Thursday, July 3, 2014

The First Step is Always the Hardest

I have spent the last year terrified.  I've been scared of everything and anything that I could possibly be afraid of.  When I was diagnosed with cancer, everything changed and I really mean everything.  I went from being just like my Grandma Ruth, who was often described as "not having enough sense to know when to be afraid" to turning into a person I didn't even know.  What's worse, is that in the last few months, I've began to accept that I'm afraid of everything.  It has become so normal to be scared that I don't even fight it any longer.  When I'm afraid, I stop or I refuse to do whatever scares me.

A couple of years after 9/11, Hadley was born.  Suddenly, I was scared to put my baby on an airplane.  If a trip required flying, I would decline, and I remember the moment that attitude changed like it was yesterday.  I was in the back yard of our little blue house in Lafayette, LA and I realized that I hadn't flown since Hadley was born because I was scared.  I was on the phone with a friend and when we hung up, I immediately booked a plane ticket for Hadley and I!  I said, "this fear will NOT alter my lifestyle!" and I didn't let it.

I have always embraced fear as a healthy emotion, as long as you can confront it and harness it.  The minute I find myself working around fear, is the minute I realize I need to face it head on and fix it!  I've admitted that I don't really enjoy conflict, in fact I hate it, but I will endure it as a means to an end.  Until recently.

My daughters have been bitten by the horse bug and they want to ride and show!  I grew up riding and showing and some of my best memories and even my best friends are from my days with horses, needless to say, I've been very excited by my kids desire to follow in those footsteps.  Now, I've looked at several horses over the last few months and I've managed to not ride any of them.  My plan with this horse was also not to ride.  After all, the horse is for my kids and Keith can do any riding that needs to be done that the kids can't do.  And riding is scary.

When we had Fancy, our first horse since we started this journey, she reared up and wasn't very nice so I never rode her, that's healthy fear!  That's using your head and not doing something stupid!

Like I said though, I've looked at several horses over the past few months, but none of them were "right" for our family.  When I met Barry, he had Bravo and Sadie, both incredible horses, for sale.  I knew almost immediately that they were the ones for us!  The kids rode Bravo, and he was great.  I knew Keith needed to see him so I didn't want to waste Barry's time saddling Sadie, but I knew we'd love her too!  Not to mention, she is a descendant of Doc Bar, who was also an ancestor of my first horse, Ozark!  She was already practically family!

Anyway, Keith, the girls, and I went back to Barry's house so Keith could meet the horses.  He fell in love too!  He knew I was in love, and he knew the girls were in love.  Then he looked at me and said "have you ridden him?"  Of course, I hadn't, I'm scared to ride now!  (Because I'm scared of everything!)  Then he said, "well you need to ride him, if we're going to buy him..." tried every excuse I could think of.  Ultimately, I ended up on the horse, because I knew Keith wasn't going to be on board with buying him if I wouldn't even get on.

I got on Bravo, a 16 hand grey quarter horse gelding.  He was a perfect gentleman.  I rode him around the arena some then tried trotting a little and could feel my heart racing.  I instantly decided to slow him down, only he didn't immediately slow down.

"CRAP!  This is why I haven't ridden..."
"I can't let this horse run away from me"
"It's going to hurt if I fall"
"I will be HUMILIATED!"
"What if he runs away!!!"

Then, he slowed down!
"Oh, thank goodness."
"That wasn't so bad"
"Wait, that was a little fun..."
"Hmmm, maybe I'll try again."

So, we trotted again.
And again.
And again.

Then we loped.

And slowly, I started feeling a little more like myself.

Right there, in that arena, I felt a piece of myself return.  The first step is always the hardest, and I've been reminded of the freedom of overcoming fear and letting it go.  I liked the remembering how it felt to be me.

Bravo and Sadie will be here tomorrow morning and we are going to spend more time together, discovering me.