A message, without a name, tells me that I have disappointed them. That I would come home 'for a dog' when there were 'perhaps hundreds' of people with disabilities that could have been helped through the lecture that I cancelled was 'ridiculous'. I'm told that my committment to people with disabilities must 'not be very deep' if I could make a decision like that. The message ends telling me that 'you aren't who I thought you were'.
At first I was stung. Then angry. Then, I thought about what they had said. In truth Joe and I had talked about this. That people wouldn't take our trip home seriously because it was 'just a dog'. That people devalue, not only others who are different - but others who are four-legged. But in the end we decided that our decision was ours, and it was about our relationship with Eric, not our relationship with anyone else.
So we came home.
Sometimes I worry about people who are in human services. Sometimes, and this will seem odd, I see too much committment to people with disabilities - such that it seems, ummmm, unhealthy. I'll admit it. Yes, I care about people with disabilities, specifically and in general, but not all the time, every moment, with every breath. I have a life outside of what I do. I have things I do just for enjoyment and I even do things that have precious little meaning.
I love the Young and the Restless, Suduko, and murder mysteries. I go to movies with friends, drink green tea by the gallon and spend endless hours with the dogs. During none of those times do I even think, for a moment, about the work that I do or the calling I have.
Yet I have seen staff leave sick children in hospitals to take a person with a disability to a movie - just because they promised them. I'm sorry, I think this is wrong. I think it sends the person with a disability the wrong message and I think it damages the staff in the long run.
There was a study done with therapy dogs that live in group homes. They found that the dog had to be out of the home, completely, for one week in four. Without the break the dog would become overwhelmed by the needs of the home and would become aggressive. This study has implications. Yes I know that the study was 'only about dogs' but doesn't it suggest that the weight of needs can become burdomsome. That the muscles involved in caring can become tired from overuse.
At a retreat recently everyone was talking about giving 100 percent and I shocked the room by saying that I only gave 80 percent. That 20 percent was mine and that I was keeping it. Now I know we all define 100 percent differently but I wanted to make a point. As the oldest person in the room I wanted to get these young'uns to think about their lives and the balance that they need to find. They were a great group and I wanted them to be here in the field thirty years later, not burned out and bitter.
So, no I don't regret my decision to come home. And no I don't regret putting it here on my blog. I thank that person for their disagreement with me because it made me think. Though I would suggest that people with strong opinions should put their names to them - otherwise it reeks of cowardice.
For those who are wondering - Eric is sitting beside me here as I write on the computer. The medications seem to have been working but we talk to the vet today. It was a good day yesterday with Eric, and whatever happens I will cherish those 24 hours for the rest of my life.