I’m alone, driving my husband’s brand new truck, pulling our horse trailer with my recently adopted Standardbred. I’m going to a special saddle fitting session two hours away. And I’m nervous, I haven’t driven a truck and trailer by myself for over a dozen years.
I’m getting close to the barn where the saddle fitting is taking place. Cars are getting backed up behind me but I know the road must be getting close. Oh no, there it is and even thought I’m going slow, I’m still driving too fast to make the turn with a horse in the trailer.
My heart starts racing as I look for a place to turn around. Nothing is obvious. I turn down a side road and look for a large driveway to turn into. The road turns to dirt. It’s a dead end road. And the houses I see do not have large driveways and there are large ditches in front of the houses.
I need to turn around and I’m running out of options. I turn into a driveway and try to get the truck and trailer straight so I can back out. I haven’t backed a horse trailer in a long time and I was never great at it. I’m fighting tears and I look up and some men come out of the house onto the porch and start staring at me. I’m trespassing. I’m way too obvious with the rig. I’m not succeeding at backing up. I don’t like being watched by others, especially when I’m making a fool out of myself, I really really just want to be invisible.
But here I am, inching forward, inching back, straightening up only to see it’s going the wrong way. Pulling forward again, correcting, backing. The trailer is out on the road, I’m almost there, then the trailer jack knifes … but it’s so close, only a couple of feet and I can pull away, I keep backing and nudge the trailer with the truck bumper … I try to push the trailer that extra couple of inches so I can escape this mess. I can’t, I pull forward, back again, and finally pull away. My face is red, my are muscles tight, my blood pressure is through the roof.
I get to the barn visibly shaking. I find a place to park, and step out of the truck. I look at the trailer, it’s fine, I look at the truck and the back bumper is dented in … a big dent … in my husband’s new truck. He loves this truck. He waxes it once a week. He won’t drive it on a muddy road. It was custom made for him. I feel like I want to disappear into a big hole. But I have a saddle fitting to do, so I put on my brave face, hide the stress in my heart, and carry on.
What a memory … that happened roughly 7 years ago and I can still feel the stress stored in my body. I was lucky, my husband was actually very understanding about the dent in his bumper but I still feel like I let him down.
I still wonder to this day why I didn’t slow down more. But I know why … I wasn’t comfortable with the cars behind me and I compromised on how slow I was willing to go. I also was under stress from driving the rig by myself. Stress affects vision, it affects the frontal lobe thinking/problem-solving brain, it affects muscles, it affects emotions. So even if I had been driving slower, I may not have actually “seen” the street sign in time or even processed what I was seeing in order to make the turn.
I needed to slow down even more, I needed to slow down my stress response … I needed to breathe and relax, I needed to accept that I had the right to be on the road going slow and looking for the turn, and I needed to stand in my power … that feeling where you own your part of the world, accept yourself fully, and feel confident asking for help when you need it.
Things would have been much different if I’d allowed myself the time to slow down like that. If I allowed myself to go slow, feel relaxed, feel my power, I probably wouldn’t have missed the turn and then … I wouldn’t have had to turn around, I wouldn’t have made a fool of myself trying to turn around, I wouldn’t have dented my husband’s new truck, I wouldn’t have flooded my nervous system with even more stress hormones and self-judgement.
And even if I had missed the turn, if I had been in that slow relaxed empowered state, things would have been different, I wouldn’t try to back up by going it alone, I would have asked someone for help.
Relaxing could have prevented all of that? I believe so and I’m looking at all the ways I can slow down in my life. I think slowing down will give me more time in the long run and I’ll be a lot happier. What do you think? Do you have any stories of bad things that happened when you didn’t slow down or good things that happened when you did? Could you benefit from more relaxation and slowing down too?