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April 11, 2023

Escaping Narcissism and Finding Her Voice: "It's Me or the Horse" | Wiley Davis

TRIGGER WARNING: This ep contains talk of childhood and adult abuse.

In her recent book, Wiley Davis shares her powerful journey of self-discovery. Growing up as a secret atheist in a Presbyterian household, she found solace in horse riding with her friends as she navigated life. But it was leaving an abusive marriage that truly tested her strength.

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TRIGGER WARNING: This ep contains talk of childhood and adult abuse.

In her recent book, Wiley Davis shares her powerful journey of self-discovery. Growing up as a secret atheist in a Presbyterian household, she found solace in horse riding with her friends as she navigated life. But it was leaving an abusive marriage that truly tested her strength.

"I started sort of standing up to my ex-husband like, well I'm not gonna do this, and I call it like burning the white flag. The white flag is like 'I surrender' whatever it is that you want, like no, I'm gonna light that, I'm gonna douse it in gasoline and I'm gonna light it on fire because I will not surrender. I've got too much life left in me. I've got too much fight left in me."


00:10:55 Exploring the Impact of Childhood Trauma on Adult Decisions

00:17:55 The Last Straw: Examining the Impact of Sacrificing One's Soul for A Marriage


Wiley's story is a testament to the power of standing up for oneself and making decisions that are true to who you are, even in the face of adversity.

Raised in North Carolina, Wiley Davis learned how to navigate life as a secret atheist daughter of a minister. She found refuge with horses and her girlfriends at an old cow farm turned horse property. She moved to Los Angeles and worked in the entertainment industry before finding the love of her life - a sick yellow puppy named Hank.

Hank changed the course of her career path, inspiring Wiley to leave the sexiness of Hollywood and move into the veterinary field to compassionately care for disabled animals.


Her debut book, "It's Me or the Horse," is a fictionalized story inspired by true events which took place over the course of her lifetime throughout North Carolina, Santa Monica, and Central Florida, where she currently lives.


Wiley considers herself a student of self-improvement, female empowerment, and healing. She incorporates her learnings into her writing.


http://www.booksbywd.com - use code LIFESHIFT for 20% off the eBook

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/itsmeorthehorse

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/booksywileydavis

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BNP43SKX


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Special thank you to The Trailer Park Podcast. The intro for this episode was recorded on the Focusrite Vocaster Two Studio that I won through a giveaway from The Trailer Park Podcast - https://trailerparkpodcast.crd.co/


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Hello, my friends Welcome to the life shift podcast. I am here with my new connection, Wiley, Hey Wiley. Hello. And so I'm interested today to talk to you because you know, as most of the guests understand, I just have a short form that I asked the guests to fill out and and I don't want to ask too much because I really want to uncover things and when we first connected, I learned that you had a book coming out soon which is out now as we talk and you mentioned, hey, I can send you the book and you can kind of learn all about it. And I was like, no, don't send it to me yet. 

I wanna, I wanna talk to you first with no preconceived ideas and have this conversation. So I really appreciate you being willing to just come on the show and talk about it. Yeah, thank you for having me. Um you know, this is really exciting and um I've loved your podcast and um the roads that you go down and the questions and, and um honest conversations that you have. So I'm excited to be here. Well thank you and no pressure now come up with the best questions to talk about. 

You know, I think we were talking before we recorded or before we press record about how these conversations kind of unfold in their own way and you know, we have an idea of the direction that we might go, but who knows, you know what questions might come up and I think that's my favorite part about the show is is really two people sitting down and actively listening to each other and asking those curious questions without feeling like I need to pad this with something. So I'm really interested to see where we end up going, but you know, to start us off, I think it might be interesting to have you kind of paint the picture of like what your life was, like, what this, you know, I mean, you don't have to tell us from the day you were born to to that point, but kind of give us an idea of kind of life before what we think your major life shift is. Um, yes, so I grew up in north Carolina. 

Um, my dad was a presbyterian minister and um, growing up as a secret atheists in the presbyterian house was no easy feat. Um, I sort of perfected um, having the real me and then the version of me that, um, you know, my, my parents wanted to see and people at church wanted to see. Um, and I found the real me with a group of girlfriends at an old cow farm, turned into a horse property, um where we all took riding lessons and you know, we were 13 years old and we had zero supervision and we would take the bus there after school and um, you know, forget homework, like there's stalls that need to be cleaned and um, we had many, many adventures. Um, so from there, I rode horses my entire life really just found a community. Um Super, got into photography. Um I had a dark room in my, in my garage and um then I went to college. I refused to take the S. A. T. S because I didn't feel like they were a fair standard of measuring people's um you know, success down the road and if you have to pay to learn how to take a test, like is this really a fair measurement? Right? So well when you, when you don't do what society tells you to do, you end up with very limited options sometimes. Um So I got into like four schools and one of them was a very small christian college in south Carolina where I also didn't fit in. Um And from there I was like, you know what? 

This is not me, this is not who I am, this is not what I want to do. Um I was teaching horseback riding lessons at an all girls summer camp and I was telling all of these little girls like you can go and do and be anything that you want to be and you know, seeing them just thrive and have good girlfriends and you know, make these lifelong friendships. I was like, I can tell these girls this why can't I live it. Um so I got accepted to the film school of my choice and um two weeks before I was supposed to go back for my sophomore year, I, my junior year, I told my family, like, I'm going to Los Angeles, I'm going to film school, I'm gonna work in the film industry. And um, I lived in L. A. for 15 years before moving to Florida, wow. You know what? I can't continue this conversation without going back to the secret atheist comment because I think there's a lot of people that could completely relate to growing up in a very religious household and not really ascribing to or not at all. 

If you're saying an atheist, not really believing in anything that your family, quote unquote stood for. Was there something that drew you to to not being performed? I guess you were performative because your family wanted you to be a certain way. But was do you remember anything of like, why you became an atheist? 

Um, I remember the moment specifically. Um, we had a family dog and she was a Brittany spaniel and her name was Penny and I was six or seven years old and I was talking about Penny going to heaven and then I couldn't wait, you know, to know that she would always be in heaven. And my mom said, yeah, no dogs don't go to heaven. And I was like, okay, I can't believe in this. Like, if you're gonna tell me that the dog doesn't go to heaven. Like that is something I will not to subscribe to. And it was from that moment where I was like, slowly chipping away at the notes, Notes, notes, that's not for me. 

Um, and then the other thing is, you know, I think being in a fish bowl and having everyone look at us and living in this class house, um, the person who my dad was at home was a very different person than who he was at the pulpit. Um, and so as I got older and more rebellious and you know, became my authentic self, I was able to then learn how to stand up to him. Um, and um, you know, that's a little bit how I took my power back. How old were you when your dog, when you were told your dog wasn't going to heaven like six or 7? 

It's fascinating to me that you were able to start deconstructing something that, that early on in your life and go, wait, wait a second. Doesn't this apply to everyone and everything here? And or is it just what we choose to, to absorb or to believe in? And I guess the dichotomy of what your home life was compared to what the performative version of your family, you know, to the congregation. That's a whole other world, not to go down to some other rabbit hole, but it's very interesting to me? 

Well, definitely, and you know, I was very fortunate in that I found people throughout my life that would help me sort of nurture that side of myself. So there were there were a handful of people that were like, yeah, you don't have to do this. Like you can you can be safe here and we can help you, you know, figure out what you believe. And so, you know, my best friend growing up abby her whole family, they are some of the smartest people I've ever known in my entire life and having them just be able to say, you know, read this book or, you know, take a look at this or let's watch this movie and just allowing me the space to kind of put those pieces together for myself. Um you know, that having someone that gives you the freedom to be able to say, I don't have to do this thing that everyone else expects me to do. Like, I think all it takes is one person that just loves you unconditionally and can give you that elasticity and resilience. Yeah. And you know, I think a lot of us have grown up in the sense that we feel like we have to do what, you know, our family wants us to do or what society quote unquote tells us that we need to do. And so it's interesting knowing that and knowing like the situation that you lived in, you know, with the public facing minister perfect church family if you will, and like kind of living this secret. 

I don't believe in anything. They're saying life makes sense. When you say you didn't want to take the S. A. T and it makes sense that you didn't want you know that you wanted to go to film school and not to this small christian college, all of that kind of like it seems like that one decision at six years old to go wait, is this are they just telling me this or is it is it real? You know that questioning, do you find not to jump way ahead? But do you find other pieces in your life where you kind of went against what other people were telling you to do? Um Yes, We don't have to. 

I mean, I'm just curious because I think, you know, if we find that one thing way down deep seated, I mean maybe it wasn't so deep seated for you, but like in our childhood and then we got like pinpoint things and the reason I asked this and we'll get back into your story in a second. But when I was, you know, it took me after my mom died, it took me like 20 years to really like find the way to close the door on my grief journey. And I and I do think that the trigger moment for me in that journey was when my like fifth therapist, you know, you've got to find the right one, but my fifth one, she was like, you realize that everything that you've done since your mom died, you've done with the mind of the kid who lost his mom. Like at that point in time you were, you were making decisions because you were scared. You were making decisions because you didn't want this to happen, that to happen, whatever it might be. And so part of me thinks okay at six years old, she got this little inkling of like wait a second and then that like seeds all the other things that where you were like, no way, I'm not doing what you tell me to do, I'm doing what I wanna do. I love it. Um, yes. And that, okay. So um, the moment that my marriage fell apart was when, so we lived in Los Angeles, my ex husband was a producer editor, writer and um, I gave up a lot to have this life in Los Angeles like you're living paycheck to paycheck. 

I had a very modest um salary working in content marketing. Like we struggled and um, I got a job working in technology that you know doubled my salary and we went out to celebrate and my husband said to me, I do not want you to ride horses. So I wanted to get this job so that I could go ride horses. Like that was the whole plan. 

I'd worked for six months for this. And so we sit down at the celebration dinner and he says, I want you to stop riding horses so that I don't have to work and I can stay at home and write my screenplay and in that moment it was hey, you've married the wrong girl, like I am never going to give up my dream so that you don't have to work for yours. But it was also this moment of like okay Wiley Davis, who are you? Who are you going to be the person that gives up yourself and your dreams and a part of who you are for this idea of a marriage. And it was at that moment where I started to see all of the other things start to crumble that were just these plastic pillars holding up the marriage and then started the unraveling of my marriage. Um I moved to Los Angeles. Um it took me just as long to get divorced as we were married. Um it was a really horrific experience and then I started trying to date again and um I went on this really awful date that was so much traumatic for me, I had to stop and go, okay, wait a minute, I have to address why I picked my ex husband in the first place before I can move forward trying to date anyone else. Like if I don't heal these things now then I will continue to make the same mistakes over and over and over and over again. So it was through therapy and you're exactly right. It is finding the right therapist, someone that you can trust, someone that is talented and skilled, someone who has tools and expertise. Um I've been in therapy my entire life off and on, right? But this was the first time where I was like, okay, we're gonna do this, like we're gonna dive into this, we're gonna unpack it. And the three questions that I wanted to walk out of therapy having asked, and this was really about myself, how do we unpack it, right? Like how does the six year old Wiley Davis, um how does that six year old turn around and become like a fully functioning healed human being? So the three questions were why did I pick him? Why did I stay? And what was I getting out of the marriage and then why did I pick him came from the abuse that I had from both my parents. Um my mom had a temper and she didn't beat us often, but it did happen and we were always very, you know, whenever her voice would raise, we would just get in this place of like, okay, is it gonna happen now? Like is she gonna unload? 

Is she gonna see red as she, you know, so just navigating this place of heightened fear and then the narcissism that my dad had, so here's this person who is so charismatic and he can fill up a room and tell great stories and everyone loves him. And so those two things you put them together, that was my husband, that was who I married. Um so that was, that was why I picked him. I chose him because I knew how to survive it. Um I stayed because until that moment where he said it's me or the horse, I was willing to give up everything. 

That was something that was too much. That was my breaking point. That was when I said, I am not willing to give up myself and what I have worked for so that you don't have to work for your dreams, right? 

I'm wondering why you were willing to give up everything and then the horses, you know, I know was that because the horses in your teen years was your outlet. It was like with your friends, it was that piece that kind of created you because you couldn't be you at home and so you were able to be you with those horses and like there's more of that like soul connection then. It's not really about riding horses, but rather the fact that like that was the defining moment or am I way off? No, That's 100% it not only was it. So when I was 13 years old I had this Arabian pony and I leased her from one of the borders at the barn and my my best friend abby lived down the street from the barn and we would sneak out of the house in the middle of the night, like spend the night parties. 

There's 10 of us and we would jump out of her window on the front, on the first floor, walk across the street, go into the paddock and I could jump on that pony, no halter, no bridle, no nothing and just ride. We could can tear up the trails. She knew exactly what I was thinking. 

I still have dreams where she comes to me in those dreams and you know, it's like she's just visiting me, she is a part of who I am. And so this idea of like, I can't afford to do this on my own and I'm gonna work really hard to get to a place where I can start doing it again and then to have that moment where he's like, no, no, no, don't don't do that thing that you've worked so hard for for you, let that go and do it for me and essentially get rid of that piece of your soul because you know your description of this pony as a child. It was not, it was more it was that that was your family. Like that was your connect your deep soul connection to something. And yes, it's a horse, but it sounds like that was, you know, that was the last straw because it was like, no, no, just sell your soul at this point like for this marriage and and and stay and do what I need, not what you know, like who cares how you're feeling on the inside. So interesting. But it was also those friendships, right? So each one of us had that relationship with our reports. So it was just this really safe sort of family community. And I am still really good friends with those girls today and we can finish each other's sentences about the horses that came and went from our part. What was that final question from your therapist? Um, what was I getting out of the marriage? Yeah. What were you getting out of it? 

Okay, brace yourself, trigger warning. Um, so throughout some of the work that I've done in my life, I came to realize that I was sexually abused as a child and that I have strong reasons to believe that it was my father. Um, I don't have proof. There's, you know, nothing that I can take to a court and say, you know, this thing happened to me. 

Um, but my body knows it. My brain knows it. My heart knows it. 

Um, and because of that experience, I equated sex with love. So if I have sex with you, then I'm getting this emotional filling up of like my love cup. But it took me, it took it took me saying no to I'm not going to give up the horse to the year and a half of my entire marriage unraveling and his temper and his rage and his narcissism and his lies and all of those things during that time, we stopped having sex because, you know, you're living with someone that you feel nothing towards at this point. And so it wasn't until it actually wasn't until I wrote the book that I was able to answer that question and really equate the sex equals love and put the piece together that the second that we stopped having sex, I was not getting anything from the marriage. And that made it so much easier at the final straw to just be able to walk away and move on first. 

You know, I'm sorry for your experiences as a child. It's no one should have to go through that. It's interesting to me that where you said that it's equals love because I mean, we should really probably put quotes around love in that sense, right? And that it was in your relationship with your ex husband. It was filling a familiar what you were told or what was performed as love, right? In the sense of like, my parents love me, my dad loves me. 

This is what this is what I know of love. And so you were trying to replicate that, but I think it's also important to I mean, you know, this that's that wasn't love. Uh you know, it was just that familiar blanket. 

I talked to a lot of people about the sense of if you've ever been depressed, it's very easy to seek out those depressive moments or the things that comfort you in the sense of like I know this, this is familiar and I can stay here. It's a lot harder to to go against that. And so I that's my perception and, and I, and I hope that it wasn't really love in that sense. 

It's like your whole life is a marathon and you're running and you're so hungry. And the thing that you get to eat at the end is cotton candy, which is just like non substantial air saccharine sweet, not filling, but it's just this giant, You know, if you were hungry and it was like a actual meal, you wouldn't be able to eat it all right. But it's just this air that's not even reel. 

It's yeah, because you, you were saying you chose your husband for the same reasons that you stayed with your husband husband essentially. And it's because that family life that was sold to you as a child, whether good, bad or indifferent, was what you knew how to exist in. And as a child, it sounds like, and I don't know you very well. Um, but you've shared a lot, uh, as a child, it sounds like you performed at home this version of you and then when you were with your horses and your best friends, that was the real you, but you gravitated towards what was familiar, You knew that you could do the things that you wanted to do in your in your grown up life and then pretend at home that this all makes sense? 100% and there were so many times that I stopped and I looked back, you know, and and and any kind of relationship, particularly when it falls apart, we have to take responsibility, right? 

We have to go back and say, well what did I contribute to this and what I contributed to it was that I lost myself and I lost my voice. So all of these times, all of these little red flags that would come up, I would just go, okay, is it really that bad? Do I really have to bring this up? Do I really have to, you know, deal with this, like, and it was again it was familiar, like all of the embellishments, like that's how my dad, you know, lived our lives, right? Um the one other thing that I did wanna sort of circle back on with my dad, that kind of heightens just level of like how awful sometimes people can be. Um for me, it was not just, you know, my dad sort of taking advantage of the situation and you know, having this little girl, it was the added layer of, well, jesus would give up his body for other people and what would jesus do and you know, just this like level of it's it's manipulation, but it's also like fear, right? Because if you if you disappoint jesus, then you're gonna go to hell and if you, you know, and, and, and also all of these lies that you grew up with as a preacher's kid, which is like, I have to be perfect, I can ruin my father's ministry if I do something wrong, or if I say something wrong or if I, you know, talk about something that I'm not supposed to um if I don't have, yeah, if I don't have all the answers, you know, I'm the preacher's kid were at bible study, somebody's gonna ask me something, hey, I don't care about it because I'm not christian anyways, and you know, here's this preacher's kid who isn't gonna have the answers. Like all of that was compounded, you were an actor, you were acting your whole life, you were out of fear. So it's, there's like so many pieces that are like swirling through my mind of of, you know, I'm not a religious person, I've never, I never have been, I I think I'm more and maybe I'm not, I think I'm more logical in a sense, in which I question a lot, like if I can't see it or or prove it, it's a lot harder for me to kind of buy into and you know, as I think like your dad controlling that situation through fear through the manipulation of a book, you know, of a faith of something like that, and also showing that like, look, everyone sees us as this, We must be this way. 

If you don't you can blow up the entire family, you can ruin everything that we have. And so like as a kid, you're taking this on like holy sh it like this is not my burden to bear, you know? And then and then kind of traveling into like that marriage, the little red flags, if I address this little red flag, is that gonna blow up the glass house right? Like was there a performative aspect to your marriage that you look back on now and you're like, oh yeah, we were totally faking this 100% yes. Um and until I, until I stopped doing that, um you know, I feel like another sort of turning point, you know, we talked about like the life shift and what you know, really just are those points where we stop, We stopped doing those things, right? 

The 2016 election was that for me. Um so I have understood that there was a phenomena that people who have had some kind of abuse in their lifetime basically relived that on election night. So, um you know, there's this feeling of like no one believes me and you know, here's this person that's in power and thinks, you know, everyone now thinks that it's okay because he didn't and he's the president. So you relive that, right? And after the election, I was like, I am not living my life like this, I will not continue to do this and it was the election where I was like okay I'm gonna get a better job, I'm gonna start doing these things and I started living differently and those different like moments I started sort of standing up to my ex husband about like well I'm not gonna do this like and and I call it like burning the white flag, just the white flag is like I surrender whatever it is that you want, like no, I'm gonna light that I'm gonna doused in gasoline and I'm gonna light it on fire because I will not surrender. 

I've got too much life left in me, I've got too much fight left in me. So the election um I'm wondering is it because you saw millions of people backing someone that reminded you of other people in your life and that experience of living in a christian household and not believing any of that stuff and kind of seeing you know followers of a whatever religion really seeing it in that way and kind of like mirroring that and then you're like wait a second, I've done this my whole life and now I don't want to do it anymore. And so that was like your turning point of like I'm not following a crowd of people that believe something that is to be untrue yes. Um and then kind of circling back onto like your original question of like did we, were we performative um yes, my ex husband would do all of these different events and screening and you know, celebrity, this and celebrity that and it was like you were to be the quiet arm candy and when I started riding the horse, I started finding my voice and then I stopped being quiet and then the whole foundation shattered. Did you find that in that performative sense? Where was your couple hood publicly different than your home life? Like did you did did did he was he like your dad? Was he different in in public than he was at home? Yes. Uh my best friend Courtney, there was a time, so he had, he never hit me, my ex husband never hit me, but he had a temper and would throw things and would stomp things and would slam doors that would echo through, you know, streets like scream, pound his fist on things. So I lived in this world of like, okay, when are you going to, when is that going to be directed at me? Because that's what I lived with as a child. And there were, there was a time towards the very end of the marriage where I he came home, I was financially supporting us. So he stopped working, I was financially supporting us and um I was still riding, I said, look, you still have to contribute to the household. 

I don't care what it is that you do. I'm not giving up the horses, the horse in the riding lessons so that you don't have to work, like you still have to do this, but I was covering more and more, I was buying all of our groceries, giving me gas card, all that stuff. Um So there was a night that he came in and we were taking turns sleeping on the couch and I was asleep on the sofa and he came in, slammed the door. It was two or three o'clock in the morning. He was so drunk and he was like, I lost $1000 on a pool game and I'm just sitting here like my dogs are sitting on top of me, we are all shaking and I'm going like, okay, it's two o'clock in the morning, is this bad enough for me to leave? Do I leave right now? Do I leave forever? Because I'm not ready to give up on the marriage. He still hasn't hit me like, what do I do? And I relate that to my, my best friend Courtney, who I lived with after I left my husband and she was like, I had no idea that this was going on, I had no idea the level of fear that you were living with, like, like chad would say mean things in public and he would like, you know, kind of not manhandle me, but he would, you know, he would, he was very narcissistic, right? Like if I defied him with something then you know I paid for it later um if I was late to pick him up then you know he would be in a bad mood all weekend um you know that sort of thing, so she saw like bits and pieces of that, but there was never this like I, I didn't realize how vengeful and how much in fear you lived was there was there a time where you, I don't know were you ever a fixer? Did you feel like that was your job to fix him? 

Oh my God because you couldn't fix your parents, you know like I feel like sometimes we were like we couldn't do that but maybe we can do it this time um I had a boyfriend who was a secret meth addict um he was a dog walker and he got arrested and I thought I had to fix him from you know that like it was my job to save him and you know like him going in and out of jail and you know being on meth and then being off meth and you know like me taking care of his dogs and you know paying his rent like all of these things that I should not have done was not my responsibility to do, but I felt like I had to do um and the thing about Austin was he would stalk me, so there was a night where uh my dog had diarrhea in the middle of the night and like I wear glasses um like I am almost blind without my glasses and I couldn't find them and the dog had diarrhea and so I go outside and he gets out of his truck across the street from me, I hadn't seen or heard from him in months and he starts coming up to me and I just, he gets close enough where I can actually see him and I'm just like, oh my god, like like what are you doing outside my apartment, watching my apart like this is bizarre. And then um you know having to call the police and the you know crime copter going above and like him banging on my window and refusing to leave, like, like that was the one where I was like, okay, I have to fix him until I got to the point where I was like, I can't fix you, it's not my job to fix you. Like you're gonna this is your journey and I have to move on with my life. Um But the interesting thing is after I left my ex husband, the dog walker showed up back in my life. So here I am having two men that I am terrified of following me around. 

It's it's it's it's interesting and I'm glad I understand your childhood because I think a lot of that those pieces kind of play into the decisions like you explained, you know that you were doing, had your husband, your ex husband at the time or your ex husband now had he expressed a disinterest in your relationship or passion for horses before that that dinner that you, that celebratory dinner, that everything was like a light switch. Um it wasn't even a disinterest, he would say things like it was not new, you're you're gonna go, you know, ride these big dumb animals or you know, I can't believe that you're gonna be gone, you know, for four hours on a saturday to you know, go up in the canyon and ride these these big dumb animals and um you know, there was a there was a payment that I had to give him on on nights that I would ride and come home late and so he was like, look, if you're gonna go ride and you're gonna miss dinner, like you you're gonna owe me when, when you get home and um I did it until I said I'm not gonna do this anymore. What do you think it was about that that one night, I mean if he had been saying it before, like what was that final statement? 

That was the first time that he said, I want you to stop doing this so that I don't have to work. It was that that moment where I was like, okay this is, this is done, like I am not, I'm fine and it was also the gradual building up of like I'm riding, I'm making good girlfriends, you know, I've got a horse that's teaching me a lot about myself and a lot about life and there's something willing worth fighting for at this point. And so, you know that, that moment for me, I think anyone can relate to the moment when they know that something is over, right and the horse is a could be, you know, I want a baby and my partner doesn't or I want to move to be closer to family and my partner doesn't or I have a sick parent and I I need to go take care of them and my partner's not there for me or I have cancer and I have no sex drive. So my partner is, you know, is absent, you know, in this or having an affair, you know, I fell in love with someone else and you know, I can't be in this relationship anymore. My partner fell in love with someone else and you know, the horse is really just the moment where in anyone's marriage that's crumbling where you go, okay, what am I willing to give up of myself for this marriage or for this idea? 

I mean, I feel like I'm just making this up at this point because I don't know, but I feel like you doing as an adult, you finding the horses, you explain you finding your friends, you're connecting again, it was your safe space and he was, you know, before he was just insulting your safe space. He was, he was saying it was silly, was like, don't do that, that's, but now he's saying give up your safety and where you feel most like yourself so that I can do what I want to do. And to me that feels like from your story, that kind of almost feels like you were re finding what you had as a child with your friend and you were like, I finally feel like me again in these spaces, he's like, get rid of you. It's all about me. It was also like the you that you've been up until this point has taken up too much space. You've wanted too much, you've asked for too much. Which being a small child on a preacher's salary? Like when I rode horses I had to pay for it myself. 

There was no extra money for my parents to be like, oh, you know, sure you went horseback riding lessons here, let's, you know, fork out that money. My mom worked nights and weekends as a overnight nurse and my dad was on a preacher's salary and there were four of us. There was no money to go around. So it's just like, you know, can, is there space for me here, is there space for me to want to be this kid who wants to go ride horses? Like what if I ride my bike to the barn, can I do that? What? You know, do I need to save up my allowance and go babysit and you know, get a job and clean stalls at the barn to be able to do this. And I mean it taught me a lot, I learned how to be an entrepreneur and I learned how to, you know, work really hard for the things that I loved and I wouldn't change that for the world, but it goes back to this, you know, idea of like the me that I really am doesn't belong. So let me live in this shell so that I can fit in this idea of what other people want me to be and you know, I hope that that is relatable to people to write. Like I come from a family of doctors and my dad wants me to be a doctor and it's not who I am or you know, I'm, you know, neurodivergent and I don't fit in or I like people of the same sex or I don't know who I like, or I'm, you know, feel awful in my body. Like all of those things are, is there space for me to be authentically me in this world and if there's not, how do I learn how to be okay with me, how do I find that one person that wants me to be, who I really am, that can tell me no matter what you're you're gonna be okay, you're gonna get through this, like you're not alone and then how do you break out of that shell and just go, I'm just gonna do me like this is me doing me and and no one is going to take it away right and start loving yourself for what you offer the world and not what other people praise you for or you know, expect of you and then you're like, yeah, I did it and I hate everything that I just did because I wasn't doing it for me. 

I think it's very relatable and I think that unfortunately most of us have to hit something, we have to hit, not literally hit something, we have to have a moment like a watershed moment. And like when your husband was like, give up your soul because it's my turn or this is about me now, I need you to do all this for me, this is my expectation of you. So do it. Like, and we're married. So you have to do it right? And I was like, wait a second. No way. And then everything you said after that moment, you had to like, did you, did you feel like you had to like relearn who you were and how you could, like you said exist, not just as a shell, but as a full being. So the name of your podcast is the life shift and it's like, you're the universe is sending you on this one path and then you hit that roadblock and then everything just shifts into a different path and it's like, okay, I am, I am not doing that anymore. 

I am going on a whole new path and there might be road bumps, but like I'm on this new path and on this new path, there's not room for the old me. So you just like you, this was like a complete 180. It was a breaking point and I refused at that point, it was like, okay, fine, burn the house down, burn the white flag. Like I am, I am, I will no longer give up pieces of myself even micro pieces of myself to fit inside this mold. 

Yeah, You said it took a while though to to really come to terms with that or get through the divorce period and then kind of figure out how one you mentioned this, like how you played a role in your experience and how you would never do that again. Was there was there a time period or was it literally like, I'm taking this exit off this highway and I'm now on a brand new road or was there kind of like, um it was a, it was a little bit of both, right? Like it's me or the horse. Okay, I'm choosing the horse and then the aftermath of that. Right? So, so it's me or the horse is not the point where you go, okay, well this marriage is over, right? 

Okay, now we have to negotiate new terms because I'm a different person and you're a different person after this point. And so can we still be together? And what does that look like? So, you know, doing couple's counseling and then you know, trying to negotiate, still trying to save that. Yeah. I mean it took me, I knew that I was a different person and I knew that I would not, the marriage had to change if it was going to be sustainable. And I kept changing into the person that I wanted to be and the person that I authentically was. And I started taking up more space and in the marriage there was not enough space for me to be me. And so it took the that break breakdown before I was able to really go, okay now I'm done. 

Done like now it's over like there is no more rationalizing it. There is no more, you know, maybe another therapy session. There is no, you know like this is there was another point where you know where I knew like, okay, it's only going to be a matter of time before you go from destroying my things to destroying me. And when that point happened then I was like, okay, this, this ends right now and then you know, I moved in with my best friend Courtney and then I moved to florida and it was amazing to be able to get out of California and you know, not have these two men that I was terrified of, you know, stalking me or you know, thinking that they would be outside my apartment. Um And then it took three years of trying to get divorced because you know, he was not he was going to do everything that he possibly could to make sure that I couldn't ride. So when you when that was all over, what was life like? Like how how is your life different now because you can do whatever your authentic self wants to do, right? Is this the is this the life you're living and how is it different? 

My God, I'm living my best life. Um You know, I I don't have to ask anyone's permission to do anything right? Like if I want to foster kittens that I see on next door, surprised I'm gonna do it. 

I am impulsively going to go pick up the kittens and you know, get them the health care and work with whoever it is. I need like there is no, hey, can we, can I you know, is it okay if I know I'm gonna do it Like I'm just I'm going to do this and you know, do I want to go travel sure I'm gonna do it. Do I want to buy a house? Okay? I'm gonna do it? 

Do I wanna quit my job and go to something else. I'm going to do it. Um There's a real freedom in learning who you are and then being able to live that person, right? Having said that, there's still work to be done right? Like I am still unpacking so much of, you know what I've been through in my life and they're still, you know, I I still see my therapist every week and we still do hypnotherapy and we still unpack these things and you know, we constantly get to this place where it's like, okay, well you know that was great, you're doing really well. Do you want to keep coming back? And I'm like, yeah, come back and then it's like okay, this thing came up and like how do we undo that? So you know, the work is never ending. Um you know, and I think you said something earlier about like closing the door on grief, it's like, I don't know what your experience with grief is, but for me, the grief never the heaviness of the grief never goes away. Like you always still, or I always still carry that giant rock of of grief but sometimes it's lighter than other times and sometimes it does, it shows up in different places and sometimes the amount of time of when I feel it is expanded. But like for me, the grief doesn't go away. I don't know that I want the grief to go away because the grief to me is the love that we had, right? 

Like, I don't want to forget that. Yeah, I mean my experience with it, I do feel I do feel that I closed the door. I feel it's different. 

I was eight when my mom died. I don't have, I don't really have memories of her and for so long, I think that was my grief journey of me mad at the fact that I didn't have those memories, mad at the fact that I didn't have a mom. You know, it was just everything was weirdly heavy in a way that didn't quite make sense at the end of the day because I didn't have any of those memories. And so I feel like I was very attached to the fact that the trauma happened to me and that I could use that in a positive or negative way in my environment around me. And so when I finally realized that there was a deep seated piece, but it wasn't necessarily related to my mom dying, but the fact that I got stuck as an eight year old fearful of abandonment, fearful, not that she chose to do that, but fearful that if I didn't do things right, my dad would leave, he wasn't going to, that wasn't a legitimate fear, but I was just so fearful of it. And so when I got to that point, I really do feel like I don't grieve my mother anymore because one I don't remember her, unfortunately. Uh and so in that case. Yes, I I think it's a little different, but to what you were saying about your grief is that you don't wanna I don't think you want to let go of it either because it taught you so much about who you are now, right? Like you had to go through all these, like, really dark periods that maybe didn't seem dark in the moment. But looking back on them, does it make you feel more alive and more authentic and more able to make these decisions because of looking back on that period and what you're grieving? Um No, I think for me, I really draw strength from it, you know, like, but would you do you do you do you ever think if I hadn't gone through all that if I didn't have the experience I had as a child, I didn't have these experiences now. Do you think you would be a similar version of yourself now? No way. I wouldn't have married the person that I married. I wouldn't have. I mean, I would be a very, very, very different person. Um So I think sometimes it's that's, I think that's sometimes why we why we still want to remember the things that sucked because they serve us in the future. Yes. It's that's saying um I do not regret the things that I have done, I regret that I did not do, like every every experience that we have, you know, shapes us and I just look at myself as like a piece of play and I have no idea what it's going to be at the end, but you know, there's all of these different things that come in and impact it and shape it. Um you know, and so I wouldn't, I wouldn't change any of that. Like I even, you know, saying in my Acknowledgments of my books, like thank you chad for saying to me it's me or the horse because I had to choose what I was willing to give up and I would not change anything for the person that I am today. 

You know, I walk out and I kissed my horse that I bought for myself for christmas um in 2020 and you know, the covid year and I just think I wouldn't, I am so much happier now and I have all of the things like, you know, I'm single, I'm not really dating, I'm you know, pretty, pretty picky about who I want to date. Like I'm not gonna go on a bad first date when I could be hanging out with my my dog or my horse or you know, working on something creative or hanging out with a friend or you know, whatever. Um I'm just, it's not worth it to me, but you know, I sit around, you know, my my house and read a book or watch tv and I've got like my two cats and my dog here and my other dog here and you know, they follow me in the bathroom and my house is so filled with love, you know, like, and and it's unconditional love, it doesn't matter what I look like. It doesn't matter what the number is on the scale. It doesn't matter if I washed my hair, it doesn't matter, you know, if I've had my coffee or not, like they're there for me, that could matter for some people. 

No, I mean, I get it. It's it goes back to I've talked about this with so many people and I do think it's true in your sense to is that you're now at the place in which whatever society's checklist used to be your like, I don't I don't care, I'm not following those guidelines. And and and like you started out, when we first started talking, it was like a six year old who was like, fully aware of the things she was supposed to do and the things she was supposed to believe was like, wait a second, this is what, you know, and and it kind of, you can see it now in the sense of like, you know, society might tell you, you should be partnered up, right, Like you should be who you should take the s a t s everyone else is doing it to take this test. Exactly. And so it's, you know, it's nice to see that that despite, because I think there are people too, there are people that have experienced childhood trauma. Like you, there are people that have experienced marital trauma like you. But there are but some of those people aren't where you are yet. And so you know what I love about the show is that people like you come on and share like look all this stuff happened to me, but look what I'm doing now, like what's your, what's your favorite part of the current version of Wiley? Um I mean I literally get to do anything. 

I want anything I want, I can spend my money however I want no excuses and no explanations and no reasons and no, you know, just because you want to just because I want to or I don't want to and saying no has so much freedom. You know, hey Wiley, do you want to go blah blah blah no or you know, saying no to friendships, right? Like like realizing this is a little toxic for me and and I have a little bit higher standards than this and I'm gonna have to say no to this friendship because it's not serving me. It's not good for me. 

I'm it's taking more out of me than I am willing to part with. Yeah, I love that you said in your in the Acknowledgments of your book that you thanked your ex husband for saying that moment. I think a lot of people would have difficulty in acknowledging that, you know, and acknowledging that like that's a truly like a like a wake up call moment or a watershed moment or burn the white flag moment or set the house on fire moment and having the wherewithal to be thankful for it. 

So, gratitude has been the most empowering thing for me that I have ever gratitude is how you get you literally get your power back. Um and Anthony Robbins, I talked about this in the book said you cannot be angry and grateful at the same time. And so when I started to leave my husband, that that quote came to me and I was like any time I go through something in this divorce, I'm gonna feel the emotion fully. If I need to cry, I'm gonna cry if I need to scream, I'm gonna scream if I need to, you know, go get a tattoo, I'm gonna do that and then I'm gonna find a reason because of whatever it is that I'm going through to find gratitude and um you know, there were many times where it was really hard, like how can I be grateful for this? How can I find gratitude? But the second that you find gratitude, it's like uh I've got my power back, you can't, you can't, the best revenge is happiness and the best way to be happy is to be thankful. So how can I be thankful? It's interesting because I always equate you know sometimes like you probably could have heard that statement from Tony Robbins five years before that you probably could have heard that statement from Tony Robbins five years before that and been like right okay, you know, like I often feel that sometimes we see the things that we need to see at the right moments in time, kind of like therapy, like finding the right person, saying the right thing at the, at just the moment that you needed to hear it, Do you agree with that or do you think that if you have seen it 10 years earlier and I'm not, I'm not religious, I think we've talked about this, but I am deeply spiritual and I feel like the universe or whatever it is, your intuition, you know, your life purpose, your path or whatever, like there are things that happened at exactly the right time um and I think the more we can learn how to listen to that inner voice, the more we can, the more we empower it to like speak a little louder or speak a little softer um and you know that there's been so many moments that have been like okay, that was a universe thing, like I don't know why that happened or I don't know how that happened, but I'm gonna take my hands off the wheel and just say I am where I am and you know I'm grateful that it was what it was and I heard that message or I saw that thing or you know, whatever it was, that's I agree, I I think, you know, we have to trust ourselves and feel, you know, what do we want to do and why do we want to do it? And if it if it if it feels right then maybe that's what we should be doing, if we're not hurting other people by doing it or you know, no one's gonna die because of the decision that we made directly, I guess I should say, you know, I think we should lean into that, I like to kind of end the conversations with a question and I'm you know, it's harder for you because you're at this place in which you've said, you know, you are that clay, these moments have shaped you into this version of you, but if there was, if there was an opportunity to go back to you know, teenage version of you living in that house with your parents and kind of faking your life if you will or your performative life, is there something that you could say to younger Wiley about the journey that she's about to go on that would serve her well, I would say that things are gonna happen that are gonna be really hard, but never, ever, ever forget who you are and you're gonna get through it and you're gonna grow from it and it's just gonna shape and change you. So anytime something goes the way that you don't want it to just know that it is a better thing for you down the road and it's just gonna shape you into the person that you're gonna become. So just keep doing you, you're gonna be just fine. 

Yeah, I mean, it sounds like you always really knew who you were and you always kinda have that in you and you found that with your horses and your best friends and then in some moments of your life, you put her away a little bit, you know, and and for other people's because you wanted to help them or perform in a particular way, but I didn't know that I deserved it. I didn't know that I could have better. I didn't know that I was worth more. Yeah, I think a lot of that stems to your childhood as well, that you didn't know your worth until it was time to know your worth and it's nice to to learn your journey through this conversation and it's really what I love about this show is like, I really feel like this is the conversation that people just need to have with each other and learn more about each other and ask the questions that that we've always kind of shied away from because, you know, like, oh no, it's gonna involve something that's a little bit too vulnerable, but this is how we connect as humans, so I just appreciate you giving me your time and sharing your story with us. 

Thank you so much for having me. Um I, I hope that what I have to offer maybe help someone else. Um you know, that's that's kind of why I'm here. That's kind of why I'm doing it. 

I sat down to write the book. And the two questions I ask myself every time was what could this do for me and then what could it do for someone else? Um so, you know, I did this more for someone else than I did for myself. So thank you so much for having me. Yeah, yeah. And and speaking of your book, we will put the, the book information in the show notes so that people can connect with you. 

They can order the book and read all about it and read about your journey. Um What, what can you remind us? The name of the book? 

Yes, it's called, it's Me or the Horse Makes. And um I'd be happy to offer a promo code for a little discount too. If that's something that would be great for your readers. 

Yeah, we'll put a promo code, we'll put all that information in the show notes. And um if you want to connect with Wiley, we'll have all that information there will put your website there so that they can connect with you on social and whatever you offer them, I'm sure they will be happy to see awesome. Thank you so much. 

It's been it's been a really great conversation. I really appreciated this. Thank you for being a part of it. And thank you listeners for checking out the life shift every day or every day every week. And if you are enjoying these episodes, I'd love a rating on Apple podcast. 

That seems to be the place where people go, a five star rating. Don't give me anything less because I'll cry about it later. Um, and then write something nice and then other people can discover the show. So thank you for being a part of it and we will be back next week with a brand new episode. Thanks Wiley. Thank you.