Sunday, October 21, 2018

Healing

Pavlov and his mom Stella

Hi Friends,

I have been feeling nostalgic lately. It's been just over a year now since Stella and Pavlov were "dumped" on us for nine months.

For those who don't know, we have three dogs and three cats. We had a friend whose father passed away and the morning of September 23rd 2017, he called us. He told us he had to immediately fly overseas for the funeral, and asked us to take care of his two dogs, Stella and Pavlov, for a weekend. Of course we complied, we love those dogs and he was a good friend. We got into the car and drove the 4 hour round trip to the city to pick them up.

A weekend turned into a week, then two weeks, then the possibility that he was never coming to get them...then it was January...then back to not coming back...then March...gosh it was an exhausting emotional rollercoaster not knowing what the heck was going on!

Last winter was very tough. Caring for 8 pets in our cottage rental was a challenge. It was a lot of work, personal hobbies were put on the back burner, stress and anxiety was a way of life. A few times they both had to go to the vet. Though our friend did regularly pay us for their food and any vet bills, it didn't seem like enough compensation for all of the time we were putting in. 

Shoes were chewed up, our couches were destroyed, fights between the two alpha girls, the cats were freaked out, lots of laundry, cleaning, grooming, walking and poop-scooping. But on the bright side, there was SO MUCH LOVE in our home! Basically our time was consumed with pet care but...other aspects of our lives were neglected.

The five dogs obeying for cheese! Marlene, Charlie and Jack. Behind them are Pavlov and Stella.
In April of 2018, our friend told us he'd be back in August to pick them up because he wanted to make a vacation out of it. Really? A vacation...NO WAY. We'd been hearing excuse after excuse since September and we were finally fed up. Our patience and empathy were exhausted. At that point, our little hound dog Jack had gone through a rough winter with injury and illness and I really thought I was going to lose my mind if that guy didn't come pick up his dogs. We loved them too much to put them in a shelter and we couldn't imagine if we were in a position where we may have to keep them. Anyway, he got the angry ultimatum from us; and in mid-May, he flew back to pick up his dogs and bring them home with him.

It was an awkward visit and didn't last more than an hour. It was hard saying goodbye to the dogs! We've only talked to this guy a few times since then, and the dogs are doing just fine. I miss them!

Every time I see a photo of those two dogs, it brings a little tear to my eye. I really bonded with them - especially Pavlov - he became a "mommy's boy" just like Jack. Those two boys never left my side. They were so sweet...

Without getting into detail, there was a history of this guy shuffling Pavlov and Stella off all the time to suit his own whims. In fact, in the summer of 2017, we took Pavlov in for 6 weeks while he was looking for a new apartment. He gave Stella to someone else. The poor dogs were separated/abandoned so often that they were severely anxious and lacked confidence. This contributed to the empathy we felt for them and the reason why we allowed them to stay so long.

Near the end of their stay, all eight pets were getting along and things were getting smoother - which made it all the more difficult to say goodbye.

The feelings of resentment, distrust, betrayal and disappointment that I felt for a long time had to be dealt with too. This guy was oblivious to what he was putting us through. I often felt guilt for my resentment because I was confused, I mixed up my feelings of missing those two sweet dogs with the bitterness I felt for their owner. To be brutally honest, the only word I can think of to describe what I was going through was a mind-f*ck...(sorry for the bad language, but it describes it perfectly!)

When I suffer anxiety, my "eating system" fails. I have trouble swallowing food, if I can swallow the food, it often gets stuck at the base of my esophagus and I either have to wait it out painfully or try to bring it back up. It's traumatic. I have digestive issues and often lose my appetite. This problem I've had my whole life but it comes and goes depending on how much stress I'm dealing with. 

Well, it came back right before Christmas of last year and just recently eased up about a month ago. Despite the fact that I tried really hard to work through my feelings, they lingered for nearly a year.


Alex and I have built ourselves a nice, cozy, comfortable life together. When we got stuck with two extra dogs, it threw us for a huge loop, but we tried our best to deal with it.

I don't purposely hold on to pain and anger because I know the damaging effects of it. But my mind and my emotions seemed to be on a slower schedule.

How do you deal with pain and anger? If someone wrongs you or "dupes" you, how long does it take you to get over it completely? Do you have physical or mental side effects?

I spent the summer in the garden and outside enjoying Nature to try to heal myself further. I journaled a lot. I meditated, did breathing exercises and yoga; and read a lot about healing and forgiving. I didn't put any pressure on myself to write blog posts or join painting challenges, or even plan dinners the way I used to. I just couldn't do it. It's weird because I had an underlying exhaustion and depression that I hadn't felt since the early 2000's when I was going through a burnout. 

I'm doing a lot better lately though. I feel like my old self again. I live by routine. I'm able to manage anxiety and depression (mostly) through natural methods. But when I'm thrown for a loop, my gosh, I feel so out of control! If it's something like...the car needs a repair, or I get an unexpected bill, or I hurt myself or pull a muscle...or suffer a migraine...I have no issue finding a way to deal with it and manage life successfully. But when another human is involved...my gosh that hits me to the core. If the loud weekenders are especially annoying, it throws me off my routine. When I go grocery shopping, I'm useless for a few days afterwards. I need to recover and rest and restore myself anytime I'm anywhere near people. Funny huh? So when someone I trust wrongs me the way that guy did...I feel like I can never get over it. Of course, I can eventually, but it's a long healing process for me.

At the beginning of the summer, I wrote this Tarot spread, that I did often, to help me get past my healing block:


I think my inability to cope with human-related life stressors contributes to my desire to live life as a hermit, to live more isolated. Alex is the same as I am and I guess that's why our relationship works so well. We are safe with each other, and very content too. We both enjoy and value our online friendships, blogs and a little social media, but that's about it. Truth be told, if we didn't have to interact with society in person ever again, I think we'd be okay. I used to feel wrong about this. You know how it is...we are brainwashed into the belief that we MUST be a part of society in order to be healthy. Well, for us, it's just the opposite!! And I'm really okay with that.

Don't fix it if it ain't broke right? :) We tried to do a good thing for those dogs and we don't regret it at all. Would we do it again? I doubt it. But as Ijeoma Umebinyuo says about the Three Routes To Healing...you must learn from the pain. Because after all, anger, resentment, feeling betrayed...all stem from pain you are feeling and cannot seem to resolve. I think once you're able to get to the route of the pain, it starts the healing process. Otherwise you are just putting a band-aid on the situation by avoiding it or not delving deep enough into the issue. But you know...pain has an terrible way of popping up in your life in other ways - usually as illness. Have you found a good way to heal from the pain/trauma that you've suffered in life?


16 comments:

wisps of words said...

Oh Hon, bet you know how I want to rant, about that Creep. But to do so, would not help you. When you are getting him out of your system. So, I won't.

Just please..... Do not ever, ever, ever do something like this, again.

Guess maybe I'm tougher than you are. Yes, I had years upon years of my own issues. Which made life hell. But since "turning a corner," I have ditched "duty." My only duty is to my husband, and is my loving choice. So I don't "do favors."

And the growing up with alcoholic father crap, I've come to terms with it. It was more a sluffing off. Than a deep forgiveness and all that. I just can't be bothered with even considering it, any more.

We each do our own healing, in our own way. Hugs to you, with yours.

Rain said...

Hi Wisps of Words :)) I know exactly what you'd have to say and trust me, that goes through my head as well! :) I really appreciate your support! As far as people go, I don't do favours anymore. And I like your policy...my only duty should be to myself, to Alex and the pets and that's it! But dogs are my soft spot...I have such a big heart for them. You know the story...when the guy said he'd put them in a shelter if we couldn't take them, I nearly collapsed with empathy for those sweeties. But no, trust me...never again!! I'm doing well though! My body is telling me that! :)

Lilbitbrit said...

I know what you mean, I often dream of living on an island off the coast of Scotland, and that's about all I could afford in the UK.

Rain said...

Hi Lilbitbrit :) We realized a long time ago that in order to get our peace, we would really have to live within our means. We were willing to sacrifice some comforts and luxuries to have the life we want. We are not wealthy by any means, so we are choosing to move to an area we can afford, even though it's going to be about 1500 kilometers away! The plus side is that we are choosing to live in "dying" towns...where people are leaving. That way we can get our hermit lifestyle and still afford a nice big property. :)

Martha said...

Oh Rain, I'm sorry you went through all that. And I'm so happy to hear that you are doing well now. It's a long process sometimes...the healing process. I find that I am able to handle things a little better as I get older. The desire to be happy overshadows the toxicity some people bring with them. But I'm not always successful. Sometimes I get the wind knocked out of me and have to find my way back.

Nicole Thomas said...

It must have been so hard to say good bye to those too and those sad feeling combined with the abger towards their owner...what a roller coster.
I am sorry you have to deal with this. I can imagine how u feel ... even just a little bit. It seems like the past summer has been full of disapointment for me. Actually it started last winter and continued through the summer. People I thought i knew...people who offered help...people who made promises etc etc. I often thought I needed someone ... just one good reliable person to show up in my life. I had a few times where I caught myself beibg bitter about someone elses mistakes and unreliable behavior. So wrong ... why should I feel miserable if THEY make a mistake. I learned from it ... dont trust too easy, dont count on anyone but yourself and the little tribe around you. I wouldnt mind being away from society as long as I have my little tribe with me. My three babies, my partner, my furry kids ... those are all that counts ... and me of course and that I live happy and teach them to be better than all those people who are out there running around hurtibg others without even realizing what they are doing. Hug your family ... live them love them breath them. They are all u need and u are everything they need ❤

Magic Love Crow said...

Rain, I'm glad you are doing well now. It's hard when people closest to us, hurt us, but we have to learn from these situations and heal from them. Sometimes, the healing process is long and sometimes it's short. I have a neighbour, that for some reason, I would always sweep down his drive way, because our grass infront is very close to each other. This past year, I thought, what am I doing this for? For me, it went back to being a people pleaser, to have people liking me. Let's just say, since I stopped doing that, they don't even talk to me anymore. Sad, but true. It hurt me at first, but it taught me, to stand up for myself!
Take care of you Rain! Big Hugs!

Nicolas Hall said...

Rain I am so happy to know you are finding your way back to center and feeling better! I followed your blog through much of that time and all I can say is I know how you two felt. There was time where i would have taken in any animal that needed care and often found myself doing just this, caring for the animals of people who really, in the way I see the human-animal connection, had no right having them in the first place. It's how i came to have two of the three dogs i used to call my own years ago.

Maybe it's why I have so few human friends now. lol I mean, it is hard to stay silent when people shelter their pets on a whim so they can go off traveling or "get away". Or the many times I had to walk the pets of old friends who were locked in an apartment all day long only to receive a rushed walk and maybe ten minutes of attention when their owner returns home before heading out again. Even typing these lines gets me all stressed inside. :)

I've just tried to find that abundance of animal love, which I adore, outside now. . . I feed dozens of crows, finches, starlings, mourning doves, ravens, blackbirds and sparrows and will drive miles to get seed if I forgot and ran low. I stop to visit with cows and horses, and recently I watched with wonder and joy as a coyote crossed the road outside our window a few weeks ago, she and I the only two creatures up at 4:30 am. Can't recall the last time I had a thought like that about a human being (outside of Sofie).

All that I mean to say is that I am guessing inside of you was the struggle of both the responsibility that was dumped on you battling with the deep heart that wanted to love those dogs and have them fit peacefully into the already existing world you had created. And that those dogs, Pavlov and Stella, had to learn how to be within that peace, coming unfortunately from the lacking home they had been provided. . . and then the balance of self care on top of it all, which is hardest when we are confronted with those who need our care more.

I admire all that you two did for them Rain. Wouldn't trade a moment of my menagerie days but I've learned that less is more and healthier for me. . . and the bond and love shared with one or two close familiars is enough. Then i just heap love on those i come across outside my home at every turn. . . and the number of dogs I do encounter whose owners say "Wow, I've never seen him/her take to someone so fast!" is enough now. lol

Wishing you peace and contentment each day and the love and joy found within the tribe around you both!

nicolas

Michael said...

It was truly admirable how you helped those two dogs but wow, that man was selfish! you just can't do that to people, let alone to your animals. It does stress them out.

When Alex and I moved to KY we made the VERY hard decision to leave our Scottie, Brendel, with our groomer, who had taken care of him before for short visits where in fact, Brendel would be depressed when first back home as he missed the other dogs.

The reason we decided to give him up was becasue we knew it ws dengerous having him here as he woudl for sure get out and could likely get run over plus, being black, he gets hot very easily and with the other animals here getting ticks, we were afraid we would not find them. So, long story short, he is doing well at the new home but I do think it took him some time after he realised we weren't coming back. I miss him everyday and wish we could take him back and even think to ask but I also know that that would be too hard for Brendel now as he loves playing with the other dogs and his new owner's family adores Brendel. We did pay for all this year's shots to not just dump him and they love him like their own kid. WE get to see him on FB adn Instagram and will visit him when back in colorado (If I can handle that though)!

Anyway, considering you are both quite non-social, I'm amazed you ever got to know that dog owner well enough that he felt he could do that to you! And was he independently wealthy that he could consider being on holiday for that long? Glad he came back. I can only imagine how awkward that meeting must have been and I BET you miss them still.

"How do you deal with pain and anger? If someone wrongs you or "dupes" you, how long does it take you to get over it completely? Do you have physical or mental side effects?"
I feel my previous job of 22 years mislead me to get both their cake and eat it too and so it's been hard letting that go even whilst I feel we were both to come here and help people. One thing we do, is converse with God a lot (as a pagan, of course, that would not be how you see it, understood.) We feel he gives us direction and encouragement to hang with it and even ideas but there is still the day to day, as one would say.

So glad I read this post to hear the end result with all that. Wishing to a great new year for both you and Alex. Cheers!

Lisa said...

Thank you for this post :) You went through quite an emotional journey with the pet situation and glad you are feeling more like yourself! I'm with you on the desire to live like a hermit feelings! My circle of trusted friends has gotten smaller the older I get! Lisa

Rain said...

Hi Martha :) Yes...I felt the wind knocked out of me, that's a great way of putting it. A lot of things I can get over quite quickly. But a betrayal of trust and the inability to voice that anger and hurt to the person who's done it to me...that really messes me up. I think that's why it took me nearly 10 years to heal from the burnout. I couldn't "tell off" the people who hurt me and it was so hard to work through all of that.

Rain said...

Hi Sis :) I know how you feel. Sorry you went through that. And you're so right. It's nice to have other people in your life if that's what you choose...but in the end, the only person you can REALLY trust and rely on is yourself and your tribe. But it should be that way. You should absolutely trust in yourself first and know that the choices you are making are the right ones. I think a lot of the disappointment, bitterness and anger stems towards having too high expectations for others.

Rain said...

Hi Stacy :) Oh gosh yes...I know the neighbour thing. I went through that too! Our immediate neighbour kept asking me to drive her everywhere and I just didn't want to anymore because it was getting to be demands, not asking for a favour. I told her so nicely that it causes me anxiety to drive and to be responsible for someone else made my anxiety worse. I told her it wasn't about her at all and did she understand. Yup, she understood. Then the hateful glares, the hostile silence...it took me nearly a year to feel comfortable in my own driveway again. People suck! ;) I'm glad I stood up for myself too! :) Good for you!

Rain said...

Hi Nicolas :) I feel that way towards lots of people out there too - they don't deserve the animals they have. Animals are pure, innocent and basic creatures who deserve our respect. If we are domesticating them and taking them into our homes as pets, they need to feel safe and secure and loved ALL the time, not just when it's convenient. I was talking to Alex about this last night and he said he believes the nature of people is to get whatever they can get from others (generally speaking, there are some good people out there)...that society these days is built on greed - but that you'd never find that in the animal kingdom. We really had a good talk about just living as recluses, with our pets and keeping society at a long arm's length as much as possible.

I think it's great that you love animals so much. But I know what you mean that it can sometimes get overwhelming trying to help them all. And thank you, we wouldn't trade that time either. But we also have learned our limits with people.

Rain said...

Hi Michael :) Yes...he was very selfish and very irresponsible. To this day he still lives with his mother and I'm guessing she does a lot of the pet care. He's a man in his thirties. Oh gosh, I'm SO SORRY you two had to make that decision. I think that would have been too heartbreaking for me to even think about. But sometimes we have to put our pets first and you two did that. Your situation is much different. You didn't dump him on anyone. You knew you were finding him a good home. How sad though, I'd be a ball of emotions if ever I saw him again!!! Yes, the meeting was VERY awkward, I really felt fake. His sister drove him here so we couldn't really get into much serious conversation, she was very sweet and we didn't want to get her involved. He was Alex's neighbour in Montreal for many years and they were friends first. But when I met Alex and I moved in with him, that guy just seemed so friendly and nice and we all became friends. He really was the only one who we kept in touch with when we moved up north. I think the fact that he had two lovely dogs had a lot to do with it.

Well Michael, my spirituality has a higher power as well. So as the two of you converse with God, I do the same with my higher power, which is Mother Nature and the Universe. So we're not all that different :) That was a HUGE part of my healing the past summer. Being in the woods with my dogs, walking, hiking and talking to the Universe, asking for help and getting some answers. It's the same with my Tarot cards. I have struggles, I ask for help and I usually have great insight from the messages that the cards give me. I had the same problem when I burned out. The owners of the company I worked for, for 9 years, had their cake and ate it too, but at the expense of my health. It's part of being a people pleaser. I don't place 100% blame on them because I worked whenever they wanted me to. I learned a lot from that experience too.

Rain said...

Hi Lisa :) It's so true about the circle of friends getting smaller as you age. Right now I'd say that I have no friends, but then again, that was a choice I made. But I found in my 20's that my other friends were drifting and I didn't feel the desire to continue to nurture things because I was much more comfortable and safe on my own. And yes, the hermit idea is very attractive to us! We hope to put that into place starting next spring/summer!!