Introducing the newest(ish) part of the head family, Lucy! Lucy is now my service dog, meaning that she has been extensively trained by a professional to perform specific tasks that help me on a daily basis. This is different than an emotional support or therapy dog. I’ll explain more on these differences at a later time, all are amazing and help in their own way.
When it was suggested to me by my Dr. that I should look into getting a service dog for Complex PTS(D). It became a very tough decision to make for many reasons, I immediately felt guilt and shame in having a dog by my side at all times. I started to talk to many veterans, therapist, and other mentors. The consensus was, if you had to take medicine and it would make you better would you not take it. If you broke your leg and needed crutches would you not use them? Just because Complex PTS(D) is unseen doesn’t mean you don’t need help.
We got Lucy a year and a half ago and has been a great family pet. She has always been very connected to me though, which ended up being a very good thing. Because when the trainer first came to meet both Lucy and I, what she was really looking for was the bond of the team. She did many things to see if Lucy would stay focused on me while she tried to distract her.
Once she started training I began to feel guilty over her going from pet to service dog. I again sought out people who have a ton of knowledge with dogs and said dogs want to work much more than to be a pet. I also learned that she can be a pet when she is not working, which means once the vest comes off she is in full pet mode.
The hardest has been the “image” of having a service animal. My whole life I’ve felt and lived in a way that said I needed to be “perfect”. This and many other ways of living became extremely exhausting and burnout was quickly creeping in. I couldn’t continue to live at the pace I had set for myself. By taking time and working very hard on my mental health these last few months, I’ve learned that the “perfection part of me” is a coping mechanism that is used to survive my childhood and life. Perfection = Protection.
I now walk around with Lucy that instantly shows, imperfection. This “imperfection” has forced me to see people completely different. When Jesus said “Love your neighbor as yourself”, this has become a truth in my life. As I am starting to see “My neighbor as myself”, I am having a more clear and healthy view of myself. Plus the constant judgement I have had on others and life is on the decline.
I have had some powerful conversations with strangers and friends. These conversations and the confidence wouldn’t have happened if I allowed my pride and “what will others think” to win the day. This part of me has had control of my life for long enough, and the courage to just be me has placed these negative thoughts where they belong.
I have come to realize that the this life is not about perfectionism, it is about being your true self. My true self doesn’t have it all together, a true self who has realized that vulnerability and truth is an arrow and key to unlock true freedom. This freedom has brought forward a more real relationship with Christ. The realization of imperfection has shown me that I am loved no matter what and has grown my need and desire for Christ. Knowing the only one that is perfect is Jesus, who came and lived the perfect life, died on a cross and rose again because He knew we couldn’t be perfect.
You can follow all of her adventures here @servicedog_lucy_