Sometimes, I think God hands you something to care for in an effort to help you realize how to care for yourself.
Rosie is a dark red Chihuahua, about six pounds and some change. At around 8 years old, she’s developed a set of soulful eyes and a dainty gait. But her reactions at times bely a troubled past. She will indiscriminately bare her teeth if you try to pet her. She’ll turn on her back to reveal her belly, but then will nip at your fingers, as if second-guessing her willingness to be vulnerable.
I’ve been rehabilitating her for weeks now. Patiently working with her to gain her trust and let her know that no one in our home will harm her. She behavior has improved dramatically, and for the past two nights, has slept in my bed. The other day I caught myself reacting the same way Rosie would to what was a run-of-the-mill question. I snipped and retreated. And then it hit me: this dog and I share far too much in common.
For months now, I’ve been flying through my life to avoid the hurt that was caused when I suffered what feels like the worst betrayal. I busied myself with children, animals, work and more work, in an effort to avoid a date on a calendar and a broken promise. I didn’t allow myself to stop to think about the fact that I had handed over my broken heart to someone who swore to protect it, only to find out their intention was only to take advantage of it.
I didn’t publicly announce that I called off the wedding and asked him to never to contact me again. Perhaps I should have. But I felt ashamed, despite the fact that I had nothing to be ashamed about. It felt like a failure. I had rings that would never be worn; a dress that still hangs, brand new, in my best friend’s closet. I have interviewed the former prime minister of Israel, yet I couldn’t force myself to face my feelings. I stuffed the hurt down deep, and when anyone would try to get near it to help, I’d bare my teeth.
When the calendar clicked over to June this week, the rain came pouring down. I cried on the drive to and from work. I tried distracting myself with social media, only to see people’s anniversary postings and feel the sense of dread grow larger. Where once photos of babies would make me smile, jealousy bloomed.
Last night, I tucked Rosie into bed with me and began reading “The Power of Now,” a book that seeks to help readers discover enlightenment and live a pain-free life. Being a pragmatist, it sounded like a pocketful of crazy at first, but having finally acknowledged the pain, I decided to let this serve as an opportunity to grow through it and from it.
I know I want to live in the present, not in a pain-filled past rife with what ifs/if onlys/could be/should be/would be. I want to enjoy the precious moments with my children. I want to be with them when we are together, not distracted by my mind or what can feel like 1,000 voices infiltrating from all sides.