Amanda & Athena | Where have I been?

Hey y’all!

Lots have happened over the past few months. I stopped blogging and posting like I usually did and lately a bunch of #TeamAthenianLady followers have been reaching out wondering what is going on. Since I have always tried to be super honest about everything I am going to explain where I have been.

I am sure we have all heard we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Basically we are influenced by those we are closest to, such as our way of thinking, our self esteem, even our decisions. The theory goes on to say the more successful you become the more criticism you will face.

About a year ago Athena started gaining popularity online and at horse shows. We started consistently doing well and Athena was beginning to get lots of attention. It was wonderful because we gained so many dedicated followers, supporters, and amazing people who have become wonderful friends. Unfortunately, we also started receiving a lot of negativity and drama, some from people we considered close and we trusted. I didn’t realize it at the time but it was draining me to the core. The more I tried to rely on these “friends”, the worse it became. It became a very toxic situation. My self esteem dropped, I was not happy, and I was stressed from all the drama to the point it was making me sick. I was afraid of being open because I was already receiving so much criticism and negativity. I just didn’t need any more of it.

So I withdrew.

My husband and close friends started seeing how much it was affecting me and warned me that these people weren’t good for me and I needed to move on. But I loved them, I trusted them, and defended them. A big event this year happened and I realized that some changes needed to be made. Our happiness and future depended on it. I realized how toxic it became and no matter how much I tried to make it work, it just wasn’t healthy anymore. I became sick and anxious from the stress and drama and Athena picked up on that and stopped eating and was stressed too. I realized how much all the negativity had been affecting her too and that is when I decided enough was enough and I was done.

So I changed my inner circle and cut a few people out of my life.

It was really hard, especially when even more drama occurred when I tried to leave. I took the month of July to cry, be broken hearted, and let myself feel everything that had been bottled up for a year. I stepped back from a lot of things. I did a lot of thinking and self reflection. I am going to be honest, it was one of the most challenging things I did, especially not engaging those people when they said and did horrible things. But it was one of the most liberating and life-changing decisions I ever made.
I realized in this time of self reflection that I have value and I deserve to be happy. I realized that all the little comments chipped away at my self esteem until I was left with nothing. I wasn’t going to allow that to happen again. I realized I became a little desperate, particularly trying so hard to make things work and get this person to love me. I am done chasing others down, bending over backwards for people who wouldn’t do the same. I lost my spine and my bravery submitting to others, apologizing and rolling over for fear of conflict. I am going to stand up for myself now and only apologize when I need to. I thought about all the red flags I had and how next time I was going to listen, especially when so many people tell me something is wrong. I realized my true friends love me for who I am, all of my great and imperfect characteristics. I am not going to hide who I am, my values, my passion, or my openness ever again.

Most of all? I realized how much I let what others think or say about me control my life, and I was done with that! I am no longer afraid what the world will think of me, my story, or my horse. I am happy with myself and my life, and at the end of the day that is all that matters. I don’t need to listen to others. After all, it seemed like the world screamed at me that I couldn’t make a particular rescue into a show horse, and I defeated the odds and did it anyway. Sometimes people are wrong. Why listen to them?

I knew that nothing but time would heal those wounds and I gave myself that. I evaluated what made me happy, who were my true friends, and what kind of life I wanted to have. With everyday that passed, I felt myself become a little bit stronger and letting go of what happened more and more. Those people can no longer affect me or my horse. I am free! I am free to do what I want, make the decisions that I feel are best, and be exactly who I want without being embarrassed, offending someone or owe anyone an explanation. As the weeks went on I found myself truly happy again. I felt lighter, brighter, and freer. I noticed Athena did too.

For a long time I felt like I have been shouting our story to the wind. I felt like no one really cared, that it didn’t make a difference. Meeting some of our biggest fans at Worlds, and having so many reach out during this absence made me realize how much it meant to so many and how much our story still needed to be shared. It was touching and warmed my heart so much. I am not afraid to share my story, my WHOLE story, all the ugly and beautiful parts. I am not afraid of the “haters”. I am not afraid what people will say or will think. I don’t care if people like it or not. It is real, it is positive, and it is full of love and hope. I think we need a little more of that in the world.

So I am here to stay. I am back, a lot stronger, a little smarter, and a whole lot happier and confident. Although this has been a very difficult year, I am grateful for all the challenges. Sometimes we need to be torn apart a little so we can grow so much bigger and better than before. Sometimes what may seem like a loss turns out to be one of the biggest blessings of your life. And sometimes, no matter how much we may love someone, it is better to part ways and be happy than to have them in your life and be miserable.

Stay tuned and I will be posting all the good and gory details of the past year, including our trip to the 2018 Pinto World show!

Read more about our journey together by CLICKING HERE! You can read how I found her, how we overcame an injury that most said she wouldn’t recover from, and how she went from an aggressive and scared rescue to a stunning and loving friend and show horse!

Want to follow our journey? CLICK HERE so you never miss a post and are the first to receive updates!

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The Blog here at Southern Horse Photography covers amazing topics that are horse related such as my adventures with my rescue horse Athena, my latest and greatest sessions, and horse tips. and hacks that I can't live without! Make sure you subscribe to stay up to date and get emails on the newest posts!


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