How my dog just taught me something

Juno is one year old. She’s naughty, willful and stubborn. She loves playing, chewing on ears, and cuddles.

She’s also wise.

I was going to wait til she had fallen asleep and go and attempt suicide, but then I opened my eyes from where I was lying on the opposite couch and saw her staring at me. Why wasn’t I with her?

So I crawled over and snuggled up to her and started crying. She rested her little head on mine and put a paw on my cheek.

She loves me and she needs me, I can’t let her down.

Nights like this…

Tonight I’m sleepless and trying to exorcise the demons in my head. J and I have just talked and I love love love the smooth, sweet drawl of his voice. That voice anchors me whilst I’m feeling strange.

I’ve been a little dissociative tonight. I’ve been at Saturday family tea- the whole clan, aunties, uncles, cousins- the lot. My auntie was babysitting her best friend’s daughter, who is a shining gem of a seven year old. She played with the puppy, a rare event- Juno puppy is not the world’s biggest fan of children, but this little girl is an old head on young shoulders. She let me read to her. She cuddled up with me and the puppy, her on my knee and the puppy beside me. I felt very safe, but somehow a little sad.

I think what’s triggered me a little is talking about my ex to her. My auntie was married to her abuser, and this little girl knows a highly edited version of that story. She calls him Naughty, so we all do too. We had gone upstairs in my nana’s house to see one of the many family portraits hanging on the walls, and she mentioned to me that she knew that Naughty was a bad guy because HIS smile was not a good smile. All the other people on the picture had big, happy, truthful smiles, she said. Only Naughty’s wasn’t right.

That really hit me hard. SHE could see, through our eyes, the flaw in him, the defect that ate at his core and caused such harm to my auntie that she ended up in hospital, too. She knew, this seven year old, that there was a man not to be trusted- and she could see that through his smile!

She asked why my auntie had even married him in the first place, so I explained that sometimes, the scariest baddies are the ones that pretend to be your best friend. I said that I had been with a naughty man, for six years.

The wise, innocent little face formed an expression I’ve mostly seen on adult faces: she was appreciating how hard that was for me.

“Whew,” she said, “that’s a long time.”

I said that yes, indeed it was, but he hadn’t started out bad. He’d pretended to be one of the good guys, and I had never seen the badness coming at all. He’d added the bad stuff in, bit by bit, until I didn’t know that he was all bad.

Looking at those feathery blonde brows rise in shock, I was struck with an intense desire to protect her. I would have jumped in front of a bullet for that child, and I still will. I would right now. I didn’t want that angelic creature to have to face what my auntie and I have faced- the sleepless nights thinking he is perfect and I am not, the agony inside as he breaks up with you and demands you back only for the cycle to repeat. I felt something tearing inside of me in my chest- my heart was trying to reach through my chest to keep her safe.

Talking to Dr K, my therapist, on Thursday may have stirred a lot up- I was trying to tell her about some of the things I’ve had to endure under him- but this has made me remember long nights waiting by the phone, worrying about ringing him in case it ‘wasn’t convenient right now’. I’d get yelled at if I didn’t ring at bang on ten pm. I feel like time is slipping backwards, like having a rug pulled out from under your feet. I remember the feeling in arguments, that bad feeling of ‘I’m losing you and it’s my fault and you knew I was going to say that, oh god why?!’

I’ve found a song that sums it all up. He never drove, but the car keys are symbolic. They are the keys to my heart, my freedom, my life. They are the things that drove me and the things he took control of, bit by bit. Those phonecalls I tried to make that he aborted with one stern word. The threats of all sorts, the demands, and finally go to sleep silly girl, we’re getting nowhere tonight. I would try not to get too upset but tears inevitably burned my cheeks, that acid tang, and the feeling of being about to throw up came when he called me pathetic. I was trying so hard. I was. I promise I’m trying so hard to be different and more like the girl you wanted me to be, the girl I was when you met me. I promise I won’t go to anyone with my problems, definitely not you, I’ll solve them myself. I know I’m weak and need to stop being such a little girl I promise I won’t do this again I swear I’m not going to hurt you I didn’t mean to oh god don’t say that to me I’m not like that I swear I’m not-

The loop plays on and on, and I drown it out with other things. But, in the background, it’s always there, along with his replies.

Home again, emotional flashbacks, and holiday withdrawal.

Oh GOD I miss J. Seriously, like a hole inside. If not for my puppy I’d be a lot worse than I am right now- I’d be a crying wreck! He’s so calm and logical- after my last post, I went outside to the pool where J and my mum were. J was already in the pool, cooling off, and mum was enjoying a nice beer.

I had a panic attack trying to get in through the door where my dad had installed a very loud alarm- my brain entered that flight state and I started shaking and crying immediately. All that rage and terror came out in tears, but mum and J were there being awesome immediately. Mum came over took me away from the doors and hugged me til I felt better. J was there, shocked, but calm enough to tell me everything was ok, baby, and to put on my bikini and come in the pool with him to relax. Mum agreed, so I did. It worked. Tears faded, shaking stopped, and within FIFTEEN MINUTES (gotta be a new record there!) I was completely fine again, calm, and making jokes with the family and cuddling J in the cool water.

J can spot my mania immediately, and it’s impressive. Bradley has given me a great tip to manage it now I’m home again (boo, being home is not as nice as being out there with J and my family) and I’m going to start it tomorrow. I’ll set alarms on my phone that will remind me to check in with myself, and to stay calm.

So far, I’ve had a tough ride already. I’m aware that I drank too much whilst I was on holiday, so alcohol consumption has gone down a lot. Tonight, I had a cup of tea (fruit tea, orange smoothie tea!) and a glass of water as my beverages of choice. I’m doing this because when I’m manic, as I suspect I’m heading that way now, I do have poor impulse control and drink is usually the first sign of it. I’ve already had some very depressed moments, but that’s not the bipolar speaking.

That’s something else.

I’m in the midst of a bastard of an emotional flashback right now. For the past few days, I’ve felt unreal and dissociated, and horribly depressed, but the depression waned in the evening. Today it got so bad that I began acting unlike myself- snappy, withdrawn, moody, and exhausted. I even yelled at the puppy- at this point, I’m glad she’s deaf! A long sleep this afternoon fixed a lot of that, and I emerged with a better take on the world. I still didn’t understand why I was feeling like shit, but I was ready to give my day another try.

Dancing was fun and went well, and when I got home, I went upstairs to get changed. Pulling my favourite pyjama/lounge type pants on, something in my head suddenly shifted into place and I got it.

I understood that when I was with my ex, I was used as a fix. Because he was jealous of my family spending an unadulterated two weeks with me, I was often subject to derision and scorn when I got home. He’d cold shoulder me, blank me, and finally fix up a meeting with him sometime or place that was impossible for me. I’d inevitably cancel, he’d throw a fit, and then break up with me. I’d be alone, blaming myself and hating myself for nearly two months, and then he’d need his fix again. He’d pretend to relent, he’d tell me he ‘forgave me’ (er, bullshit sir, I believe you finished with me for no good reason) and we’d be back in the honeymoon phase again. Lovely.

So naturally my poor beleaguered brain still think I’m in for some horrible punishment for having fun. I’m reacting like a beaten puppy and I’m shaking in anticipation of a blow that will never fall.

J’s already been on Skype, commending me for my smarts in realising this. I’m pretty chuffed too… BUT GOD I miss him!!! He knows that, of course.

Another remarkable milestone I’ve achieved whilst away is that I’m better able to do real couple things now. I hold hands with J a lot, I’ll go for a cuddle when I fancy one, and, best of all- I was so tired one night I felt drunk, and slipping off into sleep I told J twice that I loved him. He said it back, and I heard the tenderness in his voice alongside the amused chuckle at how sleepy I was. When I asked him about it the next morning, he said I had indeed said I loved him twice and he hoped I remembered that he said it back to me.

Of course I had.

Stuff will be hard now I’m home. I’m trying to take more responsibilities this year, and I’m hoping I don’t overload myself- apparently, therapy this week with Dr K will be the start of lots of tough things for me. I am very aware there are still big issues I need to face. For instance, whilst I was in America, I had night after night of nightmares and J had to hold me to calm me down one night after I told him I was frightened to sleep. Hopefully, I will get these discussed with Dr K and she will help me become less afraid.

There are bonuses, though. I’m taking on more work so I can fund myself to get to America to see J quicker (I hope), I’m finally meeting a good friend I’ve talked to for a long while, I have a snoring puppy next to me and I’m planning dance numbers for a show. There are definite goals to achieve.

Fingers crossed that this year is the year that I get stuff solved, and not another year where I wrestle incessantly with the contents of my own head.

Dragging myself on a little easier- thank you.

tonight I’m fighting again, wearily and beddraggledly. I am exhausted, I am wounded, literally and metaphorically. I am at the point where I don’t know what to do any more- people want me to fight, the friends I’ve managed to talk to are so kind and good, as are all of you.

I just rang J and he’s been having a bad time but still managed to get me to take my valerian root, waiting on the phone til I did so, and then my friend Harley Quinn sent me a message that has made me cry.

Thank you Harley. Thank you for sending that message. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back- the voices are so pissed you sent it but it added to the slew of positive things that everyone has been saying. All of you tipped the scales and saved my life for tonight, and hopefully tomorrow too.

Oh gods, I know I’m as far down as I can be, but I need you all. thank you for keeping me company in hell.

J, Y, Harley, GoGoLogophile, Manyofus, Amber, R, Crashinglessons…. all of you and more, anyone who commented, said something nice, told me to try again… I owe you a debt of gratitude. Mr Robot- thank you for cracking me up, I’ve needed it. The lady in the shopping centre today who chatted to me about my gran’s trousers- you were lovely. Thank you.

The people who didn’t stare when I started twitching at the voices- thank you so much, you helped me deal with my paranoia by not looking.

Thank you mum, dad, sister and the rest of my mad family. I have needed you all so much and here you were, dealing with my silence and the fear that always produces.

Last, and not least, thank you to my Puppy. Your little canine body, folded in my lap, your enthusiastic puppy kisses all over my face, your trust in me and your unfailing love- thank you, this provided the tiny spark my Logophile friend was talking about. I limped through hell with you trying to bite my ears, cuddling up, and not taking my morosity for an answer. I think you had lessons from my old boikie Terry, sitting on the edge of the rainbow bridge, reaching a paw down to touch me when I needed him most.

And to you, my abuser-

 

FUCK YOU. I WILL FUCK YOU OVER SO HARD, YOU WILL FEEL IT IN THE NEXT LIFE. I HOPE ONE DAY YOU FEEL THIS PAIN TOO, AND I HOPE YOU NEVER RECOVER. TRY LIVING IN HELL FOR A BIT. I HOPE IT HURTS.

 

Thank you everyone, thank you.

To Terry- an amazing dog.

Yesterday I lost my dog.

He had battled kidney failure, arthritis, spinal problems, hip dysplasia and anaemia. He was hard of hearing, and he couldn’t see well, but that totally didn’t stop him. He was 13 and 3/4, his birthday was coming up- he was a Christmas eve puppy.

In his younger days, he was the fastest dog on the block. He would run as fast as he could to the front door and jump up with a splat, woofing from his boots. This fearsome display would terrorise postmen and boilermen alike, until they realised that he was only jumping up because he was far too pleased to see them! He would lick you to death, we would always say, and that was true. Terry had the biggest heart of any dog I have ever known.

If any of us were sick, he would come and sit with us until we felt better. He would lift up his big, soft-furred head for us to stroke, and the end of his tail would swish gently on the floor in bliss. He was exactly the same with me whilst I was really depressed. He would lick my hand to try and cheer me up, get me off the floor when I was crying with his no nonsense happy attitude- he needed a walk, and he needed it now! I have lost count of the tears I’ve cried into his fur, him sitting there stoically and taking it all like the noble hound he was. Just seeing him in the morning could flip my day from bad to bearable, or good, within a matter of minutes. He was my personal therapy dog, patient and loving and loyal.

He was hilarious, too. He was big and a little goofy and so over-enthusiastic about life. He would bring you his scruffy bit of rope with a huge doggy grin plastered all over his face, and you would try to take it from him only to find he would back off, that long shaggy tail switching to and fro in excitement. “Chase me!” was written all over him, so of course we would oblige. He would gallumph off and we would run with him, laughing our heads off.

One of his favourite games as a youngster was ‘get that dog!’, which involved him whizzing around our back garden, evading capture as we each tried to catch him. None of us were able to! He was speedy and light on his feet. Many was the time on long walks that I had to yell at him “not too far Terry!” and he would whip round and wait patiently for me.

He lived for food, too. Oh gods, did he love his food. The same dog food  he ate for years was the best thing EVER, no matter how many times he ate it. He would perk up immediately if we mentioned breakfast or tea, and he used to bow for his meals. He would stretch his front legs out, low to the floor, so his back end would stick up comically. He would pirouette in tight circles in glee, excited for his tasty tea. He was so funny at Christmas- we used to give him a little bit of Christmas dinner, as a treat from his tightly controlled diet, and he would stare at us in rapture as the heavenly dish descended. He would glomp, smacking his chops in anticipation, even if it was just a dog biscuit.

Walks were so much fun. He was so happy to go- he would leap into the boot and sit down smartly, excited for the chance yo go and swim, or play with the other dogs in the fields, or scavenge for unwary fishermen’s sandwiches! Naughty boy. He would attempt to eat the bread left for the geese and ducks, and quite often get pecked for his trouble! He loved to sniff and run and be free for an hour or two, and he loved playing chase or fetch or silly games with a plastic bottle. He could jump, although he wasn’t allowed to, and quite often he would surprise us by jumping over a fence he wasn’t supposed to!

He was a big softie, too. He would climb up on your knee for a cuddle, despite his size. He was as heavy as a ten year old child, but that didn’t stop him from climbing onto your knee and groaning in happiness if you let him stay for half an hour. He would often fall asleep there, only shifting to bark loudly at the doorbell. He would fall asleep on the floor at your feet with one slim paw wrapped around your feet. He used to drag my mum in the house with gentle teeth round her sleeve, so pleased she was home.

Terry was a pretty handsome boy. He was born into an old bloodline so he was brindled- the flecks of grey around his mouth and on his legs were originally golden brown. His head was proud, his tail full and swishy, his coat shiny and smooth. He had a lovely, gentle face, and was kind with children and attracted admiration from everyone. He was pretty much incapable of taking a bad picture- a goofy one, a silly one maybe, but never an ugly one. He was good inside and out.

In these last few months, I have tried to give to him everything he ever gave to me. He was my best friend- I tried to be his. He helped me through the darkest time in my life- I tried to help him through his last illness. I hand fed him, I cuddled him, I kissed his head and cleaned up his messes. I told him he was a good boy- because he was. He was the best friend a girl could ask for.

I will miss him every day. I hope that he us with my gramps on the rainbow bridge, Gramps throwing sticks and he fetching them and trying to get a younger, fitter Gramps to chase him. I hope one day I get to see them again.

Thanks to everyone for being here for me. And join me in raising a glass to the best dog who ever lived- Terry Jason Bone, my best friend.

Stupid…

I don’t know what made me do it, but I looked at the email the ex sent me again. I think I thought I was strong enough to be ok with it.

I wasn’t.

I am not going to be that foolhardy again. I should have known better, given that last night I had a lot of paranoia and the voices of the dark passenger were harassing me…

I got out of the awful triggered state I was in by a combination of writing, canine cuddles and J’s music.

Roll on Psychiatrist. I rang to check where my referral was and I ended up getting the doctor’s name.

At last. Progress.