Getting back on the horse
Cora burst into Starbucks where I was patiently waiting for her, a cup with the last few drops of hot chocolate in front of me. Her eyes were sparkling and she couldn’t stop smiling. She could barely contain her excitement and in the single breath she told me she finally decided to face her fears and get back on the horse – literally.
When she was a little girl, she used to love horse riding. Until one day Angelo (her horse) threw her off. They were riding in the woods when something startled him. He got nervous, threw Cora and ran off. That day Cora broke her arm and shattered her confidence in ever riding again.
The years flew by (15 of them) and after a particularly bad month at work, Cora remembered how much she loved riding and how happy it used to make her feel. On a whim she booked a block of horse riding lessons before she had a chance to change her mind. She never looked back.
I was thrilled for my friend, she got hurt but she faced her fears and got back in the saddle. I left the coffee shop and went for a long walk along the river. I couldn’t help but wonder, in horse riding and in life, when we get thrown off, how long does it take to get back up? And once we do get up, how many of us get back in the saddle? If it’s possible to heal a broken bone, can you really ever heal a broken heart?
I have never been thrown off a horse but I know the feeling of losing ground under your feet. After being severely injured by divorce, I was left with a broken heart and a badly bruised bank account.
Determined to get better I forgave and forgot - I forgave my ex and forgot he existed. I concentrated on mending the financial wound by getting a new job and working non-stop. My heart condition was mainly treated by a course of rebounds and subsequent seclusion from men. It was an invisible wound so I didn’t take it seriously. Because physically I could function, I pushed myself to the limit.
When the time came to get back in the saddle, I got scared. The memory of the ordeal was suddenly so fresh, that I didn’t dare to participate. Instead I walked along and observed. It was the longest walk in my life until I finally accepted his hand and put my foot into a stirrup.
That day on the way home I couldn’t resist my obsession with white Christmas decorations and popped in to M&S to check out their new collection. They had the most beautiful glass hearts with silver glitter. I held one, I fell in love with it and I put it back. Hearts shapes were off limits as they reminded Mr Chateauneuf of a very painful event in his life.
I knew his pain would ease off eventually and a heart shape will be a warm memory rather than a heart-breaking reminder. He just needed time, I thought.
I walked out of the shop and into the rain. And as the drops of rain hit my face it dawned on me, I was so patient and understanding with Mr grief but I was less than nice to myself. I expected a whole lot and was very disappointed with myself when it wasn’t achieved. I was my own worst nightmare.
The truth was, I needed time too. I was not ready to gallop let alone get in the saddle. My cuts were still bleeding and I was aching. But I was already trying to work my still torn muscles.
I turned back into the shop, went into the food hall and bought myself the nicest box of chocolates I could find. One day I knew I would be able to ride with the wind again, but first I needed a lot of medication and TLC to get better. And the first item on my prescription was chocolate.