Weiner Dogs and Cultivating Joy

{This is part one in an installment of posts on some of the beautiful things that are cultivated out of betrayal.  I know I also need to loop back to worthiness – I hope you ladies are still keeping track of the lies you hear in your head.  I’ve added a couple – “I’m alone” and “I can’t forgive”… both total lies.  Stay tuned for more.}

Last week on my group calls, I asked the ladies to share an experience that gave them the feeling of joy.  Something within the last 24 hours, unexpected or simple – something, anything that prompted them to feel joy.

It was so fun to hear of their responses – from the unexpected joy of watching a whale breach to the simplicity of cuddling with littles on the porch as the day turned to night.

Then, it was my turn to share.  I ran through some of the events of the last 24 hours and landed on the one that I felt prompted the most amount of joy for me.

I go to a post office about once a week to send off books and it happens to be tucked in the back of a Hallmark store.  Strategically placed next to the post office is not one but two rows of stuffed animals.

Needless to say, when I have my littles with me, it’s DIFFICULT for them to keep their hands off the stuffies.  (As I side note, I’m not a big fan of stuffed animals.  Strange, I guess, but they just seem dirty to me.  I know, I’m odd.)

Well, last Tuesday morning, Norman and I walked into the Hallmark.  I was dealing with a whole host of emotions thanks to the fact that I had a busy couple of weeks and didn’t take the time to be self-intimate (never a good thing).

Norman, as expected, walked straight to the stuffies and picked up this weiner looking type dog that he has picked up for the last six or so months when we walk in there.  (I’m surprised the employees haven’t just asked me to purchase it since he’s touched it so much.)  I noticed it was the last one and Norman asked, as he does every time, if he could buy it.

I’m an amazing mom and always give my children the same pat answer – “I don’t know if you can buy it, we need to go home and count your money and then decide.”  This tends to be an excellent way to avoid making unnecessary purchases because usually, by the time we leave the store, the item of interest has left my little’s mind.

Tuesday was different.  I wanted to purchase the stuffed pup for Norman and maybe, just maybe I was coping with all my emotions by purchasing something, anything.  I don’t know.

After I sent the books off, I turned around to collect Norman and when I found him, I was surprised to see he didn’t have the dog with him.  I asked him where it was and he said he put it back and pointed to where he placed it.

I bent down and looked into his sweet blue eyes, and told him I thought it was time to take the weiner dog home.  Norman was speechless.  And I was almost in tears.

He grabbed the dog and we headed to the check out toward the front of the store.  Kim rang us up and I have to tell y’all, it was the best $12 I’ve spent in the longest time!  The amount of joy I felt seeing Norman with that sweet pup, holy cow.

It’s been a week and that little weiner dog has been everywhere with us.  (I’ve even had to provide a small bowl of water for the little guy because he was thirsty?!)

{So I sit here and I’m asking myself – why was this such a big deal to me?! Read on…}

As I reflect on my simple moment of joy, I’m reminded of a couple of things –

For starters, it really is the more simple things that prompt joy like purchasing the $12 weiner dog at the local Hallmark.

Second, I’m reminded how desperately we need joy when we are recovering from betrayal.  This journey is not glitzy, this we know.  We’re not just hitting rock bottom as we come to terms with the choices our husbands have made – we’re rolling around in the muck and mire.

And last – and probably most poignant for me – I’m reminded that joy was cultivated from the pain of betrayal.  Hang with me and I’ll explain.

The feelings that each of us deals with post-betrayal are incredibly overwhelming.  I for one didn’t even know how to handle the feelings I felt when I found out Jason’s ugly truth.  For me, I didn’t have any practice feeling negative feelings.  I was taught that good feelings like happiness and peace were acceptable but feelings like hatred and anger – not okay.

So what did I learn to do?

I learned to numb the negative emotions.  From a very early age.

As Brene Brown says in Daring Strong – “when we numb the dark, we also numb the light.”

It’s true – the decade before Jason’s ugly truth hit the fan and for some time afterward, I didn’t even know what true joy felt like.  Because I numbed my emotions through working more, eating less, and a sundry of other tactics.

It’s taken sitting in the pain, learning to feel, realizing I can’t always fix the feelings – this is what has cultivated joy.

In other words, allowing the negative emotions to wash over me and accepting their reality has also allowed me to experience joy like never before.

That’s the reason the little weiner-dog-joy-story is so important to me.  Because in the past, this wouldn’t have even hit my radar.  But today – today – I am alive and feeling the good and the bad.  I am so grateful.

xo-Shelley