I lost it. I’m not too sure what ‘it’ is, but defining it doesn’t matter. Two days ago I found myself sat outside a hospital, shaking, my stomach churning, my legs unable to hold me up. I hadn’t ever expected emotion to hit me so hard that I couldn’t walk. I hadn’t even considered the thought that feelings could knock you off your feet. And I had no right to react that way given the fact that life could be so much worse, but… I did. I sat on a wall for an hour because I couldn’t move, didn’t have the strength in my legs to support the rest of my shaking self, and I resented all the healthy, clueless people that walked past.
Let’s face it, I had already been on the edge, I just didn’t realise quite how close I was. In that moment I suddenly didn’t know how to cope with anything. Personal and family issues were dragged up by recent events, and so I guess a lot of my family members were knocked off of their feet a little bit. On top of the rest of life, on top of that moment, I just couldn’t do it. Time and time again I had told my university parent that I didn’t know how to cope, didn’t know how to carry on. And usually “You can. Just tough it out. Sensible will get you through this.” Was enough to knock the hopelessness out of me, to shut up the emotion that simply spoke louder than truth. But my ability to cope was overestimated. I was told that I’m tough, but the situation slowly became increasingly tougher than I could find it in myself to be. I tried, for the sake of my university parent, to stick to the mentality that has always ruled my mind before (get up, get on with it, there is no way but through.). But sat outside that hospital I couldn’t see the way through. And I didn’t want to find out how it was going to end, I just wanted it to end. My way. On my terms. And that scared me.
I didn’t know how to talk to anyone really, so I turned to the only person I trusted with it, to the only person I trust. And once again, I was told that sensible would get me through. But this time sensible wasn’t that easy. Well, I knew it was, but a smaller (yet stronger) part of me overrode that sense. I sat on the wall outside that hospital having an internal battle with myself, and concluded that the only way to win was to get drunk. I gave up on my uni parent, I gave up on the power of my logical thought, and I shakily made my way to the off licence down the road with my stomach squirming.
I tucked my pizza box into bed and slept in an office chair. When I woke up the next morning… things didn’t feel any different. Uni parent was busy, and I think uni parent also thought that I was crying wolf. So at that point I shut down. Like a fuse blowing to save the rest of the circuit I switched all of myself off, and I hoped that a change of scenery that evening might make me functional again.
Until then, I took what was left of myself to my tutorial. I acted human and felt far from it, but people bought it. I went home, shut the curtains, and put myself to bed because sleeping was the only way to get through the pain that I still couldn’t shut off. I woke up and packed my bags and did my best to sort my room. I went to a meeting with my academic tutor and sealed everything off inside of me while we sat discussing my grades etc. And all I could think was, if my dog can’t save me now this is it. I didn’t know what would happen then. I wanted so badly to fight and yet I didn’t know how to.
I came back to Kent that evening (yesterday). 35kg of chocolate Labrador came barrelling out of the front door to meet me, tail wagging. And I crumbled again then with the warmth that he put back into my stone cold mind. I didn’t know how to stand again as I fell to my knees and hugged him. I had forgotten how magical dogs can be. He wouldn’t leave my side. He wanted to be with me as much as I needed to be with him. I felt wanted, I felt needed, I felt supported. I felt like something understood me as I sat with him on my lap, the familiarity of his fur between my fingers, the warmth of him against the cold of me. Together me and my dog have taken on the world before and clung to each other for dear life until we got through – after he had major surgery, and after surgeons took knives to me as well. He’s been there through nightmares and sleepless nights and fear. I’ve cried on him, I’ve comforted him. And after a few minutes with him and the sheer happiness that this induced, the stupidity melted away and sensible prevailed. At that point the relief was overwhelming, because I had given up on everyone, I’d pinned my remaining shred of hope on my dog; if he hadn’t have been able to comfort me then, I… I can’t say it, but you’ve probably already guessed it if you’re smart. I was genuinely that close. That far beyond human help. Nobody understood.
When my little brother got home, I crept up behind him and hugged him. We stood and cuddled for a pretty long time. We went out for an eventful dinner with our mum because she was tired and couldn’t face cooking (neither could I!) and when we came back, another dog helped improve things a little more.
I went next door and met their 9 week old blonde cocker spaniel puppy. I had many cuddles (therefore crossing off the ‘hug a puppy’ line on my ‘to do’ list), and couldn’t help but smile as the teeny tiny bundle of cuteness re-attached my brain to some human feelings. On national puppy day, a puppy healed my emotional wounds a little. In 24 hours, the weight of the world had been cast aside briefly by eight legs, two wagging tails, and the two dogs that these features belong to.
This morning I woke up at 9am, grabbed my dog’s lead and harness, and walked him along the route that, when I was 12- 15, we used to run daily.
And that was it. That was home. Those woods, the pavements, the fresh air, the greenery everywhere and trees on the horizon no matter which way I looked; with a Labrador by my side and music in my ears, and that familiar burn in my lungs (although this time because I was ill and had no energy and not because I’d sprinted just to feel the wind on my face)… That was the home I’ve been looking for. My dog is getting older and after an hour of walking slowed down and began to limp. By the time I got home I too could hardly walk, was falling asleep and all of me ached… But I loved every second. We were home alone, so we curled up on the sofa together, and slept. I’d forgotten the awesomeness of having a dog curl up and fall asleep on you.
I went next door and spent three hours sat on the floor with the puppy. I didn’t even care when it accidentally bit me, the pain of it reminded me that I was still alive despite the fact that my body is doing its best to change that on a (far too) regular basis.
I’m shaken by the last few days, by the things I’ve been through, the ways they effected me, the things I nearly did and the way I felt so helpless. But I’ve been reunited with my furry rock, and he’s succeeded where humanity failed.
Never underestimate the power of a dog.