My dog. My dog. I call my dog “my dog” so much, he probably thinks it’s his name. I just love saying it to him. Who rescued who? I can say that he does have a really good life now, especially in comparison to what it must have been like on the streets. He is definitely my dog and our attachment is incredibly strong. All we want to do is be together, all the time. I didn’t want him to be alone the other night so I took his fluffy bed with me to the gym, only, he didn’t really spend any time on the bed. He just sat and walked around and waited for me to finish. But at least we had each other’s company. By the way, this is a little gym in my complex that no one goes to, which is why I could bring him. Did he rescue me? I would say so. Every night when I get home he comes to greet me (now that he is feeling better) and we make sure to reconnect before doing anything else. It’s what you do with your child. You’ve been separated all day and you need to make that extra effort to reconnect and remind your child that you love them, constantly, continuously.
It’s late morning and I have the heat on unnecessarily. It just got fixed and so I am indulging in extra coziness and warmth. I have my ocean waves app on in the background and I like to imagine what it is like walking by the ocean. Samuel (my dog) and I watched the sunset last night. We got there just in time to find a spot on the cliffs where we sat down. There were tons of people out, doing the same thing. It was very chilly and windy. Samuel was shaking and there I was feeling bad for him, wishing I had thought of putting on his sweater before we went out. What did I do? I took my sweater off and wrapped it around him. I would do that for any of my children. Yes, I was cold. The wind perused through my thin, long-sleeve shirt and the cold air bit my ears. But all of it was worth it in the end.
I’m not going to pay for the MeetMindful app subscription. It’s a dating app I just discovered. I met someone who seems really intellectual, intelligent, spiritual, and kind. But he lives three hours away. There just aren’t enough people in my city signed up for the app, it seems. Back to the drawing board. I’m thinking of trying to not date, because I really want to spend at least another six months working on myself. I have had mental emergencies lately, too many than I care for. And remembering that I was seriously suicidal twice last semester reminds me that I still have a lot of work to do in therapy. I told my therapist yesterday that I am never going to say goodbye to him, and that even when he is gone one day, he will still be with me, always and forever. It’s a concept he has been teaching me. That even when I am not with him, he is in my mind and my heart and he is always there with me. It’s a very comforting feeling.
My psychiatrist, Dr. D., reminded me that ending our therapy session is more like a pause than an ending. Because I really hate the end of sessions. I don’t like saying goodbye. It doesn’t sit well with me. It never has. It makes me uncomfortable, I think. But if I can see it in another light and a different perspective, then maybe it won’t seem so awful any more.
Listen to me. Just listen. Don’t I sound not stressed? Not stressed at all! Today is a nice day. I like to think of it as a “normal” day, where I am “normal” and not stressed or depressed. But I do realize that everyone’s “normal” takes different forms. My “normal” used to be reliving my trauma as if it were still happening, every day, and struggling to stay alive and fight the urge to kill myself every day. For years. It was like that for several years. Every day was an emergency in my mind. I was constantly in and out of the psychiatric hospital and emergency rooms. I became familiar with the inside of ambulances. I had mental emergencies, and then I had physical emergencies after an overdose. Of course, those never killed me and I’m really glad that I am still alive now. I thank my lucky stars.
I credit my therapist a lot with the reason I am still alive. I know I did the hard work myself too, but he was always there for me and always has been. He held hope for me when I had none and he has always believed in me. He has never given up on me. It takes one person, just one person, to make a difference in someone’s life. And he is that person for me. I explained it to someone new yesterday in terms of attachment theory. There are four types of attachments which you can form with your primary caregiver when you are very young. It’s either secure, insecure avoidant, insecure ambivalent, or disorganized. I really don’t know which attachment described my relationship with my mother when I was young, but it definitely was not secure. It was probably a bit of every one of the others. It’s not anybody’s fault, it’s just how things were.
Generational hurt passes on to the next generation, unless a person has made a concerted effort to heal those wounds. My mother had me when she was very young, and went directly from her overbearing father’s home, to getting married and living with my father. It was a limited world view and she did not know of any other way of raising children than what she had experienced. I’m sure she tried to not be like her father. We all do that. She still exhibits those features, in not wanting to “bother” us when she calls, since her father was always intrusive and poor boundaries and a lack of communication of feelings set up for a very-far-from-ideal relationship between my mother and her father. When I was growing up we weren’t close to her father. We also happened to live in a different country.
But nothing will change the fact that she yelled at us when we were young, and as school-age children hit us (it never left bruises but it hurt and made us cry and was startling and unexpected every time.) As a teenager I held a lot of resentment toward my mother for her having hit us. She stopped hitting us the day my twin brother hit her back and almost broke her nose. He held a lot of anger within him, for a long time, even throughout his twenties. But he and I have both healed from our childhood wounds, at least for the most part. The person who was supposed to be our rock, our safety base from which to explore the world, our nurturer, was also the person who hurt us.
Being yelled at hurt my feelings. She was never the huggy type, not from my recollection. So when I was eight, for example, I remember her apologizing with words, but not with physical affection. I think a nice, tight hug along with “I’m sorry” would have had more impact and been more meaningful to me. I don’t want to get deeper into these memories because they are in the past now and not pleasant. I have the power where to focus my mind, and when I know that something is too much, I have the power to shift my attention.
Yesterday during therapy I took a bathroom break. I never used to want to take bathroom breaks during a therapy session because I thought I would be missing out on something if I were gone from the session. Over a long time, I learned that taking a bathroom break is helpful for many reasons. One, I get to be comfortable, because I don’t have to hold my pee, which can be distracting and hinders being fully present and concentrating. Two, it’s a break. It’s a break from the subject matter at hand. Yesterday I could have waited. But I took a break at the exact moment when I felt like I was going to mentally explode. I was holding it all in while my therapist was explaining something. I was assertive, and proud of myself for it. I said to him, “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I have to go to the bathroom.” He stopped in the middle of his sentence for me to say that and as I walked by him he said encouragingly, “good self care.” I loved it. It was perfect. It was a good reminder that taking mental breaks, getting up and moving, those are all good things.
It’s good reinforcement, a good reminder that self care is important and that I am in control, and I have the power to direct my life in the way I want it to go. If something is happening that I don’t like, I can always walk away. You’d think that would be intuitive, but I never used to know that. I never knew you could walk away from something you didn’t like. I never even knew I had a choice. I felt like I had to be there, and endure the suffering, the abuse, the pain, that it would never end, and that the only way out was to kill myself. I now know that there is a different way of living, and I am grateful for it. I want to share this new way of living, the peacefulness, mindfulness, self-compassion, self-kindness, I want to share all of this amazing new knowledge and experiences with other people. That is why, one day, I want to become a therapist. Only, not now. That is something for the future, I have decided. In the meantime, I can still make a difference, still model an emotionally balanced and healthy way of living, for my mother, and for others around me. Just by being in this world, I know I already make a difference. That knowledge is profound and gives my self-confidence a boost of power I never knew I had before.
I love being a puppy mom. I am the best puppy mom ever! I mean, I know I’m great. I just got up to pee and he came into the restroom area from the living room just to check on me. Just to see that I’m okay and that I’m still here and that I didn’t actually leave. It makes me think of the concept of object permanence, which I know he has mastered. But it reassures him, I think, to check on me and follow me around the house. Sometimes when I am sitting on the toilet with my pants down at my ankles, he licks my bare leg. Any dog parent will be familiar with this, and in terms of a concept, any parent in general would be familiar with the concept of “no privacy” from your children, even when you are going pee! It’s like peeing becomes a family event or something. You sit on the toilet and your toddler is there, ready to hand you toilet paper so you can wipe your bum, and then the father comes in to wash his hands, and the dog is just hanging out, and all of a sudden, the whole family is in the bathroom. It’s a family event! At least, that’s what I’ve heard how it can be. I don’t have a human child, just a dog child.
I just titled my blog. I always choose the title when I am done writing. Based on the last paragraph I could have called this piece, “no privacy in the bathroom,” which sounds funny, but which doesn’t give credit to the rest of the piece before that. So, skimming these paragraphs, I realize I have written and reflected on the past. And that’s okay. There’s nothing not okay about it. The difference is, I am feeling happy and balanced today. It has been a good weekend even though my therapy session yesterday was very challenging and I cried. But even if we go into deep, uncomfortable material in terms of our conversation, I always pull myself out of it when I feel done. My therapist helps and supports me with this, and I always feel better when I leave my session than I did when I went in. I always leave with more clarity and understanding about things that have happened in my life, whether they happened last week or a lifetime ago.
I used to think I had to record the sessions. In fact, I started clandestinely recording our therapy sessions with my recorder turned on in my purse, which just isn’t right. It’s just not something you do, not informing the other person. It’s not nice. I felt bad about it but I was afraid to tell him. Then I finally did tell him. But I still hid the recorder. I felt like I had to secretly record his voice so that I could have something tangible to hold onto after the session ended (since I hate endings) and so that I could listen to his voice when I wasn’t with him. I stopped recording a long time ago because I finally realized, after all of these years, that he is indeed never going to leave me. I was always terrified that he might leave me. Nothing he could say or reassure me with would have made me believe otherwise. But now I know for a fact that he will always be there for me, and never leave me. It’s a relief, knowing that. Such a relief, you have no idea. My wounds are slowly healing and I feel as if I am already far into my recovery, even though I still have a long road to traverse ahead of me.