Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Dog

I'm writing this before I go to take my dog King on a long walk; he needs the exercise as he has been cooped up lately due to the rain we've been having. As I was brushing my teeth this morning, I began thinking about how he was the impetus for a lot of the extremely drastic changes I've made recently, and how he helped free me from a lot of the narcissistic control that was going on in my life.

My husband and my second cat did not get along, and so when I gave him up to another family (for both of their sakes), I was pretty devastated. I felt like I had let the cat down; like he was a representative of the vulnerability I had all through childhood, and how me, without child, could exhibit traits of patience and kindness to him. I could be, for this cat, the mother that *I* never had. This is absolutely ridiculous considering he went to an exceptionally good family home with a kind and soft-spoken mother, her patient and loving husband, and their two gentle little boys. They were the perfect recipients of my pseudo-child, and perhaps could be more for this cat that I was being at the time. It is also ridiculous because I cannot live vicariously through a cat and expect to get by on the feelings I am *assuming* he feels. Such is the personality of someone traumatized from a lifetime of dealing with a narcissist. I had become the scapegoat for even the most minute events that happened in our household growing up, and I never came out of an argument the victor. Every conversation I've ever had with my mother has only left me a little more wounded or ashamed. A typical random jab would go as such:

(someone in a wheelchair rolls by, perhaps he or she broke his or her leg)

Mom: (stares condescendingly at the wheelchair person) You are so lucky you're healthy, that's the most important thing -- look at what happened to that poor person. *I* won't be healthy forever, that's why I deserve your attention and respect.

How did we even get to that? And how do you just openly say something like that? My mother is in her mid 60's and she is not going to hit her death bed for another 30 years minimum, I guarantee it. It is in her genes. Her father died at 86 and her mother at 92. She looks like she is MAYBE 50 years old. She is constantly at the gym and worried about her physique (as any wealthy narcissist NEEDS to do), but she is not worried about the simple things that people don't see like mammograms or routine dental checkups. The irony is that she complains about how she is going to die all the time, which is an excuse she got from her brother dying of a mesothelioma-like cancer from being exposed to toxins all the time (constantly going in basements for catch my drift). A simple cough turns into an exaggerated illness of the rarest kind -- she even milks it up to sound worse if you're talking to her. "Maybe I'm going to die," she coughs, "you never know." No, actually, I do know. You don't even have a cold. Something went down your throat the wrong way when you were shoving it down and hiding it from everyone. If she wanted to take care of her health, she'd make an attempt to stop being stressed about every little blip on the radar that comes her way. Yeah, sometimes the house gets a little messy. Sometimes things leak. Sometimes things don't go perfectly at work. She makes these issues life-or-death situations which, inevitably, pile up and cause death. Somehow, she thrives off of these things. And somehow, I feel like I owe her something due to the fact that she said it. Imagine she actually died after making a comment like that? I'd feel guilty forever. So, again, I'd keep getting drawn in.

Anyway, I digress. My (now) husband knew I was devastated over the cat and allowed me time to appropriately heal from the ridiculousness I was feeling. He fully explained to me that a cat cannot be a life I vicariously find happiness through, although I have a right to be sad to let go of a pet. Once I worked on these feelings, he decided he really did want another cat (but not one that did not get along with him), and so we decided to go to the pound to get another one. (I avidly support animal adoption.)

**An important note here is that we were living in a building at the time that is owned by my parents' company. That issue is a long one for another day, but let's just say I'm happy I'm out of there as of now. The fact that we lived there (and were decent, rent-paying tenants), is a major topic of contention for what follows.**

When we get to the pound, instead of being directed straight towards the section with cats and kittens, we pass the section of dogs. Even while I was single and living by myself I had always dreamed of owning a dog. I had one when I was still living in my parents house in high school, and I love animals. However, I couldn't find the time to care for a dog by myself, especially with a cat already in the house. After a little bit of trying to talk myself out of it, I cannot resist going in the dog section and having a look. Almost every dog is yappy and jumpy, two personality traits that would not mesh with an apartment building and the crazy complaining tenants that live there (who would complain to my parents...see the issue?). However, when I get to the end of the row, I see King. He, my husband, and I all clicked. He is composed and quiet, but not fatigued in any way, just sitting properly to see if we would have a look. Instantly, I knew I wanted to take this animal home. I also knew a dog would not be something my parents would be too fond about my having, but I decide to be strong and do what is going to make me happy (and make my husband happy because he wanted one too!). We take him home and I'm finally at peace. He is quiet and behaved and sweet, and just has a little bit of separation anxiety. He cries a little bit when we leave him, but stops and goes to sleep, an issue we can work on and fix in a matter of a couple months.

That peace doesn't last longer than about a week.

I don't get a text message or a phone call from my already-enraged-due-to-losing-control parents asking about why I have a "large dog" in my apartment and what we can do to solve the disagreement about my having it. No, instead I get a 10 Day Notice to Cure or they will commence an eviction which takes about two more legal business days. Basically, their lawyer sent me a notice saying "other tenants have been complaining. You have a little more than a week to get rid of the dog or I'm throwing you out. Sincerely, the lawyer for your parents." Talk about trying to exercise control. I would have been happy to have the discussion and arrange something had they been open with me. They're not just my landlords. They're supposed to be my parents. However, I know that the Notice to Cure is not just about the dog. They're upset that my boyfriend isn't what *they* imagined for me. They're upset that I don't call them every day anymore. That I'm not slaving working for them. You get my point. They're mad that I'm not their robot anymore, and they'll do anything to take me down. The dog is a perfect excuse.

 Well, at that point, I flew into devastation again. We could not afford to live anywhere else as my husband had just started his job, and I was in transition from working for my parents and being deliberately underpaid (aka they knew I didn't have enough to eat after I paid the rent). I was not getting rid of the dog. I couldn't do it. So, we scrambled for every option. I called Pet Hotlines and reached out to everyone we knew for foster care. Fortunately, a family friend took him for a couple of weeks so we could find a little more time to figure out how to get out.

All I get in the meantime is a message from my mother which basically asks what has become of me and why I continue to do such hateful things to MY family. (Hah, MY family) Why, she asks me, would I reject people that have given me everything? That *is* a question she would ask. I choose not to respond as I am not ready to do it in a respectful manner and it would probably only send me backwards at this point. I cannot afford a therapist at the moment. I'm working on all of this myself.

In a story for another time, we are forced to leave the apartment sooner rather than later due to their hand being in our professional lives as well. Hang tight for that one.

Simply put, I would have been caught in their net for so much longer had the dog not caused their lawyer to send Notice to Cure. (By the way: turns out neighbors weren't complaining, it was passed along to us that my parents had hired a private investigator to follow us. Weird.) I finally took the step and was courageous enough to move out of a place they owned, a place that was so familiar to me in a sick obsessive way. It really was an action that was so straightforward instead of the perverse "we love you so we're doing this horrible thing to you". 

I still feel really out of my element; I'm in a totally different place with a different vibe and its unfamiliarity makes me nervous. I was so comfortable being a child due to being treated like a child. I had grown comfortable being told what to do and who to be, even with argument and tantrum. However, I'm ready to learn how to be an act like an adult. I am married and in a totally new place now. It's time to start over and figure out who I want to be.

I'm just glad my dog is a part of it. Time to go walk him!

My best. <3

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