I was raised around dogs. When we got Colbie in 2009 I never for a second thought I would one day give her to another family. Yet, she was the only obstacle between us and leaving for an amazing few-year around-the-world adventure, so we decided to leave her.
I could go on and on about how this is a one-time opportunity, how we live only once, how it’s now or never. But despite it being all true, the truth is that we are just selfish: this is also Colbie’s one and only life, we’re her family, and her family is abandoning her. That’s all she knows.
So yes, I deserve your judgement and I judge myself, too. I judge myself for not considering my love for traveling when I decided to get a dog. I judge myself for not realizing that I was getting a dog when what I really wanted was a child. I judge myself for not having loved her the same after my children were born. I judge myself for letting sleep deprivation almost make me send her to Alex’s brother in Finland .
And now I judge myself for deciding to put my life above hers. I judge myself because leaving her to travel the world was a simpler decision than I thought it would be. I judge myself for paying a new family to take care of her—when what I’m really paying for is my own peace of mind.
I judge myself for not being the person I thought I was.
BUT. I also want to be kind to myself (and I’d like you to be, too) because even though the decision was easy, the actual leaving is not.
When I had first moved to Marbella and was going through a hard time, Colbie forced me out of the apartment and into new friendships. We had amazing years with her, she hiked with us, she swam in the sea with us, we celebrated her birthdays with “cakes” and candles, we played with her, she walked thousands of kilometers with us, she lived a month in Barcelona with us, she came with us from Spain to Italy and back in a car. She’s part of our family.
We’ve loved her unconditionally and like crazy, which is why I wanted a family for her that will also love her unconditionally and like crazy. And I was lucky enough to find it: Colbie will stay with the family that has taken care of her in the past few years every time we went traveling. A family that knows her, with all her good and bad, and decided to keep her anyway. A family that will keep in touch with us and that we’ll be able to come see every time we come back. A family that will become part of our family.
This way I don’t have to be one of those people who are stuck in regrets because they couldn’t make that uncomfortable decision; who know their truth, but they’re too afraid to say it out loud; who stay in something because it’s the honorable thing to do, but spend the rest of their life thinking “Damn it, I should have…!”.
So yes, I do judge myself, and no, I don’t like the me who’s leaving Colbie. But when I recently wrote that in 2018 I learnt to be kind to myself, I meant with all versions of myself. Especially with the ones I don’t like and also with the ones I don’t yet know. We should all learn to be kind to ourselves.