I don’t like change. Even when it’s my own choice. Even when it’s for the best.
Change has always meant uncertainty to me. Until adulthood — and the guidance of a great therapist — I was ill-equipped to navigate the twists and turns of everyday life. Minor changes would send me into a tailspin. Even something positive could feel like a nightmare ready to happen. It couldn’t actually be a wonderful experience, could it?
While some people resist change because they’re stuck in their ways, my resistance is due to a trio of mental health issues: anxiety and mild depression plus Complex-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD).
I’ve learned coping techniques and work daily on accepting change, though I haven’t yet fully leveled up to consistently embracing it.
All this is to say, my coping skills have been tested recently. I’ve got a LOT of changes happening in my life right now, and all at once. I’m basically starting over again.
And the hardest part? I’m not surrounded by dogs like I usually would be. Dogs are one of my biggest coping mechanisms — whether their company; walking them (i.e. fresh air and movement); petting them (which releases oxytocin, a stress relief hormone); or the income I’ve received from my boarding and dog walking clients.
I’m moving soon, leaving the town and the home I’ve lived in for 14 years. And while I’m only moving about an hour away, it’s far enough that I can’t take my business with me. I’m leaving all of my canine clients, and their people, I’ve grown close to.
I’ve had time to prepare and I knew these changes were coming, and I believed I was ready. I thought I had fully embraced the changes, but I felt myself getting overwhelmed. I felt it creeping in but thought, “Of course. I’ve started a new business venture. I’m learning an incredible amount at a dizzying speed, and I’m also moving.”
Then I got the news that my last regular clients found a new sitter. I had about a week’s notice. One week to say goodbye to the final clients.
Though I knew it was coming, the news hit me hard. I sobbed. For a day and a half, I alternated between holding it together and just breaking down.
These dogs were my lifeline since the pandemic hit. When business waned to almost nothing, they remained. Human contact, a single hug, all vanished. But they remained.
Every weekday, I had these two happy kids to visit. To pet, to make me laugh, to look forward to. No matter how lonely or scared I felt, I knew these two would greet me with wagging tails and happy whines begging for pets and fetch. I love them like my own. They kept me relatively sane.
I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. But I would never be truly ready.
I know their new sitter will be a wonderful addition to their lives, and I’m happy for them. They’re going to keep playing and enjoying their best life. I know that my own journey, while a bit scary for me, is going to present incredible opportunities I haven’t yet imagined.
Although I’m sad, I am grateful to these dogs (and their humans) for the lifeline they offered me during a quarantine that would have been unbearable without their daily comfort.
Because of them, and all of my dogs, I received much needed companionship, have great memories to draw upon, and the strength to begin and truly embrace the next chapter of my life.