Return to the ring: reflections

Odys and I stepped into the competition ring this past weekend! It was Odys’ first time at an indoor competition, and my return after about a decade off from the show ring.

What a trip. So much has changed, especially within myself, and yet in so many ways it felt like time stood still for a decade.

The technical aspects of returning to it all went all as expected. Outside of some pre-ride anxiety on our first day, and a tentative first round out- the rest of our weekend as a team went above and beyond expectation well. Once the initial jitters were gone for both Odys and I, we made leaps and bounds throughout our remaining rounds- even coming away with a fourth and second place on our second day in our two classes!

The emotional aspect of returning to that environment after an extended break was something I hadn’t quite expected. There was excitement and exhilaration, for sure. Also, though, a lot of old wounds emerging for healing.

So much of my journey so far with Odys aligns with the healing and reconnections with inner child, younger versions of me. With that comes old doubt, insecurities, a sense of loneliness and the threat of abandonment in a few forms.

Where I left riding, specifically competing, off was a place of extreme uncertainty, doubt, burnout as well as many moments of sacrifice when it came to my relationships to others and myself. While much has happened in the past decade to clarify and remedy the superficial burnout, bringing me back to the sport, many of those old wounds have metaphorical scar tissue to work through.

On top of this, much of my own healing journey aligns with the progressions we work through with Odys. All of this is new to him, and while he is keenly interested in showing off and competing by his own nature, he has the tendency to get in his head, can be anxious and impatient, and is highly sensitive to environments including my own internal environment. He in so many ways seems to have entered my life just when I am doing some of my own inner work around relationships, with themes of trust and support.

Experiences like the overall results of this past weekend fill the bank of confidence and trust in my abilities, in my relationship with Odys and the support team involved hands on at the show and on the periphery. There is no doubt in that. The metaphorical scar tissue coming up for me lately seems to be more rooted in questioning my ability to hold onto the meaningful aspects of myself that I am reconnecting with within sport again as well as balance the parts of myself holding up my professional life and my personal life.

Historically I can go all or nothing into one area, and neglect or disengage from others. I’ve lost friends, jobs, romances and parts of myself to be an athlete and I’ve also sacrificed my ambition in the athletic realm, and sometimes even the well being realm, to maintain appearances professionally, build businesses, and foster relationships. The question I am sitting with now, as I feel called back into sport both professionally and for myself, is can I balance it all and still give and receive support?

To you, the reader, this may seem like an ethereal and somewhat privileged problem, as it is full of complexities even I don’t understand and in this moment don’t even really have clarity on the words to use.

There’s an adolescent version of myself that is still hurt by the loss of friends, or at least distancing and disconnection of social experiences that naturally occurred as I focused in on competing and training.

There’s a childhood version of myself that is jumping with excitement at the reality that I am in present day living out her dream of riding a big, attention demanding horse over ever growing jumps.

There’s a young adult version of me cautioning me against the realities of committing to the sport again. Casting doubt on resources, time, and the relational sacrifices that may occur in the extremes.

Alongside all those versions of self is my present day.. doing her best to hold space for it all. And alongside her is Odys, in many ways pulling me forwards and through.

As we head into another competition this coming weekend I am feeling much more open to creating an ally-ship with all that has been and is becoming. We don’t know what we don’t know, until we feel it and the path forwards starts with the next step.

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