Pets can be incredible companions in recovery. Recovering from an eating disorder can be incredibly hard. If you are lucky enough to share the journey with a pet, you will reap some benefits.
Five Reasons Your Pet is Helpful in Recovery
1. Pets don’t talk
Your pet can listen to you in recovery. Regardless of your personality, place on the extroversion or introversion spectrum, or if you are between a brick wall of protection or a waterfall of self-expression, sometimes it’s nice to just not talk. A pet is a precious creature who does not have the ability to talk back or to harm you with words. If you want to spill your guts or every true, without judgement- your pet will listen. Or if you want to sit in silence and weep, sleep, or watch T.V., your pet is your silent partner in crime. Sometimes it’s nice to just look at an adorable little creature who is there for you, always.
2. Unconditional love
Your pet does not judge you, and if they do, there is no way you will know. Your rights and your wrongs, your flaws, your internal beauty, your external beauty, your weight, your income, your relationship status, your employment record, and your place of residence absolutely do not matter to your pet. You are their owner. You are their person. This is all that matters to them. In recovery it is helpful to have unconditional love from your pet. You are their entire world and you are always there for them and they will always be here for you through whatever emotion. No matter what, your pet will always love you. If you doubt the love others have for you, you should never doubt the love of your pet. You mean the world to them, and they need you and love you for it.
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3. Something to come home to
Everyday, I come home from my classes, and hear my cat meowing as I struggle with my keys to open my door. I get so excited knowing I’m not coming home to an empty room. Instead, my cat has been in my home all day, chasing toys, sleeping, or eating. Most importantly, my pet has been waiting for me to come home. Just as I have been waiting to reunite with him. Sometimes, the prospect of coming home to an empty place only to do more work, make dinner, and sleep can be an incredibly sad and daunting thought. But if you have a pet at home, you can expect that that little creature is looking forward to your coming home too!
4. A pet is something to care for in recovery
After harming your body for so long, finding the motivation to take care of yourself can be very difficult. Having the ability to care of another living thing by making sure it receives its basic needs can be a very grounding experience. When you’re having a hard day or a hard week, the knowledge that there is something depending on you can be a motivator to get up out of bed. Even through your most difficult struggles.
Just the simple act of feeding your pet in the morning can give you enough strength to learn to take care of yourself, just as you take care of your companion.
5. Self-care buddy
Self-care can be as small as throwing a toy around to taking a walk with your dog. Pets need self-care too! Playing with your pet can be a great way for your animal to get some energy after a long day of rest, and it can be a wonderful break for you to decompress and treat yourself to some much-needed time with your fellow recovery companion!
Recovery is not easy. It is a road paved with peaks, pits, smooth, and rocky terrain. It helps to know that you can have something by your side to love and take care of and to love and take care of you too through your journey. Your pet can be just the companion you need in recovery.
Photo Credit: © 2016 Rachel Onefater