In my other life, I wore heels everyday. Work days, weekends – it mattered little. I also drove a Jeep Cherokee. I loved feeling like I could see things that I would otherwise never notice. I traveled tall. My shoe collection was legendary and even Casual Fridays involved four-inch heels that I would walk in endlessly – back and forth, staircases, multiple floors, the streets of DC and every other city I needed to be in. I was a physical example of over-compensation.
Never mind that my back would curse my name each morning when I got dressed. “Ha” to those who wondered how my stride was even remotely normal and not some mincing step more analogous to those who have had their feet bound. I rarely wear them any more, but believe me, when I do I’m painfully reminded that they don’t fit my life. One of the step-sisters insisting that Cinderella’s glass slipper really did fit.
And this is why I won’t be going back to the barn. As much as I delighted in warming my face against a horse’s flank, found comfort and connection picking dirt out of their hooves, brushing their tails and singing to them. No matter that I felt love for Elmo and developed a woman-to-woman understanding with Valentine. And as much as I enjoyed chatting with my rider yesterday, a young woman with a smile that was bright enough to change the weather – the metaphorical shoes didn’t fit.
Honestly, it’s too fresh to recount. Suffice it to say, I don’t take kindly to being yelled at, belittled or demeaned. I don’t enjoy other people commenting about the unkind nature of any diatribe – especially when it’s directed at me, because I fall silent and don’t commiserate. Let me stress – neither the rider nor the horse were in any jeopardy – this was just about me and the instructor. As plebian as it sounds, I bore the brunt of her irritation and/or she just simply didn’t like me.
If I had a thicker skin, perhaps none of it would matter. If I believed that personal attacks are a profoundly effective way to get someone’s compliance, I might have been fine. Unfortunately, I’ve been there done that, and have a higher expectation of those in charge – regardless of the environment where they bear that mantle. I’ve had my confidence rended and discarded, spent years trying to find those shreds and re-form them into something resembling me. Perhaps that is why I counsel leaders with a conviction that is so fierce. Anyway, let’s just say, the shoes didn’t fit. And that reality hurts.
“If I turn my gaze away from you, dear Earth, please do not feel hurt. I will come back and kiss you again.” — Rumi
None of this has deterred me from my wish to spend my days in a way that substantively helps others and nurtures my soul. Hopefully the equine rescue farm will be better. Some connections to Walter Reed may help me in my hopes to work with wounded warriors. Perhaps I can also figure out what I should do with my blog, as this first year of posting comes to an end.
But right now, I want to turn away from the day. I need to do battle with the self-doubts that are speaking in full-voice about all that I am not. It’s a short-lived pity party I promise – and I hope you don’t mind not being invited – I rarely serve anything, and the conversation is hardly lively.
And yet, before I left I made sure to kiss Elmo and Nyles and Val – give them carrots and whisper in their ears that which I wanted them to know. That they were doing great things, with grace and patience and kindness. And I was so happy that they had come into my life albeit for this short, but meaningful time.