How did the one-armed man open childproof bottles?
My father was a Navy officer. Consequently, he was away from home a lot when I was a kid. It was always special to me when he was home and could find time to support my hobbies and interests. So, on that cool morning that he came out to the barn to see me ride, I wanted to show him what I could do.
It was just him and me taking a trip to the barn where I took riding lessons. I was around 10 and had been taking lessons several times a week for a year or so. I wanted to impress, and he brought his camera so he could capture the day on film.
There was a trainer working in the barn, but she had left it to me to saddle up my lesson horse, a sweet gray mare named Mary. I mounted and walked to the jump arena, my dad following behind. It felt like the world was just me, my dad and Mary and it was special.
As my father took his camera out, I aimed Mary straight at a jump. She humored me by picking up speed, but when we got to the jump she screeched to a halt, throwing me forward over her ears. I managed to stay on and wrestled my way back into the saddle but was so embarrassed to have my father see me fail. He was very kind and encouraged me to try again. He did however manage to catch the halt on film.
The trainer, who had been discreetly watching from the barn, made her way out to the arena. Calmly and quietly, she pointed out that I hadn’t given the horse a chance to warm up. Mary wasn’t ready. I needed to do a few laps around the arena first before asking her to jump.
In my impatience to show off, I’d neglected to give the horse what she needed to perform. And that horse had no problem letting me know I needed to help her out.
Horses, like people, have limitations. But, unlike people, horses don’t feel guilty about telling you what they need.
In my last post I talked about how I recently took a fall from Ty. It was an odd spook, a lack of balance, a moment in time that ended with me being injured. No misbehaving horse, nothing personal, it just happened. This time my dad wasn’t there to smile and tell me it was okay. This time there was no scrambling back into the saddle. This time there will be months of rehabilitation after surgery to repair my upper arm broken at the shoulder, and for my broken wrist to heal after weeks in a cumbersome cast.
With this injury, I’ve been unable to write, type on my computer, drive a car, open childproof medicine bottles (let me tell you how frustrating that is!), unscrew jar lids, chop and cut food, adequately brush my teeth, bathe normally, pull up my pants properly, put my hair up, bring in Amazon boxes from the front porch, and a host of other tasks that we all take for granted every day. As a single person living happily on my own, I have found this all frustrating and infuriating.
There was something in my upbringing that left me with a belief that the worst thing that you could be was a burden to someone else. I am not comfortable asking others for help. Being completely self-reliant is a point of pride for me. If I can’t do it, I can hire someone. But I don’t like asking for favors.
Nonetheless, here I am, unable to ignore my limitations. I have had no choice but to ask for help.
The only thing harder than learning something new is unlearning something you’ve been taught. Any horse trainer will tell you they’d rather start a green horse from scratch than try to fix someone else’s mistakes.
My closest friends have lectured me more than once on my assumption that needing help makes me a burden. Sometimes the lectures sink in. Sometimes I have to be reminded. I’m a work in progress. Busted up in body and mind.
As we are in the season of Thanksgiving, I took a break from wallowing in self-pity to ponder things I am grateful for. After all…
…I will, it seems, fully recover.
…I have loving and thoughtful friends who didn’t think twice about coming to my aid.
…I have discovered that, apparently, I am loved.
I just need a few laps around the arena before I can make it over that jump.
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