I figured it'd be fun to let the public choose my next blog post. The public has spoken and it chose a story about my dog. Specifically, how she saved my life. Normally, a community-chosen post would be for Patrons-only but, since I asked for public involvement, you all get to see it!
First of all, Le Pup's real name is Shangela L. Jenkins. How she got her name will have to wait for another post. It's not what the public asked for. Second, it's not that Shangela saved my life from a fire or detected sugar levels or something like that. But she did save me.
Shangela saved me from myself.
I'll say it all started around middle school. I'd just had my last surgery a year earlier and was adjusting to new prosthetic legs (which never really happened), a new school, puberty. I just had a lot going on. I've been an amputee all my life. So being a disabled girl is all I knew at that point. But the way in which I navigated the world? Well, somehow my disability didn't really get in the way, so I thought. I was surrounded by ableism. I just didn't notice.
Fast forward to 1994 when my new legs began to limit me more than they gave me independence. What began then was something that repeated itself over and over again through young adulthood. I had no social life. Getting around outside of the house was a chore and very painful at times. I didn't have the typical coming of age story.
So many things were happening at once and I fell into a deep depression with no one to speak to. No one to hear me. No one to help me. I internalized everything. I resented everything and everyone. I hated myself. Hated being disabled.
Then it happened. I began thinking of ways to kill myself. I didn't think my life was worth living. Who could love me and why? Who would hire me? Who'd really want to be friends with me? Why did I survive my childhood illness? Why am I still alive? These thoughts got worse over time. I even went as far as mixing a "cocktail" of household chemicals in our tub once. I figured, I'd just smell it to death.
And then I just cleaned the tub because deep down, I didn't want to die. Deep down, I knew there was a reason for my being, and it wasn't to be someone's inspiration.
Long Beach, California. I'd moved to Cali to escape my demons I guess. To start over. Meet new types of people and make new friends. It was slow to start. One of those new friends showed up to my home one day with a surprise for me.
She showed up with 8-week old Shangela (btw, she didn't even have a name when she adopted me). I guess Shangela knew right away that we were each other's companion. She immediately followed me around, even though my friend is the one she'd known longer. I was not complaining.
Because in that moment, Shangela saved me.
When that friend and I had a falling out. Shangela was there. When I had my first Cali heartbreak, Shangela was there. When I felt alone, abandoned. Shangela was there. When I pulled out my X-acto blade to add more scars with tears pouring down my face. Shangela was there, licking the tears off. Hugging me with her eyes. Through my many panic/anxiety attacks. Through my spirals. Shangela was there.
And yeah, she's a dog. I get that. She can't speak. She can't give advice. But she was there. In my face. Reminding me that I needed to be here - even if just for her. She was there with all the unconditional love that comes with being Le Pup.
So really, she's not a dog. A pet. She's my emotional support. Because sometimes, you just need a silent shoulder to cry on and...well she's that. She's that because she saved my life.
Shangela saved me from me.