As I laid in bed last night unable to fall asleep, I couldn’t help but reflect on shocking news I had received earlier in the day about my ex-fiance, which he didn’t even have enough respect for me to tell me to my face. In fact, he had been at my house to walk our dogs just a couple hours before I heard the news and had the perfect opportunity to tell me. Instead, I found out from the friend of his who had stayed with me in the fall and had gone into relapse at that time. The first I have heard from this guy since he left my family’s life in October, and he wrote as if I already knew this information.
To be honest, it hurt to find out what was taking place (which you should be able to infer by the end of this paragraph). For a variety of reasons…Not because I want him back, because I have learned time and time again that he doesn’t deserve me. Yes, I put myself through seven years of hoping he would acknowledge the issues that not only negatively impacted his health but also our relationship. I think what hurt the most, though, is the unfairness of it all. All I’ve ever wanted is to find someone to love and grow old with. And instead, the dysfunctional person in our past relationship is the one in that position. He will probably never realize that his issues won’t go away if he’s with someone new; it took me the first couple years to figure it all out when we were together, and they haven’t even known one another that long. If being with someone who is content to let him drown himself slowly is what he needs, then apparently they’re a perfect match. After years of being filled with fear that I would walk into our home and find him comatose or worse, I can finally let that go. I don’t know that I can ever stop caring about a person who had been the other half of my longest relationship, but I’m not the one who has to carry the burden of making sure he chooses to live anymore. I’ve left those walls behind.
This led me to realize how much love I do have surrounding me within my home. Literally, lying in bed at this moment, I have my black dog Morey snuggled under the covers next to me on the left, and my Australian shepherd Speckles lies on top of the blanket below him, nestled between Morey and I. My cat Bennie squeezes in to the right of me at the edge of the bed, so close I can feel him purring. This is how I go to bed each night, and this is typically how I wake up. It is a gift to be able to spend time with my furry kids every day, which is one of the positive consequences of being on disability.
They know exactly when to show up. If I’m feeling sad, Speckles will jump on the couch, sit next to me and put his paw on my arm. In fact, he does this throughout the day to remind me how important it is to appreciate one another. Instead of giving kisses, he gives headhugs. He will drop his head onto different parts of my torso, telling me of his need for a neck massage. And he somehow knows that these parts of our day together help me feel just as much love as I want him to feel.
When I call Morey in from outside, the word “TREAT!” being the magic word, he runs towards me with his ears flapping up and down. Often found lying next to me on the couch, he will turn over on his back as an open invitation for a tummy rub. Of course, the best part of the day is going to bed. I’ve never known a dog to love climbing under the covers like Morey. Usually, he starts out with his head towards the end of the bed, but halfway through the night, he somehow manages to maneuver himself so that his head is lying next to me on the pillow and his body still submerged under the covers.
And then there’s Bennie. Believe it or not, I had my organic cotton couch custom-made so that it would be big enough for two dogs, one cat, and two people (at that point in time, I was engaged to be married). So when the dogs and I are lying on the couch, Bennie will climb up and lie on my stomach. His purring a telltale sign of his happiness. At bedtime, he finds his spot on the bed before the lights go out. On those occasions when he gets there late, he will walk up to my face and pat it with his paw, just to let me know he’s there. If Morey is still under the covers, he will lie next to my pillow and wrap his arms around my own. I don’t know how he does it. Falling asleep with his paws on top of my hands is a startling contrast to waking up to find myself wrapped in a hug by my handsome feline.
They’ve taught me so much, especially to ask for what I need. When Speckles paws me in the morning between 6:45 and 8:30, I know he’s in the last stages of having to wait for me and really needs to go outside. When Morey walks back and forth, tippy-toe, tippy-toe, for a good half hour in the morning, I know he is also telling me it’s time to go outside. Or when they both jump on the couch at exactly 5:00 p.m., I know it’s time for supper. When Bennie wanders out of the bedroom where he’s been napping all day and meows, I know he is ready for some quality petting time. I’ve had to learn to listen for what my boys need, because they all tell me in their own ways. Just noticing that Morey stares at me when he needs to go outside was a huge revelation, because he doesn’t talk to me like Speckles does. Speckles is much more energetic, using both his speed and his voice to let me know what he needs. When I think about my relationships with humans, I think this is an important lesson to remember. We all have different ways of expressing our needs; we just need to learn to listen to each person to hear what he/she is asking for. And if we’re not sure? Then we ask them. This is how my furry family and I communicate, and I can feel the abundance of love that fills our hearts because of it. The best part for me is that we all take care of one another, as you can see from a typical afternoon of Morey and Speckles spending time together.
When I think about the love that exists within the walls of my home, I remember just how lucky I am. Because there is nothing lonelier than living with a significant other and not feeling this love. My family is affectionate. They are caring. They are compassionate. And they show all of this without words. While Speckles will bark when he wants more petting than he’s getting, this is a typical day in my home and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Studies too numerous to list here have been conducted about all of the positive effects furry family members have on one’s health. I couldn’t agree more. As I live with three of my own, they take the time to remind me to turn off the computer and spend time rubbing their tummys or caressing the spot that extends between their eyes down to their noses. They remind me to turn off the TV so we can spend time together. They remind me to turn on some music so that we can all relax with one another. We have therapeutic effects on one another, which I’m constantly reminded of…by them. I’m very lucky in that respect because when my chronic pain, headaches, and spasms are taking over throughout the day, I need those reminders. So when people say “They’re lucky you rescued them,” I am always inclined to say “They’re the ones who have rescued me!” How lucky can one girl be?!
My Hopes: I hope that you are surrounded by the same amount of love I am in the comfort of your home. That love can come from various sources: a significant other, children, furry kids, and most importantly, yourself. My heart overflows with gratitude each and every moment of the day because I am constantly surrounded by love; my family reminds me that my priorities in life involve “who”, not “what”. I also hope you have your own source of healing because I have found that love is love, regardless of the source. An animal can shower you with more love than you’ve ever felt in your life. My furry family is the reason I feel fulfilled every day.
For me, I hope that one day I will find a partner to share our lives with, someone who is also deserving of all the love our family has to give. You can tell a lot about a person when you watch them interact with your babies. I’ve only met one other person who gives animals as much love as he would another person. And they respond in kind. Until that time, I will take all the love I can get and give all the love that I have. Because you just never know who will come into your life and be able to give you exactly what you need.