A New Dog in Town

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This little handsome devil is Thurman. He’s been with us for almost two weeks. This sweet creature came from a puppy mill, and when they were done with him he was taken in by a rescue. He’s six years old, and doesn’t understand dog toys or even dog biscuits. He hates to be picked up, he shakes, makes his legs stiff and tries to get away. When he’s stressed or anxious he pants and shakes, it just breaks my heart to see this.

I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what is best for him, or trying to soothe him, or keeping an eagle eye out for signs he needs to go potty that I find myself less shaky overall. I think the last time I shook, felt stuck or ruminated was over two weeks ago. I can’t swear to it, but it does seem like it’s been an inordinate amount of time since I’ve felt stuck or fuzzy.

He needs to be walked several times a day as we have learned the hard way that his bladder is very small. He cannot go over 4 hours without a walk. I’ve learned that when you walk a dog you become ripe for conversation or greetings on the street. I am accustomed to keeping to myself on walks that this new way of life is bewildering, stressful, uncertain, and lovely all at the same time.

It took him a few days to find his bark. First time was mere minutes before a WebEx staff meeting when I was working from home. He heard children outside our window and started intermittently boofing, this sound that was not quite a bark but sounded like he was asking, “What the hell is that noise?”

Then last night he decided to show us his bark at bedtime when he wanted out of his crate. My wife and I laid in bed, held hands and tightened our grip with each bark hoping it was just intermittent as we are in an apartment. We figured out he would bark when he heard me speak. I tried to whisper to no avail. I’m glad today is Christmas because I am aware it was very late before I finally fell asleep.

We shall see what tonight brings with this little guy. Nonetheless, he keeps me out of my ruminating head, and gets me out in the world. Though for the first time I missed a train stop on the way home from work last week. I went 4 stops past my stop before I realized something was amiss. I missed my stop because I was reading The Best Dog Raincoats and Rain Boots, According to Professional Dog Walkers on The Strategist.

Learning to Listen

I started attending a group for people with dissociative identity disorder back in June of this year. It was quite a process just to get into it. There was an intake, an extensive intake, of which I was quite resistant with many of the questions. I was asked the ages of my parents and whether they were deceased, to which I answered, “No idea.” When asked to describe my relationship with each parent I said, “Terrible, and don’t care to elaborate today.” There were 16 possible boxes to check under the Family Psychiatric History section. I checked 12 out of the 16 boxes. I was asked to elaborate on all the boxes I checked, and I replied, “Don’t care to do so today.”

The intake form, 3/4 of the way through asked me to talk about my strengths, and I answered by stating, “Not robotically answering questions on an intake form.”

It’s a small wonder I was allowed into this group. I think it may have helped that one of the facilitators was not meeting me for the first time.

We will meet for something like 36 weeks, and we are 8-10 sessions in (I’ve not kept track of the exact number). It’s become one of those things that I look forward to every week, and, at the same time, I don’t want to turn my check in because it’s a lot of money that is not covered by insurance. I know it’s rare to have such a group for DID folks, and I am grateful and always do math in my head each week when I turn in my payment.

It’s hard to run away from this condition when you’re talking about the challenges with having parts every week. Sometimes I feel myself start to slip away during the group, but I can see I’m not alone with the struggle. I’ve known before I started the group that it’s important to listen to my parts, and have consistent communication and collaboration. I’ve learned that one can know that, yet not do it any consistent manner. I’ve found myself in the place where it’s easy to listen to the part or parts that are usually near the front. Those voices at the back get drowned out, and they start to come out sideways because when a part is not heard that is when I start to feel off. But, I don’t usually think to inquire or listen to see if a part needs something when I start to struggle.

I bought a notebook for my homework in the group. I found that parts also liked just writing in the notebook. However, I quickly learned there was conflict among parts as to where each part could write. Now everyone has their own tab and area within the notebook to write. All parts seem to be content with this solution. It surprises me that I still find content I don’t recall writing, but now with the tabs I know who’s writing! I always appreciate clues. Should have implemented this solution years ago.

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Friends are everything

Tonight I feel alone on an island with no connection to any human. I am in a tunnel that is growing narrower and narrower. The view is nil and the ride is solo. My body feels broken from the inevitable tension throughout. My breath feels caught in my throat, and my mouth goes dry. There seems to be no place for relief.

Then I remembered my friend, with whom I watched Parks and Recreation episodes when we both got freaked out and anxious, reached out to me this week. I have a tendency to forget I have friends. Sometimes, I have to make myself sit and write down names of my friends to remind myself I do indeed have friends. Even so, I still forget! I emailed my dear friend and fellow Parks and Recreation fan a bit ago to say I needed to reach out because I was feeling alone in the world. And, even in the midst of her own difficulties, she emailed back to say she was thinking of me. I cried just reading her succinct email back to me. So short, yet so everything to me in that moment. She wanted me to know she was thinking of me, of us, all of us. Sometimes that’s all you need to get through the night.