Thursday, December 7, 2017

Anxiety, Perspective, and My Heart Dog is 7 - Nola's Gotcha Day

Disclaimer: I wrote this at basically midnight while hopped up on caffeine and more PMS hormones than my body could handle. That is literally the only excuse I have for this lovechild of smarmy purple prose and a thesaurus. I swear I'm not usually such an obnoxious asshole. 
So...yeah. Read at your own risk? 
And note to self: stick to writing at normal people hours.

In just a few days (Saturday, to be exact), it will be my little heart dog's 7th Gotcha Day. 7 years with this crazy, joyful, loving, mischievous, whip smart little dog. That blows my mind.

The day she came home was one of the brightest and happiest of my life. It always has been and always will be one of the most precious moments I've experienced, and she still continues to be one of the brightest bits of my life.

Trite as it sounds, Nola came to me exactly when I needed her. Exactly when. That time was so...dark. Dark, terrifying, completely out of my control, full of uncertainty, emotional abuse and so much loneliness 
My anxiety, which has always sort of pressed around me even from early childhood, took over my every thought and action, leaving me physically sick, exhausted in every way, and plagued by multiple panic attacks each day. I can't begin to describe how hard it is when your mental state is so shaky that you lose control of the most basic physical function of breathing. It leaves you feeling utterly powerless.
I was lonely and broken. My family, torn apart by abuse from the get go, imploded in such a dramatic and traumatizing fashion that I still have the vast majority of memories from that time blocked. Well, except for those pesky abandonment issues and inability to consume any book, movie, tv show, ect that has a plot or subplot of depression, suicide (it didn't happen in this case, just very explicit musings about what it'd be like and things along that nature...told to me at 14 years old. Jesus, how have I not needed more therapy than I've had?), or abuse. Thanks, God-I-Wish-You-Were-Just-a-Sperm-Donor-Father. 
I was spiraling and locked into a constant state of panic, stress and completely unable to help myself. It was a mess.

Enter Nola. No, a dog can't fix everything, and there isn't some magical thing that cures all that ails you in one fell swoop.
But...she gave me something to hold on to, something that was all mine. She gave me stability, purpose, constant companionship and undying love. 
No matter how rocky things got, I had Nola. No matter how stuck in my head I was, I had to be there to guide a very hard headed and rambunctious puppy into becoming a confident, stable dog. No matter how lonely I was, I had Nola. 
I got out of the house, logging miles and miles of outside time that soothed me as much as it did her. 
I dove into researching every facet of dog ownership and found a real passion learning that I still have today (I'm currently taking a Bioethics course from Harvard online...for fun).
I started this blog, picked up my phone and started photographing everything she did, fell madly in love with photography, and got my first DLSR. That opened so many doors for me and it's still something I do everyday, and it never fails to bring me joy.

She gave me comfort. Security. I felt needed by her, and taking care of her helped me get out of my head and start the arduous healing process. She's been with me for every single step of that process, every triumph and setback, every panic attack, every moment of peace. I've now had Nola for a third of my life, and she's helped to shape me into the person I am today. She's helped me built myself up from a broken child to to an adult that is scarred, but whole.

She helped me build a relationship with the man I consider my dad, not the piece of shit that sired me. She helped me get closer to my mom, the strongest person I know and my safe place. She's helped me with social anxiety, broadened my horizons and given me opportunities I wouldn't have if not for her.

Don't take this as me throwing you all my sob story and daddy issues. ;) I'm...well, not exactly glad for the way things went, but I am content with it now.
Now I'm grateful for the way things worked out. I wouldn't be where or who I am without it. I wouldn't be as close to my mother as  I am, wouldn't have my dad, wouldn't have my youngest siblings if things didn't happen the way they did. I wouldn't have the strength that I have now, the confidence in myself, the ability to learn and heal and succeed past my own head. I wouldn't have my baby sister, the person I love most in the world.

I wouldn't have my scars, but I also wouldn't have this life now, and I wouldn't trade that for the world.

I am who I am because of my past, and while it hurt like a bitch for a long, long time... - and sometimes it still stings, not going to lie - I am happy. For how it happened, for how it is now, for how it is going forward. I am happy, and that makes every last thing worth it. 

Because of Nola's help, I know calm. Peace. Safety. Belonging. Love. I know strength, and while I can be one cold bitch, I also know compassion. I know my limits and when to push them. I know control and growth and passion and adventure. All because this tiny, mischievous little dog came when I needed her and broke me out of my darkness, shoving me into a world of light.

So I thank the universe for her everyday, hold her tight and whisper my gratitude. She's never just a dog in my eyes. She's my everything.

Happy Gotcha Day, Nola. I love you.



  1. She expanded your heart at a time when it was broken. Makes perfect sense to me.

    I'm thankful you've shared her with us. It has also been a blessing to us.

  2. What a wonderful and heartfelt telling of how much Nola means to you. You are lucky to have found each other.

  3. It's wonderful that Nola came along at the perfect time to help you find your way. You are right that you end up being the compilation of all the scars and the love that you've had in your life. I am glad that Nola brought such love!

  4. I'm so glad that Nola came into your life! ((hugs))

    I relate so much to this post!!!

    Also, it's great to see you blogging again.

  5. Oh, that is such a lovely ode to your gurl! Doggies can heal what nothing else can. (or drive one crazy like I do Ma, butts that's neither here nor there....☺)
    Lots of love and {{{hugs}}}!
    Ruby ♥

  6. This post isn't obnoxious, it's incredibly brave and genuine. I've always admired your photography and now I'm in awe of your personal journey. Maybe you should write at midnight all the time ;) Thank you for sharing your story about how Nola helped you heal.

  7. While our 'paths' weren't the same, I feel Sampson 'saved' me in a similar way. He is my soul 'dog' and at times, I really feel he is my soul, as weird as that sounds.

    I'm glad you found her in your time of need, and I'm grateful you've shared her. Pamela once wrote on her blog, "Dogs bring us back to who we are." I don't know how they do it, but they do.

    Hugs to you my friend, and Happy Gotcha Day to Miss Nola.

  8. Girl, I understand you. Trust me. This year has been especially difficult for me (in therapy currently) and Wynston is my only constant. He's the only thing that can bring me true happiness and anxiety relief. It's amazing what dogs can do for us. I'm so grateful I have Wynston because I'd be lost without him. Just know that I'm here for you as a friend and as someone who totally gets it.

  9. Happy Gotcha Day, Sweet Nola!

    Monty, Harlow, and Ramble

  10. Happy Gotcha Day to both of you! I am so glad Nola came into your life and helped you grow. I teared up reading this and I am glad you were able to share it.

  11. Wonderful how dogs can help their humans so much. thanks for sharing and I appreciate the work you do with this blog.


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