It’s strange to sit and reflect now on the last two weeks.  What do you mean that Poppy and I have only had two weeks together?  In so many ways, she has fitted into my life so beautifully that our friendship feels older.  Much older.  A type of home brewed strong tea friendship, where both of us keep talking until the wee hours and a kettle sings constantly in the background.  Truthfully I’ve done most of the talking to Poppy over these two weeks – teaching her commands like “sit”, “down”, “leave” and “fetch”.  Her beautiful blue eyes respond lovingly to everything new with such an openness and willingness to learn, that I could swear she talks back to me with them.

These last two weeks have literally flown past. Week one was largely spent reassuring her that I’ve got this and helping her with her own anxiety about being left alone when I’ve had to go to work.  I was so busy with securing/fixing fences and showering her with love that I didn’t even clock that my own panic attacks had vanished! It was distraction at its best and I’m just so grateful.

Week two has been about learning to lean on my doggie for love in the best way.  After waking up from a nightmare I have been leaning down for her to lick my hand and just knowing that she is there has been totally reassuring for me.

I haven’t been doing this alone though – Charnell has been around once a week to check in and offer advice and have her own heart opening therapy sessions with me.

I feel constantly surprised at how moments of sharing can be so freaking tender and lead us right to our brilliant hearts. Especially when we lean in.

PTSD is not an imagined disease. It is a response to trauma.  And for the last few years I’ve battled with its accompaning nightmares, flashbacks and panic attacks. I may not be a war veteran returning from the battlefields, but being gang raped was a war of its own on my body and psyche.  What is clear is that I refuse to live on that battleground for the rest of my life.

Getting stronger has been a daily choice and journey for me, to find the support I need. It has lead me directly to Poppy and Charnell and Daniel.  The 4 of us are in this together now.  Healing the mess through animal therapy and unconditional love.  I’m tired of running away so this seems like an obvious answer – I just didn’t realise how fast acting the impact would be!  My life is literally changing.

On Saturday this week I had an unsettling experience with an uber driver.  He had made an totally inappropriate sexual comment to me that not only made me feel unsafe, but also shook me.  Normally an experience like this, would have triggered a huge anxiety attack and rendered me speechless and shaking in terror. But for the first time I spoke up. I spoke back. No, I raged back. Screaming my fury at this man, I told him off exactly as he deserved!  I have also taken all the necessary steps to report him to Uber and ensure he never addresses another woman in that way again.

I shook for the first time ever with rage.  I was not going to back down or run away anymore.  I stood up and became a voice for all of us who have never screamed back.  I found my voice and she is angry. No, she’s mad.  I gave her a voice by leading.  NEVER, EVER SPEAK TO A WOMAN LIKE THAT AGAIN!

Today, I can reward myself with the knowledge that I stepped up for my own life.  I didn’t panic or run away.  Fury is a beautiful thing really.

I stepped up in the same way I’ve had to for Poppy over the last two weeks – by speaking my truth.  Being a leader for all us wounded folk returning from our own battlefields.

And then by way of calming down when I got home, sitting with her in the garden until I felt rooted again.  Proud of myself.  Just proud.

(and I think Pops is too)

What would it be like to remember that we don’t need to always run away? Or panic when an intensely uncomfortable feeling comes over us?

This is new territory for me.

Because we really can’t escape ourselves—and this need not be horrifying, but awesome. Empowering.

What would it be like to drop deeply into our hearts and bodies in that exact moment when we want to run away and speak truth to power?

I’ve realised that there is nothing quite like our fear, which often seems gigantic—but equally as big, thank goodness, is our resilience.

Poppy reminds me every day to become more resilient.  This little girl who has been through so much in her own short life  – but who overcomes – with a sense of adventure and love every day.

As Pops and I lean into the pain of ourselves and each other, we soar above our ordinary fear that emotions will drown us—and our hearts can slowly heal, beyond our wildest dreams.

A paw-print on my heart.

A choice to be stronger every day.