Forsaking Man's Best Friend
In drug addiction, you dont realize the amount of collateral damage you’ve caused until you’ve sobered up. Even then, it can take years to fully grasp the depth of suffering you’ve inflicted on others - and yourself. My memories of the months leading up to rehab are still somewhat splotchy. Like binge drinking blackouts, I vaguely remember periods of linear occurrences. At times, my mind feels like a left out stovetop stew; I somewhat know all of the ingredients but am unaware of how long it’s been simmering. Up for long periods, methamphetamine distorts time and reality and mine was definitely askew.
When K and I decided to move into her parents place, we had to make some difficult decisions. One of the most, was the placement of our beloved furbabies; Dolly Parton & Ziggy Stardust. We still joke with each other about their temperament. I picked our English Mastiff, Dolly Parton who is chill and docile like Kaitlyn. She rescued a mutt, Ziggy Stardust, who is hyperactive and energetic like me. We picked each others personalities in the form of pets! I still think it’s hilarious. #lol
After a long and painful decision, Dolly went to live out the rest of her days in a puppy mansion with some friends of Kaitlyn’s parents. Ziggy stayed with Kaitlyn’s brother (my bro-in-law), Patrick. We are forever grateful to the people who took care of our fur babies - thank you! After a year went by, Patrick asked if we would be willing to take Ziggy off of his hands as his dog was enough to handle on its own. Although we enjoyed the hair free shedding lifestyle, six months into our new apartment lease we welcomed Ziggy back into our family. However, instead of feeling the expected happiness of having him home, it triggered something deeply sad within. But for him, it was like nothing ever changed.
He wanted to play.
He wanted to snuggle.
He wanted to run after squirrels and sneak crumbs out from beneath our feet.
But for me, seeing him stirred emotions I was unaware of. I felt a deep sadness and conviction - yet I didn’t understand why. Then, one day after getting home from slinging frappuccino’s, it hit me. Seeing Ziggy confronted my past. At once, I remembered all the times I failed to feed, and, or water him because of drug addiction. Luckily, Kaitlyn would step in and feed him when I forgot - but either way - I neglected my furry best friend. If I would have been on my own, my little rockstar might have gone hungry to the point of needing medical intervention. I began thinking about all the scenarios that could have happened to Ziggy because of my using. Although he is not a child, I still hold a similar bond - he is my baby!
With the type of ugly cry that soils shirts from snot and sobbing, I wept profusely. As silly as it may sound, I began apologizing to Ziggsters, asking his forgiveness and promising to make amends. I felt horrible for the way I treated him, and then…I realized a new layer of why it brought about a deep sadness. Growing up as a single child, my grandmother got me a dog in second grade; his name was Muffin. Muffin was my best friend, and at times, my only one. Even though he was a fluffy white poodle, he was my bro. Him and Ziggy alike, both provided comfort during some of the most painful periods of my life. As Kristin Higgins once said, “When an eighty-five pound mammal licks your tears away, then tries to sit on your lap, it’s hard to feel sad.”
Though neither Ziggy or Muffin weigh as much, the sentiment is still the same. In moments of great anguish they were there. In moments of happiness, they were there. There is something about a dog’s type of faithfulness and loyalty that surpasses humans. For even though they know everything going on, they tell no one. No matter what, they are excited by your presence and are always waiting for your return.
The potential hurt I caused my dog pales in comparison to the hurt I caused those around me. However, without getting my mind right by letting Jesus heal my heart, I would have never known the wake of devastation I caused. Even now, three years into recovery, I am still learning the gravity of my sin. It doesn’t just affect the “big parts” of our lives like relationships with family, jobs, or churches, sin even affects my dog - because sin invades every detail of our lives.
I hate admitting negligence towards my dogs because I like to think I would never cause them harm. However, in drug addiction, I was not only negligent, but downright neglectful. Even though it wasn’t intentional, using made me unavailable too many of life’s demands. Bills went unpaid. I failed to show up to functions requiring my presence. I didn’t feed my animals, let alone myself.
With a gaze fixed on what I believed would bring relief, I lost focus of the things that matter most to me; faith and family. Although I am still learning the extent of how my sickness affected various areas of life, today I am pausing to grieve the implications of negligence. Man, woman, dog, or pet, God calls us to righteousness as we care for one another.
The righteous care for the needs of their animals,
but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.
(Proverbs 12:10 NIV)
As I’ve heard it quoted before, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” In regards to taking care of my little buddy Ziggy, sin nearly killed our relationship.
I pray it doesn’t kill any of yours.
In Your Corner,