Ry. My different love.

umzila kawulandelwa
9 min readJul 16, 2023

I’m not going to lie to you. My love is conditional AF. I don’t understand how people can love unconditionally. I mean, I don’t understand and I never want to understand. I will not keep loving people who harm me, treat me like shit or just have bad vibes. Nah uh, certain conditions must be met for my love to be shared.

Also my love goes up and down like a pendulum. I used to feel bad about this until my therapist told me everyone’s love was like that. In my head my late boyfriend’s love for me was constant. It never went up and down like a pendulum. He always loved me the same. My therapist argues that he was just good at not showing when his love was low. LOL she’s a hater. That man’s love was constant. Ok I’m playing. Grief does tend to make people perfect. Ahem, I am aware of that.

Anyway, she (my therapist) thinks only dogs’ love is constant. My heart. To think my dog loves me the same ALL. THE. TIME! We do not deserve dogs. But back to my point. Our love for people will go up and down depending on what happens between us. If you surprise me with a slice of my favorite cake I will definitely love you more on that day than on the day you make me wait for you for an hour. See, it’s normal. We all do this. Phew, thank God!

When Ry first came home, he slept through the night. And then I noticed that he was waking up at night every time he came back home from boarding. I asked the boarding people to not wake him up at night as it was messing with our home routine. Nothing changed. My god. You can mess with most of my things but please, for the love of all that is good and pure, DO NOT mess with my sleep!

I’ve seen how some people are when they are sleep deprived. They function normally just slower. They can survive being sleep deprived. They will catch up on their sleep when they catch up on their sleep. Until then coffee and Red Bull can carry them. Wow. I don’t know how that works cos I am NOT one of those people.

I’m not even lying that my sleep is reason 1.5 I never want to have a baby. Yes, I choose my sleep over a baby. And I would choose it over and over in this lifetime and any other. I don’t know if it’s cos of depression that I just do not function well when I’m sleep deprived. I just become like a sleep deprived toddler. It is NOT cute. I HATE feeling that way cos I always feel trapped in my body when I’m sleep deprived.

So I go out of my way to protect my sleep. I’m asleep by 10:30pm and up between 5am to 9am depending on the quality of sleep. Yes, that is definitely a childfree life perk! No mother I know is getting THAT MUCH sleep. My god. They would consider this gloating to be honest. I like to say I’m the most well rested adult you’ll ever meet! I don’t drink coffee or energy drinks. I’m powered by the sun, water and SLEEP!!

I don’t even nap during the day. I suffer from insomnia so I can’t fall asleep without the help of meds. I only take those meds 1hr 30mins before bedtime to be able to sleep. I don’t think it would be safe to take them during the day. At least I’ve never tried cos what would I do at night?!

My god. I could go on and on about my desperate need for sleep. I just cannot function well with little sleep.

I expected Ry to know and understand that. I mean, am I not his mother?! This boy started waking up at 1am, 3am, 5am and 7am. Note how I did not say OR?! He was waking up at ALL THOSE times in ONE night! My god. I have never been so frustrated. Some mommy friends just said “welcome to motherhood.” Apparently that’s how motherhood is.

Well. Just because many people endured the same nighttime horrors did not make it ok for me. My love for Ry dipped. I was so frustrated that I seriously considered taking him back to the shelter. I would cry in therapy cos I was just frustrated. My therapist is also a dog mom and hence quite a big dog advocate. She said I should try a few tips before giving him back because on good days she knew how much that boy meant to me.

I wasn’t feeling any of that love. I just wanted my sleep back. I desperately longed for my life before him. How foolish I’d been to not appreciate it as much as I should have when I had it. Who knew I’d be kept up at night by a dog one day? I thought tying my tubes had taken care of that problem for me for the rest of my life. And yet, here was a f’n dog!! My god.

I was SO mad. I loved him but less than I resented him. I googled the process of taking a dog to SPCA. I was too ashamed to take him back to the shelter I got him from.

He wouldn’t be the one to rob me of my sleep. Not then, not ever. NOTHING comes between me and my sleep. I believe in the healing properties of sleep cos I’m just NOT myself when I’m sleep deprived.

I was having really dark thoughts about Ry.

Then one of my therapist’s suggestions worked. He slept through the night! My god. What?! He was waking up at 5am but seriously I would choose 5am over being woken up 4 times in one night. Yes, I wished he slept longer especially now in winter but 5am was still better. For some reason still unknown to me, he slept longer when we slept over at my brother’s place. So when I needed to sleep longer we’d go sleep over there.

Going to my brother’s was a small price to pay for good sleep. Good sleep is my crack. I’m just a better human being and I function so much better when I’m sleeping well. One of the many reasons I needed to leave my old job was the work stress and work induced anxiety was giving me sleepless nights. Sleep is the glue that holds me together. This is why I don’t like going out at night. I start winding down from 8:30pm. Loud noises overstimulate me then I struggle sleeping when I already can’t sleep without meds. So from 9pm there’s silence in my house. My mind needs to know we are preparing to sleep.

Ry was messing with ALL OF THAT. I even tried going to bed at 8pm but I still wouldn’t feel the difference cos he’d have woken me up too many times at night.

And then one day he slept for 12hrs!!! Here. At home. I wondered if he thought we were at my brother’s place. But I was like, no man. Ry knows home. He knows he’s home. And he slept for 12hrs!!!! I had to wake him up to take him out to pee. I just could not believe it!! When I wake up before him I just listen to a book or write on my phone while he sleeps. He wakes me up 85% of the time so if he sleeps longer than me I assume he really needs the sleep and just let him be until I have to get up.

He’s been sleeping through the night for just over 3 weeks now!! And I’m not even gonna lie. My love for him is at an all time high!! It feels like we have FINALLY found our rhythm. My god. I could weep! It’s taken us over a year to get here! Boy am I glad we are here!

I LOVE, LOVE it here! It feels exactly like how it felt when my boyfriend and I were nearing the 5yr mark. It felt like him and I were the ones finally on life’s dance floor. It felt like we were slow dancing on stage with the world watching. THAT good. I never forgot that feeling. And I am most surprised to be feeling it again. But this time with my dog. Isn’t that amazing?!

“Every thing that you love, you will eventually lose, but in the end, love will return in a different form.”- Franz Kafka

I have been thinking about that quote a lot this week as I’ve been savoring the sweet spot my baby and I find ourselves in. I lost my boyfriend but the love returned to me in another form- in the form of my dog. Can you even imagine that?! I used to worry about people believing me when I expressed such woo woo concepts but now I couldn’t care less! I am experiencing it. THIS is my personal experience.

I am feeling all the love I thought I’d lost with my boyfriend when he died. But that love has come back to me whole in the form of my dog. Love. I will NEVER not be amazed by this thing! People die, love doesn’t.

My heart physically aches from the intensity of this love. It’s like I’m lying on my boyfriend’s chest. The way warmth would spread all over my body when I put my head on his chest. I am feeling it again. Except this time the object of my affection is my dog.

I took a psychedelic journey just after I got Ry. One of my revelations on that journey was that when my boyfriend died, my love for him needed somewhere else to go. It was stuck in me desperate for somewhere else to go. And then my dog came along to absorb all of that love. If you know anything about dogs you know they simply exist to be loved. No dog has ever died from too much love.

I had a bleeding heart with so much love with nowhere to go. My sweet baby was sick in desperate need of some love. Him and I were meant to be. My heart was bleeding and he was the gauze with his dire need for love. Man. I have loved on this boy! Loved him back to health even. His hair grew back. He has the most beautiful locks I have ever seen on a dog, ever! He is happy, well taken care of. Actually spoilt.

I NEEDED that. I needed to love something with the same intensity I loved my boyfriend without drowning it. Then I got the world’s biggest love sponge. My dog laps up the love! He got that love unstuck in me. He brought back flow in what would have been a stagnant heart.

I love, love my baby with the same love I gave to his daddy and I am MOST surprised by that.

I was never a dog person. I tolerated dogs cos my boyfriend loved them. And when he said we’d get a dog when we moved in together, I always reminded him that it would be HIS dog not OUR dog. And yet…. here we are.

The love of my life

I am so grateful for this floof ball that saves my life every single day by simply existing. I wouldn’t still be here if it wasn’t for him. Man oh man. I’ve started writing a list of facts about my life to remind myself that things don’t always have to be good or bad. Sometimes things just are. Let them be.

So to add to my list I’d say:

  • The love of my life died when I was 30
  • Then at 31 I got a dog and that dog saved my life
  • I loved my dog with the same intensity I loved my boyfriend.
  • That blew my mind.

My baby and I are in a really good space right now. I am getting enough sleep. Feeling well rested. Life is good. I am happy and content in the quiet my baby and I exist in. Man. In his last letter to me, my boyfriend said I should find a different love.

Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is my different love.



umzila kawulandelwa

I tell stories about my experience of being alive. Perpetually day dreaming of reading and writing by the beach