I’m obsessed with my dog, Mocha. He’s injured now, and it’s really taken a toll on me. My baby’s always had luxating knee caps but last Thursday, the right one must’ve slid too far and either bruised the bone or injured the joint capsule. Apparently, the condition is common, especially in small breeds like Pomeranian/Poodle (he’s a hybrid of both). Typically, the soreness heals after a week or two. He’s able to bear weight but the pain’s kept him from moving or walking despite meds. He’s slowly improving but not fast enough for my heart’s needs. When I'm going through a rough patch personally, just looking at Mocha centers me, and reminds me that life is fine. That I'm fine. Now that he's the source of my sadness, looking at him just keeps me feeling sad. I find myself struggling to self-soothe. The experience has been hard on both of us because we have a codependent, enmeshed relationship. What this means is that I can’t be happy if he’s not happy. While it’s great that I can recognize and name the emotional tethering between us, it’s not healthy when our own well-being is contingent upon the well-being of another. Parents and caregivers know this phenomenon all-too-well, and it can be emotionally exhausting. Feeling dependent on others’ moods in order to be okay or not okay puts us in “victim mode” and leads to resentment on behalf of both parties over time. In other words, codependency is not the same as love. When life is hard, we must seek out the gifts and opportunities in the struggle, even when there don’t seem to be any. My dog’s injury has provided me an opportunity to work on my happiness not being contingent on his. I’ve been exploring other ways I can be fulfilled separate from him, like working in my garden, listening to music or podcasts, contemplating the beauty of spring, catching up with friends, and practicing gratitude for having had a healthy dog for 7 years. Both of us will get through this. We’ll both come out stronger if we focus on self-healing rather than needing the other to be happy for each of us to be happy. For fun, here are some of Mocha’s nicknames: Mochies, Mochachino, Chino, Cheen, The Cheen, Cheenies, Mocharito, Rito, Pooka, Bootie, Sweet Face, Sugar Bean, Oodi, Nory, Nora, Powdered Sugar Face, White Chest, Bear, Sweet Bear, Pookabear, Babies, The Baby, Greg, Grey Glutes, Zunimurioz, Zorn, Moonie, Morin, Zorba, Zorbin, Deedee, Moag, Mogies, Modilious.
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