Self-Created Misery

Thursday, September 11, 2014

My dog had surgery two weeks ago. He had been sick for eight weeks and it took many vet visits, tests, and specialist to discover that he had a mass in his small intestines that needed to be removed. It took a long time to diagnose him because all his other tests were normal and he appeared to be a very healthy dog (otherwise.) He is an older basset hound (11) and, had he not appeared to be healthy in all other ways, I don’t think we would have put him through this surgery. We were told he could live another four years without this mass in his intestines so my husband and I chose to get the surgery done. We felt it was the right thing to do, especially since he’d been sick and suffering for almost two months because of the mass in his intestines and because treating the symptoms was no longer working.

He got through surgery fine and after 2 nights away from home recovering at the surgeon’s office, he was ready to come home. I was so excited to pick him up. Much to my disappointment, when he got home he was slow, lethargic, weak, and uncomfortable. Prior to surgery, he had lost about 10 lbs. When we picked him up from the vet, it looked to me as if he’d lost another 5 lbs. My sweet boy was clearly not himself. The first day he was home was difficult. Although everything he was experiencing was “normal”, I was upset. I wanted him better – now. He had been suffering so much before the surgery that I wanted to see the results of the surgery immediately. To me that meant he was happy, agile, pain-free and back to his normal, hearty-appetite self.

You’re probably not surprised that this was not the case 48-hours after his major abdominal surgery, where they cut away 10 inches of his intestines. But I was resisting every moment of it. I watched his discomfort and blamed myself for it. I was praying that he would be better – now. He was sound asleep on the floor and I was miserable. I wanted him to get up and eat his entire bowl of food. My husband told me to just let him be, leave him alone, he needs to sleep and heal. I wanted to smack him (my husband, not my dog). Didn’t Matt (my husband) see how awful Swanny looked? What did we do to him? How could we put him through this?

No, I didn’t smack Matt and he reminded me that we had no choice but to put Swanny through surgery. He assured me we did the right thing and that Swanny would heal. We needed to allow that to happen. Allow that to happen? That wasn’t my style. I wanted to make it happen. I wanted someone to give me the “healing pill” so I could have my sweet dog back that very instant.

I was so resistant to the present moment – the moment I could not change – that I was making myself miserable. I went outside and wandered around my property to clear my head. It didn’t work. I called the surgeon’s office and asked why my dog was trembling. They told me to increase his pain medication and it was not uncommon. Not uncommon? This was very uncommon for me. My dog suffering was definitely uncommon. It was wrong. Or was it?

I walked down to our pond and sat down and cried. I had to release all my anxiety and stress and worry. I’m a life coach. I knew I was creating my own anxiety. I was doing all of this to myself. And I knew exactly what was going on; I wanted the present moment to be different, which is the definition of stress and anxiety; wishing the moment you are in is something different. To relieve this stress, I had to accept Swanny’s discomfort and view what he was experiencing as being “okay”. I had to remind myself that all is well and stop resisting the present moment. But how do you do that when someone you love is suffering and you want it to stop? For this particular situation I had to remind myself that it was a short term suffering for a possible long-term solution and telling myself this situation was ‘wrong’ was the only thing making me miserable.

The present moment is what it is; we cannot change it and wanting to change it makes it seem a whole lot worse than it is. Resisting what ‘is’ creates unnecessary misery and suffering for the resistors. I coached myself through that situation by detaching myself from the thought that Swanny should not be experiencing this. He was experiencing it so pushing against that was no help for me (or him). Allowing it to be (which is what my husband suggested) and not infusing my resistant energy with Swanny’s healing is exactly what he needed, and also what I needed to move through the early stages of his recovery as the loving pet owner that my sweet basset hound deserved. I believe my lesson in this situation is a reminder to all of us: when you are in a moment that feels wrong and you insist on pushing against it, try doing the opposite. Try to accept it and look for reasons why it may be okay. Sometimes the only reason why it’s okay is because it is the present moment and there’s nothing you can do to change it so why not allow it to just be? Eventually the moment will pass and a new moment will arise presenting you with another opportunity to let it be what it must be. Each moment is an opportunity to practice non-resistance and eliminate lots of stress and self-created misery from our lives.

Swanny has had a slow steady recovery and is getting stronger every day. Although the results of his pathology report were not the news we hoped for, he has almost fully recovered from his surgery; yet another reminder why resisting the present moment is not only the producer of self-created misery but also a waste of precious energy.

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