Finding Shelter.

Today at work, I found myself doing a bit of research on a guy who started a company that we’re in the process of pitching. The man seems incredibly smart and has amazingly diverse professional experience, and at the end of his particular “About Us” blurb that I was reading on their site, it said he was also into 80s music, tattoos, motorcycles and a few charitable causes, one of which was a specific no-kill animal shelter that he supports.

While I veered off on a digital tangent and started browsing through the shelter’s adoptable pets, vowing to make a beautiful Husky-mix girl named Miska my own, I got to thinking about the idea of a no-kill shelter.

Its purpose? To be a safe haven for rescued animals that probably have some pretty substantial issues, but which are able to be rehabilitated, cared for and adopted by — ideally — a loving person, people or family who can’t wait to be with them.

It’s really no different than what we put ourselves through at times, and what we hold ourselves back from.

Oh, if I had a list of all of my issues, my stumbles, my errors, my sins and each piece of baggage that I think of each day…it would be lengthy. Most of the time, I feel like if anyone knew about even a fraction of that list, their mouths would fall open and they’d probably run the other direction. It’s something I know I should probably try to work through at some point in the very near future, but this week — this month — I’m just not ready to yet.

That aside, I decided I need to find my own personal version of a no-kill shelter. I’m clearly treating myself badly by withholding myself from certain situations because of “the list.” While most of the time I really have no desire to do anything other than a good job at work, relax at home, get to bed on time and write as much as possible, sometimes I imagine myself in more social settings — maybe putting myself out there more, or picturing myself as more of an outgoing person than I am. It exhausts me — one, because it’s not my nature. But more importantly, because I feel the need to treat people as a confessional so that I’m “up front,” “transparent” and so that people know what they’re getting when they think they want to get closer to me than just a casual acquaintance.

In my mind, I’m thinking…really? Who wants to deal with my list? Nobody. So I refrain entirely, choosing instead to keep my circle of trusted friends who already know everything about every year of my life intentionally small, the walls intentionally high and my focus on things that I not only enjoy immensely, but that also — and interestingly — don’t judge.

Writing doesn’t judge.

Driving aimlessly with great music doesn’t judge.

My cat doesn’t judge.

My cake pops, while usually grossly misshapen and falling off the stick, don’t judge.

Reruns of The Golden Girls don’t judge.

If animals are conscious of thinking the same way humans do, I’m sure many of them — before finding a safe harbor at a no-kill shelter — get into a headspace where they think they’re not worth any more than what the hands of their owners subject them to.

I was reading about a German Shepherd rescued and rehabilitated at the shelter. It had been confined in a small cage too small for it to turn around in and shot at; wounds on its head, neck and torso had healed, but the emotional damage had been done.

How sad to imagine such a beautiful creature thinking that’s all they’re worthy of. Their owner, perhaps. But not them.

And we’re really no different.

We may not have visible wounds, but some of the dark and negative things we’ve seen, experienced or dealt with at the hands of friends, strangers — or even those we thought were connected by one degree or another of love — can have devastatingly disastrous implications on our lives.

Just like the animals, we sleep every night and we wake up every morning, but we carry so much of an invisible burden on our shoulders that sometimes it’s all we can do to to open our eyes when we sense sunlight outside, or crack a smile when we think we’re not worthy of happiness.

Tonight I am thankful for the random digital wandering I did at work today, because the actual no-kill shelter and what it can mean for each of us who has anywhere from a pebble-sized issue to a mountain of them was a nice reminder to maybe not be so hard on ourselves…and to remember that it’s not to late to overhaul one’s sense of self and to rehab one’s way of thinking.

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