The Diary of Bridgette M., Part 13

by Trey Nosrac

Series introduction is here.

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Part 4 is here.

Part 5 is here.

Part 6 ishere.

Part 7 is here.

Part 8 is here.

Part 9 ishere.

Part 10 is here.

Part 11 ishere.

Part 12 ishere.


Around noon today, we had a good laugh, not one of those maniacal laughs from the third line of coke or drugs in our bloodstreams. We had an old-fashioned belly laugh from three people who had not had much to laugh about for a decade.

On Monday mornings, Paul takes his grandmother grocery shopping. Before unloading his truck today, he assisted his grandmother, Edith, out of his Ford Ranger, handed her the black hooked cane she uses, and steered her into the barn where Bart and I were cleaning equipment and filling water buckets. Edith had met Bart at some point in time. Paul introduced me as Bridgette. Instead of saying nice to meet you, she referred to me as the girl from the drug place. I shook her bony hand, flashing my best fake smile. She did not smile back.

Edith examined me with beady eyes. Then she wobbled over to a stall and examined Annie, our rehabbing horse. She sighed loudly, then, using her high-pitched cackle like the witch in The Wizard of Oz talking to flying monkeys, Edith screeched: “If I understand the situation correctly, I am financing a pipe dream business idea with racehorses, cooked up by three people with addictions who don’t have real jobs, one lame filly, a granddaughter with multiple problems, a hip that doesn’t work right, and my farm falling to pieces around me.”

Edith took a breath and jabbed her cane into the soggy ground with such force that it stuck. She almost fell over when her cane popped out of the mud with a slurping sound. Edith gave another hefty sigh and began to head towards the house. At the barn door, she froze, looked back, rolled her watery eyes like a silent movie damsel in distress, and said, well, screeched to the heavens – “Ain’t my life one big blue sky.” Then she continued to her house.

It isn’t easy to describe her tantrum or our reactions, but we began with snickers that grew into hysterical laughing. That minute of laughter took away some tension. The silly moment was cathartic. We laughed some more when we settled down and replayed the Edith scene.

Paul suggested we should name our little business Blue Skies For You. I shook my head and said no, we would need to introduce ourselves as representatives from BSFU. Bart chipped in and said we could rename the farm Red Flags Flying.


We had a guest speaker at the NA meeting tonight. He was from Minnesota, an addict in long-term recovery with a long grey beard. His topic was feelings of shame in recovery. As he spoke (and was a good speaker), I thought about the three of us and the horses at Paul’s farm.

Like most good speakers, the man with the beard had a good opening line, part bombast, part question. He said we were all ashamed and guilty and asked if we knew the difference.

The guy startled us so much that nobody made a peep. Then, he began to talk gently and answered his question. His point was that shame and guilt are entirely different feelings, and both play a huge role in recovery. Guilt means you realize you deserve blame for bad things you did. Shame means you feel inferior and unworthy because of things you have done. Guilt means you feel you screwed up. Shame means you think you ARE screwed up. Understanding and overcoming these two are crucial in any recovery.

The speaker lost me when he went through a rather corny list of coping mechanisms using 10 well-worn flashcards. Concentration has never been one of my strong points. But three of his flashcards stuck in my mind. It dawned on me that I was already DOING three with the horse farm experience without thinking!

Live in the present – Try to focus only on today.

New Adventures – Attempt to learn new things with new people and focus on positive things.

Build or rebuild positive relationships – Spend your time with people who care about you and accept you as you are. Look for associations with nonjudgmental people with whom you are comfortable. Animals and pets can be sources of unconditional love.


At the barn, I asked Paul what he thought of the speaker from last night. He said that he felt he had done an excellent job. We talked as we did chores.

Paul was unusually chatty today, so I learned a lot. Paul is going to keep a low profile during his pin-hooking project. He is filled with both shame and guilt and cannot separate the two. He doesn’t want to see people, racing people, and he is not ready to apologize or mend fences. He knows he will need to interact with some blacksmiths, vets, and eventually customers, but he plans on flying under the radar as much as possible. He has concerns about the harness horse racing organizations coming after him. The sport is a small world. He is a pariah and always will be, so he views what we do as entirely out of the sport.

Paul believes that being a persona non-gratis in the sport may help him in some ways. People remember the bad, which is uncomfortable for them and him, so isolation makes life easier. Also, his troubling reputation might help him overcome the biggest obstacle for others who have tried pin-hooking. Buyers are wary of any owner or trainer parting with promising yearlings ready to qualify. A racehorse on the cusp of a career is difficult to find. In Paul’s situation, buyers will know he can never race another horse, so he MUST sell.

I think I understand his plan with the horses. I know he carries the same shame baggage that I do.


Paul is very excited. He has an iPad with the horse catalog for a big horse auction next week and studies it with the enthusiasm of a teenage girl on a Taylor Swift fan blog. Five times today, he walked over and showed me names, numbers, and videos, which meant nothing to me. I could have been looking at a molecular biology chart, but I kept making approving sounds and nods of agreement, which seemed to please him. At noon, Bart showed up to work on the tractor and took some heat off me. For the next two hours, they sat around looking at the iPad and speaking excitedly in a language only known to horse people. It was nice to see them both happy.