I love peace. Home, for me, must be a place of peace. And I’m not talking about everyone in the household coexisting in neutrality, although sometimes you have to take what you can get. I’m talking about deep, copacetic harmony among all the creatures.
A Full House
Peace among all the household creatures is quite a feat with 2 dogs, 4 cats, 16 plants, and 4 people. Not to mention the growing things outside. When something is amiss with any of these individuals, as an empath, I can feel it in my body. It registers as any number of things: Need, sadness, fear. Hunger, pain, confusion, struggle. At least 3 of us are passing through the tunnels of anxiety and depression regularly. Ooof.
There is the beautiful balance too though. For the last many years, my son has had a difficult go of things. He recently started dating someone and now nearly every time she comes over, then leaves the house, he whistles. Sweet pockets of conversation occur between my fellas and my new husband. A sign that there is tenderness and trust. There are some new baby shoots coming up in a few of the house plants that we repotted after moving them from Greg’s house. Those little buddies are happy in their new home and are creating out of their abundance.
Gus and Molly
Amidst all this life and energy there are 2 individuals who haven’t been able to find peace with each other. This affects the level of harmony in the household, as well as this empath’s sanity. There is a real, fiery, ongoing, misunderstanding between Greg’s old lady dog, Molly, and my son, Gus.
Anytime Gus enters a room where Molly is, she sounds off an adrenaline-blasting alarm. It’s a real fight or flight response for some of us. The cats scramble for cover. I have to step back from the brink of a heart attack many times a day. Gus will lurk around the house in hopes of staying off Molly’s radar. I’m not sure if this helps or makes things worse.
Gus’s and Molly’s Big Adventure
Over the summer when Greg and Molly had just moved in and were getting settled, Molly escaped. Gus was the only one home, and bless this sweet kid’s heart, he took off running after Molly in his socks. She is an old girl and mostly deaf so calling after her isn’t helpful at all. Plus, she and Gus are not exactly friendly with one another. Add to that her disorientation at being in a new town. Also, she can’t see very well. So, she ran like sixty, willy nilly out of the neighborhood, down a very busy road. All the while Gus hanging in there like some kind of hero trying to catch her. He could’ve let her run and left us to find her when we got home. He hung in there though, until I was able to track them down and coax Molly in my car to go home.
After that fiasco, I thought things might escalate between the two of them. Molly still barking like Gus was an intruder in his own home. Gus harboring bad feelings about that as well as resentment at having to hold up ferry traffic to chase an old blindish, deaf dog around town. But there wasn’t an escalation. In fact, even though Gus is still frustrated, there is a real blooming of grace and patience happening in him.
Meanwhile, I am losing my mind. My peaceful household is sort of a mine field. I have been desperately trying to find a calm, quiet, reasonable solution – get Molly to stop barking. I have been frantic. And grouchy and unkind and impatient. This is not the way to peace.
In my obsessive attempts to unsuccessfully fix this conflict, I keep returning to Gus’s shining moments of grace with Molly. He is making a deliberate decision to acknowledge that this otherwise sweet and very geriatric dog is having a difficult time adjusting to a new home after a quiet lifetime spent in the same house with mostly just Greg. There are still the bursts of frustration, but this is a long game and I see Gus really trying to choose kindness. In fact, he has even quieted me a time or two when I’m toeing up to the line with my aggressive micromanaging skills.
Peace in the Process
It’s a weird thing I’m learning. Peace in the process. Things are always moving and changing. Especially us living creatures with fears and needs and desires. What I really want is peace right now. But what I’m finding is that scenario doesn’t leave room for the individuals and their lives that are all working to thrive in the complicated ecosystem of my household. There must be room for ebbing and flowing, for generosity and selfishness, for covering and being covered, for bursting forth and being inward. I think a culture of peace requires a space where there is room for everyone. Sometimes this means we take it on the chin. Other times it means there is grace for us when we, ourselves, have lashed out.
Participatory peace is the thing I’m learning. How it is essential that we take good care of each other. Making space for everyone including all 2 dogs, 4 cats, 16 plants, and 4 people that make up my household. Now this is a space that feels like home to me.
If you long for peace, or have a crazy household, or are frustrated or very kind, let’s be friends~