I’m a control freak. If I can worry about something, I will. If I can handle something myself, I will. Why let someone else change the laundry when I am quite clearly the only one qualified to tell if a towel is try, or what shouldn’t go into the dryer. I’m quite clearly the only one who tighten my horse’s girth, because let’s face it. No one else knows how tight it should be. If someone new is tacking up my horse, I’d prefer to put the bridle on myself; what if the noseband is too tight and my horse throws his head in my flat class? Why let someone else wash the dishes when no one else knows how to cut through the grease like me?

If I can try to control the circumstances, I will. I prefer to drive my car on road trips, because what if no one decides to stop when I am carsick or need to stretch my legs. You know, no other person might ever have to stop and go to the bathroom. If I work out so I’ve worked off my calories, I’ll stay fit and small. If I make plans and someone isn’t happy with where I chose for dinner or the movie we’re going to see, there’s some monster inside me that rears its head up and says, “Choose something else because then you can make them happy.” Funny little human I am who thinks I can control someone else’s happiness. Or anything, really.

The truth is even if I try and control a set of circumstances or my environment I probably won’t be able to. Even if I drive my own car, there’s still a likelihood I’ll have an anxiety attack in a car on a road trip. Not even just a road trip, but any time I’m stuck in a situation where I feel trapped. Sitting in the center in a row of a crowded movie theater, driving to a horse show where I rely on someone else for trailering, lysoling every handle in my house because one person got sick.  I’m sure there are other things I’m forgetting for now, but when they arrive my stomach will knot because clearly, I am the only one capable of making things go smoothly and efficiently.

There will come a moment when you’re finished feeling that way. Wanting to be master and commander of everything gets tiring, even if it’s just a feeling you have with yourself. When I told a doctor I refused to take a certain medication because it “caused weight gain”, he stared at me for a minute. Proclaiming I was attempting to control the uncontrollable, he forced me to get on a scale. Afterwards, he told me point blank, “Girl, you will gain weight over your life. That’s just how it is.”  The horror! Whether it’s because of a medication simply because I drank way too much soda in one day and now I’m bloated, I realized he was right. He wasn’t being malicious and forcing me to face a truth that wasn’t, well, true. I can only do my best, but some things are uncontrollable.

They’re just not.

If you have a beautiful pace and you’re cantering towards a giant water complex in cross country, you’ll probably make it into the water just fine. You don’t need to ride harder, you don’t need to force your horse to keep attentive. You rely on your experience, and trust that it’ll be fine. Maybe sometime it won’t be, but that’s out of your control. Thunder rolls and spooks your horse, and he refuses and you sail with absolutely no grace over his head and into the water. You can’t control that.

Letting go is extremely difficult but like an automatic release, the bigger and wider jumps become smoother. Relax your arms and follow your horse’s mouth with your hands. When he pulls, loosen your grip on the reins just a little and see how much calmer he becomes.

Loosen the reins on yourself, too.