We’ve briefly mentioned it a few times, but we wanted to dedicate an entire post to Lady’s emotional growth. Talking about emotional milestones are different because they are not tangible wins. Something like touching Lady’s foot for the first time, or her learning a new behavior, is a precise moment. It’s harder to talk about milestones that are shifts in how they perceive things since those shifts can’t be quantified in the same way a physical touch or behavior can be.
Emotional milestones also seem to ebb and flow a little – they aren’t linear in the same way. Elephants at sanctuary often come with a lot of baggage. Emotional healing, like grief, is a process. We want to make sure we honor her process by bringing attention to it. To gloss over the reality would be to diminish who she is, the depth of her emotions, her emotional scarring, and the depth of what captivity has done to her. We don’t want those who read our day to day posts on Lady’s incredible growth to believe she is recovered or emotionally healed. We’ve seen so much growth, but there is still so much further to go.
What we see now is very different than what we saw initially. It’s even very different from what we saw when Karissa was recently here in late-February/March. During that time, we honestly weren’t sure when Lady would be comfortable with us touching her feet, which now we can do.
Lady’s overall comfort level with us has grown significantly. She seems more accepting of us in general. Sometimes, we do things that she may not care for, but now there is an ease to her demeanor when we try new or different things. We have worked with elephants who have taken years to build up trust and confidence, and Lady is making remarkable progress in just months.
She is beginning to realize and fully believe that our hearts and intentions are good. She sees that she can trust that we will listen, that we will not push too far, and that her comfort matters to us. This is an enormous step for her after the life she has led. With this acceptance, we are seeing her confidence and trust grow at an exponential rate.
Those two things are not the same things as love. She doesn’t truly love us, not as most people define love – and that is OK. That’s an openness she’s simply not ready for yet. We don’t do what we do for her love or her adoration. We, like each of you, just want to see her happy. We want to make sure she is receiving the care she needs, and living the life every captive elephant deserves. We don’t need or want anything in return. It’s her choice and prerogative who or if she loves. Our love doesn’t come with expectations or conditions. It just is.
We are grateful for her growth every single day.
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Patricia saysApril 14, 2020 at 4:20 pm
That’s what real, unconditional love is. That you guys recognize and honor her unique and irreplaceable being, without asking for something in return. But she’s doing pretty well—trust is huge! Thank you for lifting my heart every day.
Kelejan saysApril 14, 2020 at 6:18 pm
You are so understanding especially about asking for nothing in return except the joy of knowing she is making progress. Knowing she is under no obligation to give anything in return, making the things you do for her easy to give so that when she shows happiness you are happy for her and that is your reward.
Jean Tryon saysApril 14, 2020 at 7:32 pm
Tears in my eyes; joy in my heart. Thank you.
Rand saysApril 14, 2020 at 7:59 pm
You may be surprised about the love thing. Elephants are very intelligent and sensitive. She is most likely “generalizing behaviors she’s learned from you. I believe she trusts you or you wouldn’t get near her feet. I enjoy watching her joy at new things ,new treats etc. She is an amazing creature who slowly but surely is finding the joy in life again thanks to you folks
Heidi saysApril 14, 2020 at 10:40 pm
Such wonderful thoughts. I wish everyone on earth was as understanding and generous as all of you!
Sallie Robbins-Druian saysApril 14, 2020 at 11:50 pm
Elephant brains are so much more developed than ours, so it is no wonder that that they understand a larger world of understanding and communication. These magnificent Ladies show such competence!
Muriel Servaege saysApril 15, 2020 at 10:38 am
I think everything has already been said. That you so much to the people who take care of Lady. Their comment is extremely moving and makes us feel what life with their beloved Lady must be like.
Tammy saysApril 15, 2020 at 11:30 am
You truly deeply understand these beautiful Elephants and how crucial Sanctuary life is for these cute girls even but for a short time thank you for giving us such an uplifting wonderfully heartfelt update so happy to be part of this amazing family, God Bless ??
Julie saysApril 15, 2020 at 9:52 pm
Bless your hearts! I do hope and pray you’ll receive the connection with Lady you deserve even though you don’t require it. ❤️
Jean Tryon saysApril 16, 2020 at 12:16 am
Lady has already made that connection!
Rosie P saysApril 16, 2020 at 4:42 am
To love and not expect anything in return……..truly the greatest love of all! Lady has changed since sanctuary and has begun to show that she’s kind of OK with it. So that in itself is a reward for all you do for this wonderful girl. This brings us happiness in the knowledge that she is safe and cared for and responding positively albeit in Lady’s way!
Thank you to everyone for loving her unconditionally!
carey saysApril 16, 2020 at 8:57 am
So happy for Lady and for you all
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Grateful for Her Growth. Every Single Day.