Having grown up playing the role of "peacekeeper" and "pleaser," it is a new discovery for me that my needs and feelings deserve space even if they conflict with someone else's. Allowing myself this space is a struggle I face everyday in all areas of my life.
Recently, while having dinner with my parents, I shared my excitement that my husband and I will be adopting a puppy early next year. Before getting another word out, my mother interrupted me and stated very firmly, "This is a directive from your mother. Do NOT buy a dog. There are many dogs in need of rescue." Her statement stopped me in my tracks. The first part, "This is a directive from your mother", immediately had my defensive mind rolling, "A directive from you? That's never worked on me," I thought to myself. Though I am a pleaser, I would often hear what she had to say, nodded my head and then do what ever I damn well pleased. The second part, "Do NOT buy a dog. There are many dogs in need of rescue." came as a surprise because I never saw my mother as someone who cared deeply for animals. She allowed us to have cats, but to me she seemed to simply coexist with them, rather than truly embrace them the way we did. Anyway, despite the wisdom in her statement, which I do believe has merit, she did not allow room for me, my opinion, my thoughts, my feelings or my needs. Because of this , my wall instantly went up. In fact for a moment I was compelled to do exactly the opposite of what she demanded. In truth, my husband and I have not yet decided whether we will buy a dog from a reputable breeder or adopt one from a shelter. We will have to carefully review all of our needs, including space, our city lifestyle, my husband's allergies and sensitivity to the fact that this will be our first dog.