This is my fur-kid, Joe. He is 3 quarters Black Lab and 1 quarter German Shepherd and just turned 2 years old 2 weeks ago. If you know anything about dogs then you’ll know he is still quite exuberant and full of “puppy”.
Yesterday, Joe gave me quite a fright. I had him outside on his lead. He finished doing his business and I let him lounge in the grass for awhile while I perused Facebook. When it was time to go inside, I unhooked the lead and walked Joe by his collar toward the house. He had other plans. He did some sort of doggie ninja move, twisted then pulled and the next thing I knew he was on the other side of the yard. My heart was in my throat. Joe is a runner.
We just recently moved from a city into a small town. Joe doesn’t know the layout very well yet and we live fairly close to a county road. As soon as he realized he was “free” he bolted across the street and out of my sight. My anxiety level went through the roof. I got Joe’s leash and opened the garage. Sat in a chair in the driveway, calling for him and whistling. Nothing. I could feel my body reacting to the anxiety then. “Deep breaths, deep breaths.”, I told myself. I was shaking. I laid eyes on him a couple of times but he was always far off. I went back in the house but left the garage door and house door open so he could get in. By this time every muscle in my body was tight and my breathing way out of whack.
Joe is my companion. My confidant. My buddy. He keeps me company while hubby is on the road all week. The thought of losing him is unbearable. He is a very intelligent pup. And funny, too. I am convinced that he understands the English language and therefore I talk to him ALL THE TIME. He snuggles up to me at night, or when I am having a “mental health” day. He makes sure I get my exercise by INSISTING on going for walks. My mind was racing with thoughts of what would happen if he didn’t come home.
I took an anti-anxiety pill. A non-benzodiazepine. I wished I hadn’t canceled my benzo prescription. Went back outside and called for Joe. Still nothing. Came inside and went to the living room and got on my knees to pray. I could hardly get the words out. Finally settled on “God, please help me. Thanks. Amen.” I couldn’t focus long enough for anything else. My mind was too jumbled. I felt like my heart was going to explode. Tears burned my eyes as they welled up before falling.
Tick, tick, tick, tick. I heard the sweet sound of his nails on the linoleum in the kitchen. HE CAME HOME! I got up from my kneeling spot and went to the kitchen. Joe was panting so hard, his tongue almost touched the floor. I knelt down and hugged him hard. He just looked at me like, “Why you cryin’, Mama?”. I shut the front door, got fresh water for him and scolded him while he lapped up the water. Then, the demons kicked in.
The crises was over but the way my lying mind works, the “what ifs” start slamming me. What if Joe didn’t come home? What if Joe had gotten hit by a car? What if Joe had bitten somebody? (he would never do that. lick someone to death, maybe.) I began to feel overwhelmed. Manic. Panic. I couldn’t bring myself back to reality. While a part of me knew these were irrational fears, I was still allowing them to fester. The booze demon decided to come out an play. “Hey, you wanna’ shut those others up? I’ll take care of that. You KNOW I always do. A few swigs and they go silent.” “GO AWAY!”, I shouted out loud. He kept on going, of course. I was in a pickle. I was a hot mess. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong that was causing this melt down. DUH! I was dialoging with the disease. HELLO! When I dialog with the disease, it always wins. Back down on my knees I went. “God, please help me. Thanks. Amen.” I said a few other things, too, like “Your will not mine”, and “I surrender.”
I started feeling better. Stronger. I was “Higher Powered”. I should know better than to face off with the booze demon one on one. He’ll kick my butt every time. I can’t talk to him. I talk to God and let God fight that battle for me. As for the mental illness demons, I’m still a bit manic today after Joe’s disappearing act yesterday. I still have anxiety. Still have the “What ifs” lurking in my head. But he’s home. He snuggled up with me last night to sleep and we went for a walk this morning. I pray that the vibrations in my mind will smooth out soon.
I am so grateful that I have been given the tools to get through situations like this. I am working on picking up those tools earlier in a situation and not waiting until it’s a full blown crises. Progress not perfection.
WHAT A LIFE!