If you’ve read my bio you may know that I live amongst a small menagerie of beasties. The newest addition to that is one Rose Tyler, a now 6 month old puppy of mixed origin. We know that she has a lot of Treeing Walker Coonhound in her and some other equally sweet and obstinate breeds thrown into the mix. She is a lovely addition to our family and though she is remarkably aggravating in the way that only a forty pound food-driven baby can be, we adore her.
Early this morning, Rose was deep in the throes of chewing her favorite thing, a horizontally split elk antler. It is exactly as it sounds, a real from an elk antler. They have gained popularity in the dog world as effective chew toys because they are durable and really help keep the tartar off. She loves the antler so much that she often sleeps on it even though it is hard as rock. I’ll often see her with it tucked under her neck at the ready for some chewing. It’s pretty adorable. I love it, too, partly because it keeps Rose occupied and chewing on a good thing, but also because it makes a sort of mesmerizing ceramic clinking sound when she chews on it. It might seem hideous from the description, and I believe that some people would cringe at the sound like nails on a chalkboard, but for some reason I love it.
But I digress. This morning as Rose was chewing, she rolled onto her back. Somehow through puppy yoga moves worthy of a true master, she managed to get the antler stuck under her mid back while still chewing on the end. She really wanted the whole thing out, and kept shifting from side to side with her mouth to attempt to extricate it from where it was caught. She did not realize that she was the main thing in her way, and that all she needed to do was get up, or roll away, and she could have the entire antler back again and chew on any bit to her heart’s content. Daughter and I laughed huge belly laughs watching this event. We aren’t cruel; Rose was not so frustrated that we should have stepped in to help, and she did figure it out eventually. As our laughter subsided and Rose went back to chewing, I realized that I was just like her.
So often, I am in my own way. I hope to be able to make changes in my life and I roll on top of them making them inaccessible all the time. Part of it is a real issue with anxiety, and part of it is something that I, quite frankly, just need to get over. Now, I am a person who struggles with mental health. Anyone who sees me on a regular basis would be able to tell you that I am extremely talkative and “up” one day and silent and sullen the next. I acknowledge that as a real medical condition and I do not begrudge anyone their diagnoses. Still, I understand that there is a certain point for me and me alone at which I need to just get over it. There was a great skit on the old show MadTV once with Bob Newhart, who I already find hilarious. He was playing a therapist and when patients would come to him and discuss their problems and say they were feeling depressed he would simply tell them to “Stop. Just stop it!” Husband and I often use the reference to lighten the mood when one of us is feeling blue. I’m starting to think there is some truth to it, though. It’s simplistic and crass, but there is some real substance there.
I’ve decided that I can’t just allow my disorders to be in charge of me, and I decided to start with my social anxiety. Because I work from home, a real source of anxiety had been when it came time to pick Daughter up from school. There’s a wonderful and kind group of parents who chat at pickup time, and I really like them. They’re all funny and smart and nerdy, and they welcomed Husband and me from the very beginning. I had days when going to chat with these people was a breeze, and days when it made my stomach hurt. There were even days when I just couldn’t leave the house and Husband had to go alone. He got a job recently, and he will be starting soon. I will be responsible for pickup all alone, and it made me shiver. I decided it was time to get out of my way.
It was a simple change. I decided to just slide into whatever conversation the parents are having when I arrive. I challenged myself to chime in with a thought within the first minutes and see what would happen. Some days it’s easy and same days not, but I’ve done it every time. It’s getting easier, and someone even “accused” me of being an extrovert! I was giddy. I had managed to get out of my way, even if it was just for fifteen minutes a day, 5 days a week. I’m not sure what I will tackle next. I’m not sure anything else will get any easier. For now, nothing needs to. I managed to get out of my own way, and my life is getting better for it.