I spent the next eight months trying to force myself to act in ways as normal as possible.
I rode when I could. Laughed and joked at work. Went out with friends when I felt like it…but most people caught on relatively quickly that I wasn’t “me”. I was anxious and withdrawn, my temper was left unchecked, and I spent a lot of time wearing long sleeves when it was too warm to do so. I had slipped back into being a person I really thought I had left behind. Now, I have never — not once — believed that my problems are truly “curable”. Depression and the accompanying struggles I have had can be managed, but never cured. However, I thought I had reached a point where I could manage these things successfully. Most of the time, I can. During those months, though, I was going simply going through the motions.
I never stopped thinking about that little black horse. Every few days, something would come up and I’d think of him. I’d stop whatever I was doing to enjoy the memory of his whiskers tickling my cheek, before shaking it off and resuming my task. It hurt too much, to be honest. I wanted nothing more than to bring him home, but I allowed fear to get in the way. At the time, I called it logic. Hell, it probably was logic, in a way. I had convinced myself that I was not fit to be an animal parent, and because of that, I did not deserve to have this critter, or any critter, in my life. It wasn’t fair to them to be owned by me. I was unfit, and I refused to see it any other way. It would be irresponsible of me to subject a dependent animal to being in my care…and that was that. I refused to let myself believe that owning a horse was something that I truly needed, and not just a frivolous luxury.
Then came November 2nd, 2012. My 22nd birthday. I had just returned home from dinner out with the couple that have claimed me as their own child, and was reading my email. I was shocked (and, admittedly, a little concerned) to see an email from B. I read it with trepidation, fearing the worst.
Instead, it was a simple request for help. B, knowing she could not give this horse the time and energy he needed to become the rock star I knew he could be, was going to start advertising (quietly) for his forever home. She relayed to me just how much hope she had been given when she watched us work together, and was wondering if I could be a reference for potential new owners.
I stared at the words on my screen until they morphed into a black blur. Ever fiber in my being was telling me to back away as quickly as possible, before my heart broke again. Instead, I wrote a hasty reply stating that I would be happy to help, just so I didn’t have to think about it…or so I thought. I did think about it, and I started thinking that maybe — just maybe — this could become a reality.
I turned to my friends — all 100+ of them on a very close knit bulletin board. These ladies (and a few brave men!) have known me for years, and many of them have been there during my struggles. I posted a thread with the update, and detailed my internal struggle. I claimed that I knew I would “do the right thing”, insinuating that I would put a stop to considering the possibility of bringing this horse into my life.
I got a flurry of replies asking me what it would take to make me realize that sometimes, you have to live life and not let the “what if” get in the way. I was taken aback. Wasn’t I being smart and mature and responsible by saying no? I certainly thought I was. Could there be something I’m missing?
I was prodded with questions by those wonderful women: “Can you afford monthly board?” “Well, yes, but –“ “Can you get the things you need?” “I guess, I work for Dover, but that doesn’t mean –“ “What worries you about owning a horse?” “Don’t you realize that you have so many people that are behind you that would do anything in their power to help you?” “Please at least consider this…” It wasn’t until the simple reply of “You can’t wait until everything is perfect” to my insecurities that the realization hit my like a ton of bricks.
It dawned on me that I was terrified of the “what if”. What if my car breaks down? What if he gets hurt, or sick, or ill? What if, what if, what if? These were all things completely out of my control…things that I couldn’t predict, no matter how hard I tried. This revelation caused me to stop in my tracks. I realized then and there that there is a very, very fine line between being responsible and logical, and letting fear run your life.
It took me a day or two to wrap my head around the whole idea. It took me another day, and a visit to K to convince me that this could become reality. K pushed me that day to email B and to let her know my thoughts, just in case someone else came along and saw the same potential that I did.
I wrote B back that evening, and told her, with very cautious terminology, that things had changed on my end and I was working to put things into place to take him for myself. I couldn’t let him go without a fight. It was time to allow myself to live…and it was time to take a leap of faith.