Bravo for you and your dog! Animals have inherent wisdom and can teach us a lot. I had a beautiful, wise, and strong Rottweiler named Kieta, who died in April 2015. She taught me so much about life, strength, grace, and of being quiet to listen for things not obvious. We had a close connection, so much that when I moved out of state, I felt her presence at times...and in my dreams, she came once, a few months before she was diagnosed with a liver tumor. I saw her lying motionless on her back, on the grass, with a small puddle of blood on her RUQ...crystallizing as snow fell on it. After she died, I made the connection between her message in the dream and her tumor. She has also visited me on occasion after her death. Make no mistake about what they can teach us. Cherish your relationship with your dog. Let her teach you about unconditional love for yourself. She loves you, and not because you work as a critical care nurse. She loves you because you love her, pet her, spoil her, and care for her. That reflects the inherent goodness and humanity within you.
When you have a bad day, when you have doubts about yourself, when you aren't sure who you are, and when you feel like s**t, look at her. I'll bet she still loves you. If you were stripped of your specialty of critical care, or even your license (perish the thought, just an example), she would still love you. This is another lesson my beloved Kieta taught me. When I used to cry, she would put her face really close to mine, smell me with her big black nose, and lick my tears. She loved me even when I felt messed up and had messed up my career. Why? She saw my inherent goodness, exclusive of the external trappings of "ER Certified Emergency Nurse", "Nursing Supervisor" etc.
I found out who I really was when those titles didn't apply anymore. I faced the demons and shadows within, once the titles, the job, and the pills, were out of my life. That was also when I decided I'd do everything I could to never go back there. That was 16 years ago on August 24, 2000. Since then, my horizons have expanded beyond anything I could have dreamed of. Much more than I ever felt possible. I found that with a little willingness, open mindedness, and honesty, my world would expand.
I talked about some of the attitudes I had that cultivated my substance abuse in a separate post. Another of those was thinking that nursing was my whole world. I did that. If I worked hard, got really good at what I did, and survived two brutal specialties, I would have "bragging rights" and no one would know how insecure I really felt, or how tenuous I felt every day I went in to work. I say tenuous, because deep inside I knew there was a different person within who was not being acknowledged, was ignored, and was not able to fully express herself through this type of work. Yes, I had moments where I could express caring, and did. Those were far more rewarding than the so called adrenaline rush prevalent in critical care. So were the moments when, through doing careful assessment and listening to the quiet, still voice within, I could catch subtle signs of decline before the patient went downhill and intervene. But they weren't enough.
Nothing was enough. Nothing is ever enough, until we learn to embrace our unconscious, and allow it to have a voice in things. Until we learn to separate our inherent worth as a human being, from the work we do and from external conditions, we subject ourselves to the whims of the external world. Until we learn we are indeed sacred and divine, we will continue to judge ourselves. Until we can view ourselves as just human beings, in the moment, without judgment and adding all the criticisms that come, we will continue on the negative feedback loop and be slaves to it.
The good news is, we can learn to separate ourselves from the distractions that clamor for our attention and get quiet. We can then let the thoughts come and go, like the direction of a river, we let them flow away. Then, we discover that we, the human, remains; and we can allow that to just be. Just be, without judgment or comment.
But I digress. Thanks for listening. Good luck with your new ventures, the discovery that you are not your job, and a new way of thinking. Thinking and making the right choices, leads to a better way of living.