Life doesn’t always go as planned. In fact, it often doesn’t. Life is not linear. You can try out your new years resolutions and slip up on day 8. What do you do then? These are the times that define you.
Being in my early 20s, life can go any number of directions for me. Since getting Tasha, I have been reminded of the joy I get when working with animals and helping others. Even though the days were long and tough, I used to love working with the horses at camp. Instructing children on how to stay calm and let their true instincts take over, how to control the animal while still giving it respect, working as a team with both their animals and other people.
I still think the best moment of my life so far occurred when I was riding out the herd. Because we had been running late on getting the horses ready for the night, it was already getting dark. I was supposed to lead that night on a mainly white appaloosa named Knight. Knight was always one of my favorites to ride bareback because we could communicate so effortlessly. If I started slipping, he would shift to that side so that I could regain my balance. When we entered the woods to lead to the field where the horses were kept for the night, all I could see was the glow off Knight’s back. I was trusting him completely to know where to go. Behind me, I could hear the thundering of the hooves of the 60 plus other horses and there was no other wranglers within 50 feet of me. The feeling I felt was so free and so in the moment, there wasn’t any yesterday or tomorrow, just now and just me being the true me.
Throughout my life, I have been a very anxious person. My anxiety almost reached a level where I very well could have been diagnosed with OCPD. In fact, my psychologist in college when I brought up my thoughts said he “didn’t want to put a label on things.” OCPD is a disorder similar to OCD, but one that would cause me to try to control my surroundings and the people around me. If you want to learn more, this article is good. (Remind you of a certain pup we know?) Somewhere in college, I started letting go of control. I think it was actually around the same time that I met LD. There was a lot going on in his life that, sadly, I had some experience with. At that time, he needed me to be his support. I couldn’t control what was going on in his life and his needs for an anchor were so major that there wasn’t any time to think through the situations or try to control them, I just had to be and let go.
I have always been extremely aware of the energy of the people around me. The good news is it makes me work well with animals and have a general idea of how others are feeling. The bad news is that I can read that energy by starting to feel what they feel. Sorting out my own emotions growing up was never easy. My mom likes to tell the stories about me where she would be really angry with me and want to get away and my anxiety would drag me after her. She would tell me “I’m really angry with you right now” and I would tell her that no that was her annoyed face. She would tell me again that she was really angry with me and I would tell her no that was her really annoyed face. Then she would progressed to actually getting angry and I would tell her that that was her angry face. I was maybe 2.
Over the years, I have somehow gotten better at sorting out my own feelings versus the feelings of others, but I still feel their emotions and they still build up. Working with Tasha getting over her fears is so rewarding, but every back step and every time she goes through the process, I really go through it with her. I absorb the pain and the anxiety and eventually I need to let it out. At the same time, LD has been building up anxiety between family issues and big events at work, so I have been getting hit from both sides. My anxiety needed a vent and it happened last night. I was a giant crying mess on the floor after Tasha backslid a bit on her fear of people. She wasn’t being aggressive, but she was shaking uncontrollably and I had a really hard time calming her back down. She even became scared of me after I put her down because she was so in that head space. She just wanted to find a hole to crawl into.
Surprisingly, what did actually get her out of that headspace was realizing I was melting down after we came in. I became a puddle on the living room floor. She came running out of her crate and laid down with her head in my lap and just waited, like I had for her every time we were working on her fears. She didn’t leave my side until LD had completely taken over the situation.
So, where is my rambling going? To be honest with you, I don’t know. I don’t know where my life is going. All I know is I have the best teammates to move forward with and where we are going can be left to chance. And like the time riding the horses out, that is ok.