Needing to Heal
As I walk around the neighbourhood with my dog, I can’t help but reflect that my life has changed a lot in the last while.
My dog became reactive. For the first couple of years I had him, he was happy-go-lucky. But he got attacked by big male dogs in the off-leash park several times, and he was now reactive to big males.
Then, one day I could see from inside a store that a man on a bike was teasing my dog, who was in my car. Since then, a bike going by will send him lunging. Some people who were impaired, either by nature or by substance, teased him and barked at him. Now anyone whose body chemistry is “off” will send him snapping. When we walk, I actively avoid anyone coming towards us, and now my dog initiates an emergency u-turn when he sees someone down the block. I know he only exhibits this behaviour around me. He thinks he needs to guard me.
Because of a few people who behaved badly, my dog is now seen as the neighbourhood “mean” dog. Likewise, a few people have changed me. I came to this neighbourhood feeling very fortunate and wanting to share with people who had less. And then someone robbed me and I had to worry about money. Yet I kept giving and giving because I felt responsible for the people who had helped. Then, the very same people stole from me, telling people, “she’s rich, she can afford it.”
Now I don’t trust people anymore. I have helped people once, but have refused to help a second time. It saddens me that my heart has closed like this. It pains me that when I pick up garbage and excrement from my driveway I now rage against the people who did this, instead of feeling compassion for their plight to have to go to the bathroom outside.
So, both my dog and I have been wounded by “the few.” When I was young and struggling I used to rage that companies required deposits. Because a few people didn’t pay their bills, we all had to pay out extra money. I raged against the few until I became more comfortable financially and I was able to see that those who behaved badly were still trying their best. I knew that everyone becomes who they are by honest means, that we are creatures of nature and nurture (and the lack thereof). And yet, now, my heart is closed.
How do a person and a dog regain their trust in humanity? How does a person remember to focus on their blessings? How does one learn to dream of good things to come? How does one expect the best? Is preparing for the worst being careful, or projecting for a negative outcome? I see those who have nothing share with each other. How do I get this generosity into my soul? Both adversity and success can either bring out the best or the worst in us. How do we make lemonade?
Manon is a resident of Boyle Street and an active volunteer in the community. This column contains her own opinions and is not affiliated with the Boyle Street Community League.