Are you stuck in your emotional cage?
The story of a dog named Girl reminds me of the emotional healing process and how some people let their fear stop them from doing the work and getting what they truly want.
For the first 9-years of her life, Girl lived in a pen, a small fenced in area, outside. She was isolated, lonely and cold. It’s heartbreaking to think about how she lived. Her owner would come into her pen every few days to dump food into her igloo, and that was the only interaction she had with anyone. She also had dug a cave under a cement slab in her pen, where she would go when she was most afraid.
My husband Doug and I met Girl last year when we were looking for our cat who ran away. At first she would hide from us in her cave. She would get excited when she saw our dog Brocco, who looks a lot like her, so we would make sure Brocco was in sight before we were and she would come up to her door to be let out. Girl is a lover, always licking the air, she never barks or bites. Her big, deep, wild, sweet eyes melted our hearts and she would be in our minds and hearts most nights.
We could feel how lonely and sad she was, which would sometimes make me cry.
A few weeks ago, I noticed Girl’s owner wasn’t staying at the house anymore and I didn’t see any food for a week. On Mother’s Day, we found out that her owner was in the hospital and that he had sold his house, so he asked us if we could take her or find a home for her. I took pictures and posted about her on Facebook to find someone else to foster her. We were unsure how she would be in our yard or inside with our two dogs. After visiting her everyday for 5 days with no takers, I couldn’t handle it anymore and had to go get her.
Doug brought some gourmet raw meat to lure her into my car. When he gave her some, she ran back to her pen. Girl sensed us wanting to take her away and became fearful. To Girl, all she knew was her pen; she felt safe in her own isolation and misery. We ended up chasing her, literally, around the outside of her pen for an hour. Finally Doug was able to grab her with the help of another man who led her to him. He held her in between his legs and we calmed her by giving her water from our hands and wiping the tears from her eyes. He put her into my car and we were on our way.
I was thinking about how scared she was to leave the only place she knew, even though it wasn’t good for her. She was scared of the unknown. We were also in the unknown of how she would be when I would bring her back home from the vet.
After the vet, I carried her out of my car and put her in our fenced in yard. At first she hid under our deck in the back yard and eventually she came down and Doug guided her into our house. She checked things out and then settled in our master bath and didn’t want to leave. That night I guided her outside to go potty; she quickly relieved herself and ran right back to her spot in the master bath, the furthest from any outside doors. The next evening, she found comfort on a towel in our Sunroom. Girl still needs some encouragement to go outside and when she does, she usually comes right back in after I watch her pee. After a few days, she went with Doug and Brocco into the backyard for more time.
The truth is that Girl wanted to be inside, with people and dogs, her whole life. She is now calm and the wild fearful look in her eyes is gone.
She was scared, but her fear was caused by the abandonment and betrayal she experienced, not by the people who rescued her. Her fear got projected onto us, though, because she didn’t feel safe.
A lot of people I talk to avoid doing the emotional work out of the same fear. The ego’s defenses have kept us safe in the past so that we would not feel the pain. So, the fear is from the past, even though there is little to fear now. This past fear may create defenses in the present that distort the truth, such as, “I am happy the way I am, I have already addressed it, I don’t have the money, and/or I want someone else to do it for me.”
You may find your emotional pen safe, and when things get tough, go into your cave. While this protects you, it also keeps you from getting what is really best for you, what you really want and have wanted your whole life. The fear is actually the worse part. Once you move towards the fear and feel your emotions, you will ultimately feel safe, calm, secure and get the love you’ve always wanted.
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Lots of Love,