I am once again sat with a chocolate labrador on my feet, and how could I possibly have wanted to be anywhere but here, with him? When he saw me, he went bananas – he started charging around the entire house as fast as his legs would carry him (then attacked a football), before bringing me every single toy/ towel/ blanket he could find and nudging my chin with his neck until I cuddled him and let him snuggle into me as I sat cross legged on the floor. As we hugged, there were moments where he became so overexcited that he would charge around the entire house again before flying at me and demanding more cuddles. Every time I sit down, he jumps onto my lap. Every time I walk about he’s right there brushing against my leg, staring up at me with those big brown eyes. He’s not even bitter about the fact that I left him, he’s just over the moon that I’m home. I. Could. Not. Feel. More. Loved. If. I. Tried.
And then I found it on his front right leg. Raw, ugly, unlike all the others all over him… A lump. My dog has survived testicular cancer. He’s riddled with tumours, they’re popping up all over him, but the vet “thinks” they are benign, and he’s too old to risk keep giving him anaesthetics to allow them to test otherwise. But this one is different. The fur above it has fallen out. It’s red and bleeding in places and looks quite honestly GROSS. It’s much smaller but it has grown quickly and it looks far too similar to what I found on him before. At the sight of it, I nearly burst into tears. I looked into his happy, clueless eyes and in my mind I asked anyone, anything, to just please not let it be anything other than harmless. When something is your entire world, you become worried about even the tiniest things. My dog is not just a dog, he’s my shadow. He is my everything. He makes me hold on when everything else makes me want to let go. He makes me feel loved even when I don’t deserve his affection at all and others are unwilling to show it towards me. He breaks through walls that no human can. He’s literally saved my life, he’s saved my soul. I don’t know how I’d manage without him.
I raised my concerns because… I was extremely concerned…
“Oh for goodness sake you’re pathetic.” My granddad spat. BAM. No shame this time, no self hatred – I was defensive, my mind was a frightened soldier with a twitchy trigger finger. A heat ran through me, I sat bolt upright, suddenly wired. (And yes I was frightened, because people close to me thinking things like that of me is one of my worst fears).
“You’re pathetic.” He spoke over me again as I tried to quietly and calmly protest (and hide the flash of emotional pain that was rushing through me all of a sudden).
“I am not pathetic.” My voice wavered as I said it more to myself than to him, “Most people couldn’t cope with half of my life.” I tried to tell myself (ridiculous, most people would laugh my health hiccups off as if they were nothing I’m sure). This machine gun fire of words was over so quickly but I struggled to hold the weapon of my voice steady. I didn’t shout, but I didn’t withdraw into myself and impale myself on shards of self loathing as I usually would, so to me this was about as aggressive as I’m ever going to get. Shame still seared within me though.
Turns out my granddad hurt his back lifting Winston (my wheelchair) out of the car. I instantly felt incredibly guilty, and everybody else instantly decided that I had no right to be even moderately hurt by what he had said because he was in pain and didn’t mean it (and it is my fault he was in pain). I kind of wondered why everyone else is allowed to snap when they don’t feel great, yet I go to such lengths to spare them from the effects of me doing the same, even when I’m dying (not that this is a competition, but seriously guys come on). Biting your tongue isn’t difficult. Words hurt more than people think, which is why I always usually remain silent when I’m shouted at or when I’m not feeling too great – I don’t want to lash out with weapons that people underestimate; I don’t want to plant thoughts in other people like the thoughts they plant within me, just because I’m feeling things they can’t understand.
Call me anything but pathetic. Directing that word at me so bitterly reinforced every thought I’ve been fighting against. After all the conversations I’ve had with my grandparents over the past few days he picked that word. The word that is like filth on my tongue and a spike in my mind on which every other part of me becomes impaled. I don’t know how to get over that word. I don’t know how to move on from it. It is my achilles heel.
This morning my grandma even sat me down and started asking questions which to me just said, do you really NEED a wheelchair.
“What would actually happen if you went out without it?”
“How far can you walk?”
“Yes but what actually happens if you don’t use one?”
I mean, I get that it’s confusing to see somebody walk around a teeny tiny house (seriously I think it’s 24 feet from the front door to the back door and that’s the entire length of the house) seemingly fine, and then have to push them around. This was poor timing given the feelings I raised about Winston in yesterday’s post. I didn’t want to justify my use of a wheelchair and I won’t do so now. I’m embarrassed, ashamed, and right now I’m back to not caring at all about myself (it was great while it lasted, but it’s draining and impossible, everybody else will always matter to me more than I do, and I don’t think I want it any other way).
I walked to the front door with my dog. I let my legs give out on me, and I slid slowly to the floor. Instantly, he was on my lap, snuggling up against my body; but suddenly bolt upright and growling quietly but protectively if he saw a car move or heard a noise nearby (he’s also my little bodyguard and I love him so much for being so protective). He let me hug him. He let me crumple to a heap on the floor and just hold him. And I wanted to be on the floor. I sort of felt I belonged nowhere but the floor. And I wanted to be somewhere I’d got under my own steam, even if my body gave out and left me on the doormat.
Tomorrow I am meeting my disability advisor at university to discuss the complete lack of support I’ve got, and discuss why none of the things he asked my department to put in place for me ever actually happened (offering extra emotional support due to my health issues even… NOPE!). I’m terrified to have to fight for that again, and I was hoping the frustration I gained yesterday may help, but right now in so many more ways than physically, I have run out of steam and just crumpled.
Isn’t it amazing what a single word can do?
Isn’t it pathetic?