i am going through an season where it's all about women. whether it be my ever growing love of my mom or mother in law, friendships renewing and changing, or raging with some lady at the dog park i feel like all of my primary experiences in the last week? month? have been centered around women. well except for my anniversary i guess.
today was one of the not-so-good women relationship experiences. within the last few months our boxer has been attacked not once but twice, both times drawing blood. here is a picture of one of those sad run-ins.
none have been her fault. the first, a dog busted out of it's backyard and went for her throat. this was particularly scary as it was david with olive and if the dog would have gone for our child david said he would have had to kill it. which would be extra traumatizing for olive i'd think. within the month a big, rascal-y dog at the park pounced all over dolores when we first came in through the double gate and after hearing a yelp the owner and i pulled them apart and i saw that dolores was bleeding. the owner ignored the incident (or so i thought). tonight the same dog attacked dolores again! this time there was no blood but when everything was settled down i sat down with the owner and explained how i wouldn't put up with her dog attacking mine again and again. she refused to believe that her dog was capable or responsible for drawing blood or doing anything more than playing around. i firmly repeated myself that YES HE HAD ATTACKED MINE AND DRAWN BLOOD a few weeks ago. and like, hello? did you not see that your dog just went far beyond normal dominating behavior until my dog was face down in the dirt and yours was biting it every time she tried to get up? i am very familiar with the difference between dogs playing/dominating/showing aggression/outright fighting and this was the latter of those. she wouldn't believe me, maintained that her dog was playful and would never do that. we finally left in a huff after the dog wouldn't stop being aggressive.
womenly understanding fail!
on the flip side i went to a retreat this weekend and had an amazing time with around 50 ladies from my church. i didn't originally want to go. well i did but naturally assumed that my anxiety would extinguish all possibility of not only being away from my house but being 45 minutes away, not with my family, all night, with the expectation of emotional availability/vulnerability. i can't remember if i spoke about this or not but two months ago i went to a women's worship night at church and while we had a few moments of stillness to invite God and reflect i had a raging panic attack that sent me into tears. i was fed many lies that i couldn't trust other women with my pain and anxiety, that my secrets made me "outside" and others without such hindrances were "inside", that being vulnerable in that way is to open oneself to attack, etc. i fought to remain in my seat and semi-composed (aka not pooping my pants or puking. TMI? just love me). when the stillness was broken and our leader asked if anyone had anything to share, instead of listening to my inner dialog to flee or cower i raised my hand and shared what i felt. i named the lies for what they were and the effect, at least on me, was palpable. i felt this ripple of freedom, even joy at expressing my inner insecurity and fear of these relationships, of this knowledge of what i considered my ugly, shameful secrets about my anxiety. the response from the other women was support, love, awe, respect, i don't know but it was all of the things you want in that kind of moment. since then i have felt this reoccurring mantra of "to be known is to be free" instead of the usual ticker tape telling me how people will hurt you, people will reject you if they KNOW. i can't explain it well but i've felt a further sense of inner healing about my PTSD and anxiety in general in the last few months. i realize that i've never actually turned the tables on my feelings like i did in that room and do the opposite of what my internal monologue was telling me to do. i say all of that to say that i was scared but not petrified to attempt to go to the women's retreat this weekend. i am SO GLAD that i did. it was a beautiful mix of one on one bonding with women i loved and women i didn't know at all, interspersed with worship, meals, speaker-led group gatherings, breakout sessions on specific topics (mine, surprise surprise was about healing). on top of doing "work" i went on a beautiful 5 mile bike ride, went to the pool, hot tub, laid under a tree and ate ice cream, and most importantly just laughed a lot. & i should add that i got to co-sleep with a beautiful, 9 month old baby! someone i don't know at all and had no previous interaction with put their hands on me and told me that i am gifted with compassion. it felt good for such a spontaneous confirmation of what i have long held to be one of my greatest strengths. (it's very easy to see ones weaknesses.)
seriously, this is how my dog is