“Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.”– Orhan Pamuk
She was six months old when she came into my life. With eyes of the brightest blue and the softest coat of silky grey, she moved like flowing water. Now, years later, with brown eyes and many lumps and bumps and scars from years of running through bracken and forest, she is still beautiful, and contrary and wilful and so full of vital enthusiasm for life. She is ” the vessel of my hearts repose”, I adore her.
Roxanne the Weimaraner has been my companion for so long it seems she has always been there. In the grace of her twilight years she still sleeps upon my bed, curled at my feet every night. Often I wake to her muffled barking and quivering paws as she chases rabbits or other such blissful activities dogs may dream of.
A dogs joy is a window onto pure being, they are just as they are, without question, a dog.
There were many times I failed her, these were my most shameful memories. Over the course of my life I have committed some awful acts, selfish, violent expressions of spite against myself and the World. The guilt and shame that I felt for those past misdeeds is far eclipsed by what I felt in those times when my actions affected her. In those darkest years, stumbling blindly through life, I betrayed her unquestioning love and trust. I became the perpetrator, the next in line repeating the cycle of unconscious damage that I experienced as a child. With gut wrenching realisation the truth of this dawned on me. Poor, perfect creature had no power, no voice, no recourse, no place to go, she was trapped in a world of my creation.
In the innocence of her eyes, I saw the reflection of my pain, my inheritance was obvious, I was broken. The Iron fingers of guilt gripped my heart.
Soon after this realisation, we moved away from London and in search of myself, headed to the remote Highlands of Scotland. Ten years later and after much soul searching, I have found something true in me. This is not an inevitability, it is a choice. Taking responsibility for every thought and deed brought me into a critical awareness that made clear the chaos and detritus I had left in my wake. Such selfish acts of destruction that only the traumatised are capable of. It has been tough work indeed, I still struggle to forgive myself for the past but do believe that those years of annihilation and chaos have some value.
A life lived balancing on a knife edge taught me a great deal. I know well what it is to live through trauma and fear, forever in a war for survival, without a care, smashing yourself against any and every obstacle in your path. It is far easier to fight than to yield. I have heard the whispering voice of ridicule, cruel judgement and criticism, but was it mine or was it the voice of those that came before, carried within my bones and blood, still present, seeking to confirm their pain through my existence. This is my true inheritance, the gift of ancestral pain passed down through the generations. This pain was not mine, I was simply the latest recipient and in my inventive creativity, I spun it and made it my own. That voice of doubt and loathing, that sense of isolation, the callous unforgiving harshness of regret and guilt, was it in the thoughts of my Father and Mother, was there malice, was there hate. It no longer matters. With gratitude, I accept this offering of brokenness and pain. Within are contained the seeds of goodness, these, I am resolved to nurture into something I can share, kindness, love, compassion, qualities I forbade myself for most of my life.
In my childhood I was given a map and the tools to navigate this world. The tools were broken and the map was made by a blind man. This took many years for me to discover and many years more to craft my own tools and draw my own map. Eventually I found my way out to the high ground, from where I could see the territory of those years of fearful wanderings. Below lay a wasteland of loss and false promises. Looking back, I know that before allowing myself freedom, I needed to fully map this domain. All possibilities for salvation needed to be exhausted before I reluctantly accepted that there are no short cuts to the truth.
During those lost years, I reached for something pure, a dog, mans best friend. The small grey, beautiful, Roxanne, then untarnished by life, untouched by my thoughtless cruelty, she showed me my first glimpse of uncontrived being. Patiently she waited for me to wake from my slumber of unconscious self abuse and acknowledge her offer of love.
Time does not heal all wounds but provides space for forgiveness.
On the island that we call home, not far from the cottage there are rocky peaks, remote, and but for the wind and rain, they are silent from the noise of life. These are the high places where in freedom and silence my beloved Roxanne and I go to stand. Above us the limitless sky, below us lies the sea. There, in those high places of silent perfection, with gusting wind and rain like needles, Roxanne stands with me, leaning into my side. There, in those high places above the world, we stay as long as we can. She does not move, she does not care.
I am forgiven.