Working through shame was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. When your belief system about yourself is that you are broken and damaged and no one will like you or want you….well, it’s tough to turn that all around. It was definitely not a fast process by any means!
I’m not sure why this rejection went so much deeper than when other friendships had gone astray. I guess I just had never, ever expected this one to end. When it went south, I was caught off guard, and it wasn’t handled well at their end, so there was insult to the injury, and it all added up to leave a gaping hole in my heart. I questioned everything I had ever believed about myself, but not in a good way.
Moving, having no support system, not being able to find a job, feeling old and used up, not knowing my way around a new city….it just left me floundering for a long time. My confidence was shaken to the very core, and I honestly struggled to feel like anything about me was good. For a long time, I really felt like I was broken beyond fixing and no one would hire me or friend me. I felt like the best years of my life had been spent and given to friends who had used me up and then spit me out and walked away.
Feelings are weird things. They aren’t right or wrong, necessarily, they just are. And the thing with feelings is that you sort of have to feel the way that you do until you’re done feeling that way, and then you move onto something new. Working through all of the anger, sadness, fear and hurt took many months. It just didn’t go away quickly. I had to feel what I was feeling until I was ready to move onto the next stage of the hurt.
Because I was struggling to find a job, I ended up taking a chance at becoming a professional dog trainer, and that definitely made all the difference for me. I had so much dog training experience, and I had always loved dogs, but I honestly never expected that anyone would actually pay me to help them with their dogs!
I honestly attribute a whole lot of the success in working through my feelings to the many dogs I’ve trained. Bless their little furry hearts, they all had their part and place in God’s plan for healing me up, and I’m not sure they ever really knew what they were doing. They just did what they did, working their little doggy magic in my heart and mind….changing me….one dog at a time!
Working with dogs was so incredibly healing for me. First of all, let’s just discuss how dogs greet us when they like us! Oh my goodness!! All day long, I was greeted with the biggest grins, the most enthusiastic tail and bum wags, play bows, jumping on me, licking me….and on and on and on!! And that was just from the dogs!!
My clients treated me like I was the cavalry who had arrived in the nick of time to save the day!! Over and over I heard them say, “I’m so glad you’re here!!” And they would say, “My dog never gets this excited for anyone else but you!” It was like a balm to my broken heart!
Where humans had made me feel so rejected and betrayed and unwanted, here was a whole new world of dogs and clients who made me feel like I was the best thing since sliced bread! The daily infusion of encouragement and love and support chipped away at the shell of shame I had been wearing, and little by little, I started to dare to believe that maybe I wasn’t as awful as I had once believed about myself. It was such a gradual thing, I can’t point to a day when I can say, “That’s the day I was all healed up.” I just know that little by little I was changed, until one day, I realized that I loved myself again.