On September 17 2015 I was given the gift of hope in the form of a little white fluffy bundle of whimpers.
I was ecstatic, I think because it had been a long time since I had smiled for more than a few seconds at a time my cheek muscles actually hurt. After a miscarriage (still-born) baby I had, had at 19 weeks from a very abusive relationship it had been months upon months of sadness that I thought would never end. I felt unless, confused and as though I no longer had a place on this earth I could peacefully belong with myself. Those months are a complete blur, every day was the same, every day I had a goal and that was to cope until I went to bed and got up the next day to repeat the process.
I wasn’t medicated, it actually made me feel worse even after a few attempts at it. I felt ill most of the time and I would become completely numb, I did not enjoy the feeling of feeling nothing at all, I would actually rather feel sadness, just to feel something.
I had always grown up with animals as a child and I already owned three cats, as much as I loved them they were outdoor cats at their own will with their own door and seemed to have their own busy little lives.
I called him Anakin, he was a white Labradoodle and on that night in September I did not yet realize how my life would change for the better.
He was a real crybaby, just like a real baby he would wake me up during the night and very early morning, he would howl if I walked out of the room and he did not want to play with his toys he just wanted to sit on my feet. I didn’t realize at the time but something very important was changing in my brain, I had a purpose, I had something to worry about other than myself and I was becoming happier on my own. We were inseparable, if I had to do adult things all I could think about was getting home to him.
He was growing fast and his whimpers had turned to playful barks at my cats who would just ignore him or maybe even chase him which of course he loved.
He learned to appreciate his toys and would absolutely love to rip them apart to get their squeaker out. I love the outdoors, bush walking and hiking was now not a lonesome experience because I had company.
I came from a not so great area in NSW, Australia, it was a farming area with a lot of bush land. It would run off the highway and you often hear stories about feral dogs that had been dumped in certain areas and were breeding. As sad and irresponsible as that is the dogs were far from friendly and often hunted in packs, I couldn’t walk through the bush without some way to protect myself in case I ran into trouble.
Anakin was attacked once, a muscular brown male dog came up behind us out of no where, like a fool of course Anakin got excited, all he ever wanted to do was play. This particular dog did not want to play, it pinned him down and held him there. He yelped and I panicked, I thought maybe I could push it off him but that only made it worse as it thought he was fighting back and it locked onto his throat. I could see red starting to leak onto his white coat, I had to make a split decision which in my mind was kill or be killed.
I kicked this dog as hard as my tiny frame could manage, in the face, it yelped and rolled off Anakin but turned on me.
This dog was probably 35 odd kilograms and I was only 5 more at 40 kilograms, it lunged for me and I for it, I punched it right in the jaw and to my surprise it backed off. A stroke of luck that I wasn’t expecting but I took the chance to grab my now quite large puppy and run. Don’t forget I was only 40 kilograms and he would of been close to 15 kilo by now.
As scary as that was there was a lesson to be learned, he would now think twice before approaching other dogs, which made trips to the dog park a little bit easier as no one likes a big white popular bear looking puppy bouncing towards them and their Chihuahua. He only wanted to play, he always did, he loved other dogs as much as he loved other people and children. Someone in my neighborhood had given him the nickname ‘Smiley’ because even for a dog he looked so happy all the time.
Our adventures continued, every single hot summer afternoon that year we would head out for a walk, when the day got cool enough to almost deter him from laying down in every muddy puddle he came across. A white dog could completely become a brown one and require washing every night. Labradoodles love water I am sure anyone who has ever owned one knows this.
I had come such a long way, funny how one tiny thing in our lives can just give us enough hope to see the light at the end of a very dark tunnel. The rest is easy from there, you’re motivated, positive and it shows, people around me noticed and I really felt like myself again.
I guess for you to understand the way it ended for Anakin and I, I have to go onto a bit of a sadder topic. I made a terrible mistake, a mistake that to this very day sings regret to me each time the day hits 4pm, the time Anakin and I would often take off for our walk, we had done this routinely for almost a year a half, my clouded sad brain needed routine.
I met a man, this man wasn’t from Australia so at first it was only an Internet interaction. He was overseas so due to a time zone difference the time I would talk to him using video chat had interrupted my routine with Anakin. I moved our walks to earlier in the day but we still went on them, even during rainy days we spent all the time that I was home together.
For the sake of anonymity I am going to call this guy Beau. I was still pretty fragile, I was living with a friend who kept to himself but was there if I needed him, sometimes I needed someone. I was pretty much a loner, I worked during the nights so I spent my days at home and preferred the company of animals. Beau knew this about me, he didn’t seem to mind and that is what I liked about him, he didn’t seem to judge me and when I had to explain a bit about my previous abuse he seemed to understand. We spoke every night and soon it became a new routine for me, I was happy, I had bonded with another human being and looked forward to speaking to him everyday.
After a few months Beau managed to convince me to fly out and see him in America, I had never traveled before and I didn’t even have a passport and he wanted me to fly out April and it was already the end of May. I wanted to see him, but I was also anxious to do something like that alone, and to meet someone I had never met before. He wanted me to trust him and was very consistent which I liked, it was like his every move was carefully calculated.
Eventually I said yes, I got my passport express and booked my flights, besides I kind of always wanted to go to Los Angeles.
Skipping ahead a little, my tip to Los Angeles went as planned, maybe even better than I thought, I was smitten by Beau and he seemed to feel the same. He was who he said he was and was patient with me being so nervous towards men and the whole wide world but I was happy to return to Anakin. I went back to my own life and was happy I had done something out of my comfort zone.
I missed Beau a lot and I also liked him a lot but he had his ambitions and I had been considering going down a different path, a path that didn’t lead me to Los Angeles. I was thinking of having a baby, on my own, I was very independent and content on my own for the most part and after my last relationship I didn’t really want to get into another but I grieved for the baby I had lost, even though I had Anakin he would still be part of my little family.
I was torn, I liked Beau so much but he was on the other side of the planet and there wasn’t much I thought I could do about it until the conversation of me moving over there came up. At first I knew it wasn’t going to happen, the process seemed tedious, expensive and what about my dog? In all honesty, and this is why I wanted to keep his real name out of it, I was the only one of us who seemed to have money. He was working towards a career and got paid for various things occasionally but it wasn’t a constant income and I worried about the risks of me leaving my job to move and how would I afford to take Anakin with me.
I had spoken to the friend I lived with about it all, and this friend of mine was very well off, he was a coal miner and had two houses of his own and said if Beau makes me happy and he isn’t anything like my previous relationship then go for it and he would loan me some money with no pay back date set until I got on my feet. I was still very hesitant, it was such a big move and what about Anakin?
Beau came out to see me November in the same year I had seen him in April, well I have to be honest once again, I paid for his ticket to come and see me. He asked me to fly back and spend Christmas with him which of course I wanted to so I booked my flights, I mean why not? Only as time went by, a few things had happened, things I wasn’t sure of and he didn’t really like the idea of me having a child that wasn’t his but he wasn’t ready to have one.
Why the rush for a baby you might wonder? Well when I had the miscarriage I had gotten a bad infection in my uterus, I didn’t get the right treatment straight away due to certain circumstances. Even though I had a D&C (dilation and curettage) I still got the infection. I was practically living off antibiotics, each time I thought I was better and finished my prescription the infection would return with vengeance. It had spread to my bladder once and I was peeing blood until I got to the ER. A doctor finally told me I cannot live off antibiotics forever as after a while they stop working when your body gets used to them. They had told me that in the next few years I am going to most likely need a hysterectomy. I would go through good spells where I did not have the infection but then out of the blue it would pop back up, it was becoming more frequent and more aggressive but I held onto the hope to have a child and they said if I consider doing that soon I may be able to go through a pregnancy okay and then have the hysterectomy after that as two pregnancies would be really pushing my limits.
I wanted to be with Beau, I really did love him but always nagging in my mind was the urge to have my own baby, I was torn between the two.
Beau insisted he wasn’t ready for a child even if it wasn’t his, which I absolutely understood and emphasized the fact that I was suffering mentally and psychically and this was also my life as well. He asked me if I could wait, and I should have said no, but like my mother tells me, there is no use in using the words should have.
Anakin and the comforting thought that I was a strong woman and would be happy to be a single mother gave me strength and hope, for some reason, one I don’t understand I started to feel sadness once more. Maybe it was the pressure, because after I told Beau about the money loan and that it might be possible for us to be together if I went to America he asked me to marry him, crazy right?
He even got me a ring, no one had ever loved me before, well at least not another man. I never had a real father and my step father wasn’t the best. I never thought I was good enough to marry, domestic and sexual violence ruled my brain when it came to men, it’s the only type of relationship I had ever had with another man, I was 25, naive, and completely stupid.
I said yes to marrying him, he wasn’t violent, he had patiently sat with me through my anxious times and when he was in Australia he became part of my small family. We could take Anakin with us and be happy, maybe I just don’t have a baby, heaps of people don’t, people choose animals over children all the time. My mum’s friend was one of those people and she is very happy. The move would be expensive, and I had come to learn on my first visit to America that medical wasn’t cheap, I had gotten sick when I flew out there, 15 hours on a plane, my body said nope and gave into infection. Australia has a fantastic health system and if I need the hysterectomy procedure I probably would pay next to nothing if not nothing. Research told me that to get the same procedure in America even if there was an emergency and I was not yet a citizen then we were looking at thousands, thousands I knew Beau and I wouldn’t have so I knew I would need to get the surgery before I left.
Once again, this thought bought me down, I began to stress about money, I needed another job, Beau did a little bit of Uber driving on the side but I was told it was barely and income and he had his own bills to pay anyway. This was when I made the biggest mistake, the sort of thing you wish you had a time machine for to go back. I couldn’t find work in NSW even though I tried and tried, eventually I turned to family in Tasmania who owned tourism businesses and always told me if I wanted a summer job I could get one down there.
So I packed up some stuff to head there for the summer, to earn extra money, to take Anakin to America and have enough left over just in case. I could not take him with me to Tasmania, but I told myself it’s only a few months, you’ll be back for him.
We spent our last day together, walking through the bush for hours, it was the last time I would see him in a few months and I wanted to cherish every moment. The morning I gathered my things to get the train into Sydney to catch my flight, the sky outside was still black. Anakin tried to push his way through the door as well, as usual and like I always did I had to shove him back and tell him to sit otherwise he would have ran across the road to visit my neighbors dogs.
The last words I spoke were I’ll come back for you, and that was the last time I ever saw him, the last time I ever saw my best friend.
I was grateful to be working in a higher paying job that would actually pay me on time, and at first the only thought that got me through was my return home. The town I had gone to was small and very isolated, I worked in a coffee shop which I did enjoy, though it is hard work to stand for hours on end on a concrete floor. It was surprisingly busy, which was exhausting in a little hot cafe, but the busier it was the faster the days went.
I made a friend and we often went for bike rides or bush walks which was a nice distraction as I desperately tried not to think of my past. I had kept myself so busy over the last few years and I realized I didn’t ever reflect on my past, I didn’t grieve for the baby I had lost properly, I just pushed it to the back of my mind in a desperate attempt to forget about it. Pain and loss does strange things to us and any way we find to cope, we do it.
Try and as I may, I couldn’t stop it, I couldn’t stop the flashbacks, the thoughts, I could no longer overwrite these terrible memories in my head.
I felt as though I was having to suffer but also the only one who had an income out of Beau and I, he seemed to be having a great time. I was happy for him, but happiness and enjoyment that someone else experiences only stretches so far. I could see his ambitions, his dreams, but I could also see that I needed help, if he wanted me to go to America, then I needed help to achieve it, he wanted to marry me and I didn’t feel as though we were working together equally.
This was confirmed when I received my second pay, I had worked every day and it was a big pay. This gave me hope, this would go straight into my fund for Anakin, or so I hoped. To add to everything, I found out I was pregnant, I found out too late though I was already going through a miscarriage. It seemed like a late period to me, which sometimes I got but it got worse and worse and was quite painful. I knew what was happening and had to tell Beau, I wasn’t attached to this baby as it was very early days but it stirred something inside of me, something that was planted deep down.
It may have been a desperate attempt to distract myself from sinking, but we went full steam ahead with organizing the wedding, Beau was my home now and to be together was my hope and my goal. I went into full on tunnel vision and shut my emotions off, all I had to do was focus on this goal.
Beau came to me one morning, after we had organized the wedding, he told me he couldn’t get the money for the flights, he looked devastated. This is where I made my second big mistake, yet again, I paid for the flights, they aren’t cheap and it was almost all my last pay I was saving for Anakin. Beau refused to have me pay at first, but I insisted it was okay, I would get paid again, so with my card details he booked the flights. I was glad he was coming, I missed him, but deep down I was also hoping he would refuse and find his own way because I was starting to lose hope, and starting to really question the money situation, money have never been something I really thought of before because I always worked hard and shared costs equally with others in my life.
I had been working in this small town for about six weeks now, Anakin always on my mind, I was very homesick and my mind had been clouded by depression once more that I couldn’t stop, I was slipping.
Beau knew it, he knew how unhappy I was becoming, I do not blame him, I should have walked away because I blame myself but he proposed to me that we do go ahead and have a child. He wanted me to happy, we had spoken about money and how in Australia for me to have the baby would cost next to nothing and in America we were looking at between $10000-$17000. This was a new hope for me once more, I found my motivation yet again and used it to push onward. However, what I failed to understand is my mind wasn’t my own anymore, I needed help, professional help because on surface I was fueled by the desire to gain back my happiness I had lost but deep down I was losing my battle with depression.
Everything turned upside down one day, the day I was informed that Anakin wasn’t happy. He would bark constantly, missing me, searching my room for me, pacing. The friend worked a lot and didn’t have time to give him much attention. The neighbors were irritated at his consistent barking and guilt was eating me alive. My bank account didn’t seem to be growing and business had slowed down in the cafe, I was getting less and less hours of work. I knew that I could no longer handle this on my own, I had enough money to start a family that I saved from when I first decided I could do that, Beau or no Beau. Taking a 45 kilogram very large dog overseas, required a ridiculous amount of money when you take into consideration the vet exam, the quarantine period, the actual flight itself, the cost was becoming more and more out of my reach, I couldn’t do this alone, but I was.
I was stupid, I should of read the warning signs, I loved Beau but he was draining me, financially, I was constantly stressed about money while he was enjoying a freeloader life style with relatives. He would remind me he had bills to pay as well, and the visa to handle, so I pushed it to the back of my mind and carried on.
The guilt of Anakin got to me, he wasn’t happy and I knew that feeling all too well, my friend he was staying with suggested we find a new home, he had friends that could take Anakin, they loved dogs and he would have playmates, a pool, the beach.
It was the hardest decision I have had to make but I asked them if he could become part of their family. I was desperate, I was depressed and I was absolutely not thinking clearly.
I should have told Beau I no longer wanted to marry him, I should have walked away, I should have gotten out of that small isolated town and gone home, but there is no use saying should have. I didn’t want to hurt Beau, I loved him as well, I had given up so much to work towards this goal. Beau would tell me it was the best choice, I couldn’t go home because my abusive ex-partner was still on the loose, Los Angeles is the best place for us, for our family, he would often remind me. He was right, he was definitely right, he was never wrong!
He grew impatient with me missing Anakin, he was just a dog. He grew tired of me being upset about a baby I had lost two years ago because he was going to “replace” it. I know he wanted me to be happy, but I now understand that this was not the road to happiness. I grew suicidal, I couldn’t stop the flashbacks, I was reliving trauma and abuse in my me mind at random. I had night terrors and would wake up crying or screaming, which caused my grandmother who I was living with to grow concerned. I was no longer allowed to hang out with my friend from work because Beau didn’t like him, I felt completely alone.
Beau failed to understand my misery, sometimes people just cannot put themselves in someone else’s shoes, I was with him now, I shouldn’t be having flashbacks, I shouldn’t be depressed. That was his thought process, so he started to diagnose me with various mental illnesses. This really scared me, I started to question myself, my judgments, what if I was crazy? I missed a baby I had lost, but it was mixed and twisted with confusion as to why, when I thought of the baby my mind pictured Anakin.
I felt like I couldn’t talk to Beau anymore about my private thoughts, I was worried about stressing him, but also worried that each time he got me to open up things would get worse, information that I wanted to stay private would be bought up over and over, and then analyzed. I felt like I was displayed like an open book and I began to feel shame, shame about my past, shame in myself, I started telling Beau things that weren’t true just to avoid an argument. I started to see my friend I worked with at night-time after Beau had gone to sleep, I was lonely and this friend and I would just talk, it helped me a lot but at the same time I knew what I was doing was wrong, it was going against what Beau wanted, I felt disgusted at myself.
It was all going to be okay, Beau would be here very soon. I needed him, he was all I had left and he would make everything better, he promised. The day he was supposed to get on the plane to come here he told me he didn’t think he would make a good husband, he was a failure and at almost the age of 30 he hadn’t accomplished what he thought he would have by now. It was heart breaking to hear, I cared for him so much, I knew there was issues regarding money but he wasn’t a failure. I have always seen the good in all beings, I search for it within everything and it always conquers the bad for me. He was very upset, I had never seen him really cry before so I pulled myself together to calm him down. I was shocked he did this at the last-minute though, so I continued to calm him and then left the choice up to him, whether he gets on the plane to see me or not he isn’t a failure.
He got on the plane, and when we finally saw each other face to face again, everything melted away that night. I felt safe, mostly from myself, I couldn’t trust myself anymore because my desire to self harm became an everyday thought.
He came all the way back to marry me, he loved me, right?
Months on and we did decide to part ways, it’s a strange feeling because I feel relief and financial freedom for maybe the first time in 6 years. I am not complaining about having to work as I do like working but I never had money on my own in all my young adult life. I never did holidays, or even bought a car because I could never afford it with bills to pay, and always for some reason the only one in either of my relationships that actually worked and had a stable source of income.
Whatever happens in your life, we all make mistakes, we all have to learn and if all this had not of happened to me I would not of learned that even though working and supporting yourself is a part of adult life, I am not put on the earth for the sole purpose of providing for those who are capable but unwillingly to match me equally.
If you love someone work towards a better future with them, and never take from them without giving back just as much.
I have made many mistakes but I can admit to them and I have learned a valuable lesson, if you’re handing over thousands, even if it is willingly then you should just walk away because if someone isn’t willing to work with you as an equal you’re going to end up exhausted no matter how much you love them.
It’s been 7 months since I last saw Anakin, I returned home to NSW but chose not to visit him in fear of hurting him over again by thinking I had come to take him home. I only returned because I was so homesick and I needed to see that, that wasn’t home anymore, and it wasn’t. I have thought about getting Anakin back but he is happy, he has a family and other canine friends, they aren’t strangers so I know he has a great life. Probably a better life than I could ever give him, of course I tell myself that in an attempt to let go. I am still angry, and it might take a while yet for me not to be, I am angry at myself for letting someone take such a hold over me, someone who never really cared.
Animals are such a blessing to us, they heal us with their love, my dog is my savior. Our short time together showed me all I will ever need for years to come about love, loyalty and respect. I have chosen to go into single motherhood alone with the support of my family but I will never forget Anakin and he will always have a part of me.