I’ve had dogs my entire life, but Meeka was the first one I could call my own. Meeka is a rescue who was beaten as a puppy then neglected for the majority of her life. I adopted her when she was 5. She was terrified of people. I spent an hour and a half at her foster home, and the only time she would come near me was to quickly grab a treat before running away.
Still, my gut told me she was the companion for me. I took her home and she was so nervous she wouldn’t eat, drink, or come near anyone. I wanted so badly to hug her and let her know I was there to love her, not to hurt her. But I knew I needed to give her space and allow her to trust me on her own terms.
Over the days I showed Meeka I was going to be there for her and love her no matter what, and we quickly developed an undeniable bond. She became my best friend, and I hers. Today, she is a completely different dog from when I adopted her.
The lesson behind this story is that it will take time to learn to love yourself. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to let yourself down. It’s not going to happen overnight. But once you learn to not only accept, but appreciate who you are, your entire life will change.
Meeka loves me unconditionally. It doesn’t matter if I left her home for 8 hours, or if I wasn’t able to take her to the park that day. When I walk through that door she is crying with excitement and jumping all over me, smothering me with kisses. She tries to sit, but her tail is wagging so fast her butt can’t stay on the floor.
She doesn’t care about my flaws, or what I look like. She doesn’t care if I finished my to-do list that day. She doesn’t care if I’m a hot-shot lawyer with a million bucks, or a student barely scraping by. She cares that I’ve got her back and that I do my best for her each and every day.
That’s all we can ask of ourselves; to strive to be better than we were the day before. To show up for ourselves and listen to our bodies. To not be too hard on ourselves. To do our best to live a healthy lifestyle, but not punish ourselves if we slip.
Because it will happen. You will do things you wish you hadn’t. You are only human. When it does, learn to forgive yourself. You can’t change the past, but you can pursue a better future. And a better future starts with appreciating being unapologetically you.
So please, love yourself like your dog loves you.
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