I was thrown into a ‘state of anxiety’ for about a week, because of my dog. Let me explain – or try to, at least. I don’t know how eloquent I will be… or how much sense any of it will make…. but please bear with me…. or dog with me, rather 😛 This is Toffolux – Toffee for short :
The top two pictures are from the last couple of years – the bottom two are from when my daughter was 10/11 – they would watch movies together. 😉
I have touched on, in previous posts, a severe traumatic incident in 2012… that was followed with a lot more trauma till 2013. But added to that, I have childhood trauma too… that was more ongoing. Anyway….
At the end of 2013, I was helped with my 2012 incident… adequate trauma counselling etc. Things started looking up. However, I was still having nightmares and I was still afraid.
In 2014, it was suggested to me that I get a dog – to help me.
I have ALWAYS been a dog person… I find myself incredibly attached to them though… whether it’s mine or not. Ha ha! I have a feeling dogs sense this. In my complex, anytime a dog escapes their yard, they show up on MY doorstep. In fact, there are two dogs living outside my complex at the end of the road, who come here too. It’s rather amusing, really.
The lady at the end of the road asked if I was a vet – no ways! My dog passion can never be followed that way… my heart would literally break.
In fact, a few weeks back, there was a doggy run over on the highway (the opposite direction we were driving) and traffic had come to a standstill… and I had to pull over a little later because my tears were blurring my vision. Moving on….
The children were excited at the announcement that we would go to one of the local animal sanctuary’s in search of a dog. They love dogs as much as I do… and had been waiting two years for a ‘replacement’ for our last one. My instructions were clear – not a puppy! I wanted a ‘grown up’, about the size of a maltese poodle.
We came home with a puppy. Sigh.
Toffee had arrived at the sanctuary at three weeks old, after being thrown out of a car window in a plastic packet. ‘One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure’. This was most certainly the case when he came into our lives.
We went searching the day he was six weeks old. He had just finished fighting off Biliary too! This pup was a survivor!
And he chose us. By attaching himself to the fur at the top of my daughter’s boots and hanging on. I still laugh out loud when I think of that moment!
And Toffee became this girl’s best friend – yes! I would choose him over a diamond ANY day!
Most of my free time has been spent with Toffee by my side. We have engaged in long conversations – I haven’t really had anyone else to spend time with… so he is my movie companion, my sounding board, my friend.
My children often joke that he is also the ‘husband in the household for mom’, and that they don’t know how a guy would fit into the equation – and since they are okay with that, I am too. Ha ha!
Because Toffee sleeps on the pillow next to me at night. He snores in my ear. And sometimes he even steals the blankets.
When I talk to him, he gazes at me, listening intently. And sometimes even offers up appropriate ‘noises’ in response. My son is still convinced he KNOWS what we are saying and is talking back.
The funniest is when you ask him a question, and he responds with shaking his head as if to say no.
And in all honesty? He is definitely the most ‘human’ dog I have ever had. I’ve had eight dogs in total in my lifetime – I got my first puppy at age 2. And so when I compare? He’s definitely a ‘person’ more than an animal 😉
But there is this too : when the nightmares came, Toffee would wake me… and cuddle against me, sometimes licking my cheek in reassurance that it was okay. When the ‘unexplained fear’ overcame me, it was like he knew. When I was feeling anxious, he knew. And he always offered reassurance. A paw on my leg if we were sitting together. A look he would give me, followed by a big sigh, and then an approach where he would bump against me for love…. and giving him love always gave me a strange form of comfort.
My children have been growing – they have their friends, their recreational activities, their social lives. In my down time? I have Toffee, and whatever it is I choose to do – read, watch series or a movie, or just sit and think about life. He’s always at my side.
Since March, Toffee has (after six years of perfect health) been unwell. Recurring bouts of prostatitis, and a need to be neutered. And so his neutering was booked for the 2nd October. And the day I booked it, my anxiety was what some considered ‘stupid and abnormal’. Because of him being an older dog, there was the niggle of ‘what if something goes wrong’? My kids weren’t around, and when I got home from the booking, I’ll admit it… I cried. Toffee, with his 26 kilogram body, jumped up on me to hug me (he does that too! Stands with his paws stretched up on your shoulders and actually curls them into you as if pulling you in for a hug!)
Then he disappeared to my room… and when I followed a few minutes later and entered the room, he let out a loud sigh and I saw this :
The pillow says RELAX on it. He stayed like that for me to take a photo… but then I couldn’t contain my laughter any longer and he lifted his head, wagging his tail, and ‘smiled’ at me.
He came through surgery that day like the champ that he is. But the following week there were minor complications that caused me some sadness and stress…. and again, some people commented that I was being ‘ridiculous’, ‘he’s just a dog’, ‘this is quite pathetic of you’.
WHEN YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND IT, WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW THE BACKGROUND, WHEN YOU WEREN’T THERE TO COMFORT SOMEONE THROUGH THE TRAUMA… PLEASE DON’T JUDGE THEM! THIS IS WHERE KINDNESS SHOULD KICK IN.
I have said that in CAPS because it is SO important.
In the end, Toffee needed an extra large cone… but as you can see, he wasn’t too unhappy about it 😉
Unfortunately he’s not quite back to being healthy yet. He now has an ear infection. Sigh.
Why all of this? About my dog?
I had seven days of struggling with sleep, and anxiety. How silly, right? But here’s the thing :
When you’re unfamiliar with trauma – whether it be long lasting or a particular incident – and if you do not understand the complications that can follow years later, then you too are nodding your head in agreement at how ‘ridiculous I have been, allowing a dog to make me almost not able to function for a week’.
But if you ARE familiar… and if you’re not please try and understand :
Although it IS about me loving my dog ‘too much’, there was a whole other thing taking place.
It’s called a trigger.
After a few years of being ‘almost completely free’? This ‘event’ triggered something in me. And I don’t know how this really works or why it happens…. I just know it does.
And so… when I slept? The nightmares came back – not as severe, and yet I still woke up terrified. I looked over my shoulder a little more than usual…. even in my own home. I found excuses to communicate with my daughter when she wasn’t home – sending her a meme or something, just to get her to respond, so that I would know she was okay.
You may not fully understand. Because you don’t know what I went through.
And the reactions from others made me think about it quite a lot.
And I had to add another thing to my ‘to do list’ in my character….
I know I should not have an opinion about anyone unless I fully know their why.
But at the same time – what is it in me that always seems to want to know the WHY? Yes, it helps explain… and it makes understanding easier….
There are times where people will not be able to find the words to explain their why to me; they may not trust me enough or they may just not want to talk about that part of the past; or they may have ten million other reasons NOT to tell me their why.
I still have just ONE reason to at least TRY and understand without the necessity of every detail….
And it surpasses those ten million….
It’s doing everything I can to show REAL love to others – an ‘unnatural’ kindness and compassion, that just is, and doesn’t need explanations.
It’s not easy. I won’t always get it right. But I have made a decision to be ‘more aware’, and at least TRY to get it right!
So this was one part of the ‘all will be revealed in time’ that I mentioned in my last post 😉
(And just as a side note : someone told me that I can’t help anyone with their life purpose if I am still reliving things from my past – my response was this : if it wasn’t for the past, and the understanding that triggers exist, THEN I would be ineffective. If I wasn’t experiencing the things that I am, and learning from them and growing, then I wouldn’t be in a place to identify with anyone, would I? I don’t relive my past – and I don’t live in it either… but sometimes it just appears out of nowhere. This is reality for so many! Getting through something, dealing with it, moving forward in life? Unfortunately it doesn’t mean it never happened. Our response to the reminder is what changes… and we are better equipped to ‘fight’.
This trigger was an unknown – I didn’t expect to react like this at all…. or for it to have been as bad as it what it was. I probably should have identified it sooner, and not lost a week, as such! BUT I have learnt from this… and I am prepared for next time 😉 I won’t be completely unaffected by it next time, but the impact WILL be a little less.
I guess my honesty ISN’T always a good thing – and makes people question my abilities and character.
BUT…. connection comes from honesty – I want to be REAL!
So my apologies to everyone – I am not perfect. But I share tidbits for this reason : guys and girls! Life is still worth living! Sometimes we get slowed down… but keep putting one foot in front of the other! Sometimes it will take a little longer than we feel it should….
But always remember that slow progress is still progress, and you’re still a lot further than anyone who isn’t even trying ❤