The dog and the fence

We were walking the dogs the other day, in a place where we often walk with them.

Our little brown dog ran off after rabbit and emerged on the wrong side of the fence.

‘It’s OK,’ said partner, ‘he knows how to get out of there’.

We walked on along the fence but the dog didn’t follow, so we went around another way and found that he was between two fences, running parallel to each other about a meter apart.  He still couldn’t find his way out.

‘He’s knows how to get out’ insisted partner, ‘we come here all the time’.

But the dog, on this day, at that time, couldn’t find his way out, he just ran up and down between the fences, looking at us, unable to get out.

‘We need to lift him out’ I said.

‘No. He can do it’ said partner, still calling to the dog.

I walked towards the fence, talking to the dog who wagged, but still couldn’t work his way out.

Then partner pushed through the undergrowth to the fence and scooped the dog up, put him down by our feet, ruffled his fur and then we both watched as he scampered off again.

And I burst into tears.

Not because I had been worried about the dog; I could see he was safe and knew we could get him.

But because I am sometimes that dog.  I sometimes fence myself in and can’t find my way out.  I might be really familiar with the fences; self-doubt, overwhelm, tiredness, unworthiness, fear.  I might normally also know full well how to avoid them or how to get out if I find myself fenced in: phoning a friend, taking time out, yoga, walking, reading, rest.  But for some reason, on some days, at some times, I forget the ways out.  All I can focus on are the fences which feel too huge and long and endless and I just can’t find my way out of them.

And at those times I need someone to scoop me up with care and warmth and put me down where it is safe and where I am free again.

Because it doesn’t matter how well we know the path, or how good out navigation skills, or internal compass, or how good our survival strategies, sometimes, some days, we just need someone to reach out their arms and carry us home.

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