The last 6 months have been amazing.
potentially life changing.
at times brutal
and at times beautiful.
2016 is rocking up to be a big year for me! As I was driving to Penelope this morning, this post was brewing as I reflected on some of the events of this year. Penelope (my DBT therapist) refers to significant events as ‘recovery markers’ those events that have signposted a change either internally or externally. This year has offered a few of these!
My brother passed away in December. I miss him terribly. But I’ve survived his loss. I’m still going. His death hasn’t meant my death. I can carry on without him. On a practical note, his death has also freed me up. I can now turn my phone off at night in peace. My sleep has drastically improved. I don’t wake with that dread of what the day may bring. I don’t get the phonecalls telling me to get to the hospital quick- he might not survive. I would give anything to have him back with us- but I don’t miss living with that level of stress. His death has given me some new life.
Jury service in January was massive for me. Really significant on so many levels. I bonded with my fellow jurors at such a deep level. We listened to stuff that we shouldn’t have had to… but at the time I knew we were together for a set period of time and then it was likely I would never see any of them again. With hindsight I see that my attachment patterns were evolving. I was growing in my ability to come together and then sep-arate again. Penelope today talked about recovering from abandonment issues- you know things are changing when you can come together but then move apart… Even back in January I knew things were brewing…
And then, along came the pups… George and Mildred. They are bundles of joy. They are tiring, messy and adorable. They have given me the most enormous gift- that I can love something/someone and not be consumed or controlled by them. I can love but also leave. I can give love and receive it. I can be responsible without being restricted. I can be committed without being castrated. I can co-exist with something/ someone else.
My progress feels miraculous quite frankly. I can now contemplate choices that I never knew even existed. If I can love differently, my world can expand. If I can love for a time, I can carry on loving beyond that time. These few paragraphs don’t do justice to my progress but if this much can change in 6 months… who knows what the next 6 months may bring! Watch this space!
Thanks for listening.
In my last post I poised the question as to whether I might have had a breakthrough… well, I think I have! The difference in me since that DBT session with Penelope has been seismic for me. The relief is even more palpable then when my jury service ended- as this has this separation anxiety has plagued me for years.
A tale of two lunches best illustrates this. Two weeks ago I went to lunch with Gareth and Daniel. I had left the pups in school (5 mins away) crated up safely with a member of staff sitting in the same office. I was anxious. Not the worst case… but I was preoccupied with them. I admitted it to my friends, but at that point I just couldn’t understand why I was being so pathetic. I wanted to text Eileen to check they were ok, I fantasied that a member of staff was going to complain about the pups being in school. At one point, I thought I was just going to have to run back to them. (we were gone about an hour). It wasn’t great.
This week I had lunch with Gareth. I left the pups in school again. This time, I TOTALLY FORGOT about them. I mean, TOTALLY FORGOT. Didn’t think about them once. Didn’t even dawn on me to text. I TOTALLY FORGOT about my precious pups. And I could sing and dance with joy. The relief is enormous. The result is that I am enjoying them even more. I look after them, but their needs are not more important than mine.
I will bring them with me when I can but only when its the best thing for them and the best thing for me.
I know I have a way to go. I think 3.5 hours is the max I’ve left them alone. (with no other human). But I have not asked anyone to sit with them or pop in- which is just great.
This new information/ experience also makes a difference to other aspects of my life, not just with the pups. If I can continue to develop this ability to keep separate… and be able to love from afar as well… who knows what else life may offer me. Possibly I could commit to someone/ something without it being a life sentence??? Shock horror- if I’m managing this fear, perhaps I can develop to a point where I can even feel loved? As I say to the children in my school, the world is your lobster- just may be my world has expanded just a little bit more.
Thanks for listening.
George and Mildred have been with me for two weeks. It’s like I’m living in a whirlwind… everything has been turned upside down and I love them. I am able to recognise real moments of joy. They are affectionate, funny, naughty and mine. And of course, emotionally, I am all over the place!
I am trying to stick with my emotions. I am using the pups to help me identify moments of happiness which has been lovely to observe. But the separation anxiety has been pretty strong 😦 I was naive to think I wouldn’t feel it. But I hoped, in the passing 4 years since my previous dog, I had been cured. I haven’t been cured, but I have been more equipped. I have made myself leave them… crate them… ignore them… I have practised “opposite action” more times in these two weeks than in ages! And I am doing ok.
But the anxiety has been upsetting. Because I do not want to feel it. I do not want to live with this feeling in my chest. I want to be free to love, but free to be separate.
I saw Penelope yesterday and was feeling quite despondent about it all. But I am determined to crack this thing… whatever ‘this thing’ may be. We explored it. And I keep hitting blanks… but then a ping moment… we stumbled on something I hadn’t thought of before… the ping got louder and clearer… and do you know what… I think we may have stumbled on the root of my anxiety at leaving the dogs. Possibly obvious to everyone else, but it was new for me, and I knew it was real.
I had left the pups to go and see Penelope, (about 3 hours) I went home for lunch and was going to take them to school. I was only going to be away maximum 2 hours… even though I could have taken them I put my new information into practise and left them. They were fed, watered and safe. They didn’t need to be with me. And I didn’t need to be with them.
As often happens, my thinking has been really tested… Mildred was poorly after her injections, we were stuck in M25 traffic on their first long journey. But we did it. I did it. I can do it.
I always knew George and Mildred were going to provide opportunities for me to grow, be challenged and learn. I am so glad I faced the fear and got them. They are precious.
Thanks for listening.