Return to Sender

Hi, my name is Elvis and I’m a goat.

Not just a goat, but a womanizer, practicer of bad behaviour patterns and living a life in denial – at least that’s who I used to be.

Now, not only am I a goat, I’m a goat on the pathway to change, taking a journey through recovery, healing from my past trauma, recognizing my character flaws and realizing that it’s okay to ask for and receive help.

My job here today is to share my experience, strength and hope with you. My experience with addiction and the bad behaviours I’ve developed along the way, my fall to rock bottom, the strength I gain from working on my recovery and seeking help, and the hope I receive from Goats Anonymous every day.

I’m going to take you on a journey, a journey of bad behaviour, denial, geographical cures (yeah, you’ll learn what that means), some more denial, and then the big one – realizing that I needed help. Below is my personal account and some of my favorite songs that have inspired my journey along the way.

So first, let’s go back to the beginning……….

I don’t remember too much about my early years. The memories are fragmented and distorted. I’ve learned in Goats Anonymous that this can be a sign of early goathood trauma.

This could potentially be me protecting myself from memories that are just too hard to handle. Sometimes when you can’t remember certain things, maybe it’s because you physically cannot handle the process of recalling these memories.

The pain too great – your recovery too fragile – that’s what they say at Goats Anonymous anyway.

I don’t remember much about my family either – perhaps this is also – just too painful. I do hope I lived up to every single expectation of that human they named me after, that Elvis Presley guy. Even though I am slightly more handsome, fur flapping in the wind, my sweet aroma filling the air and the voice of an angel – or so I thought.

The human Elvis had some trauma in his life too. He was around when humans could be drafted into war – imagine. Who knows what the poor human Elvis saw, or had to do over there. I mean here I am, grazing, sunbathing, living my best life. Maybe if somebody could have helped him, like how some other goats helped me, his life would have been much different – a goat can only speculate.

What I do remember vividly about my life, is my bad behaviour. The guilt and the shame associated with it, how I hurt the other goats around me and that feeling deep down inside that was telling me what I was doing was wrong. This was attention-seeking behaviour at its finest.

I will summarize some of my glaring issues that have developed through my years – A Goats Guide Through the Twelve Steps says not to be too hard on yourself when completing your inventory. I have a hard time responding to social cues – for example – I’m loud, obnoxious, hyper, a very “in your face” kind of goat. I mean personally I was having fun and thought I was the life of the party – I guess my humor was not very well received.

I also may have been a bit deviant towards the lady goats. A flirt, a womanizer if you will. This has affected ALL of my relationships.

No, I’m not bitter, I’m just a goat with a lot of feelings.

I was hired as a stud, both literally and figuratively. At my first house, my behaviours were impacting my life and the lives of the other goats and farm animals around me.

Have you ever heard of the term “geographical cure?” This was me, running away from a set of problems, with all intents and purposes of changing, charting a new course and determined not to revert back to my old ways.

Plus, my family put me on Kijiji anyway – I mean who needs them. Now I can add abandonment issues to my list!

That’s when Dr. Whyte picked me up – I had never been in the back of an SUV before – she’s always doing that you know, saving people.

Things were finally looking up. She must not have known how bad I smelled, how loud I was, or how much I would make her kids cry. They were yelling, I was yelling – we were having a wonderful time. I think I even saw a tear roll down Dr. Whyte’s face – she was so happy for us all!

Can you picture us now – one doctor, three kids in car seats and me, all on the journey from Halifax to Cape Breton together. If I could have been looking in that rearview mirror, I would have been crying with joy too!

I thought I hit the jackpot on my geographical cure mission, farm goat to house goat with my new sisters.

That’s the thing with the geographical cure though, everything looks great in the beginning – maybe I was just lying to myself, trying to make it appear better than it actually was – you know, to justify my running.

All too soon the geographical cure presents a whole new set of challenges and problems. The cure becomes a curse, not only have I not dealt with my old problems that I ran from, I have created a whole new set of problems and challenges too – it all happened so fast and these problems are worse than my old ones!

How did things get so bad so fast?

I guess it started when I realized I would not be living in Dr. Whyte’s house – oops. I mean if something appears too good to be true – it usually is. She dropped me off at my new house – The Hope Project farm, where I would be partaking in community living, which presents its own sets of challenges.

How can they expect me to live with 8 other goats??? Sharing food, sleeping together – this could not get any worse.

It started out okay, I guess, even though I was not the alpha male of the pack. I could not believe my new goat siblings would not immediately cater to my needs, exactly what I wanted when I wanted it. It is all about me, isn’t it? 

I did what I was hired to do – even had a couple of kids along the way. Eventually, however, the pressures of being a father became too much for me. My behaviour became more erratic, there were no periods of peace in the goat barn. The girls from the house tried separating me, counselling me – nothing worked.

Deep down inside I was wondering if I could ever do anything right – how did I get here, why can’t I change, how do I take it all back, how do I be a good example for my children? The feelings of regret began to be overwhelming – the shame, the guilt – it was just too much to take.

I needed to escape – both literally and figuratively – so I acted out even more. If I couldn’t be happy, they weren’t going to be happy either.

This led me further indulge into those old behaviour patterns that got me here in the first place – hoping they would provide me some bit of relief like they once did, just to escape, find some relief. I’ll let you know that it didn’t – does it ever really? It doesn’t take away the guilt, the shame of it all and there is no escape. All there is, is more of the same – more hurt and more pain.

Now, here I am, just a lonely goat. Burned all of my bridges, took all of the hay and food for myself, pushed all the other goats away – still, the problem cannot possibly be me.

 It must be this place!

Cue the intervention – honestly, if you could have witnessed it – 8 goats and 8 residents from the house, all sitting me down saying “Elvis, it’s time for you to get some help.” – we could have had our own TV show.

Well, I guess nobody wants me anymore.

I went immediately into that mode – the victim mode – where the problem is everybody’s but my own. I blamed every single one of them. I whined, I complained, said I’d never change. I could not have possibly caused any of the issues or problems that I was currently facing. In Goat Anonymous, they call this denial.

I must say I was pretty shocked when they didn’t beg me to stay, tell me it was all going to be okay or feed into my drama. Maybe they really have had enough.

So, here we are, on Kijiji again. They were just praying that anybody would come pick me up – anybody at all. As long as they weren’t going to use me for goat meat, they could have me – for FREE.

I really messed up this time.

Return to sender, return to sender
I gave a letter to the postman, he put it in his sack Bright in early next morning, he brought my letter back
She wrote upon it Return to sender, address unknown No such number, no such zone
Return to sender

I was so good at the job I was hired to do – producing baby goats, but unfortunately, even the best employees, if they cannot work well with others, or at least attempt to correct their bad behaviours, can only be tolerated for so long.

I’m sure we all know somebody like this, somebody we love, whose relationship we cherish, but until they accept the error in their ways, or are willing to do the work needed for them to flourish into a better person and accept the help that is given – we must cut ties with this toxic person in our life.

Sometimes it’s not until this person is given consequences for their actions, do they truly realise there is a problem and begin the process of change. Let me tell you! I wasn’t changing.

They petitioned to have me removed from the property – imagine.

Have you ever just had a feeling that something bad was going to happen? I realise now that’s was the Holy Spirit, or God, or Spirit Elvis – whatever works for you – trying to warn even a bad goat like me what was to come.

One minute your hanging out on the jungle gym, the next you’re in a crate on the way to the Two Rivers Wildlife Park Rehabilitation Center – this was certainly not the back of Dr. Whyte’s SUV. 

Well, I found a new place to dwell
Well, it’s own at the end of Lonely Street
At Heartbreak Hotel.

Elvis Presley and I are more alike than I thought. This cure was a forced geographical cure to the Wildlife Park. I get so lonely, baby. At Heartbreak Hotel.

They cleaned me up, trimmed my hair and nails, gave me a fresh new collar – I was starting to feel like a new goat. I guess it’s now or never – should I do the work? – should I finally try to change my ways.

Sitting here in my much smaller living quarters, it gave me some time to reflect on the issues that have brought me to where I am today.

I’ve been asked to leave two different homes, I’ve put strain on all my relationships, got fired from my job and there isn’t even any ladies here. I’ve decided, I think I’ve lost enough.

Finally, these are consequences I can no longer handle and I’m tired. Tired of losing those close to me, tired of not being myself, tired of having to run away from my problems, only to create a new set of problems wherever I end up, tired of being alone.

After having all the goats and humans in my life cut me off and say enough is enough – I’ve realised it’s time to do this – and most importantly, I want to do it for myself.

I’vee decided to surrender – admit that I can’t do this alone – admit that I AM the problem, not any other goats in my life – accept the help – be open to the change – get honest for the first time ever in my goat life.

Present Day.

Now, here we are, 3 months since my intervention and move to the Two Rivers Rehabilitation Center.

So far in Goats Anonymous, I’ve learned that I am Powerless over certain behaviours. Admitting this and getting honest are the keys to entering the journey of recovery. In order to remove myself from the pain, loneliness and despair I’ve been feeling – I have to get honest. Living in a state of denial protected me from the reality of my situation.

You’d be surprised how open your old goat friends are to you once complete this first simple step. The girls from the house even came to visit me one Saturday. They barely even recognised me.

I’ve learned that anytime I am acting out to change the way I FEEL on the inside – that this is where my problem begins – I have no coping skills. I can no longer escape or run away. Goats, it’s okay to have feelings.

Once I admitted I was powerless and really didn’t have any control in my life – I felt it – I began to feel some Hope. Every day, I need to rely on a power greater than myself to restore my sanity. Only something greater than me can relieve my obsession to behave the way I do.

I’m becoming a believer. 

The first few steps of the Twelve Steps of Goat Anonymous, talk about being honest, open-minded and willing to be a better goat. 

Plus, there’s a cute little lady goat that came to the Wildlife Park this week – I’m going to sing this to her tonight. 

Let's rock, everybody let's rock Everybody in the whole cell block Was dancin' to the Jailhouse Rock
You're the cutest jailbird I ever did see I sure would be delighted with your company Come on and do the Jailhouse Rock with me

I mean, hey, Goat’s Anonymous is all about progress not perfection. Can’t change everything all at once.

Signed,

A Goat on a Journey.

 


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