My mom’s dog Chauncey is allergic to bees.
We didn’t know this until he got stung for the first time a few years ago, which unfortunately, was when I was taking him out for a walk. His little 13-lb body swelled up within minutes to the point that he looked like a hideous, wrinkly, bloated caricature of himself and he started having trouble breathing.
I swooped him up and ran the half mile back to my mom’s house. She wasn’t home–which is why I was walking him–and so I threw him in my car and literally sped the 10 minutes to the vet with him cowering and shaking on my lap the hole time. Long story short, he was eventually okay after the vet gave him an emergency shot and sent me home with drugs and an epi-pen for future accidents.
But for the first few months after that, he wanted nothing to do with me taking him for a walk, and any fly that even came within feet of his head made him crazy. Understandably, he was scared it would happen again.
Eventually he got over it and I could walk him again, and while he still is extra alert with bugs, he’s pretty much back to normal. He loves going for walks.
For me, even though I know we have his emergency kit and I take my phone just in case, I’m still scared every time that I walk him.
I still remember that day.
In fact, I still remember “that” day in the sense that I remember all of those days. I remember traumatic things that happened 15 years ago, being stuck in the blackout for three days while living in the heart of Detroit, getting sick and being in the hospital, the day that I lost my job, the stress of this last big “basement filled with water and expensive repairs and cleaning,” experience, etc.
Of course you never forget those things, but with me it’s always been different.
Every time we get a storm, I get neurotic about losing power (and now about my basement flooding again.) Every time I start to slip down, I worry that I’ll end up in the hospital again. Now that I have a job that I love and adore, I’m paranoid it might get taken away.
Nobody puts this stress on me but me, but in a sense I’m always afraid to get stung, afraid to have it all happen again.
This is good in the sense that it makes me prepared. This is bad in the sense that it can also makes my OCD ramp up and I physically wear myself down to try and gain some control, but also suspicious of all the good things, wondering when the other shoe is going to drop.
OK. Now I’m rambling.
But my point–I think–is that sometimes bad things happen because you made a bad decision or sometimes for no reason at all. Sometimes good things happen because you work hard or maybe you just caught a break. When either of those things happen, you have to learn to just accept it.
Shit happens. Sunshine happens.
I don’t know what that means but I’m just trying to say that you’ll never forget “those days.” Whether you were seriously ill, lost a job or a loved one, or suffered any type of trauma–you know you’ll never forget. It changes you, but it’s up to you to decide that direction of change.
As for me, through all the stuff that’s happened, I didn’t believe people who told me that things would get better. I wanted to, but when you’re in the middle of whatever that thing is, everything seems so far away.
Now that I’m kind of working on getting to that other side, I realize that they were right (have to insert “knock on wood” because, well, see above.)
Things might now work out exactly as you want them to–or when, but then again, maybe they’ll work out even better than you planned at a time they needed to happen. Whatever it is, you’ll get through it. And when you do and come to unfamilar place of “happy” or maybe “content”, don’t waste time wondering why.
In other words, don’t shit on your sunshine or shine the light on the shit or something kind of like that. Maybe a bit more eloquently, don’t be scared that you’ll get stung again.
Instead, enjoy the walk.
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Nice post. Yes ‘the walk’ is a fun place to be. 🙂
Great post, Abby! I have been thinking a lot lately about how much of our lives we spend preparing for the things that have already happened. We craft our movements to avoid things that were difficult, painful, or scary in the past as if we can time travel and avoid them. I suppose it’s related to our evolution. There was a time when remembering that a plant made you or a loved one sick helped you avoid being poisoned, which meant that you could keep living and continue the species. But avoiding everything won’t keep a person from being hurt.
I am like that too! Only until recently have I started to breathe and let go and let be what might! As you said “starting to stop shitting on my sunshine!”
True, shit happens – so does sunshine. Sometimes, we can’t ignore the major impact/imprint that hardship or stress has on us. Happy times are assumed so they don’t get the significance they deserve sometimes.
Have I mentioned how much I like Chauncey’s name? I bet if he could talk he’d have a fancy Cambridge accent.
Our golden retriever, Buddy, was diagnosed with severe arthritis in February. For a month we thought it was cancer. We don’t take him for granted anymore and his walks are time for me and or the women I live with to relax.
I’m glad you found the other side, to enjoy life no matter what comes your way. Sometimes the way is hard but it make us appreciate the little good things when we finally climb our way back up. Always keep your sense of humor it makes you who you are.
Really well written, very much enjoyed this and very perceptive.
I found it interesting that you segued a nostalgic story about a beloved pet into an introspective look at self-induced manic or panicked instincts. I have them myself. I have read several books on the idea of ‘catastrophizing’. (Okay, I have started several books on the subject.) The biggest take away I have gain from my modest exposure to therapy is that you have to recognize the behavior when it is happening for what it is–your body/mind overreacting to something that may or may not happen. There’s lots of suggestions about standing on the bank of a river and watching the current carry the anxiety or neuroses away. Standing outside of yourself sort of. Sometimes this works, other times, all I can do is just breathe through the pain. I guess that’s my take on looking forward to the return of ‘sunshine’ when all that is predicted is a massive ‘sh*t storm’ on the horizon. Sometimes, that’s the best you can do.
I love this: “… don’t shit on your sunshine …” It will become my new mantra. It is going up on my wall next to, “This too will pass” and “Depression lies”. As a bipolar survivor, I need all the good advice I can get and your nugget is priceless. Thanks.
Yup, that’s me! Has been for my whole adult life. Thanks so much for this post it really made me stop and think.
I love this post. ‘Whatever it is, you’ll get through it’ are the right words at the right time for me 🙂
Love you Scumbag!!!
Brilliant! This is right on so many levels!
Don’t shit on your sunshine… this is a saying for the ages. Here’s to more sun and less shit.
(Fear keeps us on our toes…but it is tiring and you get muscle cramps)
“you’ll never forget. It changes you, but it’s up to you to decide that direction of change.” True…and so hard, but slough on.
It is all funny. Laugh – hysteria can sound so much like joy, no one will know. But they will smile. Smiles are good. Cheers and onward