Friday, 22 March 2019

Saying goodbye to being a horse woman

We have different personas living inside of us. 
There is the person we want to be: confident, unafraid, strong, independent. 
There is the little kid, afraid of the world and wanting to be loved. 
There is the mess we perceive ourselves to be: the flawed human being we are desperate to change and improve. 

I believe that reconciling all these personas into one and becoming the person we truly are and always have been is the defining step of finding peace within ourselves. It's how we become authentic.
All my life I wanted to be for other people what I thought they expected of me: an obedient, rule-abiding daughter. A fun-loving sister. A cool step-mom.
And a horse-crazy farm wife.

I had my first experience riding a horse when I was 20 years old. A friend from college took me home during summer break and to the stable where she kept her horse. On a beautiful summer's day we saddled two horses and went for a ride through fields, forests and flower-strewn meadows. We leisurely walked along, chatting and enjoying the warm sun and cool breeze, and it wasn't until we were almost home that she turned to me and asked: "Are you up for a little gallop? They will stop at the barn, it's totally safe." I felt nervous but nodded anyway, curious. She tightened her reins, kicked her horse in the sides and off they went, my horse picking up speed and following along. 
It was incredible. Feeling such a powerful animal move smoothly underneath me, the speed, the wind whistling around my face, the fear mixed with exhilaration - I was on a high. When we safely arrived at the barn I couldn't stop smiling. What a rush!

When I met Rich two years later and heard that he was a passionate horseman, I felt like I'd hit the jackpot. Ever since that one ride with my friend I dreamed of becoming a fearless, outdoorsy woman who went on adventures like hunting, horseback riding, and camping in the wilderness. I didn't know who I was so I figured I would choose to become a certain kind of person. Seeing the admiration in his eyes when I told him that I was in the process of getting my hunting licence (which was part of my education towards becoming a Forest ranger) enforced my determination to become a woodswoman. 
Horses were an important part of my new family's life. Rich and the girls went on rides frequently, and for many years I happily tagged along. It soon became clear that I had neither the talent nor the passion for horses like I'd hoped I would, but I didn't mind. On trail rides my horse would simply follow Rich's, and I didn't have to do much more than sit on it and enjoy the ride.

Several times I took riding lessons to become more confident, but deep down I knew the truth I wouldn't say out loud: I didn't really enjoy it. I love animals and horses are no exception, but I don't enjoy sitting on them. I always feel uncomfortable and vaguely scared, and a few times over the years I flat out panicked on top of a horse. 
But it was important to Rich and I still clung to the version of myself where I was a tough cowgirl, so a few times a year I would force myself to literally get back on the horse. 
As you can imagine, forcing yourself to do something rarely results in a happy outcome. We started fighting before those rides, and often during, and went out less and less. 

I've been doing lots of self-reflection and analyzing my life, and it helped me see that there was only one solution: to make a clean break. I don't want to take away Rich's joy for his hobby (which I inadvertently did, much to my regret), and I don't want to pretend any longer to be someone I'm not. 
And one thing is crystal-clear to me: I'm not a horse woman. Never was, never will. I love them and I'm happy that we live with them, but I really don't like riding them.  
So a few months ago I decided that I would sell Nick, my gorgeous Haflinger. He needs to be ridden, and since I'm not doing it someone else should. He is going to a new home in the neighbourhood at the end of the month, which makes me so happy!

I'm slowly letting go of all the shoulds, coulds and woulds and strip down to the essence of who I am. 
I'm not a hunter (I never finished that hunting licence). I'm not a horse woman. 
I'm more fearful than I'd like but also braver than I thought by pushing past the fear and doing things I really want to do despite being scared. 

The most astonishing discovery I've made? If I don't act according to the beliefs I have about myself, I can be open to new and exciting possibilities.
Over the last few months I've discovered a love for tea, cats and grandbabies - basically all I need to complete the granny-image is grey curls and knitting needles, and who knows? Maybe they are on the way into my life. If they are, I will welcome them with open arms. 
I have come to realize that I got it all wrong. I thought that we would figure out all our problems one by one, and then one day we would be finished, having solved all our life's puzzles. But that's not how it works. 
Michelle Obama said:
"Now I think it's one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child - What do you want when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that's the end."

We are never "done". We will change and evolve and discover new passions if we let ourselves be open, and it's the most life-affirming and exciting thing ever! So much better than believing that we have to stay on a path we embarked upon many years before that may not be right anymore. 
We can change it up, try out new paths, become and un-become who we thought we were - there are no limits.  

And how exciting is that?



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4 comments

  1. That’s such a lovely pic of you and Nick. He really is beautiful! I’m sure it’s tough to let him go, but he’ll be happy to be ridden.

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    1. I'm doing him a disservice by keeping him. And he's going next door to our neighbours! So I will still see him all the time. It couldn't be any better!

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  2. Great post, Miriam! Expectations are hands down the biggest struggle for me. Not only letting go of expectations I set up for myself but also ignoring those that others have for me. Over and over the lesson for me is to figure out who I really am and sink into that reality. The more I can do that the happier I am.
    And how awesome that Nick is going to be next door!

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    1. It's amazing how things fall into place sometimes. It couldn't have come any better!

      Embracing ourselves the way we are is one of the most difficult things to learn in life. We are so conditioned to please (especially as women)that it will take a while to unlearn that behaviour.
      The irony is that what we believe will please the people that are important to us isn't necessarily true!
      For so long I believed that it was important to Richard that I enjoy riding as much as he does. Sure, he would have liked that, but he also loves going out by himself or with one of the cowboys. It doesn't change anything about his feelings or our relationship, but it made me so much happier!

      People who meditate swear that all the answers to our questions can be found inside us. They are right. If we want to find out more about ourselves and what makes us happy, we have spend time with ourselves and listen to our heart and gut. The solution to every one of our problems is there, just waiting for us to find it.

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