The rust colored stall wall is cold and hard against my back as I slide down into the shavings, the stall is currently occupied by a young horse I am working and competing with. My breath is coming in short shaky gasps as I allow myself to feel. I am at show facility on a Thursday afternoon, the grounds are fairly deserted due to it being a week day. My assistant and a few friends are watching the jumpers in the other ring and I had to walk away to address some of my feelings.
One phrase question keeps rolling around in my mind "how are you?" "Karlie, how is your mom doing? ... and how are you?" I always shrug, I am doing well. Thinking to myself the entire time, I really don't have any other choice. I have to be well, my entire world revolves around me doing well. I have to hold myself together because if I crack then the world will start to come unraveled.
As I allow my emotions to rise to the surface I look up to see this young horse leaning over to where I am sitting and exhales his sweet breath into my hair. The smell of his breath against my face is my undoing. In the middle of a Thursday afternoon, sitting in a horse stall at show grounds, I allow my self to feel it all. To feel my emotions of inadequacy, to worry about my mother, to be scared of the future. The sobs slowly rack my body as I pull my knees up to my chin. This young horse has not moved from that spot since I sat down in his stall. He stands guard over me like a tall, brown, sleek sentinel, allowing me to sit in my emotions with out the fear of being seen. These feelings that I have been suppressing for several months now are coming up in waves. I just let the emotions rise and fall with out trying to stop them, focusing on my breathing and not much else. Several minutes have passed by and I look up to my sleek protector peer down at me with his liquid brown eyes. He sighs and I nod up at him. My legs are slightly numb as I unfold them and get to my feet. I let myself out of his stall and walk the short distance to the bathroom to splash water on my face and change. The announcer has called thirty minutes to the start of my class.
Okay, I tell myself as I look in the mirror in the bathroom your only goal today is "dont fall off that baby dragon you are training..." As I stride out of the bathroom, I see my assistant who smiles. "Lets do this!" I tell her as we head back to the stall to start getting ready. We head to the arena and the gate keeper smiles and nods "Ms LeBlanc the arena is yours." I nod and step into the ring to the sound of "Karlie LeBlanc next in on Big Glace ...."
Compartmentalizing my emotions has kinda become a super power for me. I always seem to shoulder shrug things. World wide pandemic, having to home school my daughter, cancer diagnosis for my mother ... shoulder shrug. The only thing I can do is just keep living. Being upset and bent out of shape wont help me address the issues, so I take all of the raw feelings and put them away in the basement of my brain so I don't have to feel them. This allows me to great the world with a smile.