Coping

Need a Thumb and Blankie?

dogs

Tribble and Garnet are inseparable; they always have each other’s back. That doesn’t mean a little blanket isn’t needed.

Linus has the right idea. When things are tough, we all want a soft blanket and a thumb. When I was a child, I didn’t have a blanket to carry. I had some small cloth dolls that fell apart in a few years. I had a revolving door of stuffed animals, but I wasn’t allowed to carry one with me all the time. Yet I was scared and anxious all the time, so I found solace in what could not be taken from me: my thumb. I eventually got over that with a lot of coercion and discipline. As adults, though, we don’t have that type of crutch. So when we have a bad day, we may go for a cup of tea, glass of wine, sitcom,  novel, or video game. So as an adult, what do I do? A few of us in my immediate family make a phone call.

orange and white cat

Russell Sprout looks like he needs his blanket today.

When I receive a call and hear a voice say, “I just needed to hear your voice.” I know that it’s a thumb and blankie day for one of my loved ones. Or they may say, “I just need to hear the voice of someone who’s sane.”  They really mean they needed the comfort of hearing someone who loves them. No matter how much someone else was mean, inconsiderate, belittling, or intimidating, they need to know that it doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with them. The bad day is just that – a bad DAY – not that they are as wretched as they feel. They know they are okay because they hear me saying I love them, because I answered their call, and because I am listening.

dog with toy

Nutty almost always has a stuffed chipmunk doll in his mouth or at his feet. It is definitely his version of a blankie.

I’m grateful for these lifeline calls because for many years I had no one I could call. It made me stronger, but it was lonely and miserable. So when I can be on the other end of the line for another, my heart warms, knowing that they have been/will be on the other end of the line for me, too. I know that together, we understand that the harsh situation is just temporary. It will be okay because we have someone irrevocably on our side. We talk each other through bad bosses, migraines, anxiety attacks, and tears. Our calls don’t have to be long, they just have to remind us of our authentic connection.

dog with toys

Tribble always seems to have a toy with her. Is she anxious or just fun-loving?

My daughter and I talked about this today, and she asked me what happens when her dad and I both have one of those days at the same time. Has it happened? Not recently, thank goodness. I tried to remember. We hold hands, I told her. We hug each other. Somehow that physical intimacy conveys a wealth of “I have your back” and “it will be okay; we’ll do it together.” We may even cry together, but crying together is never as bad as crying alone.

schnauzer mix

Garnet is a bit anxious at times. This blanket is her refuge (when Russell doesn’t have it).

Someone in my family had a stressful day today, and I got to be that person’s thumb and blankie. It looked like a squeeze of the hand, a kiss on the cheek, or a warm hand on a knee, but we both knew what it really was. I’m happy to serve.

shaggy dogWhat is your go-to comfort object or activity? Do you have someone who is your thumb and blankie?

fluffy dog

Sometimes only a blanket and a nap makes the world feel right.

5 replies »

  1. Having a soft place to land is important. I appreciate this post and I appreciate all the people in my life who give me that soft place.
    Your animals are so adorable. My son and daughter in law have 2 bichons. One of them has a box full of “babies.” He takes a baby everywhere he goes and I have no doubt that those babies are his soft place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As our dogs comfort us so much, it’s easy to forget how much comfort they may need. They may have separation anxiety or they may be sad when we are away from the house. They could be stressed by other animals I. The household…the list goes on. After writing this post, I’m looking a little differently at the dogs who always have a toy with them, wondering how much of it is self-comfort and how much of it is play. Thank you for commenting!

      Like

    • Yes. My pets are often the ones there for me. They are much harder to reach by telephone when I’m away from the house, though. But when I’m home, they are always there for me!

      Like

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