Found a use!I


It's all coming together: feel so useful! Long story of how I got here... About five weeks ago, I had to get surgery on my toe because the spasticity caused by my injury caused me to develop a hammertoe. (All the toes were scrunched so tight it caused the second one to bend all the way up and it became fixed that way.) They cut the tendon and put a plate in to straighten it. Three weeks after the surgery, the bone beneath the plate broke and they had to go back in and remove the plate. (After the problem with my pump, I guess I'm a two surgery kind of gal.) I could put no weight on it (bless Jason for carrying me hither and thither), so I've been wheelchair-bound. I started taking the left foothold off the chair so I can push myself around, and I'm totally mobile! I can follow River around, pick her up, carry her, take away my dishes, organize a bit. I haven't had time to write! I thought I'd need Jason's help to transfer to my couch to feed and let her rest as when I'm in my wheelchair, I normally have a pillow, but come to find out, now that she's bigger, it's perfect! I'm having to do weights for my biceps, she's getting so heavy! So that double-surgery was a good thing. Plus Jason doesn't need to go to the gym!

We spent the weekend in Chicago where we helped my sister warm up her new digs. River got a ton of new experiences: a boat ride down the river, swinging in the park, watching a marathon, and she was a trooper throughout. When my sister asked her friend who has kids what to do with us, her friend's response was, "Well, the kid will decide your schedule" and Greta told her,"I don't think so. I think she basically does what the parents do." And that's the truth. We're extremely fortunate that she's cool enough to do that.

I've figured out the root of what's causing my bouts of sadness. It doesn't have to do with having had a baby; it has to do with finishing my book. Although I was extremely happy to be finished with it so I could focus all my attention on River, I was left without a challenge, something to strive for, to accomplish. Having a daughter provides me with a purpose-- a long-term meaning-- but I didn't have anything to set out to accomplish on a daily basis. It made me unbearably sad when I realized I felt I was just passing time in my life instead of living. Looking at my week was like this: Monday, go to grocery store and a walk in the park with Jason; Tuesday, teach; Thursday, pack; Wednesday.... What am I going to do Wednesday? Maybe we can go to the grocery store on Wednesday. I used to never be able to finish what I wanted to in a day, and now I'm looking to fill my days with a simple run to the grocery store. At least when I was writing my book, I felt I had a job, a duty, something I needed to do.

Several months ago, I realized I'd feel this way and knew I'd need to invest myself in something, but everything I do, I'm obligated to ask for help from others, which increases my feeling of being a burden and decreases my self-esteem. Even being a greeter at Walmart would necessitate transport there and then I'd need help to go to the bathroom, eat, or move my wheelchair anywhere. I felt I couldn't win this battle. As I said to my therapist, I felt defeated--a feeling I'm unfamiliar with.

 Way back when, I knew that my options for independent productivity were painting and writing. I thought perhaps I'd begin painting again, but I realized that wouldn't be possible with a daughter because it requires large chunks of uninterrupted time. I thought the restriction on writing was that I can only write about things that happened, I can't make fiction, and I already wrote my life story. So I took an online course to learn how to write fiction, but it was totally unfulfilling and didn't teach me anything. Then yesterday it struck me: yes, I wrote my life story but there are tons of things that happened that I didn't write about. So I've decided to put together a new book, a combination of the short stories I write now and things I've written over the years.

I don't expect to publish it for several years as this is only to provide me with a purpose besides mothering and certainly will remain second priority. Yesterday I was all geared up to begin my first story, and although I only got two paragraphs written all day because my attention was so often on Little Miss, I can't tell you how good it feels to have something to work on, to spend the hours I'm lying awake at night thinking about my story rather that what LM will wear the next day.

It feels good to be me again. I'll continue my therapy because the sad me needs to get some attention. It was interesting in our session last week; she was saying that of course the sad me is demanding more attention than before my accident because there's so much more to be sad about. But it's actually the opposite. The sad and upset me used to have a voice; I'd have a bad ride or a client would get upset and I'd be sad, cry to Jason about it. I'd get irritated at the traffic or the lady counting pennies in the supermarket. These small day-to-day interactions allowed her to be present. Now, I have no interactions, I'm given no reason to be angry. The sad me never gets to speak out. "Ah, now I understand", said my therapist.

The weekend before last, Jason, River and I went to Burlington for my sister-in-law's fortieth birthday party, which was karaoke. Jason wore solid gold MC Hammer pants, which had the crotch at knee-height, and sang You Can't Touch This which River found fascinating.  She was such a trooper, smiling and enjoying the party until 10 pm when we were kicked out. She even sang Girls Just Want to Have Fun with us, complete with her own solo. Did I mention I love her?

She also had her first playdate with Una, my sister-in-law's friend's nine-month-old. It was very amusing to watch them briefly interact; they looked at each other and compared toys for a few minutes, then went on to other things. A couple times, River was lying down playing with something and Una would crawl over, contemplate her for a moment and then start slapping her face as babies do with toys, a little fwack, fwack, fwack... River did nothing but shut her eyes each time. She didn't cry, roll away, show any signs of distress. She just peered at Una in confusion until Una's mom carried Una away, then she continued playing with the toy in her hand.
Emotionally, I'm doing ok. My self-esteem is still at an all-time low, but it feels good to have a plan to get it solid again. My best friend, Betsy, visited this past weekend, and although my instinctual desire was to make the most of enjoying my time with her, I made myself talk to her of my sadness. It was great. I haven't cried that hard in many years except when Quivvy died. She said she'd never seen me cry like that, and it made me realize, it's not only good for me, it's good for our relationship. It's kind of like the time a few years ago when my dad invited Jason to go out fishing and said I could stay with my step-mom. I immediately declined because I didn't want to burden my step-mom with the responsibility of caring for me-- help me go to the bathroom and the like. My dad got very offended, told me it hurt their feelings that I wouldn't let them help me, that sometimes it feels good to help a loved one, it makes you feel closer to them. Betsy's never gotten a chance to meet the vulnerable me, to help the vulnerable me. Neither have I. This afternoon I have my second appointment with the therapist and I'm very much looking forward to it.


NEDA show


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.


Happy update


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!)




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 little more mush


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.


August 28th, 2014


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.