I’m not good at accepting my limitations. While I’ve gotten better about it over the years, I’m stubborn, and if EDS says I shouldn’t do something, my usual response is to find a way around it. I’m active, athletic, and love being outside. Anything that gets in the way of those things is hard for me. Sometimes, though, I really do have to look at reality and accept the fact that there are some things that I just can’t do, or at least not without some modifications.
There are times when I’ve found those limitations frustrating. I’m certainly no riding prodigy, but I’m a capable adult amateur rider who, without EDS, could handle many different types of horses. Before I knew about my diagnosis, I didn’t have any fear of doing things, physically. I was a boys travel soccer goalie for goodness’ sake, and I used to train day after day to dive onto the hard ground or slide out into a mess of cleats and legs. Once I knew what was wrong with me, however, I instantly became much more guarded and cautious — I was no longer athletically bold.
In my work with horses, I’ve had to accept what I can and can’t do. Having a horse that is quiet and safe isn’t simply a preference for me, but a requirement. I’ve developed such a fear over getting hurt since I was diagnosed with EDS that although I’m confident in my basic abilities as a rider, a horse that does any monkey business tends to freak me out. I had a couple of ugly falls several years ago that really rattled me. While I’ve recovered my confidence, with a lot of help from Spotty, some situations still cause me anxiety despite the fact that I’m now a much more capable rider.
That’s a real balance that I’ve been working toward. I used to have moments when I felt like my restrictions held me back, but I’ve tried to see them more as redirections than roadblocks. It’s not safe for me to climb up the levels of my chosen sport? OK, well I’m going to try every side road available instead. I’m going to ride lots of different courses, try a competition in a different format, and maybe even try to qualify for the national championships at a level lower than I normally compete.
So much about EDS for me is about reframing. I can either get frustrated about what I can’t do or I can use it as an avenue to explore new ideas I wouldn’t have approached otherwise. Having to quit soccer gave me a lot more time to focus completely on horses, which has become a physical and emotional outlet as well as an opportunity to meet some incredible people. Considering that I don’t particularly enjoy frustration, I’ve found taking on new challenges that still fit within my interests is a far better and more enjoyable path for me. In that way, EDS still doesn’t win.
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