This week has been full of highs and lows. As the dust settles around the new space, every day this week I paused in awe of what I call work. Every day I hugged myself and looked around as I sat on floors, in chairs, and even stood and stared at the building. I really took time this week to slow down and enjoy the flurry of activity that led to this space. Amidst my reflection each day I was honoured this week to have some of my story featured on Her Stories Co.
Sharing My Story
The time with Vanessa (of Her Stories Co. television show on Rogers TV London) was so fluid and so quick I wasn’t sure if I shared anything of value. All the emails, comments, and private messages that came in stating how it resonated truly warmed my heart. I don’t like to be stuck in old stories or dwell on them and so I am very hesitant to share much of mine. A photographer I work with – Mee Photography, was working with me in a branding session this week as well. As we talked, it reminded me how valuable it is for women going through big stories to know they aren’t alone, and in that moment I got the “why” behind sharing our past. As I was feeling my way through the week and the vulnerability of exploring my past on television, I received two phone calls from Alberta reminding me that the past has shaped us and sometimes it rises to meet us whether we want it to or not.
One of those calls is too painful to dive into. I compartmentalize my pain and I break it down one piece at a time when I feel I can or when I have a trusted professional to help me. This process has served me much of my life and on the outside can make me appear arrogant, guarded, or lacking compassion. It may not be the healthiest process but its mine and with gentle compassionate awareness I work with it. Both of the calls I received caused the shame and guilt gremlins to rear their ugly heads and it has taken me a few days to put them back in a box and move forward.
Handling The Feelings Of Guilt
When I first moved to Alberta, I left 10 acres and landed in a townhouse. I brought a 5-year-old Hungarian Vizsla with me named Jet. I got Jet as a little pup (only 10 weeks old) and in fact, he flew to me with my mom! I raised that dog like a child and lived a very active lifestyle with him. When we moved to our townhouse, I was able to maintain a healthy lifestyle with him by taking him to the dog park frequently. As the birth of my son got nearer the walks slowed down and poor Jet got less and less exercise. I had a three-day labor that resulted in an emergency cesarean and a uterine infection. I was sick for weeks, make that months. As I recovered from surgeries and infections, my thyroid quit and I became so exhausted I could barely carry my infant up and down a flight of stairs. Keeping my son and myself alive became a real struggle so walking a large breed dog became impossible. Jet began to suffer. Without walks and active exercise and constant attention, Jet began to get aggressive towards the baby he had previously been so kind and gentle with. As my world spiraled out of control I reached out on Facebook to people I thought could help me re-home him temporarily and was met with harsh criticism in my inability to care for the dog and my willingness to get rid of him. People yelled at me in capital letters saying that I should never have gotten a dog if I was going to have kids, of course not knowing any of my story or how sick I truly I was. I cried those weeks more than I have cried in my life. I swore to that dog when I got him I would never leave him and here I was breaking that oath. Finally, I reached out to a rescue agency for my dogs breed. Without any judgment, she helped me arrange flights and had a home waiting for him when he got back to Alberta. Jet found a new home with a stay at home mom and two older girls. He walked the girls to school every day and picked them up, he was allowed on furniture and cuddled endlessly with the entire family. He had a huge yard and was loved beyond belief. I checked in with the rescue agency often until I couldn’t bear to ask anymore knowing he was fine. I assured the agency that when my health was better if they ever didn’t want him, he was to come back to me. For a long time, I believed they would want to give him back to me and I held on to how badly I missed him for years.
That family called me this week. They called because they never once judged me. They knew I grieved him and they wanted to thank me for the love I gave them. They had Jet for 3 years and I had him for 5 and sadly Jet developed cancer and was going to be put down at home. They called me before he departed so I could pray, and I did. I cried and I prayed, I apologized and I beat myself up. Eventually I forgave myself for being human and doing the best I could as an imperfect, single mom, and financially unable to pay for help to keep him with me. Two months after Jet moved in with his new family, I lost my dad. That dog had seen me through the craziest times of my life, had kept me out of bars, ensured I returned home, made me go hiking, and kept my heart open to love. When my dad died, I realized how integral that dog had been to me and I grieved his loss again. Today, I grieve them both. I grieve my inability to keep them both here with me and I grieve the many difficult choices I have had to make in this life.
Life is not always rainbows and sunshine. I lived this week in some of the most beautiful and some of the saddest moments of my life. The contrast of beauty and dark is what has made me and as hard as it is, I know sharing both spectrums of color is what enables all of us to heal one page at a time.