Saturday, January 28, 2017

When Life Gets Crazy, Go Ride

I've been very sick for several days. When you're sick and something enormous happens, like a new administration taking oath and office, you get stuck in this sneaky spiral of not being able to escape your couch and subsequently not being able to escape social media without great effort, especially when you feel that you must keep on top of what is happening. 

It's not good for your sanity. 

I've never been good at successfully coping with stress. My coping mechanisms have always been unhealthy at best, and extremely destructive at worst. Currently, I've been in some kind of flux between taking a lot of cold medicine to pass out and forget about everything, and drinking a lot. I don't understand what is happening to the country I thought I knew, and I don't have a healthy way to deal with it. So, I drink. It's not good for me. I've been here before. I go through this periodically, where I drink every day in an effort to escape some of the reality I'm not able to process. But I've been really focused and happy since we moved into this house almost two year ago, and it hasn't been an issue. But it is now.

If you think I am being whiny, or a crybaby, or a snowflake, or whatever, then I envy you, because you're in a position where you aren't living in fear. If you aren't afraid, then I don't know how to explain to you why I am afraid. To live in fear is to exist in this perpetual waking nightmare of stress, and tension, and uncertainty. It's exhausting and overwhelming. 

So, I drink. I drink because I can't figure out how to process an incredible amount of information that makes no sense to me whatsoever.

And, I ride.

Riding is infinitely more healthy than drinking, or self mutilating, or any of the other coping mechanisms I could be making use of at the moment. Riding is my chance to get away from people for a bit, and get away from my phone, get away from the radio that is always on, get away from everything. Riding is my chance to focus on just my horse, just myself, and just the movements between the two of us. With dressage especially, there is nothing to consider but you and your horse. There is no terrain to consider, no obstacles, no jumps. Just you, and your horse. Everything else can fade away. You feel every movement, and you adjust things, and play with others. I experiment a bit with Dylan, trying out different ideas that have been mulling in my head, like how it will feel if I drop my stirrups another hole, or if I weight a seatbone differently during a lateral movement, or if I raise or lower my hands just a little bit. A horse like Dylan responds instantly one way or another to everything I do, so I get immediate feedback. He is easy enough to ride that I can make these adjustments while still sitting very quietly. And when I am quiet, he is quiet. When my mind is quiet, his is quiet. 

And as such, everything else can fade away, even just for an hour. For an hour, I don't have to think. I can just feel. I can escape into this very private, very personal world where just my horse and I exist. When the whole world seems to be imploding around me, just for a little while I can feel connected and whole and sane. 

As always, Dylan reminds me that when life gets crazy, I should just go ride. In my youth, whenever I had a bad day I would make sure not to ride, as I had no real ability to separate my overpowering emotions from my riding, but these days are different. These days, I go ride in order to escape from my emotions altogether. These days, riding is as much therapy as anything I have ever used as a coping mechanism before. These days, riding is a true escape. 

If you're feeling like me, go ride. I promise you'll feel better. I know I do. 


  1. Riding is my big escape from life too. I'm in Canada, and sending a ton of virtual support. If nothing else, know you're exactly the kind of good person we'd love to have here.

  2. Such a truthful thought provoking post!!! Horses are the best for providing comfort and an escape when life becomes to much to handle.

  3. Lovely post full of an incredible truth. I'm so glad you have Dylan to help you cope with what's going on.

  4. It's such a scarey time. I feel the same way - I ride to escape.

  5. This post made me cry. Because it is me. It's frustrating because it is still dark when I get out of work on most days, so riding is limited to my days off and it's still touch and go with the oodles of wet weather we've had this winter. So I wear myself out at the gym and then knock myself out with melatonin and wine, and then wake up the next day and do it all over again.

    I flip-flop from towering heights of hope and joy, to fall into the deepest pits of utmost despair and terror at the drop of a hat. It's really hard to have competitive goals of any kind when you're not sure what's going to happen tomorrow, if you'll still have a life next month or if you'll be locked up in a cage somewhere.

  6. I feel you, my coping mechanism has been to remove all social media from my phone and computer for the time being since seeing it is just too triggering for me. I decided that when I get to a point where I feel like I need to do something instead of getting back on social media I'll donate some money, volunteer, or find that I can actually do something rather than just following it on social media. That's been the only way I can keep myself sane.

  7. This post gave me goosebumps.

    You are such a beautiful and honest writer. I am thinking of you <3

  8. "[T]hen I envy you, because you're in a position where you aren't living in fear. If you aren't afraid, then I don't know how to explain to you why I am afraid." This is extremely powerful. I'm afraid for you, and for countless others. Know that I am thinking of you and I fully agree with T.

  9. I'm the same way! The best thing I can do for my mental health is get out and go ride.

  10. I'm so sorry. I'm terrified too.

    I agree that riding is an escape; when I ride, I can't think about anything else at all. It helps. My problem is that sometimes I get so tired and discouraged I convince myself that going home and holing up under blankets with a book is the best way to help, and it's not. Riding always helps, and I need to force myself through my exhaustion and depression and get to it.