Saturday, June 29, 2019

You Have to Look Fear in the Eye and Wink

When you fall off the horse, you have to get back on. This is both literal and figurative in our lives.

5 months ago I fell off my bike and broke my femur. 2 months ago my daughter was thrown from her horse. See, literal and figurative.

My fall has been well documented, so we don't need to revisit that at all. My daughter, on the other hand, we haven't really talked about her fall. It was a normal lesson, she was working on her canter. She was on the lead to have to control and her horse was just not having it.

To say it happened in the blink of an eye is an understatement. She tumbled over, my son yelled, her trainer yelled and my husband and I stood in stunned silence.

Now here is where it's hard. As a mom, I knew I couldn't react. I knew she would look to me and my reaction. If I panicked, or screamed, or ran out there, she would never get on the horse again. So I waited. I let her trainer handle everything for the first few minutes (in reality it was probably seconds) and then walked into the arena. She was crying and rightfully so. She sobbed, "I want to go home." I didn't blame her, but she had to get on the literal horse.

I made her ride the arena two more times on a different horse. She just walked, but she got on and she did well. She calmed down and found her rhythm. She wanted to quit the next week and I said no, you have to get back on. She did. She was hesitant, but she did it, and she's done it almost every weekend since.

How we have handled her fall and the lessons since has also been a lesson in life. Everything will never go your way, you will always get thrown from a figurative horse either professionally or personally and if you constantly quit, what kind of life is that? We make no bones about the fact that we are raising two tough kids, the world is not a kind place and we want them ready to face it every day and come out the best they can be.

Last night she sat down with me and said she was done and didn't want to ride anymore. I told her no. I feel like I'm a ruthless mom with this, but the reality is, she will not be a quitter. She loves those horses too much to quit, and she is a fighter, she always has been. I told her she had to finish the lessons we have paid for and she had to apply herself, she couldn't just coast through the lessons. Then we talked about fear. This is when I had to get back on my figurative horse.

I confessed I was scared to get back on my bike. I broke a bone and was out for 5 months, there is no part of me that is just itching to jump back on, but I knew I had to, I was just scared. We talked about it for a few minutes and I told her I was going to try this weekend to get back on the bike, to conquer my fear.

 This morning after my walk I texted my husband and said we have to ride before lessons. He adjusted my seat so I wasn't as high as before, this way I could comfortably put my feet down when I get nervous.

I put my helmet on and was scared. I got to the top of the driveway, right where I fell and said I couldn't do it. I wanted to quit in that second. I stood paralyzed with fear with one foot on the ground and one foot on the pedal.

I couldn't do it.

But didn't I just tell my daughter she had to do it? That she had to face her fear and not live with regret? How could I walk back in that house after quitting? What message would that send to her?

I would be a total fraud.

I pushed off and wobbled. I cried quietly for the first quarter mile, I was that scared. Scared I would topple over, scared I would break my leg again, scared it would be worse.

Then before I knew it we were back at the house and short of a mile, so I said let's go again. We made it around again and I said I wanted 2 miles, so we took another side street. I was more comfortable the second go around, I pedaled faster, coasted smoother and took a hill like a damn boss.

I looked fear in the face and winked, albeit with tears in my eyes.

When I walked in the door she asked how it was and I smiled and said great. In reality, I was underwhelmed. I don't know what I expected. I was upset by how upset I was out there (I'm a perfectionist, I feel like that explains everything).

We headed to lessons shortly after and she had her best lesson since the fall. She even rode bareback for two rounds which is something she has not had the confidence to do since she fell. I was so proud of her at that moment. So proud that she conquered that fear, so proud that she faced it like a boss.

We both got back on our horse today. We both have shed tears, had second thoughts, but both kicked fear's ass.

Like mother, like daughter....

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