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Excerpted from Something More by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Copyright 1998 by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Excerpted by permission of Time Warner Bookmark.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 


"Finally I had to make my first conscious choice, an act of self-assertion grounded in my own sense of what was right."

Sarah Ban BreathnachSomething More, Part 2

Two weeks later, Aunt Em died suddenly of a brain aneurysm; she was only thirty-four. The morning of her funeral I was supposed to take my first riding lesson, I was crushed, heartbroken incredulous; it was like a Fall from Paradise. Now, suddenly, I knew at any moment life, happiness, security, safety, and most of all, love, could be snatched away without warning. I refused to go to her funeral; I insisted that she couldn't be dead, that some dreadful mistake had been made.

And the riding lesson? The prize? Finally I had to make my first conscious choice, an act of self-assertion grounded in my own sense of what was right. I took the lesson. I knew in my heart that Em would have approved, but secretly I wondered what kind of wicked girl would go horseback riding on such a sad occasion. With the earnestness that only the young can bring to any serious endeavor, I threw myself into my first lesson. But as soon as it was over and I walked away from the barn, the tears started and in some ways haven't stopped yet.

Later, when I was twelve and just learning to jump, I fell off my horse; I was shaken but not badly injured. I should have gotten back on the horse immediately, but I didn't. The next week's lesson came and went, but I became afraid and never rode again. I never talked about it, just shrugged it off as if I'd lost interest.

Many years later I took my daughter to her first horseback riding lesson. While walking from my car to the barn, my sense memories kicked in and it all came flooding back to me: my beautiful aunt, her unconditional love for me, the comfort of our close companionship, her belief in me, my determination to win that contest, our celebration.

And then, of course, the memory of my loss. In an instant I realized for the first time that I had buried my love of horseback riding beneath layers of fear, a little girl's guilt, and the recasting of a courageous choice into something shameful. Finally I could untangle the twisted truth of an ancient lie that had robbed me of so much joy.

Thirty-five years after I fell off a horse, I got back on one, starting from scratch in a beginner's class with seven-year-olds. It didn't matter. I was seven years old once again, too, grateful to be back in the saddle, thrilled to have recovered a precious portion of my relinquished Self. On my way home I stopped off at bookstore and got myself a brand new copy of National Velvet.

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