Thursday, May 13, 2010

Call Me Neurotic

I  expressed some frustration in my last post about Leon's and my role in putting together an event for his  car club.  I realize that one of the reasons I do not generally get involved in groups and why even many job situations end up being uncomfortable is that they all tend to be more or less dysfunctional systems.  When I am involved in a dysfunctional system have a neurotic tendency to be a symptom carrier and my preferred symptom is anger disguised as guilt and depression.

So this week, I've been carrying around some anger and have been very depressed.  This has not happened to me for quite some time - at least since leaving the day-to-day workplace and being self-employed.  But my involvement in the car club over several weeks became more than tangential and the dysfunction inherent in the group began to affect me subliminally.

Now I take into consideration that we will be visiting some puppies that are up for adoption and a whole lot of brain synapses begin firing out of sequence.  I should be feeling excited.  Instead I feel depressed and guilty for not being excited.  I feel apprehensive. I feel guilty for feeling apprehensive.  I'm afraid that any puppy could never be as perfect as our beloved Bruno.  Then I feel guilty because I may be rejecting a puppy who needs a home because of some ideal the puppy may not live up to.  Then I get depressed because I'm such a selfish cad. Then I'm afraid I might adopt out of feeling guilty.  I can go Ad Infinitum here.

So what to do.  One cathartic, but not necessarily constructive activity I engaged in during the wee hours of the morning because I was unable to sleep or stop obsessing, was to write a scathing email (and I scathe well, in writing, when I am angry) to the officers (highlight one specific officer) of the car club.  The other thing I did this morning (and have never done before) was to take Bruno's ashes for a meditative walk in the woods where we used to go almost every day.  Call me neurotic, but I began having this conversation with old Brunie and started balling my eyes out.  I called Leon and was crying to him over the phone uncontrollably.  I can be such a silly old man.

It is funny how these things come together. And how difficult it is to sort out feelings.  I think that I have been experiencing an underlying depression ever since we lost Bruno and I hadn't finished grieving.  I know this seems all out of proportion considering the relative status of man and beast.  And the facts of life and death.  And the time that has elapsed.  But it has more to do with attachment and bonding than with the facts of life.  By my nature I reject "implants" of any kind 99.99% of the time.  I am not a people person.  I do not get too close.  I do not bond easily.  But when I do bond, the letting go is much too painful.

So, some, or most, of my anger is/was directed at the individual who disrespected Leon.  It was a direct threat to our integrity as a couple, our attachment to one another. To me personally.  To my .01% chance of bonding.  You disrespect Leon, you disrespect me.  Coming as it did, at a time when we should be excited about becoming doggie parents, it began to interfere with my (our) ability to think clearly and feel appropriately about adopting.

Is there room in my heart right now for a new puppy?  Will I be disappointed?  Do I have it in me to bond with another creature?  And those same questions for Leon.  When I talked to Leon between sobs, I suggested it was time to put Brunie to rest.  Perhaps we will do that this weekend before going to visit the Weimedor (or Labraweimer) puppies on Sunday.

I do feel somewhat better now.  Thanks for listening.


  1. You might (or might not) be interested in reading "A Big Little Life" by Dean Koonz. It's a true account about his dog's life and death. I really liked it a lot.
    Here's a link for more info and a short video....

  2. Wow, Frank! Sounds like a lot of stuff came crashing down around you all at once. It happens to the best of us, often when we least expect it.

    I can really relate to what you said about your anger manifesting as guilt and depression. That's me, too, big time. I guess for me, I chock all that up to how it was in our house growing up. Expression of anger was not very acceptable, so it had to come out in other ways. I think I'm still learning about that sometimes, and I have to remember to give myself permission to feel anger.

    As far as the new puppy scenario goes, just try to relax about it. You will know when the time is right. A couple of years ago, we lost our old cat, Jess, after 18 years of being a huge part of our lives. We waited for about 6 months before we even considered getting another cat. Then Jazz came along out of the blue and stole our hearts. She is her own cat. She will never be a Jess, and Jess never would have been a Jazz, but we don't love Jazz any the less for it. We love and spoil the hell out of her, just like we did Jess.

    Anyway, try to take it easy about all of this. I try to tell myself at such times, "This, too, shall pass." And another your love always involves some degree of risk, but without it, what would life be?

    OK, enough from me already. I know I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.

    Be well, my friend!

  3. Thanks Gary, appreciate it. Mike I will check out the web site. Thanks.

  4. Why should I call you neurotic, when that's merely a euphemism for human?

    I too am not a people person, and my anger/frustration threshold is pretty low. The older I get, the more I find it irritating and exhausting to be involved in group stuff, sometimes intensely so.

    And I too hesitate to get another dog, when no one can ever replace my faithful Rocky. And I still cry sometimes, even years have gone by now, missing him . . . and his other Daddy.

    All you've described sounds perfectly normal to me. Don't be so hard on yourself; there's a point beyond which Examination of Conscience is just self-flagellation. Truth is, *nobody* ever does anything out of one pure, simple motive; there's always a measure of self-interest in everything we humans do.

    But I can relate very much to what you're feeling right now. Bless you buddy.

  5. Thanks for the kind words. Funny how some of us can relate so well. It was a needed catharsis for me and I'm on a more even keel today.



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