Illustration for article titled Change

The phases of coping with every tragedy seem to remain the same for me. Cry, wallow, reevaluate my other relationships, try to gain normalcy among the ruins, symbolically change something, work out like a madwoman, do more reevaluating, and finally moving on.

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I am currently at the point of change. After prior breakups, it was typical to symbolize this change through my hair. If my last mate liked long hair, I'd chop it off, if he liked short hair, I'd grow it out or dye it. I get my hair cut every six months at most, but I place great value in it and how it reflects my current outlook on life. Right now, pulled tight into a bun with my first streaks of silver peeking through, I have no desire to change it.

My therapist is rather insistent that I shake up my routine with something, worried I'd be stuck in this rut for so long I'd never dig my way out. He also knows I'm rather stubborn, and his suggestion that I try going back to exercising will just be met with resistance because it wasn't my idea. So he's left it up to me to find the thing in my life that alteration will ultimately benefit in some kind of growth.

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The last couple of weeks, feeling so alone, the only thing to keep me from feeling completely miserable has been my dog. He forces me to leave the house and be cordial with neighbors. His little button nose nudges at me to get up and pay attention to him, and if that doesn't work, dropping a toy on me from the back of the couch will.

He's unintentionally made me feel guilty for being so sad, so much that the first few days after my breakup I contemplated giving him up, because I truly did not feel capable of handling my emotions and taking care of another being all at once. But he loves me anyway, he doesn't seem to mind that I'm a mess. I felt awful for leaving him alone during the day, so much so that I considered getting another pet just so he has a companion. But now is not the time for either of us. I have a lot of demons to battle and he just needs a little more of me. He's starting to get it, in the form of three trips to the dog park and one walk a day. And what a happy dog it makes.

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So this time, I feel like the symbolic change needs to take place with something outside of myself. I've put in my application and paid the fee to become a volunteer at the local Humane Society. It's a year long commitment, one I intend to stick to. Not only will I make the effort to help some animals find homes, but it's also in hopes that someone else can find a little glimmer of hope in their lives through the love of a little creature.

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