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I needed nothing more
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I needed nothing more than to avoid the appearance of vulnerability. I was an avid horseback rider, although intermittent, I rode at least once every year. But when I moved to Seattle, I did not ride for 4 years. So, when I went to a cousin’s in Montana and there was a horse available, I needed nothing more than to ride that horse. It was a large horse named Julie. I love the feeling of my legs around the broad girth of a horse, being one with this animal, moving together in harmony. I love the feeling of height and seeing the world in a totally changed frame. I am free, wild, in nature. I needed nothing more than to ride that horse. But, Julie suddenly began to trot and then gallop. This was not new to my experience with wild horses. I would hunch down over the neck, tuck in my knees and grab hold of the mane. Occasionally I would go flying, but I was invincible, getting right back up. But this time, I let go…I was 54 and no longer invincible. I planned my fall with no thought of staying on. But I fell hard. I’m a Nurse Practitioner. I would never let someone move with a fall like that. But I wanted nothing more than to appear strong. I wanted no sign of vulnerability. I got up. I tried to walk, but my leg would not move. My aunt had seen the fall and driven over the field. I tried to “buck up” the Montana way. Finally, I knew something was wrong and allowed a drive to the ER where I was told I had broken my back… stable, painful, but discharged with a brace and restrictions. I did not want to miss out on the family reunion and celebrations, so I went on the bus ride to the top of the hill, bumping along painfully, I went to the dance, although could not. I hid my pain with handfuls of ibuprophen. All I wanted was to not look vulnerable. We went to dinner and my son in law wrote a song “I was bucked by a horse name Julie, Julie was her name……” which we all sang. All I wanted was to be strong. I insisted on driving home, but since then, My idea of strength has changed. I am vulnerable at times. Strength is not the absence of vulnerability. Strength is allowing myself to need, to show myself as not able, not strong, not
getting up this time. Now I need nothing more than to be who I actually am at the moment, knowing it will change.

Both strong and vulnerable
Both happy and so sad
Both frightened and able to accept
Needful and giving

Do I need to be one way?
I’m complicated
I am old and very young
Wise but unknowing

I live a life right for me
I have tried other’s lives
They have no meaning for me
I must be myself


This is so beautiful and loved how it morphed into a poem. I could relate with the experience of not being the same self that could bounce up from a fall. Great writing!

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