It’s just plain downright crazy to think that my woof has only been in my life for just under 3 months.

This afternoon the two of us went on a long walk together in the pouring rain as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do. 3 months ago, I wouldn’t have been out of my bed to even sit in the garden on a sunny day. I wish I was exaggerating that last statement.

Even last week in the middle of anxiety and meltdowns, I couldn’t imagine how to make any of it work again.

It was on this afternoon’s walk I clocked again just how good she has been for my life. The misery of being bone wet this afternoon didn’t even cross my mind. After last week I was nothing but proud of the both of us.

This week has been about going back a bit in order to regroup and find our rhythm again. I realised today on our walk that this rhythm is best when I’m not clutching onto her lead out of fear and anxiety like a mad possessed woman. And that just walking and imagining a protective bubble around the two of us is really working.

Daniel has given me some other training advice to help with her mouthing too. I so wish you could watch the two of us trying to figure this out together. Some moments are huge leaps forward and then it all seems to crumble in an instant. I’m slowly learning that this is not failure. That the crumbly moments are where Poppy is asking me to communicate with her in a new way, and one that she can understand and process.

What a lesson this has been for me. I hate ‘failure’. And I have spent a lot of time and energy over the last five years trying not to show anyone that I’m ‘failing’.

But here’s the truth. We all fail at moments in our lives. Most people just don’t let it consume them. They pick up and regather and try a new route.

Tonight, I want to try new routes. One’s without anxiety. And even when I “fail” I want to do it with Poppy’s pride written all over it. How I wish you could see her prancing into the house, head held high, like a pony, when she has done something wrong. And most often still carrying the neighbours chewed up washing in her mouth! You see, she doesn’t see the mistake, or the failure. For her it’s an adventure and her blue eyes announce proudly “look human! I brought you a gift“.

I’ve spent 5 years of my life running from the truth of what happened. Trying so hard to construct a world where I am in control. Control is super important to me. It is what I lost the night I was raped.

Every day since then has been about not letting them win. And that meant being busy and constructive all the time. It meant having good days all the time and seeing anxiety and flashbacks as me losing the battle.

Poppy’s gift this week wasn’t the chewed-up shirt. It wasn’t half the tree that she dragged into my tiny house. It was her telling me it’s okay to have a meltdown. It’s okay to have red mud everywhere. It’s okay to have an anxiety attack. It’s even okay to sit for a bit and cry a flashback all out. But once the crying is done, we can’t live there. We need to make a new plan. Pick our lives up and try again.

Sitting with the ugliness and seeing it properly and crying it out is not bad. It’s essential to getting real control back. Not a constructed version of the truth – or a “perfect life” where the past never happened.

I think that’s the crux of healing. I can’t always control everything. As much as I want to! A meltdown is an opportunity for my brain to regroup. Remember. Apologise. Send love and thanks for sticking this out with me. And then get up!

Because as Poppy always says to me at the start of our walks: what adventures will come today?

Some days are going to be harder than others. And when they are, I need to just allow that to be. It’s not a perfect journey for any of us.

And so, I suspect that the future will hold more meltdowns, tears, the inability to get up and bath. There will be days that I still forget to eat properly or let myself and others down. But I pray as well that I will see them for what they are – healing in progress.

Or as Pops tells me: adventures to learn from.

I’m so in love with this woof.

With her naughtiness, her pride, her ability to test all my boundaries.

One day we are going to laugh and laugh at all the meltdowns.

Right now, however, she is fast asleep at my feet and my eyes soften watching her heart. She has so much to teach me and I am so grateful.

I can fail. And make mistakes. And try again.

And so is Poppy. My proud brown eared, kind-hearted friend.

And when I think it’s all impossible again, Daniel and Charnell will come pick up the pieces with me and we’ll regroup and compare war stories. And eat chocolate brownies and laugh.

What’s super clear tonight is that I’m not doing this alone.

And I think I might just be the luckiest girl alive.

Love Tina