I still want to call for Frieda each morning when I go to my studio. Sometimes I do, I just say it out loud, C’mon Frieda, I say as I’m walking out the back door. Why not, I figure it doesn’t really make a difference if I do or don’t. At some point I’ll be calling a new puppy to my studio in the morning and that will be great when it happens, but it’s not going to happen for a while. The puppies we’re considering are not even conceived yet. So for now, it’s me and a pretty flowered tin of Frieda’s ashes that I keep on my alter in my studio. And sometimes I say hello to them, or touch the tin on my way out, I’ll admit, I even kissed it once or twice.
But working alone in my studio every day, reminds me of what Frieda did for me, of the journey we took together. And it reminds me that I’m alone now, without her, because we both came out on the other side of that journey. We both learned what we need to learn to live a less fearful and more loving life.
Protection and trust. I remember sitting in the Dog Room at Old Bedlam Farm. Jon and I were just becoming friends, and he invited me over to meet Leslie, an animal communicator. The three of us sat there, tea cups in hand and I told Jon that I was afraid that Frieda might hurt someone, so I kept her away from people. I felt I had to protect her so nothing bad would happen to anyone else or her.
Working his “Attachment Theory” magic he turned it right back on me. He told me that, as a child I didn’t feel safe and was looking for someone to protect me. At that moment, I honestly had no idea what he was talking about. At the time I was still living in my family myth that my childhood was a happy, healthy one, with no issues or problems at all. Intellectually it took me years to understand what he was talking about, but intuitively it struck a chord and I started crying. At the time, I was uncomfortable crying in front of these people I hardly knew, but I couldn’t help it. So I cried.
Now it’s all very clear to me. My first dog was a Doberman mix and Frieda a German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix. I never consciously wanted any kind of guard dog, but somehow I wound up with two. That’s no accident.
So Frieda gave me the protection I needed emotionally. I could put her between me and anyone I didn’t want to be around. She was my excuse. And it worked until I went to live with Jon. Because she didn’t like men anymore than I did. And while Jon was trying to train her to trust him so she could live in the house with us and the rest of the dogs, I was learning to trust Jon too. And when I saw the kind of patience and care he took with Frieda, and knew that he was doing it for me, I came to see and believe that there really were good men in the world.
Feeling safe took longer. That only happened in the last year or so. Could be around the time Frieda was starting to decline. Could be I realized I could protect myself when I saw she was declining. Because I can remember thinking that if Frieda died, I wouldn’t want another dog like her. I would want a dog like Lenore. A dog who was easy with people and I could take walks with in the woods and not have to worry about her running off. A dog who would sit in my studio with me, as Frieda always had, but not bark at someone when they came in the door. Because after being alive for 50 years, I finally felt safe and that I could protect and take care of myself if for some reason I didn’t. I didn’t need a guard dog anymore.
And that was Frieda’s and my journey together. We didn’t travel the world and have adventures, but learned how to live in trust and love. We both learned that not all men are bad and that we could live in a loving and happy home without fear coloring every moment of our lives.
So I may be alone in my studio for a while, until that next dog comes, but it’s okay. Because I’m living the life Frieda and I worked hard to get. One where I can be alone, trust people and myself and feel safe. And Frieda’s off doing what ever it is we all do when we die. But in a way, we’re still both doing the same thing. We’re both moving on to what ever comes next.
28 thoughts on “Frieda and Me. A Journey of Trust and Protection”
So touching and profound….especially your last two sentences.
How wonderful to finally feel safe. I’m still working on it
You’ll get there Mary Ann.
Maria, you have a lovely way of expressing your feelings and you have touched my heart once again. So many of us loved Frieda through you and understand the bond that you had.
Oh Maria, this touches my heart. I’m having a brief cry (healthy) and about to pull myself back together. Thanks so much for this blog!
Years ago I had a similar situation with “Licorice”, my big male lab cross. Right down to the man thing. He will always be in my heart.
My first dog was a comic extrovert — my exact opposite. He really opened me up.
Jon writes that we get the dog we need at the time we need it. But I think that’s only if we’re lucky. Or smart. Or blessed.
I think you were lucky, and smart, and blessed.
I miss Frieda, but I love your story. I have a Great-Dane named Mackenzie. She has taught me more about myself than I ever wished to know. I thought I was getting a big dog, maybe I wanted a protector, but what I got was a dog that teaches me about acceptance. I had to learn that I could not train her into what I wanted her to be. I had to learn that she is enough exactly the way she is.
And so are all of us Nicole. We are enough.
beautifully written – and I loved the picture that Jon took of the altar – whose wool was that around the tin? Ma’s?
Michelle, it’s Ma, Tess and Suzy’s wool.
Your thought expresses perhaps one of the most eternal quests of mankind. To be able to live a life, intended for you, in harmony with you, and compatible with your past, present and future has got to be so fulfilling. I wanted to start out saying I don’t understand how the passing of Frieda isn’t a step backwards in feelings of safety and protection. But I really feel the power of you and Frieda’s journey and somehow I seem to understand.
Hi Maria, I love this photo of Frieda. She looks so content. When I was growing up, in the late 1950’s – 60’s, I had a dog named King. Frieda has always reminded me of King…his coloring was the same as Frieda’s. He had one floppy ear like Frieda’s and one that stood up tall. King and I had a wonderful love connection. We would often walk through the woods to the beach here on Cape Cod in Hyannis. He loved to dig holes in the sand at the beach and fetch sticks I would throw into the water. We laughed a lot! I would always feel very protected by King. He loved our family, but would give his big bark and growling to those who came near us or our home. I used to love to lie on the floor in front of the fireplace with him. He was a good dog. Thinking of him and the times we shared makes me smile inside and out. His eyes spoke love…as Freida’s do in this picture. Peace to you, Maria. Bev
Maria, I think by the end of our winters up here in the northern hemisphere we ought to celebrate our emotional strength in just getting through it again; give ourselves a pat on the back and say: we got through another one, whew! I know that right now many around me are feeling pretty tired, full of colds and sinus infections and pretty strung out, more than ready for spring ahead. With the losses you’ve both experienced this past winter, looking back, it’s been a tough winter for you both. And yet, your shrine for Frieda, a loving and comforting reminder of a dog that came into your life, two kindred souls, together on a journey of trust. That journey was fulfilled; to be celebrated with a shrine and reminder, she’s still with you in spirit. It’s comforting to know she is with you in your studio.
We’re heading into spring, not quickly but it is coming, the sun is shining more, the light, changing.
SandyP in still snowy S.Ontario Canada
Maria, I love the way you honor the role of Frieda in your journey to trust and love. You were a good team! And now you stand at the door of what’s next. It makes me smile as I read your shared thoughts. Blessings to you.
This is just beautiful, Maria.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, heart, and soul so freely. What a gift you have. Your self awareness is inspiring. You are blazing a trail for others to follow. Again, thank you.
Thank you for posting this. I am preparing to say goodbye to my 14 year old mix today, of whom Frieda has always reminded me. She was my guide all this time. They really do seem to come into our lives for a reason, but only some of us are open to seeing it this way. You and Jon and your recent losses have helped me a great deal; thank you for your openness.
Maria, what a beautiful spirit you are and what a powerful post. I want to tell you something. I found you through Jon’s blog. As much as his words nudge me in a direction I strive to go, your writing touches something deep within me. I frequently am moved to tears after reading your blog. You have a way of expressing yourself that is so genuine and real and I appreciate your willingness to share the humanness of yourself. Perhaps that’s what I connect with, I’m not sure. I just wanted and needed to tell you that. And just between you and me (ok, and all those that follow your blog) I love Jon but I think I love you a little more.
I just picked up with Bedlam Farm blog again the middle of this week (having separated from husband of 32 years and the whirlwind of finding a place to live for me and my 2 dogs and the chaos of moving and settling in) and am so saddened to hear of you and Jon’s losses this year. You are both in my thoughts and prayers. May you find such comfort in knowing that you were a steadfast friend to all 3 animals in their time of need and have such lovely memories to comfort you during this difficult time. What a gift of love all 3 gave to you both, a real blessing!
Best to you in your new life Cheryl.
This is so beautiful Maria; the way you are able to express yourself so well about your life with FREIDA. I’m really glad I subscribe to Full Moon Fiber Arts. I believe that Frieda is with you always and what an amazing journey the two of you had (in the physical) and are still having.
Barbara Jo Kammer
Maria, this is a powerful piece of writing. It reflects what I have seen in your art- a powerful creativity that seems to explode at times in so many different and unexpected directions. Perhaps Frieda was a power outside yourself that served well as you discovered power within.
I think she was Lois.
your words are some of the most beautiful thoughts and sentiments that I have ever read … your reflection and courage are heartwarming and enlightening. thank you for sharing this personal journey
This is a beautiful piece of writing Maria.
Lovely. Thanks, Maria!