I’ve Been Afraid of My Own Blog

I’ve Been Afraid of My Own Blog

Well y’all, it’s been a minute.

The other day I chatted with L when she made a comment about her blog hitting a ten year anniversary milestone. That number seemed crazy to me. Ten years?! Ten years we’ve been writing about our horses? Surely I hadn’t reached that.

But I looked, and I had. I started SMTT in 2010, though it had scattered posts back then. Still, technically I was at ten years. Eleven, really.

There are a lot of ghosts on this blog. Anytime you document your daily life for a significant period of time, things are bound to change. Add in major life events, trauma and tragedy and… well it can be hard to take.

I’ve thought about writing here in the 7.5 months since my last post. After all, life has continued. Poet went to another horse show. Lucie the puppy grew up. I’ve scraped through the pandemic like the rest of us. I made the excuse that I didn’t have time, with working a full time corporate job and blogging for The Plaid Horse on the side. “I need to work on my book,” I’d say. “I have to prioritize paid writing!” was another easy excuse.

But the truth is the fear, and the ghosts.

All I have to do is open up the SMTT homepage and I am bombarded by loss. Most of the latest posts are about Pascale’s final days, something that is still hard for me to talk about in person without needing to change the subject before I break down. Five years since Tim died. And of course the added layer of a global pandemic, which is pervasive and has touched everyone in ways we don’t fully understand yet. The weight of it all feels so heavy. Even if I wanted to write a lighthearted post about how Poet, my heart couldn’t do more than go through the motions. Nobody wants to read going through the motions, and I certainly don’t want to write about it.

Since graduate school, I’ve put a lot of pressure on my writing. It feels like everything needs to be touching and beautiful. My book, which is “done” but needs a 3rd (or is it 4th?) revision before I pitch to another round of agents, hangs out in the background as something I’m both deeply proud of and ashamed that it hasn’t reached publication yet. Writing is more than a hobby to me now, but I find myself with very little mental energy for it at the end of a day when part of my “real” job is writing, my side-hustle is all writing and editing, and my literary work needs to get done when I have time and gumption.

Every time I think about working on the book again, the ghosts and the pressure get to me. Pascale is a constant character (as is Simon of course, but his role is mostly devoted to a single chapter), and editing her existence to past tense is more than I can handle emotionally right now—even a year after she died. Re-writing and editing my trauma feels impossible. So I end up doing nothing, and then beat myself up for not working on my book… you know, the thing I uprooted my entire life and went to graduate school in CA for.

Which brings me back to this blog.

In an effort to be kind to myself and do some things simply for the joy of doing them versus accolades, publication deals or cash, I wanted to start blogging again. After all, this is the place where I found my narrative voice. This is the place where I’ve made great friends. Without the blog, there would be no book. No degree. No writing gigs in the equestrian industry. I owe a lot to it, and want to reclaim some of that joy.

But you know, the ghosts.

For the past two weeks or so, I’ve prepared to start writing again. Some of this was sheer housekeeping like fixing security issues and updating some photos. But most of it was re-categorizing all 1200+ posts into a streamlined navigation that made sense for the future. And my god, nothing will open your eyes more than looking back on your candid, daily thoughts for the past ten years of your life.

I feel like I don’t know the young woman who wrote most of those posts. I don’t remember the majority of them. Why did I care so much about tack and equipment, my god?! Now I wear the same three pairs of schooling breeches over and over and over. I was obsessed with weight and limiting my equestrian goals based off my size, something I will write more about soon. Every horse show write-up was literally called “Surviving Horse Shows,” as if I should have no higher expectation of myself or my horse than making it through 8 jumps in one piece. Sometimes the old posts made me laugh, sometimes they made me sad. If you read between the lines, I often thought so little of myself.

As bloggers, we’re all the “main character” of our stories, but Simon felt like the real star of the show from 2012-2018. He was so deeply engrained into my existence. Looking back, it feels like a fever dream. I see all the pictures of us jumping things that look tremendous to me now. We did the jumpers, like what? I hate the jumpers! He was this skinny, average Thoroughbred with bad joints and he did everything for me. We won big stuff, we derbied. When I go out to the barn now and celebrate a walk/trot rehab day with Poet, it feels impossible that I ever accomplished so much. But he was real, and if I concentrate I can remember the sound of his nicker that he always greeted me with. It’s not often that I allow myself to remember how much I loved that horse.

That’s the thing about ghosts—they sneak up on you. Those 1,200 posts had countless tiny anecdotes from the life I used to live. The one with a husband, a little blue house, three silly dogs and my nerd horse. When Pascale died, every single character from that story had gone. I am the sole survivor.

This week I told my therapist about how it feels like my blog was written by someone I don’t recognize. How I feel like I’m two different people now, the Lauren before all the losses and the Lauren in the aftermath. I wish I could have protected 2012 Lauren, as naive and immature as she was. She had no idea how much she was going to hurt in the next ten years. I hold some shame for her too, for the things she said or cared about back then that are so numbingly irrelevant now. I deleted some of the worst posts I am ashamed of, but there are still many you can find in the archives that make me cringe.

I have always tried to be honest with y’all, but it’s been with a wash of optimism. I write about hard things, so I can show you it’s possible to live through hard things. Some of my “happiness” and adventures I’ve taken on have been fully manufactured as a way to cope and keep going every day. Though I do believe in seeking gratitude and looking for the joy in life, I can also admit that it’s been an empty feeling at times.

And that’s the main reason why I disappeared for almost eight months. I could not pantomime the bright side anymore. I just had to survive for a bit.

Today, I’m still surviving. I’d say my emotional range is something like optimism –> neutral –> OH MY GOD THINGS ARE ON FIRE AND I’M AWFUL AND LIFE IS MEANINGLESS AND WE ONLY EXIST TO SUFFER. You know, typical human experience shit.

There will always be ghosts for me. They aren’t contained in this blog, but ignoring it does make it harder for me to push away all this hurt that I carry. But as I’ll readily tell anyone, I’m fascinated by human experience and the narratives we tell. I have an unlimited appetite for personal stories, and that includes my own.

So here’s to another ten years? That seems aggressive, but maybe. I still have a lot to say.

31 thoughts on “I’ve Been Afraid of My Own Blog

  1. You utterly and completely succeed in writing about hard things to prove to — and for — us that it’s possible to live through them. I am a horsewoman, a dog person, a therapist, a writer, and have my own traumas — so, imagine my delight over the last decade and being able to read your brave and vulnerable journeys through this terrain. As a reader, I never thought “oh, that’s a silly thing to think about, Lauren” — I thought, almost always after reading your stuff — thank god someone is talking about this! Thanks for the raw honesty and the well crafted writing. Selfishly — I’m glad you’re going to keep blogging. But, what you’ve already contributed with this space is more than enough, IMHO.

    1. That means a lot. It feels like there have been so many silly things, but let’s be real… there will be more silly things. Life should be at least a little bit silly 🙂

  2. I went through a time when I was ashamed of the me in the 20’s. She was so self righteous, opinionated and shallow. Now I look back and I love her because she was learning and trying. And she made the 56 year old me. The ghosts are there but they are critical to who you’ve become.

    Welcome back.

  3. Frederick Manfred’s novel Lord Grizzly concludes with the words, ‘Oh them haunt companeros.’ He knew about ghosts. You are not alone! I’ve long loved your blog, and kept checking back, hoping. Finally, after what feels like a year of sporadic indecision, I chose to sign up with Bloglovin, completely unaware (I ask you to believe this) that just one day ago you started up again. So glad. Welcome back.

  4. You have always been one of my favorite bloggers because of your vulnerability, and honesty in your posts. And your ability to put into words what so many of us cannot. Happy to see you back!

  5. As a plus size equestrian (who doesn’t currently ride for a slew of reasons) yours was a blog that reminded me when I was ready to give it a go again it would be ok. A bit of “if Lauren can be this public about her struggles by gods I can flail privately.”

    My grief started about 5 years before yours due to a different trigger but your ability to talk publicly about yours let me find words to process mine a bit more.

    I don’t comment much but I’ve read pretty much every entry and have celebrated or grieved with you. I am.glad to see you writing here again.

  6. <3 I feel this. Our lives are on different paths now than they were 10 years ago and reconciling those two versions of ourselves is hard. I'm in my 12th (yikes, just counted!) year of blogging. I haven't done a solid read through of old posts, but yeah so many things that were a BIG FLAMING DEAL to me at the time just aren't any more.

    I thought when I hit this point in my life/career, I'd be doing things so much differently than I am. Instead, I've found a new normal and it's strangely peaceful on the equestrian front.

  7. Welcome back! Agree with all the love you’ve received in the previous comments – In ten years I have never read anything here that didn’t make me think you’re a wonderful, caring, beautiful person.

  8. So glad for all of your writing. Everybody gets to change along life’s journey (how dull it would be if we didn’t). The expected change, the unexpected terrible, the total surprise of stark psychic pain or a moment of phenomenal wonder and joy, our fear, anger and occasional self-loathing in the midst of experience—all these and so much more are deep elements of all our beings. I am always grateful to be honored by the writing gifts of the very few who are honest enough to offer what they are dealing with today. So as your reader I can genuinely discover my tears (for my reasons) blending with your own (for your reasons) precisely because you have been both courageous and honest (within the bounds of that moment’s perception) enough to invite the reader into an authentic narrative. Likewise, this strange power of authenticity can help me discover something deeply and intrinsically funny that I may be ignoring in myself. Your laugh comes through like a bell of mindfulness in the zen community, uncommon, bright and recollecting. I am ever grateful for these astounding gifts, which only grow and flourish in recent years. Thankful to see you back here. As I take trembling steps into my own new journey, your companionship is sustaining, encouraging and enlivening.

  9. This is so timely, as I’ve been thinking a lot about how I miss blogging, and after renewing the domain/etc wondered if I may have a go at it again. How do you feel after writing this post?

    1. Same as I always do. A mix of exposed and glad to be back writing something and part of the blogging community again. Also a bit optimistic it’ll stick, but skeptical.

  10. I’ve been reading since the beginning. So much has changed.

    The ghosts do sneak up, but so do the joys.

    I checked for you often and am so happy to read your blog again.

  11. I am so glad you are back. Yay for all of us, your readers! What a lot of courage that must have taken, to face those old ghosts.

    As is so often true, your writing makes me empathetic. Nothing is capable of making me cringe more than remembering something I did, wrote, or said before I knew better. But I think that is where your power lies — in being nakedly vulnerable. You make the rest of us feel understood and less powerless.

  12. I remember starting to read blogs back around 2012 and thinking 2012 Lauren was so cool and how we had so much in common and I wanted to be her friend. Now here in 2021, I still think you’re amazing and am glad to call you a friend!

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