Hearty Words from a Mother

A Beneficiary Mom’s Sharing

To participate in the CEO HI Partner activity was the wish of my two children. After seeing the activity poster one day, they enrolled; and pleaded with me to join the event. At that time, we had just left the Refuge Centre for two months. After experiencing the trauma brought about by domestic violence at our home and going through the recovery period, my kids and I were at different levels of depression and anxiety.

My children always want to have pets – unfortunately, we cannot do so due to our housing conditions and economic reasons.

I understand it is not wrong for my children to want to have pets, and I also read articles saying that pets are therapeutical in trauma treatment. Sadly, I could not satisfy them on this matter, and I had many arguments with my children about that, and it was harsh on both sides.

I was never fond of animals. Caring for PTSD children has been very tiring to my soul and heart, and I cannot imagine handling a pet. Moreover, I am terrified of dogs because a neighour’s dog once chased and bit me a long time ago. Therefore, I was afraid of dogs.

I went to the CEO event with my children, anyway. Initially, I planned to accompany them there, leave quietly, and fetch them afterward. But when I listened to the introduction about their dogs, it captured my attention and my heart. Their dogs were stray dogs, some wandered on the streets until rescued, and CEO leaders adopted them. Now they are well cared for and loved. They become CEO Social Work Canines (SWC) Interns, and CEO trains them to comfort hurting people and at-risk children and teens. After sharing the story, they allowed the SWC Intern, Belle, to interact with the participants. To my surprise, Belle came to me first! She trusted me enough to lean against me and stayed by my side! I patted her head while a heartwarming bond between us began to build.

In the abyss of trauma, I found myself dumbfounded, trying to explain to people what had happened to me. The uneasiness made me aloof from many of my friends. Even when some people showed concern and wished to help in my situation, their expectations of the results made me and my children feel more stressed. The past abuse seriously affected my level of confidence and pride, and I deemed myself to be in the wrong; therefore, others would not befriend me. All these make me feel drained. By leaving the care and protection of the Social Worker at the Refuge Shelter, I developed fear and would avoid building relationships with others.

Deep inside my heart, I felt unwelcome everywhere I go. Perhaps I connected with Belle because she was once abandoned and hurt like me.  That day she was the first to come toward me and make me feel welcome. At that moment, I found myself healed from within. Dogs do not care about my appearance or status or how messed up my life has been. They do not mind if I can or cannot speak Cantonese or English. When I interacted with Belle then, I instantly felt relaxed and renewed. I began to like animals!  My son sat far from me that day. He stared at me emotionally (probably toward the dog). I responded to him passionately later that I would agree to keep a dog at our home if circumstances allowed.

8 April, 2022