Then it was over. The sun came up on Saturday morning, and now what? Truth is I still felt like crap. Why is this? The day passed, I made it. Why do I still feel like this? I had, or at least thought I had, been doing really well up until recently. What has changed? I’ve been thinking about that a lot the last few days. Truth is, I don’t think it was that day that made the difference. It was the pressure I put on myself leading up to it that made things change.
In the weeks leading up to the anniversary, I became so concerned about proving that a year later I was fine, that much of the progress I have made in that time fell apart. I was trying so hard to be OK, that flashbacks to that day came up more often. I was trying so hard to hide my nightmares, that I started having trouble sleeping again. Insecurities that I had been working so hard to overcome, were once again front and center. It started to overtake just about everything. My attitude was off, my motivation was down. Little things that normally would not bother me, made a huge difference in how I felt. Honestly, I was kind of a downer and an unpleasant person. With this anniversary, I had put a timeline on my recovery. The looming date just made me think about everything from that day that I still carried. Everything that I still hadn’t gotten over. Every expectation that I hadn’t reached.
I wrote last week about the What Ifs. Now that it's passed I am asking myself; “What if I had handled this differently? What if, rather than focusing on the pain I still carried, I had focused on the progress I had made so far? What if I had not let a calendar dictate my emotions?” Well, I cannot change the damage I did in July. I cannot get back the rides I missed on Cooper, take back things I said, or how I acted. But, in recognizing that I let my emotions take the driver’s seat last time, it opens up my ability to ask the new question I posed last week; “Can I do it today?” Because that is something I can control.
I will be asking myself "Can I do it today?" every day for the rest of my life. We all will. Weather it is due to a trauma, a career, losing someone, being in or the ending of a relationship, or just about anything. Some days we may ask it more subtly than others. If you think about it, it is a question we all ask ourselves just by choosing to get out of bed in the morning. If that is the case, the lead up to and the next July 21 will not be as bad next time around. That day may hurt more than others, but if I am asking the same question every day anyway, then it becomes less about the progress made to that point. It becomes less about if I appear OK to everyone else, and becomes completely about myself in the present moment.
So, after all that. I do have an update for you. If I’m being honest, I still feel crummy. Even as I write this now, my chest feels like someone is lacing a corset tighter and tighter around my body with no regard for my ability to breathe. Don’t get me wrong, I am a functional human being. Work has been, and is still getting done. Client horses are getting worked and exercised. I've had great sessions teaching students. I can also say that since my post last week, I rode Cooper every day except Friday and Saturday. Because on Friday and Saturday the answer to “Can I do it today?” was an honest and outright No. But, despite waking up at 3am this morning, and although it was barely audible because of that corset binding my chest as I looked Cooper in the eye, somehow my answer was still; “Yes, I can do this today." So we did.