Who I Need to Be

I’ve written before about how helpful the boys are when I am struggling with anxiety and depression. I don’t write publicly about it often but tonight I felt the need. My boys mean more to me than I could ever express through written word. Part of that is because I don’t share the less happy stuff. People have enough to deal with in their own lives. Most people would rather read about the happy, silly, guess-what-my-weird-dog-did-this-time ramblings.

Tonight, I need the dogs. To be truthful to myself, I have needed them quite often lately. I even tried to sneak a visit with one of our counselor’s handsome therapy dog. Unfortunately for me, he was out of the office. As always, I will make it. Self-doubt, irrational fears, feelings of inadequacy, and various personal demons are always there and I have enough tools to get by. I am blessed in that I can function and the horrendous days are rare. The dogs help me be who I need to be.

It still amazes me, even after all these years of having dogs, how loving and helpful they can be. I’m sure they are responding to unconscious body language and aren’t actually reading my mind. They are sticking even closer than normal lately. Percy keeps an eye on me and it is rare for me to be seated and not have physical contact with at least one of these furry friends. I love them even more for that.

They don’t expect me to be happy and energetic. Sure, a good game of fetch and catch is a highlight but they also seem happy to kiss my face and just sit for a chin scratch. As I sit and write tonight, I have either Drake or Percy right in my face and have received multiple kisses. I won’t even fight to keep Haas in his own bed tonight because I know I will rest better with him there and feel better tomorrow. They are here. They accept me as I am. To me, this is beautiful. This is worth cleaning up another puked up sock or a destroyed set of blinds. It’s worth holding a 95 pound dog down to apply eye drops or find a new way to trick picky eaters to take a heart worm pill. It’s worth the terrible because I have the terrific when I need it.

I hope you get to experience this same selfless affection from a dog, cat, or hyper-aware goldfish. If you are struggling, I hope you feel better soon. I appreciate you and I know you are a pretty swell person, whether you know it or not.

This picture of Haas sulking after being forced to come in out of the snow makes me smile.

Getting Personal…sort of

Monday’s notebook prompt for my students was “What can you do this week to improve your life?” I think about things like this occasionally. Sometimes I even act upon them. Will the kids? Who knows. I’ve started the week with good intentions but we know how those can turn out.

Honestly, Monday has been a struggle. I don’t know why. There is no reason. My students are great, my coworkers are great, my dogs have gone several days without eating concrete, and I got to have dinner with my grandfather for the first time in forever. Unfortunately for me, the itchy-fights showed up and tried to take over the day.

The itchy-fights isn’t a technical term. It’s just the best way I can describe the onset of anxiety. Sometimes that feeling has a trigger and sometimes they just come on in spite of all of the blessings around me. My skin feels itchy on the inside like it doesn’t fit and is made of cheap sweater and insulation. The fights come when I combat all of the physical stimuli and people. I love my kids and do everything in my power to not let them know I am struggling. They deserve a professional in the classroom. They are also good for keeping me from turning into a crazy dog lady hermit. However, 127 of them each day can make the itchies worse.

I have to fight the urge to run away and hide in my book closet and concentrate on meeting my kids’ needs. There are strategies I use when it gets bad and here is where my terrible trio earn their kibble. I rely on their love to get me through.

My sweet boy has been surprisingly patient through this. He has brought me toys but hasn’t been insistent on playing fetch or catch. In fact, this bull in a china shop has gently hovered at my side. I get little snuggles and he checks in but no headbutts or forcing his 85 pounds into my lap. Percy the Pain is Percy the Precious tonight.

The other boys are behaving nicely. I am thankful for them and fortunately, the itchy-fights are starting to subside enough that I can think again. Writing helps, as well, which is why I have taken a break from the four legs’ weekly misadventures. I hope you’ll indulge my wandering and come back next week for more fun and probably destruction in the future as we play more “What is in your mouth now?!”

Now I can think about what I can do this week to make my life better. I’m going to continue watching The Great British Baking Show and appreciating how nice the people are. I love how they help each other and are so supportive. I am going to take time to watch something positive like this every day this week. I try to help people have a better week every day and this week I am going to include myself.

The boys and I wish you an excellent week and help you do something kind for yourself. If you get your own version of the itchy-fights, remember to do what you need to do to be good to yourself. We believe in you!