Heart-breaking realization

Today started off like any other day and was more-or-less like most other days, except for the fact that I made a decision that literally broke my heart. I woke up at 5am this morning and went about my regular routine – pulled a tarot card, wrote in my journal, had a shower, made something to nibble on, and then proceeded to walk P. I was in a bit of a rush because we were giving presentations in my qualitative methods class this morning, so I did not want to be late. The moment I closed my front door and started to walk down the hall to catch the bus for school, I heard P’s little shrill bark start to squeak away. “AAaarrkk, aaarrrkkk, aaaarrkkk” going about a mile a minute. She’s been barking her head off a lot lately, to the point that I have been getting notes about it left on my door. I thought that it may just have been my one neighbor being petty, but I ran into my friend (who is also my neighbor) yesterday and he brought up the fact that P had been barking for 2 hours straight the day before. I went back in, scolded her, and then tried to put her in her bed and talk her through the fact that it was going to be ok. After I stepped back out into the hall, I decided to be stealthy and wait around quietly to see if I could hear her again. Sure enough, there she went, even more manically than before. Shit. This has been going on for weeks now and I have another long day ahead of me. Shit, shit, shit. What do I do? What do I do? So I did the only thing I could think of doing… I put her in her crate and decided to drive to school and leave her in the car as I went to class.

As I drove I started to think: Great. Temporary solution for the three hours that I’m in class, but then what for the rest of the day??? More importantly, what for the rest of the time until I fly home for Christmas? What for the next four months when recruitments and outcome assessments start for my study? I have been putting in really long days, both inside and outside the office, and trying to balance them with “zen” time, which hasn’t left a lot of time to spend with P. I still take her on two walks a day, but to be completely honest, I’m not there nearly as much as I should be, and she clearly feels it since her anxiety has been going through the roof, and that’s not fair. But what’s my other option? Give away my dog???? And then I broke down and cried. Cried and cried and cried as I drove. I don’t want to give away my dog. My parents know how busy I am with school, and so they have offered to take P from me, but I have refused their offer time and time again.

I can’t give away my dog. She’s been there for me through thick and thin. She’s been there for me during life’s valleys, when I’ve been really sad and found nothing more comforting than crying in her fur. She was there for me when I moved to a brand new city and had next to no friends. She’s there for me when I go disappear in the forest for hours… and I’d be scared if it weren’t for the fact that somehow having her little eyes look up at me makes me feel like I’m not alone. She climbs trees with me. She goes on my nature walks with me. She keeps me company and loves me unconditionally.  At this point I’m sobbing. What will people think? What will I tell people when they ask me about Penelope?!? This last thought snapped me out of the wavelength that I was on. I feel like my heart is breaking in two because I feel like I have no choice but to part with my best friend… and somehow social paranoia about people judging me is also a concern?!? Whaaaat? The last thing that matters in this situation is what other people think… this is about me and Penelope. Me AND Penelope. Penelope. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. PENELOPE.

This isn’t about me. This is about Penelope. This is about a little dog that should not be left home alone for over eight hours. A little dog that deserves to be loved and paid attention to. A little dog that has needs that I can’t meet. No matter how much I try to deny it, school is, and is going to be, a major part of my life for the next three years. Even if I hire a doggy walker to take her out on weekdays, it won’t change the fact that I can’t give her the attention that she needs. That she deserves. Love is about honesty and unselfishness. And in total honesty, I’ve been 100% selfish about this. I can’t give her what she needs and she has two people that love her wholly and are willing and able to give her what she needs and deserves. So I need to do what’s best for her and let her go. Even though it breaks my heart. This isn’t about me. Love isn’t selfish. This realization made me cry even more… and I probably would have continued to cry if it wasn’t for the fact that I saw a friend standing at a random bus stop and so I slammed the breaks and pulled over and picked her up. I hadn’t seen her in over a year, but then I was at an art store last week after I had a flash of inspiration for a painting and ran into her and got awesome art advice. Now here she is again, right when I need someone. How serendipitous.  Thank you Universe. This sucks shit but I know I’m on the right path.

Since this all transpired this morning I’ve wavered on the decision I made, but I know I have to stick to it. It’s for the best… and the thing is… I’m trying to create a safe space for my heart and emotions to speak to me clearly… and then when they do, I still fall into my conditioned pattern of rationalizing them away… a pattern that needs to be broken for the heart and mind to be able to work together as the beautiful team that they’re meant to be. Create a safe space where feelings are as much valid as thoughts.  I’ll still get to visit Penelope and who knows… maybe summer will wind down because the first year of my study will be done and I’ll be able to have her back. Only time will tell… and all I really know is what’s going on this moment.

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