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A Dog's Love: How Important Is It?

Let me start by saying once again that I struggle with the busy little remnants of childhood sexual abuse, so that when I least expect it, they personify and scurry around my subconscious more noisily and mischievously than usual, when they just lie in wait.  On these occasions, I find myself walking with my head down, literally, or  driving the 35 mile distance to work and back in silence, or wandering through the supermarket on the verge of that something -- "what was it?" -- that Kate Chopin embedded in Louise Mallard, only the answer that escaped was strikingly different. 

A friend of mine who had to euthanize her dog earlier this week just asked on Facebook, "Who cries in Publix?"  and I nodded vigorously even though this was not a yes or no question.

So getting into tub today, I took a random inventory of all the ways I continue to pathologically butcher myself, both physically and literally, tearing myelf apart to bleeding point  from my scalp down, biting, scratching, picking, something I've done since I was 5.  (What happened to me when I was 5?  Ask my dead grandfather).   Why do I do this, I asked myself, and got a very honest reply from the advancing crone within:  because you hate yourself.   Of course, like every educator or therapist knows, the subsequent question  was why do you hate yourself?  The answer was because no one loves me.  I was tugged visually to a scene in my Flatlands home, when I was 7 or 8,having  something to do with brown socks and not wanting to go to school that day, hiding in the bathroom, hoping the bus would leave without me so I could  stay home and watch Topper and I Love Lucy.

As I watched this mental movie, I stood flanked by two Irish Water Spaniels who could not keep their paws or affectionate tongues off my arm.

Now herein lies the lesson.  A few years ago, we had a Southern Irish Water Spaniel festival at the home of my dog's breeder in Covington, Georgia.  We gathered our  twenty-plus Irish Water Spaniels from Ft. Lauderdale to North Carolina (and of course, their wonderful people!).  The dogs ran basic agility, chased tennis balls, romped in the yard in extreme joy, but Ingrid, my girl, seemed reluctant  to leave my side, hiding behind  my knees most of the weekend.  I asked her co-breeder, Deborah, a training whiz, "Why are all my dogs so needy?  Why must they be on top of me every minute?" She thought for a moment, then looked at me and said, "Maybe it's not their need.  Maybe it's yours."

Today I understand this.  As I stepped out of the tub with these two wooly dogs wagging alongside me, I got it. My dogs love me this way because I need them to love me this way.....because no one else  ever has, and it's likely that no one ever will.


Dorothy Line said…
Lisa, my sweet friend. You have helped so many for so long...I cant tell you how much you have helped me through this last year after losing my dad. Today i send you love and all the healing energy i can muster. They say "that the only way out is through". Keep looking forward to the day when all of your pain is processed and sent back out into the nothingness it came from. Sorting it all out takes time, as I'm sure you know. But look forward to the day when everything has been sorted and you can finally relax and completely love yourself. Until then, know that you are much loved by me and I know, many others...

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