Looking Back at Month 1

It seemed worthwhile to look at everything that’s happened since we got Dora a little over a month ago. It slips away too quickly otherwise.

  • I have started talking to several new people routinely. Mostly about Dora, when I’m with Dora, but still- we recognize each other now. That’s pretty good for a hermit.
  • I have started taking the car much more often. My husband and I share a car, and I feared becoming house-locked because without my own car I wouldn’t feel free to join things. It happened, but slowly. Now, I take the car at least 3 days a week- dropping off my husband and picking him up- mostly because of Dora.
  • I’m using public spaces for my own purposes. It’s cold. Really cold with windchill, and I can’t walk my dog outside for long periods of time. But Dora needs exercise and leash training. So I go to the stores. Pet stores, home improvement stores, any place that allows leashed pets. I still feel a bit guilty about it, but I do it anyway.
  • I talk to strangers as one off encounters too. Again, it’s usually about Dora and with her, but still, having a handful of positive conversations with dog lovers about how well behaved Dora is, how cute her ears are, how nice she looks, how old she is and so on, does brighten my day (which I could use).
  • A friend of mine has been coming over to play video games and hang out for about an hour, three days a week. She works at a school nearby and has an awkward break between her morning duties and school starting. It’s been good to see another person routinely.
  • I have asked people to accommodate me. If something is scheduled and I feel exhausted, then I contact them and ask to reschedule, or to change things somehow to allow me to complete it anyway. (As opposed to worrying about being a burden to the extent that I never allow anyone to be kind to me.)
  • I talk, sing, and laugh more during the days (because I’m not alone). Having Dora around to interact with does help ease the social isolation. I know she’s not an eloquent conversationalist, but she’s a responsive listener. That’s something.

There are probably a few more changes, but I think my husband was right about the benefits of getting a dog quickly and then training it ourselves (via co-training). Dora has been good for me.

“I am…” Part 2

⭐️Note: This is a follow up entry for “‘I am…’ Part 1,” which was published two days ago.

I decided to write a new list as a kind of diagnostic activity. (Regarding the method: I just wrote the whole list in one sitting, in under 5 minutes, as a stream of consciousness.) So, am I getting better or worse? Has anything changed in 11 years? That’s what I wanted to find out. (See the full list above in the featured image.)

I obviously still like self-awareness, as I went out of my way to comment on my fears and insecurities. I also don’t like being defined by my roles, so I did not mention social ties, career or education achievements, or other things that might set up expectations from my audience (or even from myself). Roles are socially constructed, and thus artificial, anyway.

I see about 8 items that are fairly positive, or as postings as I ever am, I guess. I am looking to the future with hope, believing that things can get better, doing what I can to get there, and I am acknowledging my progress. That’s all good.

I also still have a ways to go; I am afraid that people will not approve of me, so I hide my brokenness and myself. I don’t talk to people who like me, even though they would probably be happy to hear from me. I am living a very small, isolated life.

Is it better? I think so. There are fewer sentences about pain and desperation, although the pain is still there. Are things changing? I guess so, but right now, it doesn’t feel like I am happy or free.

Overall, it’s a pretty bittersweet update.

“I am…” Part 1

I found a list of descriptions of me that I wrote in high school in an old, forgotten notebook. It is strange to look back on it… And sad as well. There is only one semi-positive phrase, and the rest of it is negative. Well, mostly. The featured image should show you what I mean.

See, some of this is sad, but some of it just strikes me as pretty self-aware. I lament not feeling loved or being hugged by friends and family, but also comment that I am terrified of both love and touch. (They are both tied to vulnerability and being known, which makes them scary.) I note how hard I am on myself and immediately comment that I am my worst enemy. That kind of thing.

So while these insights are still depressing, I can’t see them as bad per se. After all, personal change cannot occur without awareness of problems. 

But I’m sugar-coating things to feel a bit better about them. Awareness honestly didn’t lead to change. I didn’t grow as a result. In reality, rather than in theory, I only ended up using this self-awareness as fodder for debilitating self-talk. Signs of my weakness, personal flaws, proof of my inherent brokenness.

That’s the thing- awareness and contemplation are necessary for growth, but they don’t guarantee growth. It’s up to us to choose which path we will walk. 

If only I was always strong enough to take the healing route! But there have been, and likely always will be, days when I only have enough energy to continue towards more pain, because the familiar path is always easier to walk.