You Have an Animal Inside

by Paul Chubbuck

You have an animal inside,
a stranger to you.

It is bolting like a startled deer,
or enraged as a sow defending cubs,
or frozen like a cornered rabbit.

You banished it because its pain was forbidden.
Now it needs something from you.

You must find out what.
I can point, but cannot tell you.
You must look for yourself.

Mine often needs to dance in sunlight,
like a cat rolling in rays of late day,
and sometimes to slowly wade rivers barefoot,
like moose do after the spring thaw slows.

Your animal does not speak English.
It is crying in wilder ways.

Listen…right now, with gentleness and curiosity,
as you would befriend a wild thing.

Don’t let the noise in your mind muzzle it.
Don’t neglect it with practical excuses.
That’s no way to treat a beloved animal.

Listen with your feelings,
See with your inner eye.

I can’t say what you’ll hear.
One friend listened and had to climb a mountain.
Another learned to sing.
What you hear may not be convenient.

When you look inside,
if you see anguished visions
it’s only because you’ve ignored it so long.

Hungry dogs grow vicious.

Later, once safe, well-fed, and brushed,
your animal will show you greater things.

How to run like the wind.
How to avoid danger at night.
How to lay down your bad habits.
Who your true mate is.
How to love them.

Have you forgotten how to gambol, prance, and pronk?
Then no wonder you’re missing joy.
You won’t find it prying answers from your mind.

Your animal knows these things.
Learn to tend and groom it well.
Let it teach you.

Paul Chubbuck is a practicing psychotherapist in Fort Collins, CO, using Somatic Experiencing® to help people release trauma, abuse, and loss. He may be reached at 970-493-2958 or through his website at

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