Growth is yucky

I have about 10 different drafts that I’ve tried flushing out over the past month.

Each time, I come back to the confusion in my life. Have you ever had one of those moments where, as time slows down and pauses around you, you’re watching what’s happening instead of experiencing it? And as you’re watching yourself, you already know that the person before this moment, their book, is finished. Not just a chapter, because that would imply a continuation of the same story. Although maybe it is, you can’t really tell because it doesn’t feel like you’re the author at the moment. You just know this is important, for better and for worse.

And then you’re back in yourself, you walk out of the moment, and continue on. I feel like this would be an understandable experience to have when I was diagnosed with narcolepsy, but this is different.

Am I being dramatic? Probably. Maybe. No? When you realize there are large gaps in your memories, and you find yourself desperately trying to remember details that¬†prove¬†something, but come up blank… You’re confused.

Worse, you can’t place names, or even general references. You can’t research or ask others’ opinions, because nobody else was there. I started a blog for writing practice, for fun, and it’s given me the opportunity to be a contributor for The Mighty, which has been empowering and something I’ve enjoyed after the two articles I’ve submitted so far.

For the past month though, all of my energy has focused on this. People write vague things about their struggles on the internet all the time, whether alluding to it or calling it outright for what it is. I could imagine why people would do it before, but now I understand it. You just need something to be outside of your head and a notebook. I can’t write about anything else until I do this, annoying as it is, because I know how much I’ve changed recently. My perspectives are different, my trust is certainly being held close at the moment, and I’m hyper-vigilant to seemingly everything (hello exhausting). I’m in flux about my values, my goals, my identity (guess this is a premature quarter-life crisis), trying to piece together my past to better understand the present, and mostly avoiding the future right now.

But, here’s what I’ve learned so far…

  1. I am so, so much stronger than I have ever given myself credit for.
  2. I am incredibly intelligent (and have undermined this my whole life).
  3. My ways of adapting to my circumstances has resulted in some residual problems I now have to deal with, but I don’t regret what helped me cope.
  4. My life events are the same, but my experience for so many of these events is in question. I’m still me, but my perception of myself is unsettled and changing, and I’ve got to spend time with and learn who this new perception is.
  5. There are still some really damn amazing people in my life, and I’m more thankful for them than ever.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; if you would have asked me if I thought a, b, c, or d would be in my future 1 year, 2 years, 5 or 10 years ago, I would have said “nah.” Here I am, and here I go. And it feels so good to write that.

On goals and narcolepsy

This will be short, I think. Originally, I was all gun-ho about this timeline I had in mind. Both for my life and this lil’ blog.

Go to college, ride for equestrian team, have sparkling GPA, get an undergrad degree, go to grad school, get a job, travel the world, make monies, buy a pony, buy a farm, etc. etc.

Start blog about horses. Write once a week, if not more frequently. Grow audience. Become competitive rider (says the blog I made in high school) and write about equestrian conquests with fabulous steeds. Make blog fancy with many followers as I advance my prowess.

Except per usual, plans and ideas go to hell in a hand basket and are definitely not what you thought they’d be. You’ve got to decide if this turn of events is something you’re going to beat yourself up over (NOT ACCOMPLISHING GOALS ON TIME OMG OMG OMG THIS IS NOT WHAT I PLANNED AHDGKHALKEHG) or if it’s something that will go more along the lines of “well… this is different. Definitely not what I was expecting… but okaaaay I’ma roll with it”

And so I roll.

I was not expecting to be rolling with narcolepsy four years ago, but there you have it. I haven’t spoken to anyone outside of friends and family about it (mostly because I have to explain what the hell is happening to those concerned), but seeing as I thought it’d be a great idea to do a show-and-tell presentation in one of my classes later this week, two weeks before finals, it looks like more people are going to be knowing about it anyways. It’s not that I’m hiding it, but truthfully I hate feeling weak and like I’m complicating things; naturally, narcolepsy is absolutely fantastic at accomplishing both of those. Sigh.

Although currently this blog is anonymous, so is it really like telling anyone if you happen to stumble upon this?

Anyways, this lil’ diagnosis has turned out to be a way bigger part of my life than I originally anticipated and so I adapt. I’m not planning on going to grad school for the time being (focusing on the more immediate task of seeing how my attempts at working a 40-hour week go first el oh el) and I’m neither on my school’s equestrian team nor taking lessons (another story entirely).

And I was going to write a horse blog three times a week. More chuckles.

So I decided writing once a month was more attainable. In true-to-form fashion, I’m writing this on the very last day of the month (goal still accomplished bitches – eh – me). I decided that horses could not be the only thing I write about, so I included my future career in recreation therapy to the mix. That wasn’t cutting it either, and I couldn’t come up with a new, witty, blog title encompassing recreation therapy (mouthful) and horses without losing the meaning, so I am begrudgingly accepting the attention whore that is narcolepsy.

Thus, rec (recreation therapy yay), sleep (narcolepsy…), ride (horses yay).

Writings, ramblings, and just keeping the mental gears moving with some eloquent exercise.

How it began…

It’s important for me to make this one of my first posts because horses have helped shape more than half of my life. In the words of M, “You know where we were at in our lives based on which barn we were (are) riding at.”

I didn’t know where that first ride was going to lead me.

I didn’t know just a week or two before that I had met one of my best friends. In all reality, I don’t remember a whole lot about this day. Had I known, maybe I wouldn’t have nearly fallen out of my chair in eagerness when the girl sitting next to me the first day of class asked if I’d like to go with her to her riding lesson.

Maybe I wouldn’t have, but if I’m being honest, I was already in deep by that point, and if it wasn’t then, I’m fairly certain it would have happened eventually.

Previous to this rendezvous, I had begun third grade and was now in the big elementary school. It was late August (none of this last week of July shit) during the first week of classes, and though it was debatable as to whether I was carrying a backpack or it was carrying me, I determinedly made my way to Miss B’s classroom and dropped myself front and center, ready for learning.

It’s a good thing I was ready for some learning, because I needed to make up for my baby alien endearingly-awkward-stunted looks. There’s a reason a girl, who 1) would later become one of my best friends and 2) wasn’t even in my class, therefore having little to no interaction with me, called me the weird gummyworm lady. I was rocking some serious goggle glasses that made my eyes look teensy due to the intense magnification needed for me find my way in the world (still basically blind as a bat without correction today, woohoo!), and I believe this was about the time that my infamous mullet was beginning to grow it’s ugly tail. While I don’t remember eating gummyworms frequently enough to warrant a nickname, it doesn’t entirely surprise me.

Lo and behold, however, on that first day (or at least during that first week), when another similarly spindly girl sat in the front row (literally against our teachers lecturing desk) next to me. I shyly looked over to say hi, and WHAT. I looked quickly back at whatever my 9 year old self was trying to appear busy with since I didn’t have an iPhone, and then glanced over again. Sure enough, she was wearing a shirt with a gorgeous dappled grey Andalusian on it, roses weaved into the mane and everything. Instead of a hi, I’m pretty sure I greeted this classmate with a “I really love your shirt. Do you like horses?” Derp derp.

Later we exchanged names, and M told me proudly that she was taking REAL RIDING LESSONS (!!!!), and then asked if I’d like to come along some time (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). I think it took a week or two before we got it coordinated, but I know that day I was about to bounce off the walls when M and her endearing mother came and picked me up. Despite the fact that it was overcast, us girls were giggling balls of sunshine in the backseat, and I was about on my knees trying to press my face against the window as we drove slowly up the drive towards the stable. Pastures lined either side and I couldn’t take in the variety of horse shapes, colors, and sizes fast enough. The barn itself seemed limitless; after my eyes adjusted the first thing I saw was the monstrous indoor which served as the center hub of the stable. On the side we entered was a row of stalls running the length of the barn, with a few on the other side of the arena along with an entrance to their tack shop, and yet another full length row which shared a back wall with the aisle we were currently walking. Though the structure was beginning to show it’s age slightly, having been constructed in the 70s hay-day, it was still clean and well taken care of with perky faces showing over the half-doors. We continued about halfway down and found M’s instructor, who she introduced to me as K, and who allowed me to help groom M’s trusty mount, Studly. Studly was your stereotypical lesson pony. Fat, grey coat faded to fleabitten white with age, and solid as a brick house. When the time came to tack Studly up, M disappeared into the tack room with K to get Studly’s things. I followed to the threshold and stood in amazement at the rows of saddles lining the walls, bits and bridles of every type hanging on countless hooks. There were groomboxes and saddle pads, girths and lungelines, boots, whips, extra stirrups, ointments and sprays that seemed to go on forever. With so much leather in one place, you couldn’t help wanting to smell it; maybe in reality it was a dusty 12′ x 12′ cluttered little room, but I remember it as a vast playground of well-oiled equipment organized just so.

When tacked up, our little train made it’s way to the outdoor arena. I sat up on the fence bench and watched in rapture as M walked and trotted around the arena, was able to turn Studly across the arena and change direction, make him halt and back up. I couldn’t get enough of it.

The real treat came at the end of the lesson however, when, as M was walking by us, instructor K asked me if I wanted to ride. Did I want to ride, ha ha. I quietly squealed with delight as someone handed me a helmet (adding this in because I hope I had a helmet, entirely probable I didn’t, and I actually don’t know if my mom had to sign a waiver for me either, but anyways), and then just had me slide from the fence over onto Studly’s back behind M. I held onto her while she explained that we were cooling Studly out after his “hard work” (combined, I don’t the two of us weighed 100 pounds), and for 5 blissful minutes I was riding. The air was crisp with oncoming fall as we trudged around, Studly dutifully carrying his babbling cargo with all the calmness, occasional stubbornness, and wisdom of an old-school lesson pony. I was taller than ever, on a real live horse, able to pet his fuzzy, speckled white hairs and feel the one-two-three-four of his hooves softly crunching the stone dust arena. Daydreams of galloping around in the expansive field immediately outside of the outdoor arena were dancing in my head. I don’t think I had ever been happier in my short life.

All too soon Studly was sufficiently cooled out, and we made our way back to the barn. I gushed that I would soon be signing up for lessons, and likely asked a million and one questions before we got back to the car, where M and I continued our serious evaluation of M’s lesson. I did get signed up for lessons later that fall, and I haven’t stopped talking about these damn creatures since.