Thursday, March 14, 2013
ON that time I saw myself in a dog & other life lessons
[EDIT: I wrote this several weeks ago but just found it saved in my drafts folder. It still felt important enough to post, but I like to keep you in the loop, time-wise, here on le blog.]
"Last night, I picked a fight with him for literally no reason", I said, recounting the evening before when I had been acting completely ridiculous for no reason, throwing a fit, causing a commotion.
He laughed in the kind of way that told me he's been there before,"What? That poor guy. Why'd you do that?"
"I don't know! I guess, and I literally hate when girls say this, but he's just so nice. It's confusing, like I can't handle someone being so sweet to me. I've felt terrible all day, like a guilt hangover."
"Seriously? I hate when girls do that, too. I've had girls do that to me, saying I'm too nice. What the fuck is that about? You want us to be mean to you? I don't think so. And it's crazy that you know you did it, too, owning up to it."
"Yep. I don't know, hopefully he'll forgive me."
When I got back to the apartment, I saw she had done it again, this time tearing down the entire curtain rod. A massive feat for such a little thing, but I know it to be true that it's the little ones who can get the angriest. Most people would yell, push her face in it. But all I can see is a terrified pup, who thinks that every time she's left alone, no one will come back for her. I see a little girl who digs her nails into my legs while she sleeps, or pushes her back up against mine, for fear of me sneaking away while her eyes are shut, leaving her. I see all the time she spent as a stray, and the sheer terror on her face every time I place her into the pen at the adoption events:
"Don't leave me, don't leave me."
It's all I can do not to just pick her up and hold her. I do my best to ignore her as I clean everything up, writing a note to explain it to him, telling him I've already talked to the super, I'll handle it. Too chicken to call.
"I'm so proud of you, I don't think I've heard you this happy in... ever. I don't think I've ever heard you this happy." Her voice comes through the line, a mere 3,000 miles in between us.
"That's because I've never been this happy."
The other one, right after her, my sitting-in-traffic phone call go-to's, says similar things but brings him up, too.
"It's so nice to hear you this happy in your life. You deserve someone who says you look beautiful. You deserve someone who gets in touch all the time, someone who listens to you and remembers everything you say. You deserve someone bringing you flowers. These are good things. It's just been so long since it's been like that, you forgot."
"It's not that I forgot, I just never had it. I never let myself."
She's running in circles from one side of the bed to the other, her eyes bugging out, howling and whimpering and acting completely ridiculously for no reason. She is throwing a fit, causing a commotion just to be noticed, to be heard.
She's acting out just to be reassured that she's wanted here.
It's too early, and we still want to be asleep, it's annoying. Confusing, too. Everything was totally peaceful, why are you being like this? You tell her to lay down, stop, she's fine. But he doesn't yell. He reaches down with one hand and gently scoops her up on the bed and into his arms. She settles immediately as he soothes her, she just needed to be held for a little bit. Recognizing the fact that she's safe here, that she's wanted here, a smile appears on her face. You look over to him just as a smile spreads across his lips, eyes fixed on the little pup laying on his stomach. You ask him if he sees her smile, and his eyes light up, his smile grows bigger as he confirms it. Sort of like a kid who was convinced Santa couldn't exist except he just heard reindeer on his roof - except, that's impossible, isn't it? There's no way a dog could be smiling.. except that there she is, in his arms, smiling. He changes your life so much that you're happy to have given him this little gift, introducing something new to him for once.
You don't understand your own behavior yet so you can't explain it now. It'll hit you later on as you're driving, a giant revelation, some clarity finally entering in. It's the same reason why all of the four-legged ones take to you so quickly and why you love them so; you recognize this piece of each other, this fear. Oh, you too? Okay, I got your back, don't worry.
It's almost worse, now that you're happy, actually happy, when this last little demon pops up. Before, when you were so sad, it felt normal. Now it's shocking, startling that you can still get this insecure, this fearful, this mean to yourself and the people you care most about. It's nice that you can recognize what happened afterward, but you're excited to get to the day when you see it coming and cut it off before it rears it's ugly head. She's acting out just to be reassured she's wanted here.
He puts his other arm around you and you settle immediately as he soothes you, you just needed to be held a little bit. Recognizing the fact that you're safe here, that you're wanted here, a smile appears on your face.