Even The Most Broken Get Better

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“Sometimes, when the stars align just right, everything works out. When you’re scared and alone, hope comes along.”

Very first photo of Xena, on the night we found her.

One year ago, Brandon looked at me from across the small booth, concern in his eyes and patience in his voice. “We can leave if you want”, he assured me. I shook my head, not so much in response to his offer as much as to try and shake the impending episode. “We’ll just ask them to put the food in to-go boxes when it’s ready”. By we, he meant he’d ask the waitress the next time she came by while I sat there with a silent plea in my eyes as I pretended to be suddenly fascinated by my fingernails. I put my hands on either side of my head like a vice grip, hoping I could squeeze out the buzz of nearby tables’ chattering, forks clinking plates, the last drip of soda being sucked from a glass. Mania rising.

Half an hour later, we were driving home, the Jeep heavy with the smell of untouched steak and fish intermingled with shame and self-loathing. We had just turned on to our road when I saw a dog by the schoolyard. (Probably eating all the fucking trash, now that I think about it). Everything that wasn’t this dog eating snow-trash dropped out of my mind, and naturally I demanded that we turn around. We pulled into the driveway, and Brandon looked over to me with a sigh as I “gave him those eyes” (his words) that said I’d walk myself down there if I had to. “We’re only going to see if it has any tags,” he told me.

I can’t really explain what went through my mind when we pulled up to the school yard and I caught my first glimpse of her. There aren’t words for the way my heart sank as I ran my hands over her gently, feeling every vertebrae, my fingers falling in the spaces between her ribs. I cried. Like, a lot. She ran up to us eagerly, tail a’wagging. She didn’t protest or put up a fight when we put her in the back of the Jeep. She sat patiently as we drove to Brandon’s Mom’s house, nose twitching away like mad, hot on the trail of my dinner which would ultimately remain untouched for the remainder of the evening.

I still stop and wonder sometimes just what would have happened, had we not left the restaurant early. If my complete inability to function in the real world hadn’t had me two minutes from table flipping a Bloomin’ Onion at some unsuspecting victim. The posters her owners put up a week after she went missing said she got out that same night we found her. But what if it weren’t us? Her owners clearly weren’t taking care of her, and I knew that anyone else probably would have taken her to the pound, where upon realizing she was diabetic, heart worm positive, and going blind on top of being severely emaciated and on the verge of ketoacidosis (for the first of two times now), she would likely be considered too far gone, and put down.

How many times have I thought that exact thing? I’m too broken, there’s no helping me. That’s exactly how I was feeling when I finally caved and, fighting back the tears until we were in the car, gave the slightest nod when Brandon realized he’d have to (as always) make the decision for me and asked for the check. That’s how I felt when one of my best friends threatened a cessation to our friendship if I dared allow my abuser back into my life yet again. That’s how I feel every time I wind up in the emergency room for a panic attack, triggered by a slushie. Yes, really. That’s how, up until I began seeing my new therapist (8th time’s a charm, right?) I’ve always viewed myself. Broken beyond repair.

Perhaps it’s serendipitous, the way things are unfolding right now, as if there’s some Karmic pendulum swinging it’s way back to drop me a line on the anniversary of the day after we rescued Xena. Maybe it’s something to do with the upcoming Full Moon. Maybe it’s just coincidence. Regardless, I’ll take it. As they say, every dog has its day…