Vulnerability and Closeness
Life Lessons With Libby
My rough collie is just a pup and we’ve been together a month now. She loves to play, nip, chew, and rough house--and eat ... She would eat 24/7 if I allowed it!
I just want to cuddle her.
At first Libby would have none of that silly kissing on her cheeks or even gentle petting on her head and back or tummy without nipping and chewing and being way too playful.
I began to look like I was a beginner bare-knuckle boxer who also used her bare feet and legs for high kicks but was on the losing end of this new physical interest.
Now I redirect her nipping of me to a favorite toy, sticking chew toys in her mouth rather than let her destroy my ankles or hands or fingers.
With some of these redirecting techniques, Libby is learning to control herself by gently placing her teeth on me but not biting down. She is learning to build boundaries and not walls by telling me gently when she needs a break from all that love.
And she now allows me to rub my head and face against her fur without nipping me.
I want Libby to grow up to be a warm and empathic adult dog: a good listener, a dog who will let anyone pet and love on her, and a pet who can help others feel love.
I want her to be a therapy dog.
But in order to help others, Libby must first learn to let others love her in another language that right now she may not understand. And to learn to be loving and caring and gentle, Libby must be taught how to be:
· Vulnerable (To trust without using armor or weapons--to expose the self)
She is beginning to understand the words:
As I watch her learn gentleness and begin to be vulnerable with me, I think about us as humans and how we lash out when others try to love us or enter those sacred places we keep closed off from the world because of old hurt.
We refuse to be vulnerable for fear we may be hurt again
We refuse to let others in at all because we can't bare to feel such intense emotion
But if we are in any kind of a relationship (and it is nearly impossible to live life without connection with others—unless you are isolated on an island), and we desire intimacy and connection, we must allow others in for a moment--- but many of us push people away by:
Rage and anger
Libby is teaching me that letting people in takes time. Trust does grow over time if we nurture it. Practicing sprints of vulnerability exercises this muscle and enlarges our ability to trust and learn and love, and to allow others to love us.
Vulnerability is a process, but we must begin somewhere.
As I care for Libby, I am learning right along with her.
If I am cruel to Libby, she will learn to be cruel and she will not trust.
But if I am gentle and love her, she will learn what love is and be vulnerable with me.
I was reminded of this Scripture about loving others. What we put into our heart will flow out of our hearts.
1 John 4:12 “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is perfected in us.”
We must teach each other how to love and accept love from others by being loving and kind.
Be vulnerable with someone today, and let them in without using sarcasm, criticism, or anger to push them away.
I’d love to hear about your furry creature and the lessons you are learning from them.
Until Next Time,
Lori Carol Maloy