Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Life In Exile: In Isolation

We just got a dog. I know, what does that have to do with anything. Besides cuteness you mean? Well, I tell ya, a dog is by nature a pack animal, yes? Likes the other dogs around, likes the other warm bodies and playful paws and camaraderie. And if a dog likes to be alone, or goes off alone, then something is definitely up.

So I've been thinking about isolating recently - even before the dog - and doing a little navel gazing 'bout it, and I realize that I have been doing this for years. And generally, when I do it, it is because something is wrong (not because I'm looking for a secret place to pee, I know that was what you were thinking!). That something is usually along the lines of 'things not working out they way I'd planned' or 'feeling ostracized/criticized/terrorized'-pretty much any of the cizes will do. And we humans, OK certainly at least me, are also pack animals. We like the warm paws too and if we isolate too long getting back into the swing is problematic.

Simple small, one on one or two interactions I'm fine with mostly. But when I have to go back to the cave and try to fit in, I get a little bile of panic. Ick. "So don't do it" says brain. Which is entirely unhelpful. The fear is, of course, not fitting in, not being liked, or worse invisible. People like to say that kids will take any attention, even if its negative, over no attention. But as adults we learn to skew all attention. It somehow just seems easier that way.

I know that I particularly feel like crawling under my bed (except there are too many candy wrappers under there from my sneaky kids!) when I've been accused or lambasted, particularly for something that either I didn't do or wasn't entirely my fault. (Sometimes I wish I too had the mighty high opinion of myself that I could control all under my purview.) And this just makes one jumpy, ready to be thwacked at any moment - skittish doggie. I get to the point, in that perfect circular storm of criticism, isolation, and awkwardness where it just seems natural, expected, that people (read: anyone other than me and a few close friends and my children) will look at my and react badly - "Wrong! Whatever you're doing, and I don't know what you're doing but I'm certain it's wrong". I'm way beyond "why me?", which is not good because beyond the Forrest of why me lies the desert of "of course" despair. I just don't expect good things to happen... to me, anyway... anymore... and that is bad.

I'm trying to teach my puppy (Buttercup) and my children (and husband by osmosis - because he hates when I try to teach him stuff directly) that good things still can happen - even though number one son might have a hard time believing that one. His fish died today. Remember that kind of 8 year old sad? That is a bummer and a quarter, because he's super sad right now and probably his whole day will be ruined. But hopefully not his attitude or his whole life... can't let him isolate - 'cause 'whole life' and 'nothing ever good' only comes of that.

Deep breath, stick out a paw. Ruff!

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