Sunday, January 14, 2018

Common Ground

I was talking with a friend a little bit ago and some things have been hitting me. I don't know where this is all going to lead so please bear with me.
As most of you know, I was in a fatal car accident that left me feeling and being vulnerable. I couldn't rely on my senses because they weren't giving me the right information. I could rely on my memory because it disappeared into endless threads of momentary thoughts that ended in complete darkness. I used to describe it this way, I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone. Everything I see, its like waves of water. Everything I hear is distorted and often scary. Back then doctors lacked the information to get what was happening to me. Not many people with brain injuries like I had didn't live and if they did, it was more of a vegetative state. I was.... a lucky one. Back then the only refuge and safe place I knew for sure was in the hearts of my children. Everything about what was left of who I was, was dedicated to my children. I was a shell, wired wrong and well, not the person my husband married so after about a year he left. I didn't blame him. But if I said I wasn't totally devastated and incapable of trusting my judgment or anyone other than the few people I knew loved me, my sister and her family and our dear friend from back in the day and my kids. That was about it. And I sincerely did feel lucky because the people that stayed in my life were amazing.
We all walked through unknown territory together. Being strong for each other and sometimes feeling incredibly vulnerable and not able to even voice our concerns.
Step by step we healed. Ourselves, each other and the love we have is amazing. Truly.
And part of this, for me anyway, had to do with our first Akita Angel. While the kids were home I tried so hard to be normal. Not complaining about the pain or anything. Doing chores that seemed to take forever while they were in school so they wouldn't see how hard things were for me. I wanted them to have as normal of a life as I could offer. I wanted them to feel safe to be children. I think Angel helped them with this too. Angel and our llamas and donkey and mule. We didn't have anyone around to keep us safe but our animals sure were all that and then some. Our second Akita was crazy huge and loving and he also scared the heck out of people so when the kids friends came over there were certain things that they couldn't do. No running around the Mama. The dogs would actually chase them and our Bulldog would nip at their heels to make them stop. It made me really dizzy and somehow the dingos figured that out. We had so much laughter and just flat out good times. Sitting and listening to the kids play music. Enjoying a cup of tea while watching that big sky sunset. It was beautiful.
When the kids were grown and finding their own lives I wound up selling the farm. That was hard. I moved close to my sister and we figured, all of our kids and we would be able to hold the family together by love and proximity. And I started getting some excellent doctors who helped me with everything. I was learning how to function and understanding what my deficits were and I could read and write again and went back to Columbia College and got my degree. Oh hell yeah!!! And my kids wound up moving to Chicago and we all have a blast.
Still, I was a recluse. I didn't have the confidence that I could see trouble coming or deal with it. I did learn some important things about being self protective and love and all of that good stuff. Most of which I have shared.
Kumo, back to Akitas now, has had some challenges. Whenever you bring a rescued creature into your home, they come with issues, usually. I wondered about my sweet boy. They always do tell us, everything, eventually. My trainer said she thought his behavior, his particular challenges, looked more like he had been victim of the puppy mill system. When he was hesitant it looked to her like it was less about fear and more about not having been exposed to things in life. He was and still is kinda, terrified of stairs. Especially, going down them. We have done a lot of work and he is getting more confident. He also has been hesitant about floors in stores, that are slippery.
You know how I have talked about how important it is for our Akitas to know that we acknowledge their concern and that we are capable of making a good decision about our safety and that we will always keep them safe. This gives them and us a bond of trust and understanding that quite frankly, is rare even in the human realm.
Well, back to the beginning now, remember when I told you I was visiting with a friend about fear and trust and a big idea was coming to me? Hold on. I forgot. Oh, when people are injured, whether physically or emotionally they become more sensitive to whatever hurt them. Could be abandonment or violence or neglect or a lack of love even, but there is a reaction that isn't just isolated with humans. It is also in animals. All kinds of animals. For me Akitas insist on communicating with us until we get what they are thinking or feeling. But in reality, mine anyway, have broadened my awareness to understand we are all living with the bumps and bruises and fractures that we have experienced. Being able to feel safe with people that care, brings us out of that inability to communicate or be a part of the larger group that we long to understand and love and be loved by.... humanity. Fear is a this mask we slap on our own insecurities and the more alienated and scared by by our experiences the harder we can become.
Michael Jackson's daughter picked up a couple of girls that were hitchhikers. She was cool. They ate together. She bought them some clothes to help them out. And got them safely to where they were going. And they stole her credit card. Some people look at those of us who are loving as weak. They see an honest person and think... I can take whatever. And when we get took it freakin hurts like hell. I love people. And I love sharing our thoughts. And this is pretty much a miracle because I have been afraid of those very things for decades. Some of that started way back when I was an activist for Civil Rights and ending the draft so people were free to join or not join in a war that they didn't believe was justified. It was a cumulative reaction to life's experiences.
When we find a common ground that we can share with each other a beautiful thing happens. We can feel safe. We can still be self-protective and know when we are safe. I think this is what Kumo has been going through too. He feels safe with us. Yet he will still sometimes flinch when a stranger pets him. He is almost okay with it all the time now and I think that is because he trusts that I would not have someone who is going to hurt him, touch him.
I hope I didn't ramble too much and that this makes sense. It is personal but something has hit me about rescued animals, and in my case, rescued Akitas, that is reaching me in a way that I haven't understood or seen clearly before. Being self-protective is smart. Having some confidence in our own ability to figure shit out is a slower process because we are not born knowing everything and we will never know everything. Mistakes that we make and mistakes other people make as they stomp through our peace of mind or hearts... we can't keep those things from happening. But we can learn and discern and trust and love too.

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