cat.
Print Length: 16 pages
Publication Date: September 15, 2016
Sunday, October 1, 2017
Riding with Shelby Osceola
by Gina McKnight
Archived interview from the September 2017 Issue of Florida Equine Athlete
No duplication without permission
From Alabama, USA, welcome National Rodeo competitor Shelby Osceola. The winner of championship buckles and many awards, Shelby loves her horses, her family, racing around barrels, and the thrill of the arena.
GM: As a rider from a young age, barrel racing at 11 years of age, and always into horses, do you remember your first introduction to horses?
SO: I can remember being in the living room flipping through the channels on the TV and a rodeo was on and the barrel racing event was on. I was immediately hooked. I looked at my parents and told them I was going to do that. Of course, my mom said she thought it was a phase, but here we are now.
GM: Winning your first buckle in 1999, who has been your mentor, inspiration and guide?
SO: The 1999 buckle was a barrel racing buckle for the EIRA (Eastern Indian Rodeo Association) rodeos. During that time, I didn't look up to one person really, I was just fascinated. The one person that did take me under her wing was Debbie DeHass. She took me to the Hollywood Horse Club when there was a rodeo arena in Hollywood Florida to ride and practice. She helped start the way and still to this day helps me if I need some advice from outside eyes.
GM: We all know that the right horse can be a key to success. How do you pick a winning horse?
SO: Of course, horse power is a lot to the success. Now picking that horse is a challenge in itself. When I am looking for a horse, I first look at the horse's build or body frame. Looking at this helps me see how big or exactly how athletic the horse can be. There also has to be a connection with me and the horse. This is a little hard to explain because it comes from a feeling that a person gets when looking at the horse and sitting on the horse. If the horse does not connect with me, chances are we won't make a good team, and that is what it’s about, the teamwork of the horse and I.
GM: What horse(s) do you currently stable and who is your go-to horse?
SO: Horses that I currently have in my care are, first off, my old barrel horse who is 24 years old and now is happy in retirement, her name is Miss Kitty. Riggin who is a 12 year old gelding that I team rope off of and I have had him since he was 5 years old. Johnny Cash is my calf horse and he is a 11 year old gelding. Johnny Cash is my main man that goes everywhere. Itty Bitty is an 8 year old mare that I use as a barrel horse that I trained around the barrels but she is also a heel horse and has had calves roped off of, too. I have two young horses that are in training which includes a 3 year old mare named Maddie, who will be a barrel horse and calf horse, then there is Lynard who is a 2 year old stud out of my Miss kitty mare that I have raised. Lynard is too young to know what he is going to excel in, but I have high hopes for him.
GM: What events/championships have you won?
SO: I have been the EIRA Breakaway End of the Year Champion multiple years since 2001. I went to college in 2007 and went to EIRA until 2011 where I haven't been back to compete. I can't say how many championships on hand. I have won the first ever women's all-around championship in the EIRA when they finally separated to all around to be men and women. I was also the National High School Rodeo Association Reserve Breakaway Champion in 2006 which to my knowledge is the highest accomplishment for a Seminole Tribe of Florida member in the High School Rodeo standings. On the Indian rodeo scene, I have finish 3rd in the Indian National Finals Rodeo and also in 2011 I won two go rounds buckles in Las Vegas Nevada.
GM: What is your favorite event to compete in?
SO: My favorite event would be breakaway roping. I excel in this event and I am the happiest when I am roping a calf.
GM: In your opinion, where is the best arena for competing?
SO: That is up for debate. I am not picky when I comes to arenas. Any arena is good for me.
GM: Describe a day in your life...
SO: A day in my life is started by getting my daughter Arabella up and ready for school. Once we are ready I drop her off at school then I hit the gym for an hour. After the gym, I come home and try to get horses saddled and rode to keep them exercised and tuned up on foundation work. Sometimes the day doesn't work out where I get to ride like I would like too. I also work at a barn for a man that owns and breeds barrel horses. After all of that I will pick up Arabella about 4 and head home to saddle her horse and jump on my horse again that we might practice barrels or rope some calves, depending on the day. Then horses get fed and to bed to wake up and do it again the next day.
GM: What advice do you have for beginning riders and those looking to become a successful rodeo rider?
SO: Advice I could give would be to keep working hard as this is an unforgiving sport and it wants to point out your flaws, but that will make you work harder. Also, any pointers from others is helpful even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time, just take what they are telling you and think about how it can help with your style. And never give up.
GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
SO: Horsemanship is a big part to every event. There has to be a foundation between you and your horse. No foundation, no connection. Horsemanship comes down to your hands to your feet, every part of you has to be working together in the right way to get what you want your horse to do. I am still working on my horsemanship because I do not know everything and I am always learning how to improve my skills. It is a never-ending journey with horsemanship.
Gina McKnight is a freelance writer and author from Ohio, USA. gmcknight.com
Friday, September 1, 2017
Riding with Purpose: An interview with horseman Justin Dunn
by Gina McKnight
Archived article from the August 2017 Issue of Florida Equine Athlete
No duplication without permission.
Justin Dunn has been an avid rider since he was a child. He competes in Mustang Makeovers and adopts the Mustangs he trains for use in camps for children with or recovering from Cancer. He owns and operates an outfitting business which includes trail rides and pack trips. As a professional horse trainer/clinician, Justin holds three-day private clinics and has the only three-day Mustang Horsemanship School of its kind at his ranch in Colorado. Justin travels all over the U.S. for public/private clinics and is the trainer/clinician for the popular television show Best of America by Horseback on RFD-TV.
Justin’s specialty is in helping people and horses build their relationship. He helps people improve themselves so that their horse can be better, too. Life improvement for both the individual and the horse. Justin wants to help people understand horses, and horses understand people.
GM: Justin, I like that you ride bit-less, find spurs to be intrusive, and you ride your horses barefoot. Your mission to help people to embrace a relationship with horses is inspiring. You must have an impressive horse history! When was your first encounter with a horse?
JD: Before I was born, my Dad gave me his Shetland pony named Chico. My horse Chico knew me before I knew him. I grew up with him, until he passed away when I was 14 years old. He was 29 years old.
GM: What horses do you stable now? Where is your favorite place to ride?
JD: I have fifteen horses; seven BLM Mustangs, two ponies, one Appaloosa, five Quarter horses. Some are rescue horses. My favorite place to ride is my ranch here in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. My horse and I go to the highest point at 10,750 feet to get "restorative silence"
GM: As a seasoned rider, horse trainer, rider advocate, and all-around horseman, describe the perfect horse…
JD: The perfect horse for me is the Mustang! The Mustangs are "wild" meaning they are uninterrupted by man. The mustang has taught me the most about myself. Asking the mustang to come into the "human element" is very rewarding. I have a calling to serve a higher purpose. That higher purpose is to help people and horses understand themselves, each other and their calling to serve a higher purpose. My passion/mission is helping horses and people. I have programs (Self Discovery through Horses) for children and adults. The perfect horse is a willing partner to help me accomplish our mission!
GM: Your horsemanship program “Adventures of The Enlightened Horseman” is intriguing. Who inspired your horsemanship and helped you along the way?
JD: I try to be the person I needed when I was young. Horses were always in my life and helped me when I needed them. The horse inspired my Horsemanship and the horse helped me along the way. They say experience is the best teacher, I agree. The horse taught me how to evaluate the experiences and learn from them. I focus on self-growth, simply to be better for my horses and to help guide others to be better for their horses.
GM: You train Mustangs, rescue horses, and horses of every discipline. What are your training techniques and how can I bring them to my stable?
JD: I have beliefs, never use pain or fear to force a horse to submit. No bits, whips or spurs. Philosophies, trade places with your horse, treat them as you would want to be treated. Priorities for success, attitude, mindfulness, compassion, kindness. I use a strength based training strategy to create a willing partner in my horses. The best way to bring them to your stable, is to join my training group for members only. Here is the link: justindunnhorsemanship.com/membership
GM: Riding horses is spiritual. Relationships with horses can create a sense of well-being and fulfillment. In a nutshell, what is your deep philosophies, beliefs, and priorities for horsemanship success?
JD: Present what you expect. Ask a horse to be a partner in the relationship. Create an environment the horse can learn in. Seek to learn from the horse as you teach. The best gift we can give our horse, is self-growth toward positive change.
GM: Do you have advice for those looking to purchase their first horse?
JD: At this point in my life, if choosing a horse for myself, I want one that would be considered a challenge; a horse most would say was untrainable, a project or label as bad. I just found such horse, a mustang, and he is currently being trained in my training group. Recently my mustang and best friend named Moonshine passed away. It really devastated me, and I needed a horse to help me continue reaching my full potential. The new mustang named Sunshine is truly a challenge, not so much the training, but the things I'm learning about myself.
My advice to anyone looking to purchase a horse. Have an honest awareness of yourself. Trust in your talents and abilities. If you are new to horses, get an experienced/older horse that can help you learn and grow. If you are experienced, get a horse that needs your guidance, and can help you learn and grow. Be willing to change for the horse. Too many people expect the horse to change for them. Try to have a beginner’s mindset, eager to learn more.
GM: My sincere condolences for the loss of Moonshine. Losing a horse is like losing a family member, sometimes even greater. With the changing horse-related laws and never-ending attempt to keep horses from slaughter, what are your views on the BLM’s Wild Mustang current program?
JD: The BLM is government, lots of rules, protocol, opinions, ideas, dependent on votes and money. I think we as individuals have a responsibility to do what we can within the laws. In saying that, BLM has provided ways for us to help the wild horses. As an example, I have adopted mustangs and they help me in my programs for children and adults. It's a small way to help the Mustangs, but does help if compounded by many people and other programs. I'm not sure the BLM’s current program is the answer to the problems the Mustangs face. We need to change the minds and hearts of the people, educate and spread awareness. In my opinion that seems a better way to find a solution to the problems.
GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
JD: Horsemanship to me is, discovering myself, finding the inner Horseman/person I want to be, with the relationship of a horse. Being a part of something bigger than myself, doing something I'm only able to do because of the horse.
Connect with Justin and view his upcoming event schedule…
Gina McKnight is an author and freelance writer from Ohio USA. gmcknight.com
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Working with Wood:
An interview with Mark Rila
with Gina McKnight
Master craftsman Mark Rila, and his wife, fine artist Kelly Lincoln, live in Marietta, Ohio, just beyond the Ohio River. Their farmhouse is towering, with ten to eleven-foot ceilings, hand-carved amenities, crystal chandeliers, and all the charm of Americana. The farmhouse is part of 11-acres, better known as Fernwood Farm; a magical menagerie of life, including chickens, sheep, horses, a dog, cats, and, most of all, pigs... Lucky, Boris, Natashia, and other ovines who let you pat their tummy, scratch behind their ears, or just let you watch as they waller and snort.
Several weeks ago I had the great pleasure of taking a tour, petting pigs, and talking with Mark about his history as a talented woodworker. As we tour the farmhouse, Mark shows me some of the one-of-a-kind handmade furniture he has created over the years. His woodworking skills can be seen from floor to ceiling, including fancy banisters, doors, furniture, and trim to match the home's original historic woodwork details.
|A Fernwood Farm Bedroom|
MR: Kelly and I have lived in this house for five years. The architecture of the house, which is Federal, dates to 1811, the former of Colonel Joseph Barker. The house was built for Colonel Barker and his family - wife Elizabeth, and their ten children - during America’s Colonial era. Marietta is a very old city, and some of the homes are historically significant. The Federal style of home is very simple. There are linear elements as well as recognizable structural aesthetics. The scroll work on our porch was added later, during the Victorian era. Over the years, the house has been updated. The back of the house was finished in the 1840’s and is different than the front part of the house. When Kelly moved into the house, about twelve years ago, she un-renovated the house to restore it to its original Federal era charm.
GM: A seasoned carpenter, when did you begin working with wood?
MR: When I was seven years old, my dad gave me a pocketknife. He taught me how to whittle. He taught me how to make puzzles out of wood – I could whittle a cage with a ball and chain; the ball was inside the cage. As I grew, I could whittle anything that came to mind. When I was a teenager, I wanted a Model T to drive, so I rebuilt a Model T, which had a wooden frame. I still have the Model T.
I always wanted to create with wood. To get to that end, I became a carpenter. I learned on the job, taking houses apart and putting them back together. A guy that I knew recognized my talent as a carpenter and hired me. I was skillful enough at twenty-years-old that I became a full-time carpenter. Most beginning carpenters start working in an apprentice/gopher capacity. I began as a full-time carpenter building houses.
GM: Building houses has been steady work for you throughout your carpentry career. How did you intertwine your creative woodworking ability with your carpentry skills?
MR: I began woodworking on the side. My boss knew I had a skill for fine woodworking, so he selected me to do trim – the molding around doors and windows, installing doors and windows. That became my specialty from that point on. I made the doors and the trim, then evolved into creating furniture. Once I became self-employed and my customers saw my custom furniture, I was contracted to build specialty items. Chairs are my favorite to build. I like the challenge. I create custom cabinets, but that’s easy to do, they are just a box. Creating a custom chair requires a lot of skill.
GM: Your handiwork with wood is beautiful. Building furniture must be a challenge; manipulating the wood to become your own design, or the customer’s vision. How long does it take to create a custom piece and how do you choose which wood to work with?
|Jewelry Box designed by Ralph Duesing|
GM: What other projects stand out in your career?
MR: While working in Texas with Ralph, I created all the trim and some of the furniture for his custom home. I crafted specific furniture to fit the customer’s design. The home is a Southwest Spanish style ranch. All the elements were built by hand. Gates, doors, trims, ceiling beams, were all crafted by hand. Some elements of the house are solid cedar. The house had handmade custom shutters and three front doors. I made the dining room table from white oak. Pocket doors, bedroom furniture, floors, cabinets, all were custom. It was a lot of work.
Another house we removed all of the shiplap from the walls and ceiling. The homeowner wanted to recycle the wood; I made custom cabinets from the shiplap. They were beautiful. I’ve worked with walnut, oak, chestnut – you name it, I’ve worked with it!
Ralph, the architect, asked me to make him a wine box he had designed. He gave me the design and I went with it. When other people saw the wine boxes, they wanted one. Each wine box is an intricate design of small pieces of wood based upon Ralph's design. It takes two weeks of constant work to construct one wine box. It’s more of an art object influenced by historic architecture, patterned after Italian design.
I’m not a designer. Besides Ralph’s architectural designs, my wife, Kelly, helps me with design, too. I have made custom design settees, tables, chairs, dressers, bedroom suites, cabinets, house shutters, doors, garden trellis’ and much more, all from a client’s design, using many different types of wood. If you can dream it, I can make it.
For additional information, connect with Mark…
Mark Rila Woodworking
Custom Furniture and Woodworking
1903 Masonic Park
Marietta, Ohio 45750
Saturday, August 12, 2017
Photo credit: Pixabay
Stripped of Their Childhood Innocence: How Two Recovering Addicts Moved On from a Dark Past
Children are small and innocent. Their biggest life choices are whether they want chocolate or strawberry ice cream, cheese or pepperoni pizza. Unfortunately, some children aren’t that lucky. They deal with childhood traumas that set the course for their adult lives. We spoke with two recovering addicts about how their sexual molestation led them to seek solace in the arms of drugs, and how they broke free from that embrace and found help.
Some of us were fortunate enough to grow up with loving and supportive parents. Harold’s were the opposite, and the one person he thought he could turn to for help violated him in the most unimaginable way.
“I grew up in a home with domestic violence: I was verbally and physically abused. I was sexually molested when I was 8 to 10 by our family’s priest,” Harold said, adding, “At the time, I couldn’t process it. I started drinking at a very early age, probably my early teens. It helped me to bury the pain.”
Harold felt like the odd man out. He was bullied in high school for being different. Harold was gay, but felt like he had to hide from the world.
“I was bullied and tried to be someone I wasn’t — I dated women, drank heavily, smoked pot and took ecstasy,” Harold said.
To deal with the pain, Harold turned to harder drugs such as meth and cocaine. Thinking a move would fix his problems, Harold crossed state lines but found himself homeless and selling his body for drugs — until he was diagnosed with HIV and paranoia. It was at this point Harold sought help.
“I realized that when I was younger, I hadn’t processed the trauma and pain that I had experienced. Instead of processing it, I had numbed it with the drugs and drinking,” Harold said. “It took time to work through it, but it was so important for me to do that in the process of my recovery.”
Overcoming his past and his addiction was hard, but Harold has some helpful advice for anyone who may be walking a similar path to his.
“I’d tell them to hang in there. You’re about to go through one of the hardest times of your life. It is going to be painful, it is going to hurt, but it’s going to be worth it,” Harold said.
Like Harold, someone Angie should have been able to depend on to protect her robbed her of her innocence.
“I had a major trauma in my life when I was 11 years old: I was raped by my step-father. After it happened, I told my mother, and she made me promise not to tell a soul,” Angie said.
Like every child, Angie grew up. She married and had two daughters, both of whom tested her patience. With everything going on, she began having flashbacks to her trauma, and nightmares kept her awake at night. She found rest with a prescription from her doctor — or so she thought.
“I would take my Ambien and go to sleep and I didn’t have to think, I didn’t have to remember, I didn’t have to feel, and I didn’t have to worry. When I took the pills, I didn’t have to be a mom or a wife. I would just go to sleep,” Angie said.
Eventually, Angie began taking pills morning and night. Despite pleadings from her husband to go get help, Angie continued, convinced that she wasn’t addicted. One morning, she had a wake up call.
“Finally, I woke up one morning — it was a Wednesday — and I only had two more pills left. I started having anxiety about not having enough. When I wasn’t taking the pills, everything would come rushing back to me,” Angie said.
Angie called her husband and told him she was ready to go to rehab. She found the help she needed at the Treehouse in Texas, and faced her past head on.
“I learned I was a very brave person. I dealt with my trauma the best way I could deal with it, and I asked for help. I denied help for so long, but in asking for help, I was brave,” Angie said.
Angie says that the key to moving forward after any sort of betrayal is forgiveness.
“You don’t have to forgive the person that did it to you. But you can forgive yourself. And you need to let someone in to help you with it, because you can’t do it all on your own. And that’s OK,” Angie said.
For Harold and Angie, addiction wasn’t a choice. They became addicted in an effort to block out the pain. The truth is, there are other positive, healthy methods to deal with past trauma. With help, you can break free from the negative embrace, and find yourself a better person for it.
Constance Ray started Recoverywell.org with the goal of creating a safe place for people to share how addiction has affected them, whether they are combating it themselves or watching someone they care about work to overcome it.