Koryn had her first show at NEDA last weekend. It was also the first time Shanghai has been to a show, and he began the weekend getting eliminated because he jumped out of the arena and ended it winning First Level Test 3 out of twelve horses with a 76%! Second was 64%! Koryn got an 8.5 on rider with "correctness and use of aids" underlined and starred. Unfortunately Bimini, who we entered at Fourth Level, was very anxious and never settled so I decided the best thing for his future was to just school him and let him get secure at the show.
I have to admit that I didn't get back into the groove of showing till the last day... keeping an eye on the rider ahead of me and planning for every second to make sure I enter with my very best horse, schooling to show--to make 5 minutes from now good, not five weeks. But my two students did just fine, the other winning one of her PSG's out of nineteen horses.
It was the first show I've been to that brought about feelings of sadness that I wasn't showing. Normally I'm simply in trainer mode and it never occurs to me. My husband pointed out that these bouts of sadness I've been experiencing only began after River was born so perhaps it's postpartem. So I have an appointment tomorrow with a postpartem therapist to decide that, but regardless, I think I need to speak with someone because lord knows I have a lot of baggage. It's simply not in my nature to talk about my sadness because it's so fleeting, and I'd far rather enjoy hanging out with my husband or chatting with my sister than dwell on sadness. So I talked to a therapist this morning who my sister, who's a therapist herself, recommended. She talked about how there are many different me's inside of me. There's the confident me, the determined me, the humorous me. But there's also the sad me, the low self-esteem me, and these me's get buried under the other me's and need attention too. She said we need to show them we love them too. So that's what we're going to do, we're going peel the layers of this onion and hopefully what we end up with will smell like lavender.
Courtney's Quest is available on Amazon again!
I SO appreciate all the thoughtful responses, both on Facebook and the personal emails. The regret remains and will always be surrounded by remorse, but, as many of you pointed out, it's time to gather myself and move on. So I figured its time for a happy entry!
The photo is of River enjoying the US Open on Monday! She's such an angel. Was entertained by the tennis most of the first set, was entertained by my necklace the second, then slept through the third set amidst all the cheering straight into the car. We're thinking of trying to take her to the French Open next year when her ticket and flight will still be free!
I also wanted to share a poem I found when I was scouring old stuff for my book because I find it funny and cute. It was in a book of poems I wrote from 13-16 years old.
Stop following me
I yell at it
But it doesn't seem to care.
It follows me all over the place,
It doesn't matter where.
I find it all quite maddening
with everything it does
For in the darkness of the night,
It leaves beyond my sight.
It was untitled, but now I'd name it "The Shadow". :) And one last thing. It's an old video but it makes me smile, shows how River at four months old had an affinity for animals. (She's now six months old, has four teeth and is totally comfortable sitting on her own!) http://youtu.be/sBIdLiRZh-E
It causes me yet more anguish that the public as a whole doesn't seem to forgive my horrible mistake. I deeply appreciate the encouraging remarks that did come in, but I'm painfully aware that there are only twelve of those when over seventy-five hundred people saw my post, and people who are angry with me wouldn't write in.
I realized after I published my post that it didn't convey the anguish and soul-deep remorse I was going through. I'd decided that if Steffen wanted me to, I'd stop selling the book full-stop. The fact that he forgave me without blinking an eye relieved me so much, I was like a balloon that got released in the wind forgetting about the thunder and lightening that had so terrified it at lower altitude. (Forgive the simile, but it's the best way I can describe how I felt.)
And now that he's so graciously forgiven the one cognitive effect of my brain injury, I've been struck by happiness again: all is ok in the world, I can fix it and move on. Only to then realize I've not only hurt him, I've hurt all of you for making you believe something about his personality that simply isn't true. I know that in the book, I take full blame for his anger as I (under the USEF's instruction) didn't tell him about the drugging, and our return to friendship happened without talking (which is the case and probably the reason my brain didn't remember everything), but I didn't put his anger under its proper context.
I'm so sorry. I feel extremely lucky that I had journals to document every step of my journey (thanks to you, the public), and for the very few things that weren't recorded in my journals, I checked with the involved parties to ensure accuracy, but I didn't want to reopen this wound for either of us by checking on something my brain had no doubt was accurate. He did send me that email after the drugging, I just had the timing wrong, which makes it seem so much worse, both to me--I'm so thankful to have discovered the truth--and to readers.
I don't remember ever regretting anything so deeply.
I just realized my previous entry didn't remotely express how badly I've felt. I've been waiting, wrestling with extreme guilt and anger at myself until it was an appropriate time to talk to Steffen, and I guess the anguish of living in that purgatory of horrible feelings for over a week made me, when I finally did do an entry, seem uncaring. Nothing could be further from the truth. I don't remember ever doing anything that made me feel so horrendous.
I'm extremely fortunate to have had journals documenting every stage of my life, but my fundraising journals went to the public, so of course I didn't write about that. For anything else the journals didn't cover, I checked with the involved parties, but this was too painful to bring up. I wish I had. It certainly would have been less painful than this.
Many people have emailed me about Amazon no longer selling Courtney's Quest and I wanted to explain why. I actually halted publishing it because I found I'd made a terrible mistake regarding Steffen and the drugging. In my book, Steffen's only response to finding out about the drugging is requesting that I delete his contact information because that's what I thought happened. Then a couple weeks ago (or 10 days, I don't know), I was looking for an old unrelated email and came across one from him that said, "I just heard about the drugging, I'm behind you 100%." I was shocked. His request came after the conviction, not after he initially heard about the accusation, because he felt I didn't express enough lamentation to the public that the team lost their placing not just me. He was upset with me for a reason, his request didn't come out of the blue as I thought, and he offered unwavering support about the drugging itself.
The brain injury has had an amazingly slim effect on my cognition, but it's made me forget certain important instances that are only brought back by being told. For instance, I couldn't remember the night Myth died; only after being told about it did the memory gradually come back. I couldn't remember the first World Cup and the same thing happened; after reading about it, seeing photos and thinking about it, actual memories of it came back. I knew my wedding happened but I had no recollection of the actual event. So perhaps an immense amount of emotion confuses my brain as every instance I didn't initially remember was a highly emotional one.
I felt I needed to wait till after WEG to tell Steffen and Debbie, so for a week I hardly slept and lost five pounds in the first two days due to worry. I was horrified that the one thing my memory chose to hang onto through the drugging was the agony of writing Steffen several emails asking why he was upset with me and receiving his one line response. My memory chose to forget the support he offered beforehand, but when I told him, he said, "No need to apologize and certainly no need to be ashamed. It's all good." And Debbie said it was such a horrible Olympics, she doesn't think anyone could be upset at what I do or don't remember. What phenomenal friends, forgiving me without question when I completely forgot the friendship they once showed. I loved them before, but this amplifies the feeling a hundred-fold.
Amazon will be selling the corrected book in a few days. I'll keep you posted.
A couple months ago, Koryn and I were trying to come up with a word to describe how I feel about River because love isn't right, it's way more. It's not a feeling so much as a way of being. I've figured out a way to describe it. It's not a word but a phrase: all-encompassing oneness.
I always thought it was silly when people say they love someone more than themselves, but now I understand, know they speak true. My husband and I had a debate about the heart: he insists it's just an organ of the body and any feelings we attribute to it are completely mind-based. Perhaps he's right, but when I think about how much I love River, I feel my chest contract which feels like it's squeezing my heart, which in essence is the same as feeling my heart expand. So yes, it may be mind-based as I have no idea how the organ of my heart feels, but the feeling definitely comes from that region so it's an apt way to describe the sensation.
We've converted my Room of Inspiration into a baby room so that, as Little Miss begins crawling, we can contain her so I can look after her while Jason does his work. It feels so good that I'll still be able to help. The problem is that she gets incredibly bored, is a little busy-body, so I have to be very careful to only use the room when we need to. It makes sense that River gets more bored than most kids because most kids get lugged around while mommy does her stuff: laundry, getting the mail, running to the grocery, but River has an eight foot circle she can crawl around in and not get in trouble while I sit in my chair overseeing her. She gets so tired of the same toys, the same sights. I make a point to have Jason or Koryn take us to do other things, but they can't always accommodate. So, ya, we're making due with what we can, and one thing I need to keep reminding myself: I'm extremely good at loving her.
I'm enjoying watching River's daily progress. She's working on her crawling technique and is figuring out how to directly get to places. It used to be that if she saw something and wanted to get to it, she'd just roll her way there, but now she has perfected the commando crawl. She uses one leg and one arm, looks like an injured soldier crawling to safety, but it gets her places quite quickly.
She often just sits and stares at me (or at Koryn or Jason or strangers), and I wonder, not what she's thinking, but how. She has no words, no vocabulary to wonder about specific things, but she looks at me so contemplatively. I wonder if there's a way to wonder in shapes or actions. Must be like a dog. They have no vocabulary, but they make it clear when they're thinking about dinner. But the thinking about, wanting something specific, I can understand: wa, I want food. Wa, I'm wet. Wa, I'm bored. Big grin, I'm happy to see you. Big grin, you're funny. Big grin, for no particular reason I'm happy. But it's the wondering that leaves me totally perplexed.
K, better stop thinking about it or my brain's going to explode.
I've experienced sadness about my accident for the first time. Not a topical, "yeah it sucks what happened to me" kind of sadness, but a deep, poignant, woeful kind of sadness. It started over the Fourth when I became sad that I wouldn't be a good role model for River. Then it made me think about and miss the actual feelings of riding: the moment an exceptional half-pass begins, rocking the weight back on the hindquarters and preparing for an extension, knowing the power is coiling up and ready to explode, the feeling of damp, warm muscle as my hand slaps a neck in appreciation. Then it extended into teaching. A horse was having a problem and Koryn wasn't around; boy, did I just want to get on and figure out what was going on. Then yesterday, as I sat teaching and watching the girls on their horses laugh and joke when two nearly collided, I realized the social aspect of the life I'm missing out on. It nearly brought me to tears.
I feared that this sadness would settle in like a disease that's been dormant, realized that I'd never taken the chance to be sad about it. At first I was utterly confident that with some hard work, I'd make a full recovery, so I wasn't upset, just absorbed in the process of recovering. After four years, I realized I was sacrificing a great amount of enjoying what I can do now in my obsessive efforts to become what I once was, so over the course of a few weeks, I gave up that idea and decided to simply be happy how I am now, never bothering to mourn for the person I was laying to rest. When the deep sadness appeared, I thought, "Ok, now comes the mourning" and prepared myself for the depression that people were certain I should have experienced at the start. But the sadness was, and continues to be, a fleeting visitor. It's made a handful of appearances since the Fourth but hasn't lingered.
Yesterday as I was lamenting the loss of the socialness of what I lost, River was sleeping in my arms. She moved, and when I glanced at her, the sadness ran away with its tail between its legs. I'm sure this poignant sadness will continue to appear like getting a jab in the side, but having River in my arms, in my heart, will eliminate the possibility of it settling in.
Last week was the Courtney King Dye Horse Mastership Week of the Emerging Dressage Athletes program at gorgeous Riveredge Farm owned by John and Leslie Malone (the owners of my Olympic horse, Myth) and run by Scott and Susanne Hassler. The Hasslers are quite amazing... let us take over the incredible facility and impose on their business, provide ten stalls and houses for the kids, let us use the lecture rooms, take over two arenas, arrange tours of the breeding and therapy places. Scott even gave a full day out of his rigorous schedule to teach and lecture. Many people donate their time: the trainers; Scott, Lendon, JJ Tate, Michael Barisone and me. The organizers; Jann Clark , Judi Gilsdorf and Susanne Hassler. The tours and demonstrators; Paul Loomis of Select Breeders Services, Bruce Jackson of Fair Hill Therapy, Richard Malmgren. Plus the many mothers who arranged lunch for everyone daily.
Although Koryn is now too old, 22, all the trainers do me the personal favor of teaching her.
Lendon astounds me. What she did for me personally is quite amazing, but her generosity in her efforts to help our country floors me. If the U.S. wins gold in the Olympics in eight years, the president should write her a thank you note.
Lendon and River got to meet each other last week, and, as you can tell by the photo, they mesmerized each other. Jason handed River to Lendon and Lendon said, I don't do babies, but forty-five minutes later River was still happily in her arms.
It went till Sunday, but I had to leave on Saturday because I had to be at the Millbrook Horse Trials luncheon to accept the Charles Owen Equestrian Role Model Award. The award is a $5000 donation to the charity of the winner’s choice, and it’s given to someone who’s had a positive effect on horse sports. Of course I chose riders4helmets to receive the money because I’ve always said if my accident saves one life, it makes it seem worthwhile, but r4h broadened the impact my accident to save many. Silva Martin presented the award to me and I told her it was perfect that she was on the stage with me because in a way, we were winning the award together. People often email me saying that they were wearing a helmet due to me and it saved their life, but no one else ever hears about them. But Silva's accident was widely publicized, so she showed the world that helmets can save lives. I showed what can happen when you don’t wear a helmet, and she showed how to avoid that fate.
I've written so much lamenting my inabilities and expressing my sadness over what I can't give my daughter, I think it's time now to think of the good things I can offer her.
I'm patient. The first night we got home from Portland, River struggled with the time change and wouldn't go to sleep. Jason was struggling too, and after an hour of picking her up and trying to put her down again, he was through, so although I was like a walking dead person, I went into her room to do what I could to comfort her. Although I couldn't pick her up, having my face in touching distance from hers as she lay in her crib entertained her, and singing to her soothed her. After nearly two hours, a contented mother left a sleeping daughter.
I'm a good watcher. When she's three and constantly says, "Mommy, watch me!", my eyes won't waiver. Even now when she's on her jolly jumper, she often looks over and when she seems I'm watching, gets very excited and starts leaping around again.
I have a healthy outlook on life. Even now, when she wants to be upset, a smile will force its way out. When she opens her eyes from sleep, a smile is soon to follow. In that regard, I believe I am a good role model.
I needed to come to terms with the anguish of my inabilities, but it feels good to have them digested and be able to enjoy the dessert of my positive attributes.