Rewriting The Story
After Susie-Belle died in 2015 I received a beautiful portrait of her as a gift. I found it deeply moving. Not only the generosity of someone I had never met, but the thoughtfulness the gift displayed. The portrait stayed tucked away nestled in wrapping by my desk for months. I couldn’t bear for anyone else to see it, or my tears whenever I looked at it. I would bring it out to gaze at when I was alone and the involuntary tears would fall. It felt life-like and once again I’d be gripped by the agony of losing my friend. A precious, private portrait which I held close until I was ready to hang it on the wall. It then became no longer a private object which seemed to absorb my grief.
My strong reactions to it surprised me then, and still do when I think back to how beyond my control it all was. Now I happily look at the portrait every day, hanging in a spot where every visitor can see it and, if so inclined, enjoy the serenity of Susie-Belle captured in art.
I’ve stayed in touch with Joanna who gave me it. We’ve each borne losses of beloved dogs and our relationship has grown closer and richer. Susie-Belle’s memory is a bright thread upon which much has developed.
Recently, Joanna has adopted a dog who spent the first years of his life as a breeding dog. It’s never going to be known precisely how Mungo lived but everything points to it being nasty. An urgent dental was needed as his mouth was full of rotten teeth and infection, most of them had to be removed.
Mungo is steadily learning what it is to live in a home; to be, and to feel loved. Dogs from traumatic, or deprived backgrounds face big challenges to put everything behind them. On a daily basis Mungo is doing his best to move forwards. The admiration I hold for dogs is immense and we can learn much from their willingness to do it. As a therapist Joanna brings unique insights into the journey that they’re taking together.
As human beings, it’s easy for us to get stuck in the story we are telling ourselves each day. We will continue to do a particular behaviour, or think particular thoughts, because we’ve always done it that way. We interact with the world because of the labels we give ourselves – or accept from other people – “Anxious”, “Introverted”, “Extroverted”, “Victim”, “Intelligent”, “Stupid”. When labels give us permission to limit ourselves, then we don’t have to take responsibility – instead we can blame the label, because the label gives us our story… without realising that it’s also the story that is “proving” the label.Teachings of Dog: Rewriting the Story
Her recent blog resonates strongly with me and I encourage all to read it.
Mungo’s teaching are wise:
- The past is for learning from, not for living in.
- You don’t have to believe everything you think.
- Question constantly whether your story is serving life, and if it’s not, tell yourself a new story and allow your light to shine.