I’ve been married six months at this point…

I’m still struggling to get better, just like I was the day we said our vows.

It’s a fight, I take a lot of hits and my husband is the one who keeps me from getting knocked on my ass (and from getting stuck on believing that things are falling apart when they really aren’t.) The last year has been all about taking small steps towards recovery. It feels like my PTSD controls my life and it has taken a lot of dedication to the idea that I can get better to convince me there is worth in trying. There are so many things I hold in my heart that are more important than my own well being. My husband is worth living for, he’s worth getting better for and the idea that I could fail him causes me more anxiety than dose the idea of failing myself and wasting my own life. I know this isn’t healthy and I’m working on it.

I’m full of failures and it makes me feel worthless. I’ve been suicidal in the past and after staring at the edge I’ve realized that’s not me, it’s not how I’ll go. I’m not going to end it. I guess I’m a few steps above that most days:Too often I still wish my entire history could be deleted and no one would remember me. That’s how little worth generally I see in myself.

Louie, my husband, he is the only person I would feel bad for. I know my brothers and my grandparents genuinely love me, but I don’t think their lives would be affected like his would if I was just gone. We’re a team. I got really lucky with him. Everyday he makes me feel like I am worthwhile, loved, and incredibly wanted. He helps me see all the ‘failures’ as experience. He is my partner and builds me up instead of tearing me down. Louie is the reason I am who I am. He grounds me in reality and enriches my life in truly countless ways that make me stop and think all the time.

I’m struggling to get better and he loves me so much he still made a promise to be with me every step of the way knowing full well what I’m like when I’m at my worst. I’ll never be able to articulate what the hell he sees in me, why he gives me so much strength when I can offer him so little in return. I love him dearly. I worry for him constantly. I make terrible puns because I know he loves them. That’s really about it as far as I can see, but he’s perfectly happy like he’s the lucky one.

Neither of us believes in unconditional/true love, but I’m pretty sure that what we have between us is what most people are referring to when they talk about that one in a million compatibility and chemistry that it feels like we have. We’ve been together for six years now, married for six months. There were so many times I wasn’t sure if I wanted a future, but a future with Louie seems full of possibility (as well as off key singing, terrible puns, and me licking the tip of his nose until he makes that disgusted scrunchy face.)

When I fuck up the execution and get discouraged he’s always showing me I can still follow my dreams.

Bleeding your venom out

Sometimes I think about you and more than anything I want to spit all the venom you forced into me back out at the world. I want the world to know the shape of your darkness so they recognize the patterns left behind on me by your teeth.

I want them to know you like I know you.

I want them to see what writhes beneath that smile, that laugh, and easy charm. Those touches, the mischief, that flirty personality.

I want them to know the shape of the welts you left across my thighs and down my back in the name of discipline. To show how I had to count to 40 when I was in preschool as you hit me and how I had to start over because when I was sobbing and gasping for breath I skipped over 17 and you made me start from 1 again. I want them to see that time I looked at you with my anger and clenched my firsts and you charged at me from the other side of the room to slap me into the door frame because I had dared challenge you with an expression.

I want them to look at us and watch the way you raped an 11 year old me while I laid frozen on the bed with my eyes tightly shut. I want them to hear the prayers in my head and acknowledge the exact moment my faith in God and love died. I want them to hear the whispered, “This will make it better for later. Don’t tell anyone. They won’t understand. You don’t want me to go do jail do you?”

I want them to watch as you carved all those pieces off me that once made me whole. I want them to be forced to reconcile what I should have been with what was taken and the hideous fucking scars that were left behind and worn down and ripped open again when you got the urge.

I want them to watch as you still serenade me a love song from my childhood, about how I was your special girl. One Mom says your wrote for her. I want them to watch everyone around us tear up and get swept away in your fatherly nostalgia and I want them to feel the bile rise in my stomach and the shame that weighs down when the others look at me and tell me I’m too hard on you. That you love me. That your temper and your own childhood make it hard for you to love someone. That you still deserve a chance because you’re my daddy and you were once hurt too.

I want the world to watch the way you burned me and got away with it. I want them to see how your family and mine tells me I should forgive and forget because you’re just human.

I want the world to see how I was made to feel that because you penetrated me only once it was somehow just a weak moment on your part and that it really wasn’t that bad. Everyone thinks I’m crazy, but they don’t know the monster in you like I do.

They don’t know you and mom had sex in my room after you raped me. They don’t know how you raised me to massage your body from the time I walked in diapers and that you raped me after I refused to give you one for the very first time. Or that you still made me massage you for hours after that when I was growing up. They don’t know that it’s hard for me to fall asleep and I stay up for days on end sometimes because once I tried to fall asleep beside you and you broke me. They don’t know that you never stopped talking about my body, you never stopped grabbing my ass or brushing your knuckles across the side of my chest when you wanted to make a point.

But mostly, I wish the world could hear the conversation we had about all that when I was 25. The one you made me promise to keep secret and I lied through my teeth to you because I knew the cost of silence around you. I wish they could hear how you still had no problem with the way you touched me. I wish they could hear the way you said I was still your special girl. I wish they could smell the beer on your breath (fresh from the bar where your lady friend stood you up) as you started to talk about how some families are okay with fucking each other and how you think I’d probably be mischievous in bed a few minutes later. I wish they could hear how you denied penetrating me, like that was where you drew the line, but that you didn’t feel like touching me that way you had was bad. That you just loved me so much and I was beautiful and special.

I want them to see how I verbally danced around the dangerous tones of that conversation, how I kept my shit together, how I made sure you didn’t touch me…all while I had a couple of drinks too. I want them to see how I tucked your drunk ass into bed and listened to you beg me to stay for just a little longer. I want them to see how I held your hand even after all of that because you’d raised me to understand the sort of violence that follows refusal with you. That picking my battles meant fighting to the death if I had to, but otherwise be diplomatic.

And I want them to know, on a deep and personal level, how painful it was, how messed up it was, for me to have to do that for you given the circumstances. That I kept my shit together until the end and didn’t fall to pieces until I had moved out of your reach. I grew up feeling like a hunted creature, something I learned only from you. That feeling is something that I struggle with even today. I haven’t seen or heard you in months I still remember what it feels like as if it were something abrasive over my skin rubbing back and forth whenever I breathe. It makes me overwrought and my body doesn’t know if it should panic or shut down when it remembers the feeling.

The Doctors say I have PTSD which helps me feel like maybe I’m not worthless because of the things that are wrong with me. They try to assure me that you really caused actual lasting damage and it explains the things that make me feel crazy. I wish I could truly express the weight of what I feel, of the things I’m contemplating and battling so people stop looking at me strange when I need to leave a room because they started talking too loud and my body reacted to the volume levels like it would have if you were yelling.

Lastly, I want the world to know how goddamn scared of you I still am. More so now than when I was a kid. You told me to my face you didn’t even see anything wrong with the few bits you could acknowledge. I wish I could relay just how badly it hurt and tore at me to find out you didn’t deserve a second chance and that I still had your attention in a sexual way and that I had probably never lost it. I guess I want to world to know how equally fucking painful it was to learn, with the mind of an adult, that you really had meant everything that happened and it hadn’t just been a mistake or something that you didn’t even remember. I know you’ll never touch me again and still you are the thing I have nightmares about.

And just to be perfectly clear I want the world to hear me sometimes…but there is never a time when I want you to see or hear or touch or smell or anything me again.

Not even if you are sorry one day.

I hope when you die it’s with apologies on your lips; that in the end maybe you’ll have gotten enough humanity on you to truly comprehend the horror your life inflicted on us. I don’t want you to suffer….none of this has been to make you suffer. I just want the world to know why it is that I suffer when they ask what it is that’s broken, when they point out what I’m lacking.

It’s not about you. It’s about me. It’s just that sometimes I have to talk about what you did in order to fix what you did/do to me. I just want the world to know everything so that I can stop talking about it and move the fuck on and focus on the things that make me stronger and pull me forward. Things that do not involve you in any way, shape, or form.

So sometimes I think about you and spit venom….but it’s not my own. It was always yours. And while my version of events is brutally hideous in it’s bluntness it’s 100% more fair and truthful than when you cut me off from the rest of the family by telling them ‘her mother brainwashed her when we split.’

Before giving advice to someone you care about…ask yourself if you’ve really listened to them.

Then ask yourself if you’re been listening to the right things.

Sometimes people are asking for help about a different subject than it sounds like. Ask questions. Important questions, not thoughtless ones. They don’t have to answer you and you should let them know that, but being able to work through it with this kind of guidance is an important life skill. If they do answer your questions and have this conversation…don’t judge them. Don’t give opinions yet. It’s not about you, not at this moment. Wait. Listen.

When you stop talking it’s amazing, even without experience in the subject, what you can hear. What you can learn.

When they need your help focus on being more of a support guideline than a teaching one. You’re there to ask questions that get to the heart of the issue that’s bothering them so they can feel better and live healthy and slowly make the changes they need to make. You know them, you know what’s important to them right? You know what makes them passionate and happy and you want them to get there right? Sometimes (more often for some of us than others) there’s so much upset going on all at once that it becomes a writhing mass of confusion and ache that is really damn difficult to understand. Try to imagine perceiving so much negative feedback from life that it’s hard to focus on just four or five or six problems anymore.

When someone’s so desperate for survival, so desperate to find the light again you’ve got to support them in getting there their way. There are cracks in them so personal that no one will ever be able to 100% relate to.

You want to help them? You need to support them instead of trying to shape them. Help them listen to themselves when they’ve lost their inner voice to the over powering nature of what they’re going through. To me this is what true love looks like. Someone who accepts me as I am and just holds my hand when I’m timid about moving forward. There is a time and a place for your experience and opinions to come into the picture, just don’t let the importance of what you think will help overpower their own faltering steps. It’s already hard enough to walk forward without having to navigate how everyone thinks it should be done.

I know you’re busy world, but I wanted to tell you this anyway…

I’ve been through a lot this year, but I feel like I’m slowly moving a long. Anxiety and wanting to isolate are still a battle. It’s so much easier, calmer, and more peaceful to just stay on my little island. I know it won’t always be this way, but there is a certain amount of guilt, a little shame at not being able to reach out or check in with everyone of you. My anxiety levels choke my voice most days. I get so anxious over posting little messages on Facebook/Tumblr/Reddit, like I’ll log in to find all hell has broken loose or something when there’s really no reason to expect that. None of you are going to grab your pitch forks and chase me down over something I say. Still…it’s so hard to actually speak up when I have an opinion. (It’s exhausting, I feel drained after even if it wasn’t even an argument.)

I’ve been focusing on going through treatment for my PTSD almost a full year now. A year ago I broke down and realized things were beyond my strength to fix. I met an amazing therapist. I spent a year studying myself, healing, trying to grow and find new ways to live with my disorder. I’ve learned so much about myself. I’ve learned so much about the people who love me. A year ago all I knew was that I couldn’t make it better, but I was so wrong:

Last year I began the long process of treating my illness and kept at it with dedication. I got married to the man I’m completely in love with in October. I got rid of old, unhealthy, ties. I strengthened relationships with people who mattered. I met an amazing writing partner (who as soon as we’ve known each other a few more months will totally be in the running for my BFF spot.) I wrote over 300,000 words trying to finish even one of the stories that help make up that figure. Compared to last year I know I’m happier than I was, I know I’m more optimistic. Last year was my rock bottom and I was so wrong about not being able to make it better. (Couldn’t do this without my amazing support system. The biggest nod to my husband Louie, who helps me work through things every day.) I took thousands of photos and hundreds of videos of everyone and everything around me. I experimented with my dreams and I tried to figure out who I am now, instead of some image of who I think I should be. Then I learned to love the person I found. I’m still learning to care for that person like I would anyone else. I’m sure I did lots of other things too, but it’s so difficult to remember what you’ve done that’s worthwhile. I tried to speak up more this year and I think it’s been good for me. But how do you place a value on any of that when people are asking you what you’re up to?

I managed to do those things while suffering regularly from night terrors, flashbacks, high anxiety and panic attacks. My longest period without sleep was from Monday-Friday a few months ago. I can’t count the number of 48 hour days I had because even though I was exhausted my mind was too stimulated by fear and memory that it would not shut down for sleep. I lost about 30 pounds this year from pacing in a hallway to relieve my anxiety levels. The longest stretch of time I lost to that without a break was six hours. There were times when my feet were covered in blisters and my skin was eventually stripped from the bottom of my heels and the ball of my foot and under my toes from the hours doing this through out the day, everyday. I did that with people thinking my problem is I’m too lazy, or I sleep too late, or I’m not trying hard enough to be happy and I’m just sensitive or over emotional. Or that there was nothing wrong with me at all.

I’ve learned that this kind of mental/emotional damage is so pernicious because it subtly effects so many behaviors that we don’t necessarily associate with the trauma itself. Because of that it’s really fucking hard to identify what the problem is and what will make you feel safer/better or promote healthier states of mind. The most bitter sweet lesson I’ve learned is that I can be happy again, but with that lesson I learned that this isn’tsomething I can just fix. PTSD won’t just go away because I have the perfect husband or I’m really excited about certain aspects of my life. No, I’ve learned to be happy about what I can be happy about while I’m still suffering with the affects of PTSD. This won’t go away. It’s something that can be triggered by things I will never have control over. I can only learn to live with it as a part of who I am.

And it’s because of that I’m sharing this. I want you to know and I want you to know how I measure my day so we can understand each other a little better.

I got properly diagnosed with PTSD at 19. It’s not something I’ve shared with a lot of people and I’m 26 now. This is not something that I’m going to be getting over any time soon though and it’s not something I want to be ashamed of. I have gone through treatment before and was living just fine until a year and a half ago when I went through a very triggering situation that kinda fucked my world up. Things will never be the same again. I will never be the same again. But I will get better, stronger, more relaxed, and more refined at coping. This might be a bit of a plot twist for some of you, but that’s okay. I’m still who you knew ten minutes before you read this. (Just maybe some of my quirks make a bit more sense now?)

TL;DR A (not so) secret revealed- I have PTSD, I’ve had it for around 15 years. I’m going through treatment. I’m still in a slump where every day is a fight. Things will get easier.

P.S. I want to give a shout out to all of you who struggle with mental illness or emotional disorders and keep quiet because of stigma, lack of support or worrying that you’ll be a burden to someone. We feel like we’re broken and failing all that damn time. Lots of people feel that way, but we feel it with a pureness and regularity that is truly disheartening, that drains away bits and pieces of us we need to function. I hope you are met with all the love and support that you need to find and maintain happiness and balance. The world isn’t perfect and it really can be terrible, but it is still never as dark as we see it. We’ve just got to keep searching for the brightly lit paths and hope for good company to cheer us on in the night. And don’t ever stop looking for the starlight inside of yourself. It’s there even if you can’t see it at the moment.

My thoughts on ‘Cesar’s Way’ by Cesar Millan

There’s a shiny silver word balloon on the front cover that tells me, “A Million Copies Sold,” so I know I’m a little late on this, but I just read this and now I want to think about it critically for a bit.

Here’s the short and sweet overview:

272 pages long and divided into well thought out segments. The beginning covers his observations in Mexico and how he became the kind of person who can rehabilitate thousands of dogs. The rest reads as a well thought out guide of things to be aware of about dog psychology and different areas of human life that dogs must be socialized to which are often looked over in modern society. If I could take one thing away from this book it’s that if you aren’t walking your dog around for at least an hour every day you’re doing it a major disservice. The Foreword by Jada Pinkett Smith sums up the book nicely. They included a glossary, a list of recommended reading and a section for sourcing many of the things Cesar is talking about.

Rent/Buy: Buy

I can’t underline enough how much I enjoyed this book. I definitely plan to buy it at least two more times for my Grandfather and for my 12 year old brother. After reading this, there are a lot of people I know that I’d like to hand this book to. I plan to read again and use a highlighter. Yeah, yeah, sacrilege, but I say this reads more like a study book anyways. There’s definitely a few sections I’d like to commit to memory because I know I’m weak there. I’ve been bragging about it to some of my friends and now they want to borrow it too.

Additional Notes: I pretty much started using what I learned instantly as we just adopted a new dog. It has certainly helped me work through the frustrating bits when he’s just not getting what I’m trying to communicate. I feel like I can get into his mind easier and figure out what I need to do to evoke the right response. I feel much more comfortable correcting misbehavior. I really did take this thing running and kept going. I’m almost finished with ‘How to Raise the Perfect Puppy’ as well. :)

Bob’s first day.

Bob

Bob

I chronicled Bob’s first week and planned to write a lovely blog with all my thoughts on the matter, but I didn’t quite have the drive to do all that with the fireworks, whistles, and bells that I imaged. Here are my notes from his first day, June 23rd:

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I went to bed at like 8:30 the night before we picked up Bob. We woke up at 7:00 a.m. or so and started getting ready. We ended up being really early even though we stopped for breakfast on the way. Fortunately Daniele could meet us. She dropped off Bob and we put on his new collar and leash. It took him a bit to settle down in the car on the way home, but he eventually laid down.

We went straight to Font Le Roy. My friend Nemmy met us there. I walked Bob around the park assessing his leash skills while Lou drove home to get Rin and water for us and the dogs.

We walked the dogs around the circular path. I had Rin because I expected her to be more difficult. We followed behind Lou and Bob about fifteen feet away. Then both the dogs got water and we sat down at a picnic area and let them sniff each other. Everything went just fine. Both of the dogs were tuckered out and hot. We watered them and walked some more before letting them play a little. We worked on some of their commands and fed them lots of treats. It was hot as hell and I’m as red as a lobster, but it was really fun to be at the park with the dogs.

Rin rode in the front with me as usual and Bob rode in the back. He’s soooo big and it’s right in the middle of shedding season. I probably brushed him five times today and my clothes are still covered in fur.

When we got home we fed them separately. Bob absolutely horks down his food. He scatters it all over the floor with the force at which he goes at it. I’m assuming that’s because he had a hard time finding food before he was picked up as he’s still a bit underweight. I need to figure out how to address this so that meal time is a calmer, happier experience for him.

After they had napped and been walked separately I wanted to see how they acted off leash. Everyone wanted to meet Bob, but I’d convinced them all to just let me keep him in my room and acclimate him to the house my way, without all the excitement and fuss. I didn’t want them all coming out before I could see the two of them together so just me and Lou went out with the dogs. We took the water bowl, a tennis ball, and a wubba. Both dogs loved to chase the ball and Bob really wanted to play with Rin. Rin was mostly focused on me and the ball. As usual, Rin got a little too over excited with her play and things were in danger of escalating so I corrected her behavior and didn’t let her play again until after she was patiently laying on the ground of her own volition.

The dogs played without incident after that so we had the kids and Grandpa come out. I always forget to have the talk with them about how they should approach a dog. It’s really, really important and most people have no idea. They came running out, yelling different commands, trying to pet on the dogs. I’ve talked with them enough on how to keep Rin from pouncing on them by their body language and actions so at least I didn’t have to worry about that. I stayed by Gramps just in case either dog tried to jump up on him.

They played for a while before we brought them back inside to cool off. At this point we had fed Bob one meal and tons of treats. He’d been walked several times and still hadn’t poo’d, but it was obvious he needed to go because he kept getting up and walking to the door. We kept taking him out on the leash and walking around the yard, but he just sniffed the air or walked along obediently never doing what I knew he needed to do.

I had just read a passage in Cesar Millan’s book about how sometimes during transition puppies can’t relax enough to go on the leash, so you should try letting them in the yard. So I just suggested it to Louie and then he texted me like three minutes later, “That did the trick.” Good thing we kept at it! I knew he was telling me he wanted to go out.

After they were inside and quite for a bit (with Rin crated) I decided to give them each a toy. I wanted to watch Bob more, I’ve basically been using every interaction to watch him closely and gauge his personality and temperament. I’m keeping him in my room for the first several days to more closely observe him. Since we did just adopt him I didn’t want to give Gramps control of a dog until I was sure that we could trust that dog. He wasn’t really interested in the rope. He liked the frayed end, but he didn’t really want to pull it from me, which I liked because tug isn’t something I’d encourage Grandpa to do with him. I just wanted to try it and see what his reaction was. He was fine.

Later I gave them both bones. Rin was still in the crate and Bob had laid down right in front of her crate. At some point he snapped and lunged at the crate, barking and growing. Rin was in the crate and fine. I reclaimed the bone and banished Bob to the corner of the room where he instantly calmed down. It took him a few minutes to realize that I was not allowing him back into our space, but when he did he just laid down and was perfectly fine.

I know that if I come at a dog nervous or fidgety the dog will pick up on that and react negatively so I didn’t address Bob again until I was sure I was calm and assertive. The whole time he was over there I was standing over the bone. It was mine. I picked it up, called him over, and offered it to him again. Seeing how he reacted to Rin, I definitely needed to see how he reacted to a human. He stilled completely, just staring at me, and refused to relinquish it at all. It took me five minutes of careful prying to get it away from him and that was all the while moving in a way to not provoke a bite response and keeping one hand on his collar as a control. I made him sit and down and held the bone until he was chill on the floor and then I put it up where he couldn’t get it. Rin was behaving perfectly, ignoring us or quietly watching me as I gave commands, so she got to keep her bone and was safe from interference in the crate.

Bob tried to get around this by putting his nose to her crate and staring fixedly at her bone so I corrected this behavior every time until he ignored her and the bone like I wanted him to.

He was otherwise perfectly fine. I will be working diligently with his food manners. I’m not sure how to address the bone thing yet or if this is possibly something caused by the stress of transition and integrating into a new pack. I talked to his foster and she said he’d never showed any signs of aggression and she’s pulled bones out of his mouth and her dog has walked all over him.

He’s very gentle with cuddling and play. He does try to stand, sit, or lay right on top of you, but if you’re paying attention you can nudge him gently in the direction/position you want him and he’ll just lay partially on your lap or wherever. He cuddles and sits quietly in the room. He walks great for me on the leash.

Around 6:30 the dogs started getting antsy so we headed out for their walk by 7:00. We walked up and down the back street and let them rest in the grass or drink water each lap. Lou sprinted with Bob, we took them for one more lap and then headed home. Everyone was hot and quite tired. After the dogs cooled off a bit we fed them and still had to walk them one more time before bed.

I sent Daniele a text after the bone incident and she got back to me. I’m going to work with Bob for a few days, give him time to relax. I’ve got some pretty tight restrictions on how everyone else is allowed to interact until I can make sure it’s safe for everyone else. I want to give him time to be comfortable and time to figure him out, but Gramps is 78 and in the end the dog has to be trustworthy with him.

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The quick updates since then-

  • We’ve worked diligently with his food horking and now it doesn’t take much time or effort to get him to calm down before I feed him. I’m actively taking the food bowl away from him and putting my hands in it so he’s more comfortable and less worried about disappearing resources. I can trust Louie, or someone authoritative, to feed him.
  • I’ve been working on his manners in the house. He lacks some very basic communication skills because he was a stray. That means I have to do a lot of physical correction, restraint, or positioning. It’s a much more physical task than I anticipated, lol, which has taught me a valuable lesson (about raising puppies) and gotten me more active.
  • I was told he had some separation anxiety and didn’t like to be crated if he was actually restrained, meaning shut door. I’m a big believer in crate training and so I started experimenting with this one whenever Rin wasn’t around. He crates just fine after a few days of practice and I trust him enough to actually sleep in Grandpas room when crated. (Gramps only lets him out in the mornings and straight to the backyard.)
  • As for the bone thing, no one is allowed to give him toys or bones. I have been letting him have one when I put him in the crate for the night in Gramp’s room. I don’t let him have it until he’s calm and I take it away from him at least once before leaving him with it.
  • Bob. Loves. Mud. He is at his happiest when playing in the water, it’s the only time I watched him sprint around the yard in joy. He splashes in the water and then loves to play in the dirt. :)
  • I’ll add pictures (or a video) next time.

2013’s 4th of July Resolution.

Celebrate your freedom America, but I hope you’ll think about what I’m about to say for just a moment. I’m making this resolution, starting on July 4th of 2013, to spend at least a few hours a week actively protecting that freedom. Some people bust their ass for our country right now, some in hostile situations far away from home. The very least I can do is keep house while they’re away. This year I will spend a few hours a week assessing the state of my government, but also the state of the people (not issues) it fails. And if next year, if I don’t like what I see…well then I’ll try to change the world. Share this if you feel the same. Maybe next year we can have a big chat, together, with people all across the nation, about how our government can be improved. Things will only get better when we start paying attention to the people promising to make it better and the people who are harmed in the crossfire of political agendas.

To my followers…

  • I got my 40th subscriber today which amazes the hell out of me, but I wanted to say thank you!

I know in terms of bloggers 40 is nothing to boast about, but considering I’ve been doing this off and on, gambling about like a bunny, I assumed mostly I was just communicating to friends and my important family. However, I don’t know any of my subscribers! Most of the people I know read the links I post on Facebook.

This makes me very curious about you guys. I’m not sure how many of you read regularly or just kinda followed because you found one post. And then there is always the possibility that the follow didn’t really mean anything, lol.

So I want to know about you, if you’re reading this. Leave a comment and tell me why you followed me. In return this is a chance for you to tell me about your blog and I’ll check it out. :)

I want to get to know you guys.

 

iluvyousign

So I made a bet with my Grandpa (Part 2)

Bob

Bob

Really, this story starts in February with a very hard truth that I had to accept. I had to accept that even though I had been doing really well I was no longer coping with my PTSD effectively on my own and that I desperately needed help. I was honest with my friend, Gabrielle, who stories I love illustrating, but whose schedule has been affected by my disorder. I got some good advice from her and she pointed me in the directions of a fabulous therapist and the idea of a service dog for PTSD.

My therapist got to know me and my unique issues and I did a lot of research until we did both agree that a service dog would benefit me in a big way. I began to read and watch everything I had access to on the net and I spent a lot of time really looking at my life and trying to decide if this was something I could handle. I’ve gotten so much advice at this point that I’m not sure what to do with it all, as some of it is conflicting.

And conflicting information is really hard for me to deal with. There’s no way I can afford to go through an organization, they can cost anywhere from $20,000-$40,000. It was apparent pretty early on that the only chance I’d have is to train a service dog myself.

But that’s a huge task! And while I know how to teach the basics, I have no idea how to train a dog to snap me out of a panic attack or a flash back or to wake me up during a nightmare. On top of that there’s all kinds of questions like should I buy from a breeder so it’s health is more reliable in the long run or should I adopt a shelter dog because they really are just as good? Should I get an adult or a puppy? All of these have different things to think about.

It was really too much for me to feel comfortable making a decision with no direction. As much information as I can find online, there’s still so many things I need to know about the socialization and training process. I started getting really stressed when trying to think about what the hell I was supposed to be doing and planning for. It’s generally much harder for my to feel confident about making decisions for myself. I had talked to my Gransparents, a very few select friends, and my therapist about this decision, but not really anyone else.

But I digress. How does all this have anything to with the bet I made Grandpa and that adorable dog named Bob?

From reading Part 1, you know Gramps has lots of business ideas and lots of trouble with computers and the internet. He needs lots of help running his blogging business, but I really don’t want to run it for him and he essentially needs someone to do that for him, or to sit there and explain a lot of stuff every day or several times a week.

I’ve been feeling like shit because my own mental health often keeps me from doing anything productive for myself, that doesn’t really leave a lot left over for also helping someone to run a business from home. I’ve been feeling really guilty that I just can’t do a lot for him. I have no money to give him. I can’t do all the things he needs help with, I don’t have the skill or energy. I can’t make him physically less ill.

Well, when I was doing research for my own dog, I found lots of lists with tasks service dogs can be trained for to make their handler’s lives better. It clicked into place really quickly, the idea of how much a service dog would help Gramps around the house. He falls a lot. There have been a lot of times where he’ll lose his balance and spin around and crack his head on something ten feet away.  Sometimes, if there’s not something sturdy nearby he can’t get up by himself. I’ve found him on the floor in a few places where he just couldn’t stand on his own. My paternal grandfather died because he fell in his home and couldn’t get up. He laid there for three days before someone did check on him and he died of pneumonia in the hospital. I do not want this to happen to Grandpa Jim.

So I was thinking about all that and I’d also been looking around at adoptable dogs. Bob had been on my radar, but I didn’t think much about it because I wasn’t ready to make my decision. At some point I realized Bob was big enough to help Gramps brace if he falls.

So that’s when the idea began. I started talking to his Foster person, asking all sorts of questions about the dog. We talked for a couple of days before I sat up a time to go see her. And then I sat down and had a talk with Grandpa.

I explained my idea. I don’t know if Bob will make it as a service dog, but at the least, he can give us something to do together and more importantly, he can keep an eye on Grandpa around the house. Bob can give Gramps companionship when he’s lonely, depressed, or unable to communicate his feelings with a person.

He told me that he’d actually been thinking about getting a dog to keep him company. I showed him a picture of Bob and told him I sat up a meeting on Tuesday. I told Granny as well and talked to her about it and we all made plans to go together.

Waiting for Tuesday was damn difficult and I only had to get through Sunday night and Monday, but the time did eventually come and we all drove to Killeen to meet Bob.

Everything went fantastically. Bob was adorable and sweet and very friendly. The kids made lots of racket and played with him. I walked him around on the leash to make sure he had manners as Gramp’s would need to be able to handle him.

Once all that was decided, it made more sense to me that our videos would feature this project heavily because with both I don’t know where the hell we’d find the time or energy to accomplish everything.

We’re going to work out the budget and equipment details tomorrow and start making space for the dog and cleaning up the yard. We’ll have the adoption papers signed before the week is over.

This will help assuage my guilt at not being able to help Grandpa. It’ll also give me some structure and something to be responsible for, as Gramps needs to be able to rely on Bob’s good behavior and willingness to obey the commands we teach him. It’ll give us a good project to work on together, and that’s really cool.

And as far as I go, well, I’m still not sure if I’m supposed to buy a puppy from a breeder or adopt a dog from a shelter. If I get one from a breeder, I may have finally picked out a place that looks trustworthy, but damn, German Shepherds are expensive and White American Shepherds more so. (I was looking at the second because someone told me they were healthier dogs, or lived longer or had fewer dysplasia problems or something.)

If I get one from a shelter, than I have to go through this process all over again, except I have to be even more on my shit because here I am needing to pick out a dog that can be trained to sense my anxiety spikes. Either way, it’ll take me about a year to save up to buy one (and if I adopt that money can be put towards training, or paying someone to locate an adult dog with potential.)

So that’s the story behind the bet. I hope you stay to enjoy the show.