And right now, we all need a love story.
You fight your way to the top. You succeed. You are pulled back down. You do it all over again. This post is about how we can avoid accidentally pulling our beloveds down when they're trying to get the top.
In my last post, I told you a story of a date so horrific, I dined and dashed. If you haven't read it, then you must in order to understand the second part of this story. Also, I explain why rescue isn't always the only thing needed for our furbabies.
If you did read my post then a quick recap:
I went on a date. it was horrible. I rescued myself via dining and dashing. I went home and screamed to the gods "WHY ME?". I then required loads of validation from friends and family telling me I wasn't a bad person, and that all the guilt and shame I felt was utterly ridiculous. Then I went to sleep...
And this is where we pick up where I left off:
I woke up the next morning completely in love. It's like my fairy godmother sprinkled magic dust over me in my sleep and the person I've been waiting for my whole life showed up. Me. I woke up completely in love WITH ME! All of the negative thoughts and feelings I've been carrying around forevah were gone... my emotional baggage was lifted. Where the hell did it go? It was completely erased. I wasn't just feeling "good enough" I felt effin' amazing... better than I've ever felt or at least remember feeling since I was a kidlet. When I woke up and opened my eyes, I jumped out of bed and threw my hands in the air "I LOVE MYSELF!!!!!" I ran over to my full-length mirror and stood in front of it baring all my morning glory and pointed at me "I FREAKING LOVE YOU!". My heart was dancing in my body and I couldn't stop giggling. This feeling was ah-mazing. I ran out of the house (dressed of course) to the market and bought myself flowers. I spent the day with friends laughing and making new plans for this new me.
But this isn't something that just magically happened overnight, it has been a journey of intense healing. You know when you're a little kid and you fit perfectly in your skin? But then that gets quickly torn from you? Other kids at school rip you apart and jab at your vulnerable places, you have your heart broken and you've been convinced you're not good enough. Even society tells you that you're not enough. Chances are, you're probably lacking the proper tools you would have been equipped with, had you not lost them to childhood trauma so that you could actually deal with this bulls*#! properly. So you spend your whole life trying to get 'it' back ... but mostly you just spin your wheels trying to convince yourself that you're good enough. And so, you end up with people who love you as much as you love yourself -which is "kinda". Or worse, you wind up and then stay in abusive relationships because pain is nothing new to you.
I'll save most of the details for another time but my childhood involved a lot of abuse and violence caused by a sibling. I was raped and assaulted as a teenager and later found myself in abusive relationships because...well... that's textbook. Abuse was my normal and so while others could see beauty in me, I could not. Compliments have never been easy because I've never believed them to be true. You couldn't tell me nice things about me and expect me to believe them. So waking up feeling true love for myself was something new. And is not at all textbook for anyone who has suffered extreme violence at the hands of another.
I guess after nearly 5 intense months of self-helpery to break my patterns, finding myself on a date with a racist, flat-earther, who wanted me to play dominatrix to him as a 'bratty little boy brother', was the 'thing' that triggered it all. I REFUSED to take steps back! I knew (in my cells) that I didn't deserve that! I deserve so much more and this is the first time in my adult life that I knew and felt it.
So, basically, I should write a thank you card to the flat-earther, he was the final trigger I needed to break down the door to my own heart. I am finally home. And it feels so good. Right-hand ring club? Yeah, I'm now in it.
I wish that was the end of this story. I wish it was a Hollywood ending. It's not. Surprised? Me neither.
“When I see people stand fully in their truth, or when I see someone fall down, get back up, and say, ‘Damn. That really hurt, but this is important to me and I’m going in again’—my gut reaction is, ‘What a badass.’"
Ever heard of the "Crab Box Effect? "If I can't have it, neither can you". The metaphor refers to a pattern of behavior noted in crabs when they are trapped in a bucket. While any one crab could easily escape, their efforts will be undermined by others, ensuring the group's collective demise.
The analogy in human behavior is claimed to be that members of a group will attempt to reduce the self-confidence of any member who achieves success beyond the others, out of envy, resentment, spite, conspiracy, or competitive feelings, to halt their progress.
So just a week after I announced that I've finally found self-love, I had to block a close friend because it was too painful for her to be in the box alone and she wanted to bring me back down into it by stabbing me in my most vulnerable place. Letting her go was painful but if I truly loved myself, then I needed to respect myself. And the only way to respect me was to surround myself with people who want me to succeed and who want nothing but the best for me. And so she had to go.
"Someday you're gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You'll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing...” Elizabeth GIlbert
I realized how slippery this slope is. I'm trying so hard to stay here in this place of love and happiness and I'm waiting for the day when the ground under me doesn't feel so slippery. It will happen. But in the meantime, I need to surround myself with people who want to push my rump OUT OF THE BOX and not pull me back down into it. And so I am choosing to be with people who celebrate my strength not take stabs where I'm not covered... which is pretty much everywhere. I'm literally wearing my heart out on my sleeve for me. What would Winston Churchill say? "We Shall Never Surrender"
I want people to see me and think "Gawd, she's a badass! Look at her ability to show up for herself and others" and not "She's a victim of domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault." When I walk into a party, I want to be introduced as the NEW me that shows my strength and not have the old stories told that keep me a victim.
So what the hell does this have to do with your furbabies? Everything. I have yet to meet an animal who has suffered great abuse, neglect, loss or trauma whose guardian doesn't tell their story in great detail to each person they feel needs to know, thus keeping their beloved animal companion in a state of victimhood and even trauma. No judgments here... we have all done it. And I realize the reason behind this (sharing their stories of neglect, abuse, and trauma) are far different from the Crab Box effect that involves a jealous or resentful friend, but the effects are the same - keeping someone in the box! Which can be incredibly damaging to your animal companion's hearts and psyches.
When we think or talk, we create images in our brain to match our words or thoughts. Animals are telepathic and can see virtually everything that is happening up there (in your brain!). Essentially, you have no secrets. So, each time you tell their story you are seeing what happened to them, the person you're telling the story to is also seeing the images and you are forcing them (your furbabies) to relive it. Every. Single. Time. It's like if every time I walked into a room someone said: "Hey everyone, this is Rachel and she's a victim of rape. If she decides not to talk to you it might be because she's afraid of you." ... that would suck, yes? Yes, it would.
So why do we do it to them? Well... I think it's because we believe their story is necessary to understand them. Sometimes it's told to show how heroic the human who saved them are or how strong the animal was in the situation. But sometimes I think, because of the horror of it all, we can get addicted to telling the story. When clients come to me with animals who have suffered abuse, neglect or trauma, the first step to healing and what I coach them on is letting go of the old story. We know it and now we can move on. Doing this is the only thing that's going to help your animal companion move on. Going on a date with a flat-earther is something that happened to me, it doesn't define me. See? Same thing. Let it go.
So how would you introduce me to a party? Could you perhaps think of new ways to introduce your beloved babes to the party? How do you do this if you have an animal who has 'issues' related to past abuse and trauma? Well, you'll probably find that they'll work through it much more quickly if we push their rump out of the crab box and stop pulling them back down into it. Switch "This is Harold the dog, and he's afraid of men who wear gloves because he was strangled by a man with gloves." to "This is Harold the dog and he loves little yellow birds, warm blankets and Frank Sinatra. He's most comfortable when we're chillaxing." ...just focus on the good. This isn't 'ignoring the problem' it's letting someone heal without having a laser beam pointed at his vulnerable places.
When I visited Pigs Peace Sanctuary in Washington a few years ago, the sanctuary guardian gave strict instructions to NOT show pity to the pigs (who had suffered EXTREME violence) because she said they wouldn't want to interact with us if we did. She said that she can very much tell if humans are looking down at the pigs with pity and sadness vs "Hey, look at you cute little pink pig who loves carrots!" Whether this guardian knew that the pigs were telepathic or not, she got it. If you want someone to move on from past hurt, focus on who they are NOT where they have come from.
Of course, all of this advice is written with complete love and understanding. We are all guilty (myself included)! But if we know better, we do better. And we always want to do better because we love the hell out of the 4-legged furry people in our lives. And I hope you love yourself just as much too.