The Warning Label:
This is not a blog for everyone, it is not for the faint of heart… this blog discusses a traumatic experience and a thought that I had in the aftermath. This blog contains my ponderings on the thought. This thought is not an overly generalized, edited thought. This is a raw, undiluted thought that some may consider absolutely awful, lowly, and despicable. This thought will give you a peek into my experiences as a highly sensitive person as well as my journey toward healing my relationship with money. Money is an area of our lives that most of us avoid and fear. It causes us tremendous amounts of stress and, as some research claims, the majority of divorces in the United States. I know for the sensitive souls out there that this may be difficult to read, but I hope that you will stick it through to the end with me.
My husband, Devin, and I had a very scary weekend recently. That weekend promised to be rather uneventful, though very productive on our respective professional fronts. Devin planned to go to the office and work with a friend/employee on Saturday. I planned to ride the horses, play with the donkeys and then begin clearing out a shelter to allow room for another horse on the property in the near future.
I was heading out of the house to play with the dogs and ride. I let our two dogs, Rowdy (a German shepherd, Lab, Chow motley mix) and Nikki (a Cocker Spaniel) out the back door onto the deck that overlooks the horse area. I planned to play with the dogs in the arena first, and the dogs knew that because I had grabbed the ball we play fetch with so they were already running towards the arena off the far end of the deck. I closed the door behind us and turned around to some of the most horrifying sights and sounds I have ever experienced.
Nikki was suddenly howling in a way that sounded more like screaming. She was in the dirt on the far side of one of the stairs of the deck, her legs straight up in the air struggling to get up. I was frozen at the door in shock. Rowdy, much faster than Nikki, was already out in the arena. He flew back whining and sat next to Nikki in the dirt so she could lean against him to sit up. Rowdy’s action spurred me into movement. I walked quickly over to Nikki. She was sitting up but still screaming at the top of her lungs. I knelt down in front of her and saw the absolute panic on her face and began to feel the same panic growing in my body. I looked down to see that she held up her right front leg. I absolutely lost it. I began crying, my body shaking just like hers. I began comforting her the best I could through my tears and after a minute or so her shrieking decreased to a whimper. She still wouldn’t put down her right front foot. I gently lifted her paw and felt for any thorns or stickers. Nothing. Felt her paw for any extreme heat, lumps, etc. Nothing. Felt up her lower leg (the radius and ulna) for heat or lumps. Nothing. Felt her elbow. Nothing. Felt her upper arm (the humerus, which in dogs looks more like our shoulder). Her screaming resumed. All this time Rowdy sat next to her propping her up and whining softly.
In the interest of attempting to keep this blog at a readable length, we will fast forward a bit. I called our vet down the street crying. They’re closed on weekends. I called the emergency hospital they suggested. They said to bring her straight in and quoted me the baseline costs. Fear began to choke me. After getting off the phone with them, I cried harder. After a moment, I gathered myself as much as I could and called Devin and my mom. We decided to meet at the emergency vet hospital. I picked up Nikki as gently as I could, crying anew each time my movements caused her to howl. I put her down by the garage door to grab my keys. Got her out to the car and closed the garage. Rowdy came into the front yard and lay by the gate whimpering. I tried to start my car and… the key wouldn’t turn. You guessed it, more crying. I called Devin and he changed course to come and pick us up. Nikki and I waited in the car because I was afraid of moving her again. Devin arrived 20 minutes later. I sat in his car and settled her on my lap. We arrived at the emergency vet hospital approximately an hour after she had hurt herself.
The Emergency Veterinary Hospital:
We carried Nikki in and a staff member immediately took us into a room, weighed Nikki, and set us up with paperwork. Shortly after, the vet entered. She asked us a couple questions, took Nikki’s pulse, listened to her heart and lungs, attempted to touch her upper arm and Nikki renewed her howling. The vet immediately took Nikki, letting us know that they would medicate her to make her as comfortable as possible and take x-rays.
The vet returned half an hour or so later to show us the x-rays with bad news. Nikki had fractured her humerus severely. The bone was in 3 pieces. You can only imagine the tears that began then. Devin was calm and rational as he is in stressful situations, as was my mom who had come to join us for emotional and financial support. I tried to cry as quietly as possible while they asked questions. The vet let us know that surgery is the only option for these types of fractures, that surgery is generally successful, and that no surgeons work on the weekends so it would have to wait until Monday. Oh, and by the way, the surgery would cost $2,400-$3,500. That does NOT include our time at the Emergency Vet Hospital, the x-rays, medications, any time at the surgeon’s pre and post operation, or anything else. Not to mention the emotionally exhausting weekend we’d have ahead trying to keep her comfortable at home, unless we wanted to pay another $500 to $750 for the Emergency Vet Hospital to keep her there.
My first thought upon hearing the financial situation of Nikki’s diagnosis: “maybe it would be best to put her down…” This thought, of course, felt absolutely awful to my body so cue renewed crying. Devin and my mom immediately began asking questions about Nikki’s quality of life after, etc. In my mind I began to justify my thought, “maybe it would be best to put her down,” with “is it really worth it to put her through the pain of waiting until Monday, the pain of the surgery, the long rehab process, when there’s the chance that it could trouble her for the rest of her life?” Oh the things we do to justify our thoughts that cloud the real issue…
How Am I Doing Right Now?:
To be very honest, I feel tremendous shame admitting all of this. I feel shame that I’m not more like Devin and my mom who hold it together in these situations. I feel shame that my immediate thought is “we CAN’T afford this,” rather than being like Devin and my mom whose initial thought was “HOW can we afford this.” I am working on these thoughts as well. For the former, research about highly sensitive people helps me tremendously. I am probably the most sensitive person I’ve ever met. In our culture, I have felt discriminated against and shamed for my sensitivity. I’ve been called “irrational,” “emotional” as in OVERLY emotional, told I’m “being a baby,” etc. In fact, I’ve lived most of my life ashamed of my sensitivity. Perhaps the reason I am drawn to horses and coaching is that tremendous sensitivity is an asset, rather than something to be ashamed of that I should try to hide. As for my belief in scarcity, my immediate reaction “we CAN’T afford this,” that is very complex. It is certainly rooted in childhood. One memory in particular is walking out of a store with my dad at a very young age, my dad crying, because his credit card was rejected while trying to buy me milk and cereal for breakfast. I have been aware, and consciously playing with my beliefs about money for the past year. I am frustrated by my progress that I view as slow and inconsistent.
However, THE thought I had and the emotional trauma and guilt it caused, have opened my eyes to the fact that how I have been healing myself has been too at the surface. I have been afraid to go deeper and have not been “forced” to by a thought so outrageous as THE thought. THE thought broke me open at the deepest level. THE thought, that awful, gruesome thought, is actually my means to truly beginning the healing process at a level that will ease its influence on my thoughts. “Where the heck did that come from?” you ask. Keep reading…
What Can You Learn From This?:
How on earth are the thoughts that we are most ashamed of, that we struggle to hide, that we resist, and that we push away, our means to a happier life? Because they are clues to what the REAL untrue belief is that we’re holding onto so tightly that it’s smothering us. We are taught to be so ashamed of our darker thoughts that we NEVER voice them to another person, and avoid thinking of them. We believe that if we refuse to think it and acknowledge it, it will go away. Unfortunately, that is not the case. However, it IS true that the majority of people you associate with are probably NOT safe people to discuss the thoughts that trouble you. I urge you to find someone that you know who is capable of unconditionally loving you, especially when you are thinking thoughts like this and not feeling particularly loving toward yourself. If you don’t have anyone like that, find a life coach, unconditionally loving someone when he or she feels least lovable is what we love to do.
Some tips for you with examples from THE thought:
- Qualify a person or a couple people that are capable of unconditionally loving you with whom to express your thoughts. If going to loving friends or family with your thoughts feels terrifying, find some coaches to chat with and find one that feels like a good fit for you (most coaches do free consultations and I am more than happy to hook you up with coaches that seem like a good fit if I’m not!).
- Having someone to tell the truth to is VERY important. It is usually the first step in dissolving the beliefs that aren’t working for you and, eventually, being able to unconditionally love yourself.
- Don’t believe your thoughts at face value.
- Did I really think we should put Nikki down? OF COURSE NOT. My fear of either adding another monthly cost to Devin and my budget to pay off her surgery OR feeling in debt to anyone who helped pay for it generated that thought. If I examine my original thought I wouldn’t get very far and wouldn’t change very much about my thinking because that thought was a symptom of deeper beliefs.
- Discover the root belief that is the cause.
- Even what I said above “My fear of either adding another monthly cost OR feeling in debt” is not the troublesome belief itself. The most effective way to allow root thoughts to surface depends on the person. For some people it will be talking about it with the aforementioned unconditionally loving person or life coach, for others it will be journaling, for others it will be doodling, for others it will be sitting in silence and allowing thoughts to rise to the surface and feeling which one feels the heaviest or darkest.
i. As I am writing this, deeper thoughts are arising for me. The next deeper thought that arose for adding another monthly cost is actually the phrase I used above: “I CAN’T afford this.” That feels like the deepest thought in that line of thinking. And although at times it’s true, there are other considerations. For example, we certainly couldn’t outright afford Nikki’s surgery, sure. So, Devin and my mom asked HOW can we afford it? With that spirit of: “there is Abundance out there, let’s tap into it!” plenty came forward to make it happen, and quickly!
ii. The next deeper thought that arises for feeling in debt is: “I have to pay people back.” And here, I feel a bit stuck. This does not feel like the DEEPEST belief, but no others are immediately arising that feel deeper. So, for the meantime, I will work through this one… A bit later this popped up: “When I need help, it means I’m not capable.” Holy cow. Now THAT feels like a whopper, and the “not capable” part feels like the root of other thoughts I have. I’ll work on that one too! This process of allowing things to come to the surface can take a while. Something may randomly pop up for me next week. The important thing is to notice if the left side of your brain (the analytical side of your brain) nods along in agreement when you think it. If so, it’s time for The Work.
iii. I will not go through the process of disproving beliefs that are not working for you here. This is already long enough! But I highly suggest using The Work by Byron Katie for investigating thoughts. She provides many free resources on her website.
Now, the Healing Begins for Nikki AND for Me…
It has now been 3 weeks since Nikki’s surgery. She is doing VERY well. She’s out of her bandage and no longer has to wear the cone. She will begin physical therapy next week. Her amount and intensity of movement still has to be strictly monitored, but she is back to her wiggly, happy self. She no longer limps and uses her right front leg almost completely normally.
As for me, I feel like a wave of the ocean has washed over me, cleansing and healing the deep, dark places that I’ve made space to reveal to myself, and to you. It feels FREE. Lightened from the burdens that I created for myself by being so ashamed of my thoughts that I didn’t even want to admit their existence to myself. This is just the beginning. It takes time and repetition to change the frequently used neural pathways in our brains that make it easy to think our most closely held and guarded unproductive thoughts. However, I feel like I have made a significant step towards creating new neural pathways that lead to more productive thoughts like: “HOW can we afford this?” and “I AM capable.”