Recently, Jason took our pup Edie on an overnight camping trip. Our younger dog, Cooper, stayed home with me.
My heart was in a million pieces watching Cooper cope. First searching the house aimlessly for them, letting out an occasional quiet whine followed by a sigh (he is very dramatic). Our long walk was a bit of a reprieve and he seemed to enjoy it. I also tried to distract him with a trip to the pet store, a new ball and a chewy. He was bounding like a bucking horse (one of his I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself signs) to get into the car. A car ride does not typically illicit that type of reaction from him, so I could only assume he thought we were on our way to Jason and Edie.
The ball was fun for a minute, but it wasn’t the same without the jealousy effect Edie caused. The chewy only got hidden/buried; he was saving it for later. After that, I sat on the couch hoping he would be tired enough to lie down. Nope – stood in the doorway listening for sounds of someone coming home. Every 15 minutes or so, he would switch positions, but he didn’t take his eyes off the door for over an hour. I finally crawled into bed and brought in his favorite blanket. I was absolutely aching for him and I had tried everything to spoil him and make it better for him. I could hardly stand it. As he lay at the foot of the bed NOT falling asleep (still watching the door), I thought exasperatedly…HOW do I make this better!?!?! I’ve done everything I could possibly DO!!
The answer smacked me in the face – you don’t. You do not make it better. You let him be with this, let him know you know he’ll be okay and you love him. And then, you let it go.
I said to my sweet lil’ Coop, “I know you are sad and I understand this is hard, but you will be okay and if you want to cuddle at any point, I’m right over here. Otherwise, you do what you gotta do.”
After that, I was fine. Heartbreak over.
Sometimes this is what we need to say to people as well. It is quite misguided and presumptuous to think we somehow have the power to take one’s hurt away—arrogant, even. A hurt we can narrowly understand; a hurt that is not ours to mend; a hurt that is not ours. Period. We need to allow people their suffering; allow them their learning; allow them their healing.
In other words, sometimes we need to get the fuck out of the way.