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No Matter Where You Go...
...there you are
Years ago, my parents went out to eat at a local restaurant. My bet is there was an early bird special involved but I can’t swear to it. Naturally, my father was driving. He always drove. My father was old school and a gentleman. So when my parents were together, it was understood that my mother never opened her own doors or drove the car. My mother was her own person, but she accepted his way most of the time. Occasionally my mother, tired of waiting for him to come around to her side of the car, would roll her eyes, saying, “I have hands, you know.”
Anyway, they pull into the restaurant and my father proceeds to do his typical multiple circles of the lot. All part of his never-ending quest for the perfect parking space. My mother says nothing, knowing that any remark will result in more laps around the lot in response.
Finally, with a target in his sights, he takes aim. Unfortunately, in his zeal, he doesn’t see a small cement space divider and runs the car right over it.
They sit in silence for a moment before my father sheepishly looks over at my mother who looks back at him in exasperation and says, “I am so tired of you.”
After a beat my father breaks out in laughter and before long they are both laughing. For many years after, this became a standard family response that we all used from time to time. Sometimes to each other but frequently to ourselves.
Lately I’ve been feeling exhausted. Physically, sure, but mostly mentally and emotionally. Beyond my accident and the pain of healing from that, there have been challenges at work, financial stressors, concerns about family members, the passing of a friend, a new relationship and all the past pain and disappointment that’s brought up for both of us. I can feel myself slumping under the weight of it.
Sometimes it’s not just that the situations are mentally or emotionally exhausting. It’s more the way my mind kicks into overdrive, circling and circling, like my dad in the parking lot, never quite finding that perfect space.
This spinning tends to take one of two forms. First is the excessive amount of time I spend worrying about what may or may not happen and questioning my ability to rise to the challenge. Second is the incredible amount of energy I put into not feeling the feelings that I need to feel. You feel me?
All of this spin seems to have contributed to my anxiety while riding. There are, of course, logical reasons for some of my anxiety (like coming back after being injured) but there are some aspects of anxiety that I find frustrating because I can’t really identify it. Neither Ty nor Trudy are unstable horses. They have their moments, sure, but there really is no reason for me to feel unsafe or frightened on them.
Yet, during a recent ride on Trudy, I was terrified. I felt like we were going too fast, and I was not in control. But when I look at a video of that same ride, the playback shows no problems with her behavior, no issues with my riding, and we’re not really going fast at all. From the outside we appear calm and controlled. But I know on the inside, it was a completely different story.
Intellectually, I get it. Trauma response is not predictable or logical and there can be a lot of things bundled into anxiety that go beyond one accident. The brain works in complicated ways. But knowing that doesn’t make it any less frustrating to deal with. A fearful situation can trigger all kinds of things that have nothing to do with what is happening in the moment. Something simple can set it off. Before you know it, all the baggage you haven’t dealt with has arrived and you’re overwhelmed.
We are in summer vacation season, and I’ve been looking forward to some time off. I’ve been thinking about going somewhere far away to escape. The thing is, no matter how far I go, I know my baggage will eventually arrive, and I’ll have to deal with it.
What I need is a vacation from myself but I’m not sure that it can be arranged. If I could divorce myself, I’d probably do that right now. But maybe a better approach is to just acknowledge I’m flawed and maybe a little damaged. That I do my best, sometimes I struggle and get tired, but I keep on going.
I am both my father and my mother. I get stuck in old habits and ways, while chastising myself for not progressing fast enough. Searching for perfection but impatient with myself because in truth I know it doesn’t exist.
Sitting down to watch that video of me and Trudy again, I can see myself getting in my own way. I can see where old programming and fears don’t align with the reality of here and now.
Shaking my head, I hear myself saying out loud, “I am so tired of you.” And I smile.