My riding hat is hanging on a set of hooks in my little shed at the yard. Inside the shed I have a trunk full of Kiwi’s turnout rugs (he has stable rugs and coolers stored at home). Kiwi’s food bins and buckets, a first aid kit, fence posts and tape and his grooming kit are also in the shed. As well as a couple of head collars, a lunge line and odd tools I use every now and then.
A few days ago, I was inside making feeds and saw a cobweb stretched over my riding hat on the wall above me. I pulled the cobweb off and brushed a layer of dust off my favourite navy velvet hat silk. (The first hat silk I received for Christmas as a child, the memories of which still make me smile). As I put my hat back on it’s hook I felt a great wave of sadness come over me and sit heavily on my chest. A sense of grief and also of fear.
I realise now, that I was experiencing a sense of loss for the riding life I used to have. A grief for the joy and excitement I experienced when I used to ride my horses. There was also a looming fear of not belonging, that haunted me. I’ve felt this before and now I’m putting words to the experience. A sensation of being lonely, because I’m not part of the world of horse riding anymore – My passion and obsession for as long as I can remember. This was an entirely self lacking feeling of not belonging and feeling alone.
My first reaction was to brush away the evidence on my hat that I don’t use it anymore. But it got me thinking about this sense of shame that makes me feel so rubbish.
Shame and rubbish feelings
I’m sad and afraid of accepting that things have changed. Bud has died and Kiwi and I will never by a riding team again.
Okay, Kiwi and my relationship HAS changed. But I still have him, and all the lovely memories we made together. I want to embrace the change and accept our new adventure with my whole heart. It’s difficult. It isn’t what it was, but it’s still our adventure. And I’m grateful for that.
Curating self worth and belonging, that isn’t based on external achievements and societies definition of success is REALLY hard! I can’t do it without constant work; practicing kindness towards myself (as I try towards other people) and accepting parts of myself that I’ve long wished were different.
A lot of my insecurity and subsequent vulnerability comes from being very young and not living up to academic expectations. I’ve learnt to and will continue to practice seeing a new, kinder perspective of myself. It’s the best way to re-write old negative patterns of thought and belief and make way for acceptance. I’ve become my own encouraging cheer leader.
And as for Belonging…
It’s a thing I’ve been working on for a few years now. Finding belonging in myself and wherever I want to be. Instead of holding to external standards of in or out! Hence my fear of being out of the “riding world”. But on the other hand, I imagined that standard, so I can ignore it too. And if it does exist, I’m choosing to live outside of the “fitting in mentality”. I’m choosing to be ME, as opposed to a me who is afraid of being different to the norm. Me and my story are unique. Whether it’s hobbies or favourite books, we’re all made to be unique and different – together.
I’ve heard a quote that says: “Talk to yourself the same way you would to someone you love”. I believe this is really, really important and I will try to put it into practice.
So we carry on, with a few more scars and lots of stories
My riding hat is still hanging in my shed and when I see it, I try to think about the amazing memories I made whilst wearing it. Then about the unknown adventures that are still to come, after it.