My friends, Bill and Jennifer, adopted a rescue dog named “Bear” from a shelter in New Jersey. Bear had already experienced a tough life bouncing from place to place, so my friends wanted to help him have a better life and enjoy having a dog at home, too. To their dismay, Bear was a real handful. He required constant vigilance and turned out to be much more disruptive to their life than they felt prepared to handle. After much discussion, they found a person to adopt Bear, Unfortunately, this person ended up being exactly the opposite of what Bear needed, so Bill and Jennifer reclaimed him and brought Bear home to stay. Hopefully, Bear will learn to adapt to his surroundings and feel more regulated and safe. My prayer is that all three of them will love one another and form a lasting bond that transcends their rocky beginning.
My friend, Steven, just returned from taking care of two dogs. He made the long trip to North Dakota from Tennessee to sit with his friends’ dogs, Jojo and Percy, because they are too old to go to a boarding kennel while their owners are away on vacation. Steven, like Bill and Jennifer, has a lot of empathy for the furry friends in our world. I so admire them all for sharing their love with others.
Now, imagine an immigrant to this country, someone fleeing a difficult situation in Central America, who feels what scared dogs might feel, but in a much more aggravated way. Can you imagine being separated from your home and extended family with hardly more than the clothes on your back and appealing for sanctuary in a foreign land? Add to this all of the other immigrants trying to do the same, a few hungry and scared children at your side who depend upon you and a border situation that borders on chaos.
It’s almost too hard to imagine, so maybe we turn away. I know I do sometimes.
When chaos exists, dysregulation and discomfort naturally follow. In these situations, what we can offer our canine friends is love and compassion, stability and patience. That seems pretty obvious. Then why shouldn’t we be able to find that same love for ourselves and for those who come to our borders, too? Why has our government and media made this a border crisis instead of a human one?
I wonder if we hold a belief that adult humans should be able to handle things on their own, that countries should “get their act together” and not depend upon the USA for support. I wonder if we are exhausted by the situation in our own lives after the pandemic and with all that’s going on (or not going on) in Washington D.C., Ukraine and Israel. I wonder if all of us aren’t dysregulated, angry that things are chaotic while the earth gets hotter and hotter. Again, it’s almost too much.
In 12-step groups, an important component of recovery is service, reaching beyond our own pain. When we are trying every day to better ourselves, it’s common knowledge that we improve our chances for a regulated, safe life when we help support those around us. Even stacking the chairs at the end of the meeting becomes an opportunity to step outside of our own pain and serve the community.
I feel best when I get outside of my own head, too. Yesterday, we met friends and took a drive through Livingston Manor and the surrounding community, seeing all of the places our friends called home during their lives here. Being with them as they mapped out their lives helped me map out my own environment. I felt safer being with them. Unconsciously, I leaned into their sense of safety and their knowledge of the area. We talked, we laughed and then we enjoyed a meal at a local BBQ place where the brisket was delicious. I was like a happy dog!
Like our furry friends, we need a stable home, too. A bed, some food and the belief that someone is looking out for us is priceless. May we all return to love, to seeing those around us who need our support and do something to ease their pain. My sense is that it will ease our pain, too.