Invisible dog fences keep animals in place with fear. As dogs get close, they are given a little bit of hurt, just enough to believe that surely all that lies outside the yard is hurt.
In reality, all that stands between a dog and complete freedom is about 30 seconds of pain.
I had a dog once that figured that out. He would yelp for 30 seconds while he ran through the barrier, and it was a horrible sound.
But then it was over, and he was free.
I know that most of our fears are just 30-second fences standing between us and freedom.
I’ve been told that analogy is inspiring, and I mean it to be.
But there’s a horrible part of that story that is not inspiring. It’s terrifying. It’s painful. It’s the very opposite of inspiring.
For 30 seconds, the dog is experiencing non-stop electric shock.
A split second of that sensation is enough to keep most animals in line. It’s enough to make grown men jump and shove their fingers in their mouths like babies.
Thirty seconds of that kind of pain must be excruciating.
But we skip over that part of the story.
Just like we read about people who have succeeded and we skim over the part where they say they went bankrupt twice. Or lost everything. Or thought about quitting a million times.
Or sobbed on the bathroom floor while someone tried to send comfort through the locked door.
I mean, sure, we read the words – but the words don’t do it justice. Because what the story has that real life doesn’t is perspective.
When you’re in the middle of the 30 seconds, you don’t know that a happy ending is just a few paragraphs away.
It feels more like imminent death than a plot point.
And in real life, it usually lasts a hell of a lot longer than 30 seconds.
A friend of mine is crossing the invisible fence right now, and watching her reminds me of just how bad it is in there.
I want to tell her that she is close, that the pain itself is proof that she is going in the right direction.
I want to promise her that this, like everything, is temporary.
This will be worth it, I want to tell her. But more than that, I want her to know:
This part is awful.
This moment deserves to be seen. This pain needs to be acknowledged and not glossed over with platitudes about growth and progress.
People who push through that invisible fence are changed forever not because they discovered a magical pasture on the other side, but because they have had their shells burned away and their insides charred.
It makes perfect sense that this hurts so fucking bad.
You are not weak for doubting your ability to endure this pain. Doubt and despair are as inevitable as they are awful when you’re halfway between what you know and what you’ve dreamed about.
The courage that brought you to this hell will bring you out, but first it will desert you.
And that does not make you a failure or a coward. It makes you human.
It makes you one of us.
I see your pain, my warrior friend.
I see it, I recognize it, and I honor it.
And I promise it will not last forever.