My Dog Sledding accident...let go of the sled Kim.

In December of 2013 I was lucky enough to be invited out on a dog sledding adventure.  I had never been and the appeal of seeing the back country terrain of Montana in this new way was very exciting. The day of our afternoon sledding I was full of unprocessed emotions, running late, forgot I was making a slow cooker dinner that night which meant I had ten minutes to chop mushrooms, carrots, chicken etc. I wasn't centered, grounded or calm and a was also a bit hungry as we set off on our adventure.  Once we arrived we were given the option of driving our own sled, being driven or taking turns.  The adventurer in me and the should in me was "you should want to drive your own sled, so and so would,..."  It took me awhile but eventually I realized I really didn't want to be driving my own sled for two plus hours.  When we go fly fishing, I am the one who enjoys sitting in the boat and drifting down the river, taking in the sites, closing my eyes and feeling the air on my face, dipping in for a swim. I don't like to keep my eye focused on the fly in the water. I felt this experience could be similar.  It didn't even matter why. Driving my own sled wasn't a Hell Yes! I want to do that and my desire is to do things that are a 'Hell Yes!'

Our leader gave us some instructions, one of the key ones being, if you tip over hold onto the sled. Don't let go as the dogs will keep going. And then just pop back up. Check, got it! We were off.  I was so delighted to be sitting in front of a driver who knew the area and shared stories, pointed out vistas and so happy with my choice to enjoy this experience my way.  After awhile I drove one of sleds and enjoyed it. We had a cocoa break and I was back in passenger mode, totally content to stay this way until the end of our adventure. What unfolded next is such an example of my life's journey.

At one point I was asked if I wanted to drive again (to trade off with another woman on the tour) and some part of me thought. 'Oh I need to do this because she's has two turns, I've had one. She might not want to go, I should go'. Blah. Blah. Blah. So I started driving the sled again and this time I felt more tense, more on edge. I wasn't as present in my body. And soon enough, I felt myself tipping over to the left. I remember the instructions. "Hold on. Don't let go." I gripped on the sled for dear life, holding on, holding on, holding on waiting for the sled to stop. My body became the brake for this pack of dogs. My body digging into the hard snow. The sled finally came to a stop. And what did I do? I immediately popped back up! But the nano second my weight lifted from the ground the dogs would start off again, so I was back on the ground, head hitting the compacted snow, body as brake. I felt like I was in a car accident, where the car is rolling over, again and again. The dogs stop again. I pop up! and off they went. Finally the man in front saw what was happening, had his partner take over his dogs and stopped my dogs. I am forever grateful to him.

Because I would have kept hanging on and trying to get up.

Why didn't I let go? Why did I hold on so tight? This is what I learned to do. Because someone of authority told me to and I trusted them more than myself.  You're being bruised, battered, and hurt. You keep giving, keep going. You worry about the dogs before yourself. I held on too tight for so long, too long.

And I ignored my body and went with my ego. I didn't listen to my bodies response- it wasn't a hell yes, it wasn't expansive. It felt like a should, a should that I normally wouldn't say yes to but I was all over the place emotionally, rushing to get dinner done which I could have let  go and I would  have had time to calmly get ready, to take care of myself first. I even said to one of the women, " I don't want to get another concussion." My body felt totally done and complete with this experience as a driver and my ego- you should want to go more, so and so would, this other woman wants to, why don't you? Because I don't. Because my body is telling me no. But I'm not going to listen, I'm going to force and shove and then I'll fall and I'll hop back up and say I'm fine, when in reality with no hat on and the chills settling in and adrenaline coursing through my body I wasn't. And I kept going. Why? Why didn't I honor my body? I even had the thought, "Why am i doing this? Why am I still driving, I want to be done," I felt wobbly. why did I still force it?

I lost my center.  I wasn't in my body.

Three times.

Three times I was dragged through compacted snow. slamming my head against the ground, my body being the human brake of a sled full of dogs.

See how tough and brave I am?

See how ridiculous this is? 

I drove that sled another 20 minutes without a hat as the sun set, getting colder and colder in the Montana winter, the adrenaline and stress hormones coursing through me.  Instead I pushed on. Instead when we got back, I helped unleash the dogs! Rather than, that was scary as shit, I'm going to sit in the car, or walk around or sob now.  

We arrive home and after a bath I went down to finish cooking dinner for my parents.  Imagine being in a car wreck and still feeling responsible for dinner that night? They didn't ask. I simply felt I made this commitment to make a special meal, I have to honor that. Midway, I just looked at them and said "I need to go upstairs. I feel really off." So I went upstairs and cried and cried and cried. And tonight. over a year and half later I cried again. 

I finally feel forgiveness within me. Forgiveness for the decisions I made that day- so instinctual- to get back up, to keep taking the punches, to keep putting up with the pain, caring more about these dogs and the rules then my well-being. Not wanting to receive help, or lose face or not be seen as strong. So I got back up. 

And tonight I felt this. 

Never again.

Never again will I choose newly met dogs, others and authority figures over myself. 

This is my prayer. 

Never again will I choose bravado or shoulds or good girl adaptation to not rock the boat, or scream, or sob, or show emotions in public, in private over my health and safety. My life. Never again will I be pummeled emotionally or physically or mentally and stay in silence.

This is my prayer.

Let go of the sled Kim, let the dogs go free. Screw the dogs Kim.  But the powerful in charge lady told me to keep holding on and I want to impress her. She does the iditarod. 

She does. You don't.

Let go of the sled.

Take care of me. But no. The rules were to hang on to the dogs so I did. I hung, I clung, for dear life, for survival. Wondering what I was doing wrong that they weren’t stopping as my head beat against the snow and my body was dragged down the route.

No more clinging for survival. No more head beating against hard snow to take care of others.

Me first. 

It’s time. 

Let go of the sled.

It’s taken me a year plus to move this through my system. My brain became, quite understandingly, distrustful of myself, of my choices. Sister? What the hell was that about? So trust is being rebuilt.  

And tonight, through my tears, through a return to my heart around this at last, I forgive that part of  myself that clung so fervently to the sled, in this instance and so many others. To the sled that brought me pain, not joy. Trauma rather than love. I forgive myself for following the rules that were set out before me. Others before self. 

With these tears I alchemize this belief, this habit, this contract. With these tears and this new self- respect I let go of the sled. I let the dogs run wild. Let someone else take care of the dogs. It’s time to take care of me. No more holding on to the sled, with head hitting the hard packed snow, with being worried about others and not my own body, my heart, my soul. No more using my body to stop the sled, to absorb the pain.

I let go of the sled.

Taking care of the dogs, the others- that is good girl adaptation. That is insidious, harmful and self-destructive and so deeply ingrained. I forgive myself for this moment and all the others where I stayed.

I let go of the sled.

Let others take care of themselves, cook their meals, unleash their dogs, my vibrating body needs to be held, needs to be soothed. I don’t need to sooth the dogs. I need to be soothed.  Let them take care of you.  And its okay to take more than 2 hours to recover. You get to be bruised and banged up and that can take time to heal dear one. There is no rush. Be sweet and kind and gentle with yourself.

Let go of the sled.

So as your sister, as someone who loves you and wants the very best for you. 


Let go of the sled.


What sleds are you holding on to in your life? How can you gently let go and take incredible care of yourself? What stories/beliefs are keeping you holding on?