After my so successful breakthrough with my mom I was flying high the rest of the week. Now confident in my new tools, I applied them to everything! I re-evaluated my expectations with all my relationships – and realized I was being unrealistic in a lot of them.
I had been feeling somewhat glum about not getting 100% of Jess’s time and energy like I had been during the summer. Well of course, I still had summer expectations. It was now into the school year and he was dealing with an overload of coursework and classes. Really, he was giving me every free moment he had, and didn’t have. Once I realized this and changed my expectations about how much time we were going to spend together every day, it’s like things got better over night. I was also excited about my other new tools of communication. I don’t know if I was actually using them a lot, or if I was just so ready to use them at the soonest opportunity and it gave me this newfound confidence that just made things work. I was on a roll. I thought the expectations idea was such an awesome tool I applied it to my other friends too! Who was I frustrated with? Why? Well, some friends it was because I felt like I had to put on an actwith, and it was draining. I expected to meet up with them and have it use up my energy. Well, that was totally my fault. I needed to change how I viewed those relationships. Other friends, it was that I never got to see them, and I had started expecting that they just didn’t have the time for me. Again, that was my preconceived expectations, generated without me actually trying to do anything about changing the situation from my own behavior. Maybe I could approach them differently, or even bring up that this was bothering me, with these new non-aggressive-but-to-the-point coaching tools I’d learned!
I had a really good week. It seemed like everything was falling into place for me. This coaching stuff was really working!
Then my horse I’d had for fourteen years died without warning over night.
The world came crashing down again.
Detaunt was a very wise Arabian gelding. He was 11 days older than me and I’d been born 11 days late. I got him when we were both 12, and he’d kind of helped raise me. He’d always been another strong, masculine figure in my life. He died without warning, we think probably of something like a heart attack. He was older, but he could have easily lived another 10 or 15 years. He was in great shape. Just a couple days before I’d taken him for a trail ride out in the mountains and we’d galloped and trotted and everything, and he was great. Even just the night before, the barn owner and her daughter had been playing with him and he’d been fine. He’d eaten his dinner, and then just gone outside and it looked like just laid down and died. There was no sign of a struggle, as there so often is with horse deaths, so it looked like everything was very quick and painless. It was the best possible of what it could be, but it was still shocking, and sad.
I canceled everything that I had going on that week. Before anyone else, I let Jess, TC, and my mom know. They were my main supports. Because of my work the week before, I could now rely on my mom again for the first time in years, to truly support me when I really needed it. It’s funny how the universe works sometimes. Jess called me, made time for me, and was there for me in more ways than I could imagine. My mom got in her car and drove three hours through a snowstorm in the mountains to come and be there for me. I texted my other friends, and anyone who’d known Detaunt to let them know, and I got lots of text messages and voicemails back, but I didn’t want to see or talk to anybody else.
I felt like I’d gone back to square one. Later, I talked with TC and she pointed out how I hadn’t. I was using my coaching tools, even in this time of crisis. Especially in this time of crisis. I went into intensive self-care mode.
TC had challenged me before, that when I felt sad, instead of putting it aside or medicating it, to be brave enough to really let myself feel that pain, and that sadness. “What’s the worst that’s going to happen?” she asked. “I guess that I cry until I fall asleep,” I replied. “And then I’d wake up in the morning and feel better, because I’d gotten it out instead of locking it away.”
Locking emotion away was what I had been doing for the last year. My dad’s major stroke had meant that I’d had to be his number one caregiver, organize his life, and be his emotional support. I hadn’t had time, space, or reprieve to feel my emotions. Now that I had moved back into my own apartment and had some space and time to myself, I had to learn how to again.
TC pointed out that I did not, in fact, go back to square one when Detaunt died. In fact, she was proud of how I self-cared.
I canceled everything I was doing that week. I stayed in my room and cried. I cried a lot. The only people I saw were my mom, for the day she was down, and Jess. Friends called really wanting to meet me for lunch or coffee, and instead of making excuses like I might have done before, I told them the truth. I was honest, but firm. “My horse I’d had for fourteen years just died, and I’m worn out emotionally. Maybe I can meet you next week, but not this week.” I didn’t go to cafes. I didn’t go to bars. I laid low and really tried to meet TC’s challenge. When I’d feel the pain coming, I really tried to let myself feel it. I think I did well.
Later in the week I went back out to the barn and brought some flowers to put on Detaunt’s grave. It would be a long process, but I was slowly recovering, and feeling better. I still didn’t want to see anyone else though. But that was okay. Maybe next week…
What felt really good was that I was being true to myself.