Our shelter dogs rescued us

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In celebration of National Dog Day we wanted to share a short bit about our pride and joys with you. Nope, they’re not Snots from the movie Christmas Vacation, but they’re not too far off.

Although Cubbie (white) and Finley (brown) were adopted, we like to think that they rescued us, not the other way around. They picked us out of the litter of possible owners because they’re as unique as our family – they are both amputees. Cubbie was born with a birth defect to his left front paws. Finley had one of his rear legs amputated when he was 8 years old after his original owner let a severely broken bone get too infected. Given John’s leg amputation, we knew they fit perfectly into the Mabry family circus. We couldn’t imagine our family without them.

The thing about many rescue dogs like these is that they are so appreciative of being welcomed into a loving home. Ok, maybe they don’t relish the fact that baby Sawyer pulls at their fur or takes mom and dad’s attention away from them, but at least she’s good at dropping expensive, organic food on the floor from her high chair that she doesn’t want to eat.

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I consider Cubbie and Finley my therapy buddies. I can’t tell you how many times they have been there for me, to support me emotionally, when I was sad, worried or depressed. They are more effective than any antidepressant I could ever take. So go out and let a dog rescue you today!

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Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone I have problems! It could ruin my reputation

Hey everyone. It’s John. Thanks so much for coming along with Sarah and I on our journey. Up to this point of Mabry Living’s blog, Sarah has done much of the writing from her perspective. But I’m going to start doing more of my own writing and journaling here, too. So see if you can draw something from this one about my fear of protecting my reputation.

As you may know from the video speech I posted recently (which I’ll post at the end of this blog), I openly admit to having deep-seeded issues that can be traced back to my childhood, along with multiple traumas later in life. I have been through more kinds of treatments and therapies than I care to admit. For example, have you ever heard of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)? Yeah, I’ve done that kind of therapy. Ever heard of Brainspotting? Yep, another one I dabble in regularly. But getting to the place where I was willing to go get help and risk my reputation was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

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I find it comical now to see that everyone around me – my family, friends, employer, even neighbors – knew I needed help even when I was trying my hardest to keep my problems hidden. I was so reluctant to get outside help for so long in fear of what others would think. And then when I finally decided I needed help I wanted everyone in my inner circle to keep it hush-hush. I would say, “No one needs to know I going to treatment. Let’s keep this between us.” What was the big deal? Why did I need to be so discreet about getting help for myself? A lot of it was probably because it showed weakness and meant I didn’t know how to handle life on life’s terms. I’m supposed to man-up and handle everything on my own, right; the whole pull yourself up by your bootstraps thing.

I am so grateful that today I can openly say that I continue to struggle with anxiety and worry about what others think of me, question if I’m ever going to be enough and continue to struggle with chronic pain. I am proud of the fact that I now recognize the value of admitting faults and seeking help. I think it sets you a part from others and shows great tenacity and courage.

If you’re struggling in any area of your life, please, get quality help. If you struggle with an addiction, find a highly recommended addiction specialist near you. If your thing is childhood trauma or paralyzing fear and anxiety stemming from your childhood, seek the professional help of a trauma therapist who does EMDR or Brainspotting, which can help in processing trauma. Maybe you’re just completely overwhelmed with life. If so, go talk with somebody about it. It shows greater strength to ask for help than to ignore the issue in hopes it will go away. Believe me, it won’t. I’ve tried that approach.

It helps when I use the Serenity Prayer often: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Here’s my biggest fear speech I made reference to earlier

People with chronic pain just complain, right?

Have you ever felt like the struggles you’re going through are so unique that no one would understand you, even if you tried to explain them? And even if you could explain them, you don’t want to because it might make you seem weak, like you’re a complainer and not a fighter. I often feel like this with my chronic pain, but it’s not something I talk about much. Since my car accident, it has been difficult not to let my struggle become my identity, as I did for so long.

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When my severed nerve fairs up at night, I get an ingrown hair or a blister forms on my residual limb from my lower leg amputation my first reaction is to ignore and conceal the issue. All that does is cause more problems. So what happens when you actually let people know what’s going on with you? You might be surprised by people’s reactions.

Like many who battle with chronic pain and chronic illnesses, I attempt to minimize it to be seen as “normal.” I don’t want to be perceived as a complainer or lazy so I keep much of my pain to myself. When a particularly painful ingrown hair formed on my amputated limb recently I felt overwhelmed and depressed to the point of not wanting to get out of bed. Instead of keeping it to myself I opened up to Sarah to let her know about it.

Surprisingly, she didn’t roll her eyes in judgement or imply that I was worthless like my mind told me she would. Instead, she exercised compassion and patience and served as a voice of reason. See, I still wanted to ignore the problem and go workout. I mean, how can someone call an amputee who’s working out lazy, right? When the infected ingrown hair was causing me as much pain as it was, working out on it would have been just plain stupid. So not only did Sarah suggest that I not go workout, she encouraged me to take it extra easy that day and to keep my leg off as much as possible so that I didn’t continue to aggravate it. I experienced such mental and emotional relief to be validated and supported for being in pain. The hardest part was admitting to myself and someone else what I was going through at that particular moment.

When you’re dealing with any kind of chronic physical, mental or emotional issue you can’t merely stop fighting. Life is going to happen around you whether you like it or not. What this recent experience reminded me is that sometimes continuing to keep fighting means to surrender and ask for help or to simply let someone know what you’re struggling with. I strive not to let my chronic pain identify me as a victim or a complainer, but many days it’s just too overwhelming. Maybe the good side of it is that it allows me to identify as being a normal human being and, that possibly, I have been sent along this path to help someone else who is hurting. If this is you…KEEP FIGHTING!

Cubbie, the world’s greatest therapy dog who makes the most annoying sound in the world!

Meet Cubbie Mabry in this heart touching video! Cubbie came into the world a disabled pup with a deformed front paw. Then he was relentlessly beaten and neglected by his original owner. Cubbie was plucked up off the streets of San Diego and was 4 hours away from being put to sleep.

We rescued him in 2004 when we saw he had a disabled paw that he could barely use. With me being an amputee, he fit right in with us. Some of his “cute” characteristics are that Cubbie has separation anxiety disorder, he doesn’t understand personal space, cannot be more than 10 feet from Sarah or his separation anxiety kicks in and he breaks out into “the most annoying sound in the world” (you’ll see what we mean at the end of the video).

Of all that this boy has been through he selflessly gives his heart to whoever will accept him. He’s the best “therapy buddy” you’ll ever meet and he is loved to death in the Mabry home!