Winners and Losers

As you may or may not know-I LOVE European football-soccer.  To be honest, I say that I started watching it because of “co-habitation”.  My SO is a Brit and has been following the same team for “Donkey’s Years”-as he would say.  Isn’t that a funny expression? I mean, exactly how long is a Donkey’s Year?  If any of you reading this are British, I’m open to being enlightened on this one!  Anyway, because it was a World Cup year when we first got together and he watched EVERY game, I slowly started watching it.  And then became hooked on it-if it’s a good game.  What constitutes a good game for me?  Well, great open play.  I always like a little drama-some yellow cards and maybe a red if it’s not a player from a team I’m supporting-so a little controversy.  Tough play-although I hate to see people injured or even worse.  An agitated manager on the sidelines is always fun to watch as is a good, interactive “12th Man”-which is the crowd itself. I’ve come to appreciate the almost balletic dance a great player does-some would call this dribbling with the ball-but to me, watching a fantastic player or a team that is in total sync with one another, is like watching a dance performance.  Of course the sheer athleticism of these guys is amazing-I mean they’re sprinting for 90 minutes. And of course, I love goals-especially when it’s my team scoring them-but I can appreciate a great goal no matter who made it.

At the end of every game-there’s a winner and a loser.  Of course, depending on the team or the game, the losers can be devastated.  Although, at times, a tie, can be a win for a team.  So while I have been watching football games this whole season-following both English and Spanish football primarily, I keep up with French as well.  And, as you may or may not know-aside from the English League or the Spanish League, there’s also the Champions League.  This brings together the top teams from each league in Europe.  While every game is important and winnning is winning- in addition to winning whichever league a team is in, winning the Champions League is at the top–because it means that team is the best in all of Europe.

I’ve seen one of the favorites-Barcelona (my first and foremost favoirte team) knocked out by Roma-a team who completely gave it their all and totally and unexpectedly, won that round.  I’m not sure they’ve ever gone that far in this competition.  I saw Man City-a team that has won the Premiere League and plays a really beautiful game, get knocked out by Liverpool.  I saw Juventes fans totally decimated in the first leg against Real Madrid, but still stand and cheer when a Madrid player made an AMAZING bicycle kick goal.  Then Juve regrouped and outplayed Real Madrid in the second round-only to lose in the last minute of the game. Talk about controversy!!!

Of course the players and managers of the losing teams were devastated-In fact, many managers get fired if they lose this competition. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the Real Madrid manager had been fired if they’d lost-in spite of having a good record.  This football world is brutal-to players and to management.  But in thinking about this, I think one of the things that, in spite of everything else I have gone into at length, that always strikes me the most is how an underdog can pull themselves up and win. How at times, even though they’ve “lost”, they’re winners.  How they can pull way down deep to do whatever it takes to win.  Under immense pressure.  And just as impressive to me, is how that team that lost-those players who feel they’ve let their fans down and at times are seen crying on the pitch after losing an important game, pull themselves together and go on.  They just start over the next day-the next game.

See where I’m going with this?  I read so many blogs where people are trying to quit drinking-or quit whatever it is they want to quit-and can’t do it.  Or they go for a length of time-sometimes only a few days or weeks, sometimes a few months or years and then, they’re drinking again.  Beating themselves up over it.  Feeling guilt and shame.  Feeling like a loser.  Let me say this- there are no losers!  We are all winners.  We all, just like those underdog teams have the capacity to pull it together and win.  Do we have setbacks?  Yes, of course.  We all experience setbacks in our lives at some time or another.  And that’s okay. Because a “setback” is just that. It’s a “check in progress”.. It is not a failure. It’s an opportunity to think about how to do it differently next time.  I have a friend, who has a horrible time when she goes shopping.  Me-I love going to TJ or TK Maxx-H&M-I don’t mind digging and really focusing and finding a good something.  But it’s too much for  her-and yet she keeps going to these places and they are just too overwhelming for her. So the other day, I pointed out that she needs to find another store or stores that fit her and how her mind works-say Zara. ( I know in the UK Zara is always crowded and with lots of stuff going on, but here it’s always nice and tidy and never many people in it.) It’s just about finding a “way in”-finding what works best with who we are.

While we may not all be elite atheletes, but I do believe that we all share something in common with them.  We can each and everyone of us be the absolute best we can be.  I believe that we are meant to be the best that we can be.  I’ve mentioned the “Soul-u-lar Level” before- that place that knows what’s right for us.  The place where our Truth lies.  It’s also the place that lets us know when something isn’t right.  Continuous discomfort about something is a huge sign that we need to make a change in our lives.  It’s a sign that we should stop being afraid to be the best we can be.  I also recognize that this can be scary, but trust me, so much will open up for you.  It’s okay to be the best you can be! It’s okay to excel at being you-in your own, unique, individual way.  Why?

Because you’re a winner!  We are ALL winners!

With Love

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The Pain of Loss

Dudley DoRight died early Saturday morning.  While I knew he wasn’t doing great, we’d thought he was improving and his dying came as a total surprise.  He had been doing better, playing, barking all the things that were normal.  On Thursday, he was kind of lethargic with not a lot of appetite.  On Friday we had a friend over for a Thanksgiving leftovers lunch.  This is the woman that fostered Dudley before we got him from her and she kept him when we were traveling.  She loved him and he loved her.  So she was here, loving on him spending the afternoon with me and my SO-us sitting around our table and Dudley next to us in his bed. At one point he needed to go out so I took him out.  He wanted to walk so we walked, slowly, to the little sitting area that he liked to have a sniff around at and then a bit out in the area next to  it and then back.  Our friend left around 5:30-loving on Dudley before she left.

We went upstairs to be arouond 9 and I tucked Dudley into his bed like I always do.  Around 11:30 I was aware that he was up and thought he needed to go out-so I took him out.  He just lay in the grass so I brought him in and tucked him back in his bed. I could tell he wasn’t  getting comfortable and thought it might be the lump he had on his neck.  I tried to give him a pain pill but he didn’t even acknowledge the hot dog it was in.  So, I threw it away and laid down with him.  After about 10 minutes, I realized that he was dying. I laid with him stroking him, praying and silently talking to him.  He was turned away from me most of the time. My mind was all over the place.  My SO was asleep in the bed.  I kept silently talking to Dudley, telling him how much I loved him and how glad I was that he shared his life with me.  At one point, I silently asked if he could hear me.  And then, as if there was some unseen force, his head just almost whipped around and we were nose to nose-him gazing into my eyes-which is the way that dogs show their love.  So I knew that he heard me.  I have no idea how long we were like that.  It could’ve bee 5 minutes or an hour.  His breathing was changing and at 3:30 I told my SO that Dudley was dying.  My SO got up and laid down with us-both of us stroking him. An hour later he left his body. I don’t know how many times I asked my SO if he was really dead. We wrapped him up and took him to room my SO meditates in, chanting mantras (my SO did the chanting, I was too upset) and sitting with him.  We took him to the vet where we sat with him more before giving him up to be cremated.

When I called our friend, she was stunned. If someone had asked me if Dudley would be alive 6 months from now, I would have said that I don’t know, maybe not.  But if someone had asked me Friday if I thought he was going to die within the next 24 hours, I would have said no.  The vet was also surprised as the followup blood work showed no sign of infection.

I think Dudley decided, on a Soul-u-lar level to leave.  He had a good last day.  He was with the 3 people he loved the most.  He went on a final walk to the spots he liked.  Although in retrospect, I’m wondering if he was taking me on a final walk. And he was surrounded by love and prayers as he died.  He died in his bed and he wasn’t in pain.  This is the way we would all like to go, isn’t it?

I am devastated.  I have such an overwhelming sense of loss it’s almost unbearable.  I know the spiritual side of it.  I know that part of the bargain in getting a pet is that they will die at some point. I know all of that.  But it doesn’t ease my pain.

I cannot begin to describe how blessed I feel that we had the silent love and communication at the end.  That I was able to receive his message of love.  I will never forget the way his eyes were looking into mine.

And, I am so glad that I have the sobriety that I do under my belt for this.  That I was completely present during his dying.  I am completely present in my grief.  To be honest, at one point it did occur to me that we have some Xanax in the house.  But, I nixed that.

After my mother died, as soon as it was late enough in the day-she died around 7 am- I had my SO get me a bottle of wine.  Of course I did!  I had a reason, didn’t I? Anyone could and would see that!

But not this time.  I will continue to be with the pain.  To feel the grief.  To cry when the mood hits-which is about every half hour.

In some very advanced spiritual dogmas, there is the practice of non-attachment.  But,if I hadn’t had this attachment, I wouldn’t have known this love. Total unconditional love.  Love from a being that saw me in all of my moods, my drunkeness, my ups and downs.  And, because I realize that he was hearing my silent pleas I realize that he knew so much more than I ever even considered.  And still gave me all of his love and devotion.

This is new for me.  The total presence of experiencing this loss.  I will continue on with it. Missing him with all of my heart. Seeing him wherever we went together.  Knowing that in time the grief will dull.  Learning another lesson about what it’s like dealing with life soberly. Knowing that numbing out with alcohol or something else is not dealing with anything-it just masks the pain. That pain never really goes anywhere, it just gets stored up and at some point, must somehow implode.

So, here’s to Dudley, with love.  My best boyfriend ever!dudley