Poppy has been with me for 3 whole months!

I feel like I need to spend some time celebrating her today. Here is what they say about adopted dogs: “… they take 3 days to decompress, 3 weeks to know your routine and 3 months to start to feel at home…”

Here is what I’ve learnt from Poppy in the last 3 months and what I am celebrating:

  1. Material possessions are all chewable and therefore not important.  What is important is Poppy herself and the incredible impact she has had on my life in a few months.  The people at the shoe shop are particularly impressed with the amount of shoes she can chew through! Although my bank manager disagrees….
  2. Her chewing is in direct proportion to how much (or little) attention she receives from me.
  3. I truly believe that she is more husky than ridgeback. My Pops thrives on routine and a commitment from me to do daily games and walks.
  4. She still loves leading our walks and being out front. I’m learning slowly to not clutch onto her leash like a mad demented woman being dragged around the block.  Some days are better than others, so I still have faith that we will master this one.
  5. I had no idea my heart could expand this much. It is remarkable.
  6. Poppy doesn’t care about my past and there is a real beauty in that. I don’t have to explain things to her.  She accepts me for who I am now.  There is no hanging on to the past for her.  Every day is a new adventure.
  7. There is a fire inside of me that never left. I thought it did. I thought the trauma took it from me, like when you’re lying down and something knocks the breath right out of your lungs.  I thought I exhaled my spirit, my identity, everything that made me—well, me—back into the world.  Feeling broken and scattered into a million pieces, I stumbled aimlessly through life in shades of confusing grey. And slowly, with Poppy’s help, I continue to integrate—yes, integrate. We can’t just—poof!—get rid of trauma, fear, or pain. We can’t imagine it away. But we can work with it.  This is the path of the courageous.  My path. Our path. And so Poppy and I meet here, with dirty feet and scraped knees, our hearts raw. But there’s this sparkle in her eyes, because no matter what we have gone through, the hells this life can be—There is this fire inside us that never left.
  8. I am not meant to be in pain forever. Pain is a path that teaches us. For Poppy it is a nice hard swipe from my cat Buddy to say he’s had enough of her shenanigans.   For me, its been a plunge into inky darkness to soak up lessons I didn’t know I wanted or needed—the chapters so thick with messy learning I still don’t even know how to talk about it. And it hurts. I know it hurts so much.
  9. For a while, I remember there was just pain. Only in recent months do I see sparks of Post-traumatic growth—how really tough sh*t can shape us in these incredible ways. The gifts that can come from trauma aren’t glossy or pretty. They are hard-won. For me, they took years to bloom – and required the help of a brown eared woof to unlock. They are covered in tears, cast in confusion and sweat. They came through gritted teeth and late-night panic attacks and this strange, stubborn dedication inside that told me I would get through this. No matter what. And I don’t always feel grateful. The hurt and anger still ripple through me sometimes. But it doesn’t have to be one or the other. We can begin to thrive, even if parts us echo with ache.
  10. These post-traumatic gifts, though—they are are muddy and real. They are unexpected and profound. Because trauma changes us. So, I will never be who I used to be. She doesn’t exist anymore. But I know who I am now. And who I am now, in the wake of it all, is strong, soft, and trying to remain in touch with the pulse of her own heart.
  11. I feel endlessly humbled and human. I try to make the most of every damn day now. I write to expand my lungs and lean in—to care more. To feel more. To love more.
  12. Poppy loves walks so much. She just wants to keep going. What a lesson it has been to watch her – keep going – because we know we can’t stop. And yes, there will times when we want to. Of course there will be. Days when I just need to (and want to) set it all down and rest my weary heart for a day or a month or a year. To just breathe. To curl up and be loved. To drink tea and throw a ball to my woof in the garden. But even then, we keep walking gently through it. Because there is no other way.

As humans, our will to survive, to thrive—it is unstoppable and tremendous.

Even when we think the flame has been snuffed out.

It keeps burning.

This is what the darkness showed me.  Because the darkness lead me directly to Poppy.

And my heart and life is changed forever.