On Becoming Pack Leader

Had yet another incident this morning while out with Brody in which he lunged at another dog, almost without warning. This time, the other dog’s person was not understanding, in that he was not putting up with such behaviour and escorted his dog safely away immediately.

I felt terrible.

In talking about it with one of Brody’s treats ladies, who was with us at the time, I realized that one of his triggers might be the nose-to-nose greeting, particularly with dogs who are bigger than him. This was a puppy, but on the larger size, and she got right up in his face, right from the start, to which Brody said a whole lotta no. Apparently some dogs find that sort of greeting to be kind of stressful, and prefer to be approached from the side, instead. I noticed long ago that Brody shies away from direct frontal contact, even when it’s me reaching down to pet him. He prefers to ease into it, which I can fully understand.

Regardless, though, if things keep on like this, he’s going to get himself killed.

So naturally, I took to the internet, and delved into Cesar’s Way, website of Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer.

Now, I’ve stated several times – even as recently as yesterday – that I am not a good leader. This holds true for being a Pack Leader to Brody, as well, but in that case, neither of us can afford for me to not be one any longer. Really, I should have looked things like this up before Brody and I even met, but I was looking up a whole whack of stuff, trying to be prepared, and a person can only anticipate so much. Especially when one has never really realized that one would have to be a Pack Leader. I am the opposite of Alpha, so I have a lot of learning to do, anyway, but I think I’ve already taken great strides in just realizing that I have to come at all of it a different way.

Kind of like some of the lessons Hudson the polar bear taught me, actually. I saw things differently because of him, and now I am learning to see things differently because of Brody. It’s just time for teaching and learning between the two of us to stop being a one-way street. Brody needs me to lead, and so lead is what I’ll do.

Or I am learning to do.

One of Cesar’s rules is to live in the moment, not regret the past nor fear the future. Dogs live in the moment, and I need to, as well. Which I have already been thinking recently, anyway, I just needed a nudge to commit to it more resolutely. So instead of talking about what I will do, I’m attempting to talk about what I am doing. Or at least trying to do.

There is a lot to learn. And everybody is different so Brody and I will of course need to figure things out based on who we each are, but more importantly, who we are together. I just wanted so badly for him to love me – we came together because we’d both lost his girl and needed some extra love. While I have no intention of holding back affection, of course, I do intend to step up and be the Pack Leader he deserves. I now understand that’s what will create an even more loving bond between us than we already have.

Getting to know him has exceeded my needs and hopes from the get-go. Now it’s time for me to exceed his needs, too.

Love you beyond reason or measure, Brodykins. Time for us to both learn what that really means.

We got this.

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Spirograph

If all lives really mattered, wouldn’t we all be a lot less douchey about those not our own?

So much reacting without thinking.

Whereas, some days, thinking is pretty much all I do. I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships lately. Not, like, the dating kind. Obviously I am far too angry to date. Not specifically those, anyway. Just the ways in which I relate to others, and how they relate to me. Friendships, mostly, though some family and date-ish-like relationships, too.

Tomorrow I get to spend a large part of the day with one of my longest, closest friends, and I can not freaking wait! I can’t even remember the last time we got to hang out together like this…unless you count the day we spent in a clinic while I took my first dose of Gilenya, but I’m sure both of us would have rather been hanging out somewhere else. Somewhere we could talk and laugh and be ourselves more completely. Maybe somewhere with alcohol. Haha

Tomorrow will be much more “us”. Outside of eating chips in our pj’s while watching old episodes of “V” on VHS, of course.

Anyway, I am ridiculously excited about it – about just having the plan, let alone how much fun and cathartic it’ll be to actually do it all!

Another of my longest closest friends is in town this week with his wife, whom I haven’t met yet but feel like we’re going to get along splendidly together. We haven’t created an actual plan to hang out yet, but we will…it’s just a matter of finding mutual gaps in our schedules. But since I am also off tomorrow through Sunday, I think we should be able to figure something out!

I am ridiculously excited about that, too – I don’t even care what we do, so long as we’re together for a time!

I’m not sure if I feel so close to those two people because I rarely see them, but when I do, it’s like no time has passed, or if it’s because I’ve lived with both of them before. In the same house, just not at the same time. Maybe it was the house that cemented our friendships. Maybe it was the time period – I was fully out and feeling pretty cocky about my awesomeness; I thought at the time that I was pretty open about who I was, or at least as much as I had discovered so far. So I wonder if my frustration now is in feeling like I am less open than I was? Or the same but wanting to be more? Am I just more aware of feeling like I don’t know how to be the kind of friend to certain others that I want to have for myself? I definitely feel more guarded with new people now. I hadn’t been devastated yet when I met those friends from my 20’s.

Maybe some people just better at seeing through my crap and calling me on it and moving both of us past it. Maybe my newer friends just haven’t been given the chance to get there yet.

The interesting thing to me is that – regardless of the when or the how long – none of my closest friends ever consider me to be their closest friend. Or rather, they’ve always had people in their lives who are closer to them than I am. Just as I always have people closer to me than anyone who’s considered me one of their closest friends. It’s like some weird spirograph of connections; always fluid and changing and growing and shrinking and yet somehow still working somehow.

For the most part. There are times I still long for a more balanced mutual connection – to the point where I find myself even trying to force it sometimes – but for the most part, the spirograph works, and everybody gets what they need, more or less. Trying to force something to be what it’s not just because we want it to be something else…really doesn’t work for anyone. Which I of course know, but that doesn’t stop me from trying sometimes, even though I know it’s not going to turn out the way I want it to. Sometimes I just can’t help myself, I guess. Maybe I haven’t figured out the difference between reaching for what I want versus fighting a losing battle.

Maybe I still haven’t been able to even tell the two apart.

Living In Fear

I guess I pretty much live in some state of fear or anxiety most of the time. I suppose I always have. Some part of my brain is always on alert; listening, watching, trying to stay one step ahead of the world in an effort to see things coming, and plan a way to avoid or survive them.

It’s kind of exhausting, and occasionally somewhat crippling to boot.

As a kid, I would do routine inspections of the border of my bedroom to ensure nothing was close enough to the heaters to catch fire in the night. In the event of fire, I had an escape plan in place, and a mental list of the things I would try to take with me or toss out the window, along with saving the animals and family members in the house, too, of course. Somehow, in my head, that was all up to me. In the event of tornado, I also had survival plans in place. We didn’t have a basement, so I had to get creative. I wasn’t too worried about a tidal wave, being land-locked and all, though I did still have nightmares about them from time to time. But then again, zombies or alien invasions were also not out of the question, so I had to have plans for those, too.

As I got older, I started packing more on instead of less. Concerns about walking alone at night, having things stolen…I mean, stuff actually happens, and while there’s no way to be fully prepared, per se, it is possible to just be afraid and alert all the time as a way of lessening the chances it’ll happen to you.

Then I got Kate, and suddenly a whole other life depended solely on me. Keeping a roof over our heads and food in our bellies got added to the concerns, along with general financial worries that go along with unexpected expenses popping up suddenly. As unexpected things do.

It’s hard to expect everything, after all.

When we no longer had roommates and it was just the two of us, I started worrying that something would happen while I was at work; when I wasn’t home to take care of us. Every morning before I left the apartment, I would give the same little speech to her, and that became a superstitious kind of mantra. If anything bad had happened while I was out, a part of me would have blamed myself for not doing enough to prevent it, even if simple words do nothing specific at all.

As it turned out, what happened to Kate wasn’t while I was at work, but rather when I went away on vacation. I figured out pretty quickly after I got home that she was sick, and I hadn’t been around for her to let me know any earlier. She was euthanized within a few days of my return, and part of me will never forgive myself for giving up so many of those last precious days I could have spent with her, let alone the 5 months I’d left her in Colorado without me. Part of me will always believe it’s my fault she got sick to begin with, too, though.

Anyway, that’s how it was with one cat. Now I have three and a dog depending on me to take care of them. Depending on me and no one else, at least in day to day life. So now when I leave the apartment, the anxiety is the same, but multiplied by four. Some of them (I won’t name names because it’s not important) are less self-sufficient than Kate was, in that they need more care and attention from whoever is looking after them. So it’s harder for me to decide to leave, even when it’s just for the day. So many things can go wrong, even when I am there, but when I am not, the worry – the fear – is almost overwhelming sometimes. Usually before I leave and in the moments right before and after I get back home, but yeah. It’s always there, to some degree or other.

I guess it’s good we don’t really realize how out of control things are. We’d all go mad, I think. We’re on a rock, spinning in space, with plates shifting and mountains moving and the oxygen around us all we have to breathe with. At any time, another much smaller rock, hurtling through space, could slam into us and end it all in an instant (or in a slow, agonizing way, but I’ll be hoping for the instant, personally), yet here we are; all of us trying to bend, twist and force order into the chaos. Trying to assign it all meaning, and leave our mark to prove we were ever here at all.

Making plans can feel stifling sometimes, but not nearly so much as realizing that there can never be enough preparation. There will always be something we can’t predict; something we can’t avoid with forethought.

Sometimes we have to let go and see what happens. It’s really the start to living.

But it’s also really freaking hard.

I was watching an episode of a TV show wherein an artificial intelligence had taken on the voice of a human who had passed away. Hearing that voice again was hard for those humans left behind; those who mourned. And yet, at the same time, it’s a comfort. I thought of all the voices I’d give anything to hear again; voices from the past. Voices of those who helped shape who I am. A laugh, a curse, a playful tease, a story told just once more, even though it’s already been told a hundred times. What wouldn’t any of us give for the 101st?

A lot of a person is contained in their voice; certainly as much as in their appearance. That we communicate without voice so often now is a bit of a detriment – we text, we email, we comment on Facebook and Twitter. But it’s not really as much of a connection as when an individual’s voice is included. Even with Hudson the polar bear, the last time I saw him was also the first time I’d really heard his voice, and I was almost in tears when I made the realization. I know each of the cats voices; how they differ from one another and from other cats in the world.

Yet I really hate using the phone. Maybe it’s just easier to stay hidden behind a keyboard. As though taking our faces and bodies out of the mix isn’t quite enough most of the time, we also feel the need to remove our voices from the world at large. It just feels safer that way, somehow.

Safer, even as we cling to life and everything around us is shifting and spinning, spinning, spinning through space – until the day comes when we decide to sound our barbaric yawps over the rooftops of the world – and make our voices heard for all time.

What the hell am I even talking about? I think it’s time to eat lunch.

Alone Not Lonely

I read a post this morning online about women alone, as compared to men, in our society. It was interesting, and while some of it I’m not sure I agree with, the majority of it I found quite relatable.

I should probably include a link to the post, in case you want to see what I’m talking about. You can read it here, if you like.

So, there’s some discussion about how men are essentially allowed to be alone – we call them bachelors and they have their bachelor pads and man-caves and the like. There isn’t really a word for women who are alone – at least none that have positive connotations. Spinster, witch, crazy cat lady – it’s treated as an unnatural state for women to be in. Normal women are in relationships and surrounded by family and friends most of the time. It’s what we all aspire to, whether that’s because we were raised to, or society impresses that upon us, or whatever. Women can only lead happy, complete and fulfilled lives if there are other people around, whereas men can either let themselves get “tied down”, or hang out by themselves and enjoy their bachelorhood. They can choose, and both options are seen as perfectly acceptable. Women…not nearly so much.

Which I can kind of see, I guess. I hadn’t really thought about it – perhaps because I never really felt like I fell very squarely into either category, as far as general society is concerned. I think, to me, it’s more been the impression that preferring to spend time alone is often viewed as selfish, or antisocial, or the result of some sort of psychosis. Or some/all of the above. It feels, to me, as though it’s perceived with disdain in some regards. As a child, getting sent to one’s room is meant as a punishment, but I liked being in my room. I’d read, nap, write, play alone with Star Wars action figures, colour, listen to music – tons of things. I had a good imagination, and was very good at entertaining myself. Punishment for me would be to be forced to go outside and play. But technically I enjoyed that, too, so I guess it’d be more like, “go outside and find some friends to play with!”

Noooooo…..

The horror.

I think I’ve mentionned before that I would be an excellent shut-in type personality, if I could work from home. I would probably only leave to walk the dog. And now that I live with a dog again, I don’t really want to spend much time NOT living with a dog, so hopefully I will always be surrounded by animals and unconditional love. And we would go for walks together, because that requires very little effort on my part to be enjoyable for him. I pretty much just have to show up, and Brody is happy. He doesn’t even care what mood I am in – he’s just glad I’m there and that we’re outside together. I never have to, as the article thingy says, “arrange my face in a way that someone else would understand”. That goes for time spent in the company of animals, and time spent in the company of no one. Both are rather liberating, and I enjoy lots of either when I come across it.

But is that selfish? It’s antisocial, I guess, though I would also argue that it’s an excellent way to recharge my batteries so that I have the capacity to be more social as occasion warrants. Being “on” all the time takes a toll, after all. It certainly feels selfish, the idea of telling someone I’d rather be alone than hang out with them. So I try not to do that very often, because I don’t like feeling as though I’m not taking another’s needs into account in favour of catering to my own. Which I’m told would be a totally healthy thing to do, but it doesn’t feel good, so I don’t do it if I can help it!

The flip side, of course, is that I am also painfully aware of my inability to be a good friend or partner to anyone. So much time spent alone means that spending time with anyone else, or a group of anyone elses, is a huge thing for me. It’s stressful, and exhausting and taxing and frightening and overwhelming – along with all the good things it can also be, like fun, hilarious, emotionally-uplifting, creative…time with people you care about is priceless, really. It can take a load off, carry you forward, pick you up, and also recharge your batteries, just in a different way.

For me, so much time alone means that I get all that in theory, but have had very little practice, and am constantly noticing when I screw up, but haven’t quite figured out how to fix it when I do. Sometimes it’s a little like navigating a mine field, in a way. Like, do people actually want to hear what another person thinks? Or would they rather be listened to without judgement? It may seem like that depends on the person, but it also depends on the mood the person is in at that moment. And I’m terrible at picking up cues. Terrible.

I used to joke that I never knew if someone was flirting with me, which is true, but it’s also true for, like, everything. Realizing too late when I’ve pissed someone off, or hurt someone, or just misunderstood something and made another person feel un-heard or under-valued or un-loved. It’s like what’s happening in my mind is either way slow or way off whatever’s happening for the other person, and by the time I figure out what was going on for them, the damage is already done.

I feel like I’m behind and playing catch-up almost all the time. Like everyone else made the jump and I’m still back near the start, only just now realizing that everyone but me has already moved on.

That makes me not easy to be with. I don’t know if I am easy to talk to as a friend – I assume that also depends on the person and the mood and the situation. But I know it’s not as fulfilling as it could be, were I better at it. I’m definitely not an easy person to be in a romantic relationship with. Sometimes I feel like I should apologize to everyone who’s ever dated me, though logically I know that’s ridiculous and that no one is perfect. I do wonder if knowing how much I struggled, and that I did so because I wanted to be with them, would make any difference, though. Sometimes.

I guess the fact that I find it hard to communicate with others, while often preferring my own company to that of other people, makes me at least lazy – if not completely selfish – when I opt to be alone. It’s just easier. But also enjoyable, and rejuvenating in its own way. So there’s that.

And when I do choose to inhabit space and time with other people, it’s because I really want to. Not because I am desperate for companionship, or that I need to be in a relationship in order to feel fulfilled, or that I’m afraid to be alone, or any of the other assumptions that can be made. It’s because I want to be with that person or those people at that time. I love my alone time, I love not having roommates, I love not having to arrange my face. Being around other people means I have to give those things up, and even though I do my best, I know it’s not always what is needed or even wanted by said others.

When I choose to sacrifice those things I love and hang out with other people instead, there are various reasons for doing so. Some aren’t even that flattering or well-intentioned to mention.

Sometimes, though, I forego those things I love simply because I love you more.

The Lying Wall

I once dated a person who was, for all intents and purposes, a chronic liar. And when I say ‘dated’, I mean moved in with and tried to forge a relationship. I knew about 2 weeks in about the constant lying; about how very little of what she shared about herself and her life was untrue, yet I slipped easily into the role of placating and enabling. There was much more there, to my mind, so to me it was worth it. At least I went in with eyes wide open, I figured, and the lies were mostly unimportant, in that I didn’t care if a particular event happened or didn’t happen in her past – I was dealing with the person in front of me, instead. I felt at the very least it was a good exercise in learning compassion, empathy and patience. I tried to be supportive of the person standing in front of me, even as I took everything said with a grain of salt. Or a silo of salt, depending on the circumstance.

Anyway, this isn’t really about trying to defend either one of us. We all make choices, and we all live with them. Whatever.

The interesting thing is how the whole experience bled over into the rest of my life, even to this day, though to a much, much lesser degree.

I spent just over a year in that relationship, and apparently that was enough to form certain habits in my relations with other people. Friends, mostly, because I only had one actual relationship after that, but really, it’s affected everything in some form or another.

I didn’t notice it until that next relationship, but that’s likely because that was the first person I allowed myself to really get closer to, and be vulnerable with. It’s an odd experience, to remain vulnerable and honest when you don’t really believe what the other person is presenting to you. When you see mostly a façade, yet allow yourself to be open and real…it’s peculiar. One would think, looking at it from the outside, that it would be difficult to just be yourself, and not put your own guard up, as well. But I think it’s actually easier that way. Like how actors often feel more free on stage than in one-on-one scenarios. There’s something liberating about being able to just put yourself out there and not be too concerned with what will get reflected back to you. When you talk to a brick wall, you don’t worry about what it thinks of you; you just talk. And when it goes a step further to reflect only acceptance and love as a reward for opening up, it actually feels pretty good. You’re still aware that it’s a façade and only partly true, but part-real love is better than all-real hate any day.

When you are open to accept any amount of positivity, it’s amazing where you can find it, and how far even a little bit can go.

There are, of course, downsides. One is that eventually the lies will be about you, so if you’re not at least a little confident, that can be destructive. I lucked out somehow, because while most of my confidence was shattered by my own mind, at the time, where this liar chose to strike was in a ridiculous area that didn’t really affect me at all. The insinuation that I had removed a small amount of cash from a place where I didn’t even know there was any – after I’d just “loaned” her $1500 (which I also knew would never be paid back) – was pretty ludicrous. I think I actually laughed at the accusation, but I can’t really remember. It affected me that little.

No, the lies that turned on me were not very severe, and far too familiar to what had been said about her ex when they broke up. They were a non-issue, and nowhere near what I’d been expecting.

Weird to be in a relationship and just waiting for both shoes to drop and the lies to become more personal.

Another downside is the one that has stayed with me, and that is in the distance I create between myself and other people in my life now, and ever since. Whatever barrier I’d put up between her and I has basically stayed up. I guess it was more around me than it was between us, and I sometimes still catch myself questioning things more than I’ve been given reason to. Questioning or doubting…the assumption that no one is being completely honest with me is a tricky path to navigate sometimes. It doesn’t stop me from being open with other people, but it does stop me from accepting any kind of real affection or other positive emotion.

I just don’t believe anyone.

I mean, I can’t blame that all on this one person, of course. I know the sensation existed long before that; for as long as I can remember. But it was such an easy mindset to slide into, and not even notice it until more than a decade later. As well, it’s one thing to notice, but another to dismantle and re-create something else. My therapist has given me crap for that more times than I can count; for not looking at her during a session, for not allowing an actual connection to be established, for denying myself the ability to see for myself how someone else feels about me, and how in the moment they are. Even with her, part of my brain knows I’m paying her to listen to me, and thus doesn’t completely receive anything more personal from her.

Usually when she says something nice to her, I tell her she must be drunk. It’s our little joke; one that she only puts up with to a point.

I remember describing how my first therapist was kind of like a hologram to me; that she didn’t exist outside her office space. That she was just there for me to vent, and when I left the room, she ceased to exist. She broke the barrier one day by touching my arm out of genuine concern, and the realization that she was an actual human being crashed in on my consciousness with more force than I ever would have believed possible. Had anyone asked me before that moment if she was real, I would have said, “yes, of course she is” and thought the other person was a tad loony. But I didn’t really feel it – didn’t know it with my full being – until that day.

It’s a weird barrier. It allows me to feel safe enough to be open and express myself more than I did before the liar came into my life and I constructed this particular wall in response. But it doesn’t allow me to receive anything real from anyone else. As an added bonus, it also allows me to blow perceived negativity way out of proportion if I think there is any directed at me. It basically skews my reality, even as it allows me to express myself more.

In other news, I’m looking into possibly working with some cool writing prompts, just for fun. I maaay even post the results of some of those exercises here! Stay tuned!

On Rules And Getting Therapized

Have you ever noticed how many rules, and guidelines and laws are created specifically to stop stupid people and/or assholes from doing things they should logically just know not to do? And it always highlights the possible punishment, not the fact that doing it makes you stupid and/or an asshole.

Like the emergency alarm on subway trains. It clearly states that it’s for medical, fire or police-worth emergencies. Emergencies. For when you need professional help in some or all of those areas. But just stating that much isn’t even enough, there also has to be the threat of a fine. Because it’s not bad enough that you tied up an entire line because you missed your stop, or need some air or whatever. For some, the only reason NOT to activate the alarm and grind everything to a halt is the threat of a fine. Losing money is a legitimate threat, whereas being an asshole and/or stupid apparently is not.

Don’t run up to dogs because you might get bit. Totally fine if you scare them with your unpredictable and aggressive actions – when you’re stupid and/or an asshole. But geez, you might get bit. And, of course, you’d blame the dog, but that’s a different rant. The only reason for some people to NOT scare an animal is the threat of personal harm, rather than any sort of empathy for causing distress to another individual.

How about just trying harder to not be stupid and/or an asshole, for a change? Unless you are comfortable in your stupidity and/or assholiness, in which case there should just be laws against you.

Anyway.

Finally saw my therapist again this morning! Was very late for work as a result, but totally worth it. I’ll do it again if need be, but I joked with her to stop leaving town for my days off and/or paydays. Haha

It was great to see her, as always, and her new puppy is ridiculous. His name is Cole, he’s a Scottie, and he is young, so basically comprised of fur and tongue. He loves belly rubs (at which I am expert thanks to Brody) and giving kisses. Not great at therapy-dogging yet, but he’ll get there. He’s very accepting, and somewhat distracting until he calms down. I can’t blame him, though. He did just meet one of his new best friends, after all!

(I mean me. I’m his new best friend.)

I didn’t get my list out until later in the session, just to make sure I’d hit everything I wanted to. It’s hard because we haven’t seen one another in so long. There was a period of catching up in the beginning (and doggie distraction). She remarked immediately on my hair, weight loss, and new tattoo, which was funny. Most of the stuff I just mentioned in kind of blanket statements, because there’s just not enough time to cover everything in depth. Or anything, really, when there’s that much build up. I opened several doors to several conversations that we’ll have, hopefully, over the next little while.

Some things we touched on more than others. There was a fairly big discussion about whether or not I can actually ask for things I need, which led to whether or not I feel like I deserve such things enough to ask for them. I guess that’s closer to the root of my communication problem when it comes to talking to people who aren’t being paid to listen to me. There was a similar thread about guilt, and about being “nice” and “polite”; about hurting other people’s feelings by taking care of my own and whether or not I want to do that.

In a weird segue, we talked a bit about my very first therapist. She said she liked when I talked about her because it seemed like we’d had a great connection. And we did. It far exceeded what I’d thought therapy would be like, and tested my ability to be open and do the work in the safe environment she’d provided. I talked today about how it was also the first time I’d experienced how cruddy the system can be, when decisions are made by unseen forces in offices instead of in the room. Decisions that affect lives. Both of us were affected when we were forced apart – she was angry, I was sad and panicked and feeling abandoned on some level that didn’t listen to logic. I guess it was hard to open up again after that because suddenly it all felt so temporary, and not within my control to say when it would stop. It’s hard to do all that work, and then be cut off by people who’d had nothing to do with it all along, and then try to find a way to work your way back to that space with someone else.

I haven’t so far, actually. Not quite like that. Different this time, but equally gratifying, for the most part. I know my guard is still up in some areas, but at the same time, I’m not there for the same reasons as I was almost 20 years ago. Everything is very different in my world now; I am very different. So we deal with me now, anyway, instead of whoever I was then.

Anyway, for the most part, I gave her the Cliff’s Notes on the things I want to talk about – including the fact that I want to talk at all. Maybe this way I can manage not to feel the need to burden my poor friends with some of this stuff, too. Hopefully. On the way to work after, I made notes in my phone to expand on the 4 or 5 main things I want to dig into more next time, too. Because, naturally, I thought of a few more things I wanted to say after I left. Happens every freaking time!

Oh! She also showed me a book that might help get creativity flowing again, which is awesome. I took a picture of the cover so I can look it up later, and she said that if I can’t afford it right away but want to investigate it more, she can scan the first chapter and send it to me.

But that I have to ask her for it.

#clevergirl

Psychotherapy

I have an appointment with my therapist tomorrow morning.

I’m hella nervous because it’s been a very long time since we last saw one another. I can’t even remember when I was there last. I think it was sometime in 2015, though I didn’t go often then, either. I was a once-a-week client for a few years, but as my regular expenses climbed whilst my income did not, it got a lot harder to continue paying the fee so regularly. I wasn’t needing to be there as often, either, because things settled down, and the meds have been doing their job. Granted, I cut back to the lowest dose because it’s more affordable, and last time I switched back to the generic brand, because I can more easily afford that on top of the attrocity that is MS medication prices. So I guess that might have stirred things up, balance-wise, too, making me want to get back in there.

Mostly, though, it’s just time.

Things have been building up for quite some time, and the fact that I don’t get weekdays off anymore kind of sucks. Some things, like this, are really only available on weekdays, and some other things, like the zoo, are just better. I found out that she’ll be away for the days I booked off this month, and I didn’t want to wait for June, so on impulse, I emailed her last night, and decided to just take the first session time in the morning, and go to work late. It will not be great going to work after such a thing, but it’s better than not going to the session at all.

I’ve moved the last of my available cash over to my main account so that I can take it out on the way home and have it ready to hand over in the morning. Then I just have to make it to Friday payday, which should be feasible, barring any unforeseen issues.

While I am mostly nervous about it (I have started a list in my phone to remind me of what I want to discuss so I won’t forget anything important), I am also part excited, and part relieved. We’ve been through a lot together, she and I, and it’ll be great to see her again, AND meet her new puppy! Her doggie and I also got quite close (I stopped using her downtown office space and started seeing her at her home office, which included love from Kylie, her unofficial therapy dog), but she had to be euthanized last year at some point, I think. This will be the first time I’m there with no Kylie to lie on my feet and make a fuss over my arrival, but I’m told there is a new little guy for me to meet, so I am looking forward to that.

I’ve been seeing this woman for just over 7 years, since early 2009, and even though we haven’t seen one another in a long time, I am confident in our ability to get caught up and back on track. We work well together. There were a few times when I even acted as a guinea pig for different techniques she was learning in her courses, which was interesting. I got those sessions for free, and most of them were actually pretty cool. One was not, but most of them were. I like learning unexpected things in equally unexpected ways.

For a time, near the start, our relationship was not entirely…not that it wasn’t professional, per se, but it wasn’t the usual kind of therapist-client working relationship. We were, at least in part, more like friends sometimes. We talked about it a couple of times, and eventually things shifted a little to be what it’s like now. I think I just needed something different at one point, and she provided that. After that, however, I think it makes our sessions that much better. We have a different kind of comfort level because of that unique beginning, and so far as I can tell, it only makes the work we do more valuable and beneficial for me. It makes it possible for me to go several months – maybe even a year – without going in, and still feel confident that we’ll still be able to accomplish things over the course of our hour. It won’t just be all catch up and surface talk. She knows me, and knows how to help me dig deeper.

She even knows when I’m trying to avoid doing so. It’s rather uncanny. And annoying. Haha

It’s going to be interesting, in a good way. I’ll still be glad to have done it, as well as glad to have gotten it over with. And then I’ll start trying to figure out when I can afford to go in again. Hopefully sometime next month. My benefits cover registered massages up to a certain point, but not registered psychotherapy. Go figure.

Priorities are a slippery slope, I guess!