Douglas was already ten years old when we met. It’s been five years since then. He is no longer aggressive and he has had nothing but unleashed open space to romp, constant attention from me and my neighbors, homemade dog food, nursing back to health, toys, snacks and the run of the bed and household. In that time, one would think a dog would not retain too much about his past. Don’t fool yourself. The other night Doug became very excited about having dinner. He proceeded into what I affectionately call the poodle dance. He gets up on hind legs and twirls a bit. Albeit at 105 years old he is a bit off balance. He tumbled over his water dish, which proceeded to flood the kitchen floor. I am not apt to blow up over silly things. As a matter of fact, when it comes to Douglas, I am more likely to laugh or rub his head as I did this day and say, “Well now I know why everyone calls you Grace behind your back.” He was having none of it. In the time I’ve had him, I have never seen or heard Doug cry—until this happened. He was shaking and inconsolable with fear. I picked him up, sat down and comforted him until he could slow down enough to let me dry up the puddle and give him dinner.
If you’ve been exposed to it, you know that the effects of abuse are enduring. Its consequences are not always insidious but they are pervasive. They dig in and they dig in deep. They continue long after the situation has passed—showing up in memories of a certain face, a place, a look. It doesn’t even have to be that specific; it can come at you out of nowhere. What is surprising to me is that I am still stunned at how much it permeates ones existence. People move on from trauma every day. The effects of trauma can be overcome, but it will not be forgotten. Even if one dissociates themselves from it, the memory will still be holed up somewhere in the psyche lurking and waiting for a chance to strike. Our very cells chronicle our life stories. Douglas has given me a prime example of how I must stay vigilant of my own behaviors and perceptions. I don’t always remember that if it’s a living thing, then it’s most likely a product of it’s environment—of what it lives with- and through. Yes, Doug is a dog, and yes, I treat him like King of the Poodles, but witnessing his level of understanding is all the more reason to be careful with my words toward myself and other people. Doug may not process hurtful words beyond their tone or volume, but there’s reason to be even more careful with those who can. I’m not the best at that. Oh, I’m great with Douglas, but I need to consistently practice that with myself and others who can understand me better than he can.
” Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting their own battles.” Einstein (That includes yourself… “Be careful out there.”)
The following is credited to: My good buddy Lisa at The Meaning of Me…
(cuz I can’t think of a way to say it better!)
On February 20, 2015, United Nations World Day of Social Justice, one thousand bloggers will join their voices to speak through their blogs about compassion. I will be one of them.
Read the headlines. Look out your window. Walk down the street. You already know why. I don’t have to list and link the stories here. You already know. Far too many days I see the news and find myself wondering, “What is wrong with people?” We can sit and try to answer that or we can prove that there is so much right with people. It’s out there. Compassion, kindness…it exists.
So join us, won’t you? Help us spread the word. Visit the 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion Facebook page. Sign up to add your blog post to the effort. Ask to join the Facebook group. Use the hashtag #1000Speak to promote this event.
And if you don’t have a blog or aren’t on Facebook or social media? We’ve got you covered. Visit the #1000Speak for Compassion site at http://1000speak.wordpress.com/and join in.
Help make all of our voices heard.