I did a pretty neat thing recently, and I brought TWLOHA along for the ride.
Since I was a preteen, I’ve struggled with mental health issues, brought on and compounded by long term abuse, neglect, and trauma. The past few years, in particular, have been exceptionally difficult, fraught with severe depression and debilitating anxiety. I have spent an excessive amount of time peeling away layers of who I thought I was, trying to find the actual person underneath defense shields, trauma responses, and maladaptive coping mechanisms. It has been exhausting and terrifying to realize that the core of who I am has been built on and by trauma, leaving me with very little left to rebuild from.
Fortunately, my biggest passion has been left intact throughout this process. Since the age of two, I’ve been horse obsessed. I began riding when I was seven. I bought (and, sadly, had to put down) my first horse, all on my own, at 19. I am now 28 and own my literal dream horse, a 12-year-old Paso Fino gelding, who I call Sirius. Horses have carried me through some of the hardest parts of my life, both literally and figuratively, and I absolutely would not have made it this far without their velvet noses to kiss and strong shoulders to lean on.
When I got Sirius, I checked off the biggest and longest held item on my bucket list: own a Paso Fino.
Number two on the list? Gallop my own horse on the beach.
Well, I got lucky a couple weekends ago when a whole array of things came together for me to do just that. The day of, I awoke and found myself dressing very purposely, knowing I would want to remember every detail, down to my clothes. I rifled through my shirts, trying to find something that simultaneously matched Sirius’ tack and would be representative of the day. I was just about to settle for a sweatshirt when I flipped over my TWLOHA Blue shirt, the vibrant aqua logo staring me in the face.
Here’s the thing: Sirius’ tack is aqua blue and black and the quote on the shirt—“We Get to Carry Each Other”—resonated immensely with what we were preparing to do. Physically, my horse was about to carry us both down the shoreline, and throughout the experience, we were going to support one another emotionally. Not to mention, I was going to be doing this alongside cherished and dear friends who have oftentimes lifted me up on their shoulders when I felt I couldn’t go on any longer.
I don’t think I could have picked a better shirt.
The day was perfect. I cried after I brought him back down to a walk following that first gallop down the shore. There were moments I didn’t think I’d survive long enough to have the chance to check this dream off the list, and here I was, windburned and breathless from speeding down the New Hampshire coast. I was hit with an overwhelming sense of gratitude—for my horse, for my favorite humans eager to greet us as we rode back towards the group, for the very fact that I was alive at all. As I looked down, pretending to adjust my reins so I could hide the fact that I was crying, I caught sight of the logo on my shirt and felt another wave of gratitude wash over me. I was grateful for To Write Love on Her Arms and all that it has brought into my life as well.
I’m here today for a lot of reasons, but TWLOHA is certainly one of them. The message that TWLOHA has spread since the beginning—that hope is real and that love is our everything—has been a driving force in my life. And I am beyond glad I was able to hold that message in my heart while I experienced a long-held dream that I feared would never come to fruition, become reality.
Our TWLOHA Blue members are such a force of good. People like Amanda, who give a monthly donation to support our efforts, are one of the main reasons we’re able to bring the message of hope and help with us out on the road as we travel to new spaces and places. It’s their generosity and commitment to this work that allows us to encourage those struggling to stay and find the healing they deserve.
The members that make up the TWLOHA Blue community also act as a reminder to each other that they are not alone. As of now, there are over 500 individuals who have come together to not only support us but to cheer on and inspire one another to experience the days and dreams they weren’t certain they would live to see.
TWLOHA Blue is much more than a monthly donor program, it’s a community that cares deeply about making hope go further in the lives of each other and those who need it.
We invite you to join TWLOHA Blue today.
Sarah Faith Thoren
Thank you for sharing this personal story.
How brave and committed. You’ve got great goals. I love the shirt too! I believe in that quote. We should help carry each other through the trenches and to the light.
Horses sustained me for the better part of my life. I began riding pretty much as soon as I could walk. I wouldn’t be where today if it wasn’t for horses. Owning them, riding them, cleaning up after them and grooming them brought me a peace nothing else in this world has ever given me.
Aside my kids, hearing those morning whinnies was the best motivation to keep going. They were therapy. Ever ride made me feel so in touch with who I was, my horse and nature.
It’s been several years now since I put down my last 2 horses, one of which was my first horse I received for my 17th birthday. She was with me just over 20 years.
I come from abuse and having horses gave me an escape. When I still lived at home and things would get bad, I would sleep in my mare’s stall. It was the best place I could think of. I didn’t have to explain myself and often, she would stand over me and sometimes snuffle my hair with her velvety nose.
I haven’t had my horses since 2015 and it has dramatically affected my life and my wellbeing. Its like losing an appendage. Without my horses, an entire part of my life is gone. Nothing has filled that void. I know one day I will own horses again and get to feel that freedom, that peace and the feeling of flyings as we gallop.
Thank you for sharing this. Your words are so heartfelt and honest, and we are grateful to bear witness to this piece of your story. We can’t wait for horses and the joy and support they bring into your life to become a part of your journey once again.