Loving the ones who make a mess

I love our dog. So much so that I’m willing to overlook the incredible volume of hair he leaves everywhere. And I’m willing to pick up behind him when we go out for walks. But when he woke me up at 4:30 am Monday he was pushing it. Finding several “gifts” scattered downstairs later that morning had me rethinking the benefits of dog ownership. Let’s just say I am not a fan of doggy puke.

And yet, when I looked at that pitiful face staring up from the couch, so obviously miserable, I couldn’t help but think of the FPK. During the toddler years, there were many episodes that I will elect not to recount here involving buckets, trashcans and flying trips to the bathroom. Sometimes we made it, sometimes not.

No matter how disgusting the cleanup was afterward, the most important thing was for our child to know that we wanted it all to be ok. The mess was fixable and secondary to his being ok. I’m not sure that a toddler understands the words much more than the dog, but they both understand a good snuggle.

It’s harder when the mess isn’t puke and the illness isn’t physical. When a loved one struggles with a mood disorder, it won’t go away after a few days. You can’t just move it through your system like a virus or bad fruit. The disease that makes you puke up emotional bile or causes thoughts to churn in your stomach and brain- it is there for the long haul. Over time, the damage done internally turns outward, washing over relationships, finances, plans, hopes and dreams.

I want to tell our kiddo that it will all be ok… like when I would wash off that scared little face in the bathrooms and we would rinse out that awful taste. A hug, a snuggle and a day or two would do it. At 16, the hugs still come. And snuggles once in a while. But I can’t lie; we’ve got to figure out how to live through the hard days long term.

Thing is, it wasn’t the hope of recovery that made me do the cleaning up. Or hang onto a scared little toddler, or console an ailing old dog. It’s love. Love for the ones who make my life messy and scary. We’ll make it through together. Our ok might just look a little different than we imagined.

Today was National Depression Screening Day. Ironic, given that we spent a good part of the day in conversations with care providers, the benefits office and insurance people to assure that our kiddo gets the treatment needed to find emotional balance again. Sometimes it takes more than love and hope to get past a down time. You can get more information here.

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