Recently, I thought it would be a good idea to get Jernee a little sister, a new puppy to romp about in our bigger space, but that was swiftly shut down by my Little Monster. Jernee is a jealous girl. Now, I was not 100% aware of this until we opened up our home to the little ones for a visit. The foster mom brought both puppies over, the one for which I had interest and her sister and they had a blast running throughout our apartment. Jernee Timid? Not so much. She stood her ground at each station in our home and barked her disapproval at both pups.
The reaction to these little ones that she displayed made me incredibly sad. I was also a bit angry with her as she has never been mean to little ones before. She is generally a sweet girl, but she is a protector. She has one goal in mind — keep me safe. And to meet that goal, I am now thoroughly aware that she will do anything. Realizing her disdain, the puppies avoided her, they played with each other instead and Monterey, the puppy that I wanted for us, also played with me.
Noticing the discomfort written in the body language of Jernee disappointed me. I wanted her to feel my happiness, to welcome something new into our home, another baby for us to love, yet she clearly indicated that she was not having any of it. The foster mom leaned over to me and said, “I usually tell people with senior dogs to get older dogs as their companions, not puppies. In a sense, they feel as though they are being replaced. Maybe an older dog, close to her age will be a better fit for Jernee?”
And I instantly thought about Nala, who is Jernee’s best friend/big cousin. They grew up together and the two of them are like Frick and Frack and I said to myself, “Why is she so happy with Nala but will not let any other puppy in? Why the wall?” There used to be three: Reese, Nala, and Jernee. Both Reese and Nala are older than Jernee and we lost Reese two years ago. They went from The Triple Threat to Double Trouble. Now with only Nala in tow, she clings. I notice how she affixes herself to Nala when we visit or when I am dog-sitting Nala. She wants her close.
She wants to be sure that Nala is okay, just as she monitors my safety and happiness, she keeps an eye on her best friend too. But, when does the caretaker get her break? When can she rest and let us be without fully being on duty? I do not think that she’s programmed to step away from her job. Jernee is my safe place. She is who I turn to when I am overwhelmed by life — when things weigh me down and I feel like I will break. I can put my trust in her, it is in her, she will love me back to a place of peace.
Of late, there has been a mountain of things that have tumbled down and landed on my shoulders and I can feel the weight pushing into my skin. This is too much for Jernee. I know it. I feel it. I recognize it as a sign to call in bigger guns. I am seeking the help of professionals and have submitted my request for an appointment with a psychiatric practice in our area.
I was detailed in explaining what has happened, what is happening, and how it is affecting my daily life. I left a brief biography and description and also my preference in the therapist who will handle my care. The place in which I submitted my inquiry comes highly recommended by several people, including my cousin Akua (an operating room RN, now a board-certified Nurse Practitioner)who was apart of referring some of their patients to this entity while she was doing clinicals.
It feels good to share my feelings with my cousin regarding my heart health and my mental health as well and to hear her say, “This is going to be really good for you. I am happy you recognize that it’s time.” The Powerhouse is empathetic, wishing that she could share her therapist with me, but we are an hour and fifteen minutes away and convenience is a must.
I want to be myself again. I feel that I am not. I know that I am not. Jernee was/is a gift from God because he matched me with her when I was going through the same battle with emotions nearly eleven years ago and she has helped tremendously, but I feel the pull in my spirit and I am moving in the opposite direction, away from wellness and that must be rectified. Realignment of heart and mind must take place once again and I cannot rely on Jernee alone, although great therapy for me, this task… it is one that is too big for her. I am giving her a break.
I love myself enough to know that I need myself back and seeking professional help is the answer. This will be our new journey.
Author’s Note: When I begin therapy, I will begin a nonfictional series about my journey back to mental wellness and a healthy heart. I wanted to share this here too just in case you’re in my shoes–just in case you needed someone to say it. Thank you for reading.
I have this thing for pregnant bellies. I love them! For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to the wonder of a woman’s belly — how it can be home to a miracle growing inside. Currently, at work, there are two co-workers who are pregnant. Both are carrying boys. I have an army of boys in my family, little soldiers who get into mischief and carve out places in this world with their seeking fingers. I connect with children, even while in their mother’s womb, we bond.
A few weeks back, my co-worker (the one who is due in May) was walking up the hallway toward our front desk and I was heading back from the radiologists’ reading department and we sort of met in the middle. I calmly asked, “May I?” as I pointed to her belly and she smiled as bright as anyone could and almost shouted, “Sure!” I placed my right hand just above her navel and began talking to her little one, granting him blessings straight from my heart. I thanked her and shortly after when we were both settled back into the groove of our positions, she called me to let me know that her little one started to kick as soon as she walked away.
I laughed, then smiled. At the end of my shift, I welcomed a few tears. The beauty of something as monumental as bringing another human being into this world hit me without my knowledge. I said softly to myself, “I wonder if they know that history is beginning in their bellies — they’re carrying the world.” I think of how things would have been had I brought my own little one into this world — if I ever could and a variety of emotions hit me at once, from every angle. I used to think that I was useless, that if I was not giving this world a part of me, that I did not matter. I used to believe that without a child of my own, I was not fit to be called “woman.”
Now, when I see this co-worker, she smiles. I ask her, “How’s the little one?” and she always says, “He’s busy growing. He’s good.” Her belly is shifting from a basketball to a combination of a football and beach-ball. She’s all belly, at a quick glance, nothing else seems to be shifting.
My other co-worker has baby written all over her. The sweet boy growing inside of her is making his presence known. It seems as though the little one is saying, “Get ready, world! I am going to be nothing you expected, but something that you need!” I have not given her belly a talking to, not yet, but I will — if allowed. I look at my own belly, wondering if it is fit to grow a miracle like most women — if it can create change. And, I think it can, it is the completing part of it all that I am told would be problematic. I want to reach out and call to the little soothsayer, sage, or savior nearing what will be my co-worker’s last trimester. I want to tell him to be all that he can be and so much more.
I watch her, my co-worker (her due date is sometime in April), she races about our work-place on a mission. It is hard to catch her in slow motion. She has so much energy and I cannot help but feel like instead of exhaustion and swollen feet and frequent bathroom breaks and odd tastes in food, her little one is far more mature and is simply settled in the womb until he is called away. I have never seen someone still as active for ten straight hours at six months pregnant before. She is nonstop. I feel as though her little boy is saving the best for his debut. He will be a reckoning. He will be a force.
We better get ready.
Both of these women are doing something I have chosen not to, that I, in the grand scheme of things, cannot. To say that I am moved each day that I get a chance to see them would be an understatement. I have an incredible amount of respect for them. After all, they are carrying their own little worlds inside. Each of them preparing for motherhood at their own pace.
Each of them preparing to share with all of us, the gift of life.
I have forgiven you,
you no longer threaten my growth.
I know that in order to flourish,
in order to bloom, I had to give you
the sunshine you needed and acquire my own.
It is your decision to stay bound,
connected, linked–desperately clinging to
another who only lip-services you and does not
honor your heart.
I do not want that for my own,
so I chose a place for me, for my heart
where both of us can be loved accordingly
and fully without shame.
I hear my heart more now.
It has been s h o u t i n g
and I have ignored it, but now–
now I know what it needs
and that is not you.
A lie would be to say that
I don’t miss being a thought of yours,
that I don’t still dream of you,
that on occasion, I don’t get teary-eyed.
But, I am choosing me.
I know I will not let me down.
This is my letter of amends to you,
my offering–to give you what you have
been wanting, freedom from commitment. freedom from love.