Well it came and it went. The anniversary of the accident that changed my life. Other than my mandatory chores for the day, I spent the day by myself. I won’t sugar coat it. It was pretty terrible. In my mind, I had failed, and I wanted no one to see that. It has been a year, and where am I?
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’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.
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 emotions. 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 I’m 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, or take back things I said or how I acted. But, in recognizing that I let my emotions take the driver’s seat, it opens up my ability to ask the new question “Can I do it today?” Because that is something I can control.
I can 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. If I’m being honest, I still feel like crap. Don’t get me wrong, I am a functional human being. Work has been and is still getting done. Client horses worked and exercised, and I’m teaching students. But it has not been easy, and it has been physically and mentally taxing. Even as I write this now, my chest feels like someone is lacing a corset around my body with no regard for my ability to breathe, oh and did I mention I’m pretty sure that corset also has sharp edges that dig into my sternum.
But despite being up at 3am, and even with that proverbial corset binding my chest, I got on and we had a short, but productive training session. Because, although it was probably quite pathetic sounding, when I looked at Cooper this morning my answer was still; “Yes, I can do this today." If anything, I can say riding with this much tension is doing exactly what my mentor Kevin said is the best way to prepare yourself and your horse for show nerves (more on that in another post). Or at least that is what I’m going to keep telling myself for a little while.