Riding For My Life Part Three: Wimpy

In a fit of irony, the stable owner named my bucking bronco “Wimpy,” after the very first Quarter Horse sire to be registered with the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) in 1940.  “Wimpy” was anything but wimpy.  As we saw in the previous installment of this series, Wimpy II was happy to bite, kick, and generally try to kill me in any way he could dream up in his horsey mind.  My personal mission in life was to gentle him.

After the backward crash incident, he suddenly gained respect for me, a little creature one-tenth his size, and decided he’d better settle down and go to work.  When I had his walk, trot, canter, and gallop under control in the ring, and had taught him to change leads and side-pass, I took him out on the trail.

Oh boy, that was some fun.  As soon as I got him on the trail and headed into the woods, he took off like a cannon ball galloping full tilt down the trail, the bit between his teeth so I that I couldn’t control his wild career.  Wimpy, my foot.

Tree branches whipped me in the face.  My glasses flew off.  By some miracle, I raised my left hand and my glasses thwacked right into it like a scrub nurse smacks the handle of an instrument into a surgeon’s hand.  I didn’t try to put them back on, but hung onto them for dear life until Wimpy wore himself out and slowed to a respectable trot.  I rode the son-of-a-gun all afternoon for that, till he and I were both exhausted and dripping with sweat.

“That’ll teach you,” I muttered as I untacked him and rubbed him down.  His muscles quivered with exhaustion, and I was afraid he was going to “tie up.”  Tying up is when a horse’s potassium or other mineral levels get out of balance from over-exercise or other stress, or else their muscle cells start leaking, and their muscles start contracting out of sync.  They fall down writhing and are in danger of their kidneys shutting down.  It’s a very dangerous condition and can be lethal.

I stayed with him a couple of hours, until I was sure he was going to be OK, then wobbled my way home on my bike.

I was starving after that adventure, but by force of will ate as little as possible at dinnertime.

“You’re looking really good these days,” bubbled my mother.  “It must be all the exercise you’re getting, riding your bike and the horses.”

I do believe my mother has an eating disorder.  “Looking good” in her lingo means “You lost weight,” or at least “You’re thin.”

I reveled in her approval.  Getting Mom’s approval meant everything to me.  It took a lot to get it.  Good grades were expected.  Making good art was expected, since both my parents were artists and I had taken Saturday art classes since I was five.  But “looking good” was a big step up from “fat ass,” and I determined that I was going to look really good.

We moved again that year, and the stable was too far to get to by bike.  Both of my parents worked in a town far away, so they didn’t get back until after six in the evening.  It became my job, at age fourteen, to prepare supper.  I didn’t mind it, since I love to cook.  Fortunately they were so grateful to have dinner waiting for them when they got home that they did not complain when I created experimental dishes such as spaghetti with raisin sauce, or egg foo young swimming in a sauce created from random liquids found in the refrigerator door.  They ate it without complaint.

I didn’t eat it, beyond tasting while cooking, and spitting the food out after tasting.

That year I was a freshman in high school.  Having started the year skinny, I garnered the respect of the girl population and the lust of the boy population.  I was invited to join the cheerleading team (Cheerleading!  Me?), which I declined.  I wasn’t the cheerleading type, and I hated the snotty girls on the squad.

I found, though, that the hypoglycemia that accompanied the anorexia caused my brain to be fuzzy–not good for Advanced Placement English or Latin Three, my favorite classes.  So at lunchtime every day I picked up a chunk of peanut butter fudge in the cafeteria, and nibbled on it all day to keep the brain fuzz at bay.

At last I reached my weight-loss goal: seventy-eight pounds.  I could wriggle in and out of my size one Junior Petite jeans without unbuttoning the top button–but I couldn’t stop.  My brain knew I was thin enough, but every time I looked in the mirror, all I saw was fat.  So I kept on with my rigorous weight-loss program, and joined the Cross-Country running team at school.

My mother looked at me with admiration: “Boy, you’re sure looking good.”  But now, I didn’t feel like it.  All I felt was fat.

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  1. Damn, anorexia, too?! I think you also need the badge/button my husband’ good friend gave him some years ago. It still has a prominent (sp?) place in our bedroom. It says “I Survived Damn Near Everything” and it’s as true for him as it is for you! So, I give to you the virtual button now (if I knew how to create things on the computer I’d create one for you, but since I don’t just use your imagination)

  2. I struggled with this as well. My mom was always very overweight, and I was chubby as a little girl, so when I stopped eating and grew quite thin she was so proud. I know she didn’t want me to suffer what she did (she was teased so much she had to eat on the toilet at school) but it was so sad that my bipolar depression was only seen as approval. What we do to ourselves and those we love….

  3. I’m way out of my depth here. I loved and am loving the way you tell your story. The fact that you are so candid about everything. During my first marriage I was told I was both fat and ugly every day for almost 25 years… needless to say I believed it. Even though things were not that way, I was an exercise freak, I still thought I was overweight. Now, my Lyme disease meds have made me put on weight… that and not being able to exercise. I can’t see anything except a fat person there… I’m just hoping against hope that eventually I can look in the mirror and see the real me in there.
    Thank you so much for sharing. Susan x

    • I am so sorry that happened to you. To be in an intimate relationship with someone who psychologically abuses you is hell on earth. What meds are you on for Lyme? I’m asking because I got bitten by two ticks last summer and now every joint in my body is killing me. I have an appointment next week to see about it.

      I very much hope that some day soon you will be able to feel good about your body. I have managed my “fat phobia” by giving up looking in the mirror. I only look in the mirror to make sure I have brushed my hair and that my shirt is buttoned properly. Otherwise it’s off limits. Strange as that may sound, it helps immensely. I’m sure some people would say it’s avoidance of the problem, but I say, whatever gets you through the night.

      • Thanks Laura, I think at the moment I’m fighting a losing battle – for the first time in my life I haven’t the energy to put make up on – something I’ve done since I was 17! I refuse to buy a new wardrobe of clothing – until I’m over this Lyme and I see what I can do.I’m truly blessed that my husband (we’ve only been married a year) is very supportive.

        As far as Lyme meds… the initial protocol was Plaquenil and Minocycline. Once they were tolerated I added Azithromycin. After several months at the maximum dose for these I added Flagyl. This I have to take by pulsing (one week on and one off) until the end of November, with the other drugs. That’s my next review and I have the scripts for the next round. I’m refusing to look at them yet.

        I have to be honest and say I’ve had all the horrid side effects from each drug. Migraines and severe light sensitivity, gastric upsets, As I scaled down the Plaquenil I got the upsurge of arthritic inflammation (with a damaged back it was expected), but I barely sleep and when I do I wake in agony, unable to bend or walk, even my hands are frozen.

        Wheat packs and pain killers (which are not supposed to be taken because they can mask the neurotoxin reaction) don’t touch the pain any longer. I get over heated, causing more migraine and then have to turn on the air conditioner – which cools me down and the pain starts at full throttle again.

        In Australia Lyme disease is not recognised so we cannot get the medications used in the US or UK, They have a cure rate much shorted than the medication we have to use in Australia. To bring the protocols in costs $1600 AUD per month and this can go on for anywhere between 12 months to 3 years, (because I’ve had this for over a decade).

        The difficulty is that most doctors will diagnose Chronic Fatigue, ME, PTSD, Stress and a host of other ailments. I’ve had a thyroid removed, hysterectomy, gall bladder removed plus nerve ablation for the back/neck problems. It seems a vicious circle. Through most of it I’ve been alone and everyone thought I was simply looking for sympathy or a hypochondriac.

        So, one way or another I fall under the umbrella of having a mental illness, depression comes and goes to some extent, PTSD – thanks to my ex… then a tiny damned tick causes havoc. Makes you wonder.

        I guess you already know but Lyme is MAINLY diagnosed through symptomology, not test results. The doctor needs to test for the co-infections. I have Bartonella too, but there’s quite a few more.

        Good luck next week. Be armed with all the info… it helps. 🙂 Susan

        • OMG, that’s HORRIBLE!!!! You must have had it for a long time before you were diagnosed. I’m really hoping that since this is a fairly recent infection (I found the deer tick on me this past July) that a couple of courses of Azithromycin will nip it in the bud (hope, hope). There is a doctor in the US, whom I met in Israel, who is a specialist in Lyme disease, since both he and his daughter have it. I don’t have his details at the moment but if you google “Lyme Disease specialist USA” you might find him. I think his last name is Kinderler but not sure since that might be his daughter’s married name. If you don’t find him let me know and I’ll ask his daughter, since I know her slightly.

          I highly recommend acupuncture as an adjunct to treatment, as it revs up the immune system and helps to fight the infections, as well as fighting pain and fatigue. I myself am an acupuncturist, and I know I have to find one to treat me, but as I’m sure you’re aware, this has trashed my motivation even though I know that it will help me. That’s just plain stupid, I know, and I have to get over this ennui and help myself. Arrrrgh.

          Be as well as you can and take care….Laura

          • Oh Laura, I know exactly what you mean…dragging myself through each day, I feel I am force feeding myself all the pills and haven’t the energy to go out. It’s a good day if I make it to the back verandah (where I can cheat and take photos of whales). and of course a walk round the garden.

            I’ve been so ‘afraid’ I’m becoming self defeating, so I refuse to write anything too depressing, if I can help it. I’ll check out an acupuncturist, but I’m struggling with the cost of everything.

            On the plus side, if you have caught this early, and a couple of months is early! then a couple of courses of the Azithro should do the trick. I know of the American Lyme doctor, she visits here every four months, but it’s almost impossible to get to see here. Booked months in advance, and I can’t afford the US medication anyway.

            Catch 22. I’m feeling better than I was the other day. Sunday is my last day this week with Flagyl so next week should be a relative ‘rest’. No intention of allowing a bug – or many of them, to beat me 🙂

            We can beat anything together! You rest up and be well also. I’m glad we found each other.)
            Ciao, Susan x

            • Whales! You live on the sea? That should help with the Lyme ennui! I’m glad you’re getting off the Flagyl. It always makes me sick. I hope you’re taking lots of probiotics. All the antimicrobials you are ingesting are certainly wreaking havoc with your friendly bacteria.

              Keep up the great attitude! That’s more than half the battle.


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