dancing horses

dancing horses

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Let's Talk About Fear

This topic has been rolling around in my head for while. Today seemed like the right time to write it. I was inspired by a fellow blogger and friend Pam Levy: http://thewatertrough.ca/2015/04/11/who-makes-you-brave-2/ . You should check out her blog- it's a good one.

I do not consider myself to be a fearful person. Most times I go along believing that it will be okay and that I can handle stuff. But that all changed back in December.

When I was in the swamp with Steele waiting for help to arrive I have never felt so afraid or helpless in my whole life. That fear settled like a hard knot in my spirit and took up permanent residence.  I managed pretty well convincing Ed and myself that I was becoming okay.

Then Carmen came home and that knot of fear took over my whole being. I became terrified to let her out in the field. Like shaking terrified. Like unable to focus and leaping up to check the window every five minutes terrified.

Now fear can be useful- it lets us know that what we're contemplating doing is probably not a good idea. But it can also be non-productive and paralyzing. Which is what I experiencing and I had no idea how to deal with it. The winter weather didn't help. Somehow, the snow and ice became part of Steele's death in my head and I couldn't separate the two of them. The more it snowed and the colder it was the more oppressed I felt.

What was I afraid of? Essentially that something terrible was going to happen to Carmen.

I worried that she would flounder in the snow and break her leg.

I worried that she would jump over the fence (because the snow was so high) and break a leg.

Mostly I worried that the dogs would come back.

Really I was just surrounded by a cloud of fear and I couldn't talk myself out of it and had no idea how to deal with it.

I was even contemplating leaving Carmen inside until the snow melted. I knew that that was not a good idea and I didn't do it but I seriously thought about it.  Each time I let her out it felt like I was doing the bravest thing ever.

Ed was very very patient with me. He re-arranged his work schedule to make sure that he was home if I was away (he works from home). I was incapable of both of us being away and the horses outside. My good friend Joanne, seeing my fear, came and babysat one day when we both had to be at work.  We would talk about it. Ed would patiently point out that this couldn't go on forever. And I would reply that I knew that but couldn't figure out how to get around it. Every time they were out I would check out the window every 5 minutes. There were times when I actually sat there and talked myself through waiting another 5 minutes.

This has given me a whole new appreciation for people with Anxiety Disorders. I think that their ability to function at all should qualify them for a medal.

Slowly with time it's been getting better.

And then spring finally arrived. This weekend started with warm temperatures and rain which greatly reduced the snow level. Then on Saturday  the weather has warm and sunny. This finally melted the ice locking in Irish's door and we could open it to the outside. And when that happened that knot in soul began to loosen. Which is ridiculous. And freeing.

Carmen immediately popped inside Irish's stall and peed. She checked everything out and hung out with me in the barn. She's been spending the past two days thoroughly enjoying being able to pop in and out at will. Her stall should be free by this afternoon.

let me see if I like this one better
Irish: "I always lose my stall to the mares"

I've been outside digging trenches for the run off and couldn't be happier. Who knew that watching snow melt could be so much fun.

There has also been other interesting developments as well. With this change in myself Carmen is now much more interested in me. She seeks me out when I'm outside and positions herself by me. When I'm  near she blows in my ear. Last night I put her in the cross ties and she was as good as gold. I dropped an item in the food bin to surprise her and she looked at me with disdain "seriously?" If she had eyebrows she would have arched them.  I thought that I was covering up my emotions but you really cannot fool horses.


  1. Glad that your fears are starting to melt away with the snow. And thanks for the shout-out! xo

  2. So true; you cannot fool a horse. I'm glad you are both settling into each other and are happy. Over time the fear recedes but a kernel will always remain; and that's okay. We're all products of our experience, right? And you are an excellent horsewoman with a beautiful new partner. You'll be fine.

  3. I understand. I experienced a visceral fear of death after I lost my sister. I was afraid of losing someone else and this fear still shows up 11 years later, sometimes when I least expect it (a late night phone call for example). I was also afraid of dying before my parents, because I did not want them to re-experience losing a child.

    In all honesty, what assurances do you have that the dogs will not come back? That fear seems legitimate.

  4. This is good news. I'm so glad the snow is disappearing..

  5. It's only natural to react to the trauma you went through and so glad that you are feeling better and that's due to your strength and your support. Keep moving forward :)

  6. I don't blame you for feeling like you did at all, but I'm glad that it's getting better. Since Beefs died, I've been much more paranoid than I had ever been before. I force myslef to deal with it, but it isn't easy.

  7. I hope this isn't too intrusive, but what happened with the neighbors dogs? Did he ever make any recompense to you?

    Carmen is absolutely gorgeous, BTW! I'm so glad you got her. :)

  8. I'm probably just going to parrot what everyone else has said but I really don't blame you for your fear. After loosing 3 horses to colic, (over the course of years) I spent the whole time I had the horses living with us at home going out and doing an early morning gut sound check. I became obsessed with gut sounds and knew all the tricks to get them to poo when I needed reassurance (catch them, tie them up somewhere where they can't see other horses, etc). Loosing a horse in a tragic way burns a mark on your soul. It will never truly go away, but you will slowly resettle into a new normal. I hope, by the snow melting, that this is now happening for you. It's not fun being trapped by fear.

  9. I hope that your fears will ease over time.

    I believe overreacting... or worries out of proportion to the situation, are understandable symptoms after undergoing a traumatic loss - at least that was my experience. My yoga teacher would advise - acknowledge the fear, breathe through those thoughts, and let them flow away. Easier said than done sometimes.

    It sounds like beautiful Carmen is ready for you to be her partner. :D

  10. The fear you were, and still are, is completely understandable and normal. As you are finding out, though, you are slowly healing and relaxing. Just remember...there is no timeline. Something might happen in a couple of years that will catapult you back to that horrible day in the swamp and it may paralyze you momentarily but it will still be perfectly normal.

  11. I also have been wondering about where are those dogs & if there were ever any further words from the owner. Sorry if that seems too nosy?

  12. It's sounds like you're dealing with post traumatic stress disorder. It's usually temporary so take comfort in that. It sounds like you're already healing. You'll probably always have that fear but it will get better. I have generalized anxiety disorder and it is hell to live with. People don't understand until they feel the same thing. I'm so sorry you had to experience it. I'm glad the weather is improving and that the horses are enjoying their freedom.

  13. You went through a horrible ordeal...that will never totally leave you but it won't seem as "close". I had a similar feeling about driving after a bad car accident, I saw the worse case scenario in every situation and was paralyzed with fear. I slowly improved but every once in a while I have trouble driving, I too now feel a lot of compassion for people with anxiety disorders.

  14. It's wonderful that you have such a sassy, sweet, perceptive mare to help you through this. It sounds like she is supportive when you are worried but rewards you when you are relaxed. Who's training who?


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