Last weekend, I made plans to celebrate eight full days of pure gratitude. I would blog a quick note about what I was grateful for that day, leading right up to March 31st, my two-year sober anniversary. My husband was out of town, so I had plenty of time to revel in all that gratitude.
Ah … the best laid plans.
Instead of feeling grateful, I wound up whiny, lethargic, irritated, and martyred. The reason? My plans were changed without my permission. So instead of walking in nature, singing around the house, and journaling about gratitude, I’ve spent the week playing nursemaid to a dog.
To make a long story short, my dog Quigley was bitten by another dog. The bite just grazed the surface, but the healing has gone awry, and after three visits to the vet and finally surgery, he’s wearing a t-shirt tied on with duct tape, a cone around his head, and he’s drugged out of his mind. He refused to walk with the cone on his head, so he had to be carried outside to go to the bathroom. (He weighs over 50 pounds, and the vet called him fat on top of everything else.)
At no point was the dog’s life in danger, and he didn’t appear to be in pain. If anything, he seemed to enjoy all the extra attention and even the drugs. Yet anytime I told someone how I was cleaning and dressing wounds daily (I’m SUPER squeamish), and needed to hose down the house from the inside out, they always said, “Oh, poor Quigley.”
Poor Quigley? What about poor me?
Soon, a voice I call the little gremlin had set up shop inside my brain and began shooting out arrows of self-pity: Why should you have to deal with this? This is sooo inconvenient. Your husband’s probably in a hot tub in Colorado. This isn’t fair!
After a day or so of mopping and re-mopping floors, and whining to anyone unlucky enough to answer my call, the gremlin talked me into a large fry and frosty. You deserve this, he cooed.
As I fortified myself with hundreds of grams of fat and sugar, I knew it was time to retake my rightful place as leader of the pack. I am in charge, I told myself firmly. Not the dog. Not the gremlin.
I began to observe the little gremlin, as my mindful reading has taught me to do. That’s not me, I told myself. That’s the ego run amok. I don’t have to listen to him.
Through the rain and hail of the next few days, I began to practice acceptance. I tried to tell myself, This is what’s happening. It’s inconvenient, and no one is going to come to my rescue. I can rail against this mentally, or I can accept it and rise to the occasion. I can choose to complain, or I can choose to find what this situation is trying to teach me.
My mood lifted slightly, even though I felt like I was just going through the motions. Still, from acceptance, I could move on to a begrudging gratitude: I’m glad I’m here to comfort Quigley. I’m glad to take the dog out at 5:00 am because now I can watch the sunrise. I’m thrilled not to be doing this hungover.
Then, with this slight gratitude, I was gradually able to sustain some real gratitude. This situation is forcing me to slow down and be present. I feel more in tune with Quigley. I’m able to do things that I thought I couldn’t.
After a few days, the dog and I had a routine. We spent lots of time together because I had to make sure he didn’t scratch his wounds. It was actually kind of cozy here at the doggy rehab. I felt a little like Florence Nightingale.
So today, Mr. Sober Miracle is home. I have help! Not that I need it, really.
As it turns out, Quigley has to be monitored for another week, so my husband won’t be going on the weekend getaway we had planned. Instead, I’ll be taking my parents to the fancy hotel for Easter weekend. Come to think of it, they haven’t gone anywhere in almost a year due to my dad’s health.
And it’s going to be really inconvenient, I know. I’ll have to schlep both of my dad’s walkers, his wheelchair, his shower chair, and his bags of medication up to the third floor of the hotel.
Oddly enough, I feel up to the challenge. I’m looking forward to it even.