Tag Archives: animal advocates

Triggered

*Warning this is a spur of the moment post, or I guess more of a journal entry I captured from being triggered into an anxiety attack by a Facebook post. I just began writing as I felt the anxiety coming on and thought it would be healing if I shared.  Please excuse the typos, grammar and incomplete thoughts.  This was a raw emotional moment of  an old wound that I have been pushing away for a very long time, that was in desperate need of healing. I have included the post in a link below.  Now I wouldn’t normally share an article like this because I don’t feel that I need to flood people with tragic photos and stories, especially from the animal welfare field, because most of my Facebook friends are still in that field and they are bombarded by this everyday.  But I feel this is a healing opportunity for me and it does have a happy ending.

I don’t know if it’s because that Mercury is in retrograde, if I’m just taking on other’s energy, or if I’m just out of alignment, but my anxiety has been through the roof over the past several days. I’ve been taking time to help manage it, and doing a lot of self care. But today an article came up on my Facebook feed that opened the flood gates.  I know there are a few unresolved issues I have around some of my past work in animal welfare.  And this post of Facebook really triggered that today.  The post, was of someone finding a puppy in a plastic bag, tossed out like trash on the side of a road.

After leaving my job as a Humane Agent, I suffered horrible from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. One of my biggest trigger to anxiety besides the phone ringing, was seeing trash bags on the side of the road.   One of my cases involved the beating, sodomizing and killing of 3 dogs, that were then dumped on the side of the road.  It has only been the past 3 years that I have been able to drive by a trash bag on the side of the road without stopping to open it.  I didn’t want anyone to know how effected I was by this, so when I was driving with someone, I would note where the bag was and go back to check later. Today, I don’t have to stop or go back to check, but I am aware of the physiological effects it has on my body.  My muscle tense up, my breathing shallows, and many times I hold my breath as I pass the trash on the road.  My mind races, wondering if there is an animal in the bag.

As I write this now I can feel the tightness in my muscles, and my breath becoming shallow, tears welling up in my eyes.  But this is a chance for me to heal.  So that is why I am sharing this.  I WANT to heal this. So I will sit with these feeling, as uncomfortable as it is.  I will let the tears flow.

This feeling is so uncomfortable, and I want to get up and find something to do to busy my mind and push this down.  But I sit.  Feeling the empty pit in my stomach growing. My heart breaking opening as  I remember collecting those dogs off the side of the road, their bodies badly beaten. Opening the bags to reveal the white and liver colored Britney spaniel, it’s body bloody and bruised.  I remember being very disconnected with my emotions.   Looking at their lifeless bodies and being so focused on collecting every piece of evidence I could, so I could find out who did this.  I did not cry, I remained stoic, professional, and completed my job. I shut of my emotions to carry on the work I was doing. Most of the time the only emotion I felt was anger. And I’m sure that most people that work in animal welfare would say the same.

My chest feels so tight. My teeth clench and my mouth becomes dry.  My palms start to sweat and my fingers are cold.   The tear are really starting to flow.  I cry now for the lives of those dogs.  I cry for the pain and suffering they endured.  I cry for myself, that I had to witness such monstrous torture.  I cry because a job like this is needed. I cry for the person(s) that did this, because of how tortured their soul would have to be to do this to an innocent creature. And then I feel the anger palpating in my neck, and my hand and teeth clenching, my breath is short, and my skin tingles, especially on my face and around my mouth. Perhaps a physical manifestation of not voicing my anger and hurt.  My mind starts racing through all the possibilities of how something like this could happen? Who could have done such horrible things? Then I start second guessing my management of this case.  Did I collect the evidence correctly?  Was there something I miss, or got left in the woods? Did I ask the right questions? Talk to enough people?  I am sobbing uncontrollably.

I sit with this pain and discomfort for what seem like an eternity, but it has maybe been 30 minutes. I begin to feel my body soften and then release of anger and guilt.   I am beginning to feel the tension release in my muscles and room in my lungs to take a full breath.

I go back to April of 2006, to the girl who wanted to save the world.  I stand next to her  as we look at the tailgate on the side of the road, starring at the muddy trash bag encasing the beaten body of an innocent dog.  I tell her, “I am sorry.”  I am sorry for not protecting you by setting boundaries.  I am sorry for not providing you the coping mechanisms needed to do this gurgling work every day.   I am sorry I did not take care of your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs.  I honor, recognize, and love your heart and spirit.  I honor the work you did, the sacrifices you made to help save the lives of animals, and to help change the lives of people. Thank you. Thank you, for all that you did.

I also give a moment of gratitude to the Sheriff Detective that took me seriously and assisted me with getting evidence to the crime lab, and the police officer from one of the surrounding towns that tried to get finger prints.  I give thanks to the supportive colleagues and supervisor I had at that time.  They were the only ones who truly understood the struggles of my daily duties.  They struggled along with me.  In those days it was so hard to relate to the outside world. My days were full of abuse and neglect.  Everyday, no matter how hard I tried, I felt overwhelmed by my case load, like I was a failure, inadequate and incompetent.  I continue to sit with these feelings and allow them to flow through my body.  It does not feel good.  It hurts, it’s uncomfortable, it’s dark, it’s empty, but I’m healing.

I hold space and honor the memory of these dogs that where so violently tortured.  I surround their memory in compassion, and send it into the light of the universe be consumed by eternal love.  I forgive myself for not being able to find out who did this. And I forgive the person who did this to these beautiful creatures.  I pray that your soul has healed since this happened, and that you have received the help you needed.  I hope that you have found a way to heal those dark and dangerous spaces in you mind.  I send you light, love and peace.

~I am freed.

https://www.thedodo.com/driver-shocked-to-discover-why-trash-bag-in-road-was-moving-1991530267.html

 

healing

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A Reminder of how far I Have Come

It might not make sense that this blog is posted on a holistic living site, but it explains part of my journey to wellness and self love.

The other day I was at my favorite children’s consignment shop looking for potty training supplies. In the midst of strollers, clothes and toys, there was a woman I recognized  browsing the aisles. I was instantly taken back almost 4 years ago. It was everything in me not to run up and wrap my arms around her, but she may not have remembered me, or she may not have the same feelings I have about our past encounter.

imageYou see, in my past life I spent 15 years working in animal welfare and I met this women at the tail end of that career.   Throughout those 15 years I practiced no self-care or self-love.  I worked with every last ounce of strength, compassion and conviction I had in me advocating for animals.

After spending several years as an animal cruelty investigator, I thought the opportunity as a kennel manager at the local humane society would offer some relief and sanity in my life, but I was so wrong.

This woman at the consignment shop was one of those angels in human form, that would occasionally walk through the shelter doors to remind you that there were still good people in the world. One summer day she came to my shelter and adopted a dog that was challenging to place. The dog was a middle aged hound, with a high pray drive, very little focus or interest in people, and a loud bark.

This woman and her family took a chance on this dog.  They spoiled and lavished him with love, attention, toys, and long walks. They included him in all their family activities. After a few weeks, he became very reactive and possessive of his things and a bite occurred.  Even with training, all the love they had, and all the forgiveness in their hearts, they could not risk the safety of their children. They sadly brought him back to the shelter. My team and I conducted extensive temperament testing, and had a behavioralist work with him. Due to the severity of the situation and his history, we found it best to make the hard decision to euthanize him. We included the family in the decision, which was hard for them, my team and me.  Honestly, it would have been easier not to tell them anything. But it was the right thing to do, to give them the opportunity to grieve and have closure. This family had such grace, compassion, and forgiveness, not just for the situation but for my team and me.

During my time at the shelter I struggled with guilt and feelings of failure everyday.  Was I making the right decisions?  Was I being an effective leader for my team? Was I doing enough?  I sometimes felt I had a very different view of rescue after spending so much time as an animal control officer and cruelty investigator.  I spent many hours in the hospital photographing and taking statements from adults and children that had been severely bitten.  My job at the shelter was not only to advocate for the animals but to protect the community as well. Needless to say I was always second guessing myself, full of guilt and doubt, and could not look at myself in the mirror.  Playing God, just wasn’t what I wanted to do.

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I left the animal welfare field a little over 3 years ago. After a lot of self care, soul searching, and healing, I am at a place that I love myself again.  I am proud of the time I spent advocating and caring for animals. Did I made mistakes? Of course!  I did the best I could do in the situation and with the resources I had.

So maybe seeing this women really wasn’t meant for me to have a face-to-face encounter, but a gentle reminder to honor my years advocating for those without voices and to continue to advocate for myself.  She was a reminder to continue to be compassionate and gentle to myself.

It doesn’t matter what career you’re in, the challenges of every day life can make you feel like your barely keeping your head above water. We all need to cut ourselves some slack and give ourselves forgiveness. We would do that for a friend, why do we find it so hard to do it for ourself?  Let go of the guilt of not being able to do it all and practice self-care on a regular basis. Self care is not something you do only on the weekends, it’s something you need to do every day in little increments. Find the things that make your soul giggle with joy and do them often. Get creative, play, dance or just take a moment of silence to honor your humanity.

Thank you to that human angel that came into my life not once, but twice. Thank you for not only taking a chance on an old shelter dog and giving him the best days of his life, but for the reminder of how far I’ve come.  I paid for my potty training supplies and walked out of the store with a bag full of elastic waisted pant and undies, a heart full of joy and a smile on my face.

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