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When we are in survival mode and going through difficulties, we often feel lost, confused, dazed, unsure of what we are anymore or where we belong. The very things that went into making us who we are can change. This is true whether it is a divorce, loss of a job, loss of good health, or the loss of people who for years supported us, took care of us, and who played a part in forming our identities. Our self-identity is shaken And doubts creep in about our ability to cope with the difficulties that face us.

Divorce has a way of turning our lives upside down. Structure, routine, the comfort of knowing your kids are safe and living under your roof can change with a court order. The house you spent money and labor on, the memories you made while staying there, and the neighbors who became like family, can be gone in a heartbeat.The person who was to grow old with you and care for you is gone. Your identity as a wife, as a mother, the person who keeps the family together has changed. What can help you survive, may be keeping the house, the yard, your gardens, one of the dogs, and to be able to have equal custody and access to the children when needed. Without this, you become lost and have to begin again.

Belongings help anchor us and orient us in life, especially people with past traumas. Many of the elderly fight tooth and nail to stay in their homes. They don’t want to lose access to the very things that shaped who they are as people. We need the things that are important to us and that are filled with old memories.

We need to connect to animals in order to survive. They give us something to hold on to, to touch, to take care of, and in return they care for us unconditionally. They protect us, nuzzle us, look happy when we show up, and they are there for us. They get us up in the morning, get us on track with the routine, and they get close to us when we cry. They move us out of the house and into the fresh air when we want to curl up and disappear. Animals are important when you are trying to survive. Connections with people are essential and will be covered in the next post, P.2.