I am a people pleaser. Always have been, probably always will be to at least some extent. Other people’s feelings are simply more important than my own needs, and I will go out of my way to avoid doing what I think might hurt someone else’s feelings (even if it’s unlikely to actually hurt their feelings).
I also have a warped sense of what will hurt someone else’s feelings, but that’s for another time, and probably a lot of alcohol.
Regardless, I put other people’s feelings above my own needs. And I do that now, even when my needs are great.
I use a cane to get around. I’m fine getting around home, but if I’m walking around places like university, or the mall, I need a cane. It hurts to take little itty bitty steps. My happy walking is huge swinging steps where I can really stretch out my hips and swing them. I still need a cane for that, because to do it best I need to keep my hips nice and loose, which negatively affects my balance, but I can do it for a lot longer and it’s a lot less painful.
But yeah, I need a cane to get around. I have to be careful how I get up off chairs, sofas, and the like, because I have balance problems. I often have to catch myself with my cane to make sure I don’t fall over. It relieves a lot of pressure on my hips.
I’m looking into getting an Assistance Dog. Well, a dog that I can train up to help me with my mobility issues and in the future become certified as an assistance dog when a spot becomes available to do so. Except for one, big, problem.
My amazing human dislikes dogs. He does not want me to get another dog. He gets the pinchy face and says he could not cope with another dog.
Now under normal circumstances that’s understandable. But these aren’t normal circumstances. This is a dog that will help me with the mobility and balance issues I have now, and will help me with any fluctuations of my mobility and balance issues (i.e. what I consider to be my inevitable decline). This is not a pet dog. This is a working dog. A service dog. A dog that provides a measurable benefit to my wellbeing.
I had to say, very explicitly, that it hurt that he could not see past his own feelings to support me in something that will benefit my life and wellbeing, both now and in the future.
Now some people (like my mother) will see that as a very selfish thing, and yes, it is. Because it’s more than just his feelings – I will also be imposing on his time, he will need to develop a solid working relationship with the dog, he will need one on one training to change his current habits, and he will need to continue to work with the dog. I’ve suggested agility as suitable work for them both, as it involves issuing commands and having them followed while requiring no contact between the two.
Except that it’s a small imposition to him for a huge benefit to me. I am disabled. I will likely always be disabled. I will likely get worse.
No one is going to stay around with me and help me get up from the sofa, or stay home and cuddle me on the couch when I’m having a flare up day. No one is going to follow me around uni making sure I don’t fall over, or help me up the stairs. No one is going to be there when I need help getting out of a chair, or getting up from the ground.
I have to fight to do these things. I have to fight my own body, I have to fight gravity (damn you and your apples!), awkward chairs and even more awkward canes.
But a dog can alleviate some of that. A dog may be able to alleviate enough of that that I have more energy to spend on other things. There comes a point where feelings are overruled by benefit to self.
This is that point.
He’s allowed to dislike dogs. He can continue to dislike dogs. I am still getting an assistance dog, and he can either work through his feelings about dogs to be fully onboard and work with me and the dog, or he can go.
Because at the end of the day, my disability is more important than his feelings, and if he cannot work past his own feelings to support something that will improve my disability, then he is not right for me.