Often, we get so enmeshed with our animals. I know, I’ve done it.
cause to become entangled in something.
involve (someone) in a difficult situation from which it is hard to escape.
We can get codependent with people and enmeshed with our animals. They take on our stuff, we might even take on their stuff. But either way, even with our animals, we need to consider healthy boundaries. Otherwise, they are “on” all of the time. And that isn’t physically or emotionally healthy for anyone.
My dog Olivia was such a helpful type, she was willing to take everything on. Many of you have these pleasing types of dogs, cats and horses. When we are deeply in our “stuff” it’s easy to overlook just how enmeshed we all are. And yet, there we are.
I thought I’d share a story from my book Energy Healing for Animals (Sounds True) to help illustrate how quickly it can happen and then what I did.
“My dog Olivia and my cat Alexandria went through a lot with me when I had some real emotional upheaval going on. My mother died. Then I got divorced. Like me, Olivia was very attached to my stepkids, and it was hard for her when all of a sudden they were gone. It was a rough period. We all grieved, and there was a point when our collective grief could have taken us all into depression. But then we moved to Seattle and started a farm, and everyone began to feel better.
Then we had another setback when Alexandria disappeared. After a while Olivia and I added another dog to the family, and then two years after the cat disappeared, I ended up adopting a cat that was pregnant. Suddenly we had a very full house. Olivia, half Border collie and a 100-percent Scorpio, had her paws full—with kittens.
Then my father died. As you can imagine as I unfold this story, it was a tragic time for me. Within five years, I had lost both my parents, gotten divorced, and lost my beloved cat, and my stepchildren had moved across the country. I was bereft, and the magnitude of it all was crushing at the time. To make matters even worse, I snapped a ligament in my neck, my shoulder dropped, and all I could do was lie on the couch and work on healing—and I’m usually the go-go-go type. But that couch (which, okay, is actually a dog bed) became a luxury for me. For the first time, I could actually indulge my fantasy of lying around reading magazines!
While I was pretty much immobile, I was able to observe that the whole sequence of events was a pattern and that I had the opportunity to truly, deeply process the huge amount of grief I felt. But Olivia was grieving too.
“This grief is mine,” I told Olivia repeatedly. “You get to be the dog. I need you to be the dog now.” Using visualization techniques similar to some you’ll read about later, I frequently placed a little white bubble around Olivia and then a separate bubble around me as a way of separating our fields. We were soul mates and partners in the household yet also autonomous individual beings, who were capable of having separate emotions and different experiences. I did not need her to take on my stuff!
I relate this story to show that I understand life can be a rocky emotional road that sometimes feels overwhelming. Yet even in my grief, I knew I had to take on the role of emotional leader in my animal family, that it was up to me to guide the morphic resonance in my household and help us all create more harmony. And, yes, I say “help us create” because Olivia is second in command!”
This should help you remember the boundaries. People can say “hey, let’s have a little space” and our animals aren’t able to do that. So, let’s be mindful and see if we can help our friends out a little more!