There’s a large (large) standard black poodle who lives across the street– I never see him being taken out for a walk, though I’ll admit my own hours are irregular enough. When I see him, it’s because I’m walking home from the bus stop and he’s got the run of the side & back yard, but is otherwise locked out of the house.
Every single time, this absolute monster of a dog hurls himself bodily down the stairs and at the wooden fence around the yard until it shudders, barking his head off in a furor. It’s scary, how violently he hurls himself against the fence, and today as I was walking back to the house I noted that a part of the fence was actually broken and down– and that he wasn’t out, snarling and barking and otherwise creating a ruckus of– well, it’s hard to tell. Was he trying to get back in the house? Out of the yard? Trying to tear off the head of any intruder? Or taken someplace where he didn’t have a cruddy little side yard as his only outdoors, when he stands probably four feet tall at his head? (This dog is big, and so is his bark.)
Since today’s bus ride was punctuated by what I’d thought was a crazy lady who was also the offspring of a racist dyspeptic parrot with nonstop complaints about the way the current MBTA was run– only to find, later, once the bus was less crammed, that it was the driver herself who was making all us poor entrapped riders absolutely crazy having to listen to all of her yammer about the goddamned demographic changes to my fair city, traffic, and the general state of the world (and I do mean nonstop), the broken fence on the way home had me noting Scary Poodle’s absence and wondering– how does he get his walks in– and his barking fury all out– when the fence is broken, poor thing? And why did none of us shout at the crazy bus driver to just CAN IT ALREADY?
I’ve been feeling particularly invisible and unheard lately– it’s something that gets triggered whenever there’s a flare up with my mom, and then my dad will push those buttons as well. Partly it’s seasonal depresssion & med changes, partly it’s some work situational stuff, but some of it is stuff that I’ve never been good at dealing with and when I get angry or sad, I get really silent until I don’t, at which point I explode, and either rant and rave or get razor sharp. In the former case, I get told I’m crazy, and in the latter case, I get told I’m mean, but in either event they’re emotions that aren’t allowed because I’m the in control one, and if I’m angry and inarticulate and pissed off and just want time to myself, then that is a massive inconvenience to the people (former husband, father, people at work) whom I usually help. I’m in a sort of build-up stage right now and have been tweaking my meds, but my dad has also been really crazy lately and my husband particularly stupid about a tax matter even though he fucked me over a few years ago so I don’t know why he expected he could hone in on joint filing status forever, and so I am really primed to be pushed into a reaction that’s horrid, explosive, and mean if either of them (or some particular situations at work) push me the wrong way. Mostly, I’ve been trying to keep my mouth shut until I can calm down enough to say something to the point and not too awful.
The fact remains, though– in any situation where my BULLSHIT meter gets jammed, my reaction might be amplified, but the fact that I have a mental health diagnosis doesn’t mean that I am not allowed to just be normally tired, exhausted, annoyed, pissed off, and in need of blowing off steam in ways I would never express in public, but ought to be allowed to do safely, at home, without judgement, in safety, at home. Isn’t that what home is supposed to be? A safe, supportive environment where your needs are respected? (Excuse me for a moment of hysterical laughter at the lack of ever having had that, and yet asking that rhetorical question.)
Criticizing me, telling me that I’m wrong to feel the way that I do or that I chose my situation and so I just need to suck it up, refusing to actually listen to the words coming out of my mouth because your own paranoia/denial is so in the way, or cross-examining me about a situation you know nothing about and that you can’t be bothered to stop interrupting me long enough to pay attention to and actually be curious enough to actually learn– all that does is make me fucking furious and invisible and ashamed all at once, because what it says to me is you think I’m doing it wrong even though you have no idea how to do it yourself, and that I have no right to have a shitty day, though you have every right to complain about your shitty life without having to hear criticism about the way your shitty life choices have fed into your current circumstances. Pardon me for affording you the safe space and the respect of believing you’re an adult who’s aware of your own shortcomings and that except in more dire moments I don’t need to constantly remind you that on occasion, you can be kind of an ass (or whatever descriptor is relevant to the moment at hand)– and that I let you have the audience your ego needs, but you can’t let me just vent in peace, and can’t stand your own company, either, to the extent that when I need solitude you have to pester me to the point that you do trigger a manic raging reaction, because you can’t fix it, and it’s not my obligation to make you feel better about the fact that I’m not paying attention to you or being the competent one in the face of your asking if I want a cup of tea, or what am I making for supper?
I DON’T WANT TEA, and you can make your own fucking food. I want you to stop interrupting me. I want you to listen. I want you to care. I want you to not criticize my choices, because God knows you’ve made your fair share. And if you can’t keep your mouth shut on what you think is “useful advice,” then goddamned bite your tongue and repeat the Golden Rule inside your head until you memorize it, because I am capable of making my own bad decisions, including whether I am sleeping too much or not eating enough or spending too much time in my room, and I care too much about your opinion, so consequently, I am no longer going to let myself give one flying fuck what you think, because you can’t be bothered to pay attention, to listen, to really care to anything except your own emotional comfort.
That crazy poodle who broke that fence might have been scary, but I know how he feels– sometimes you just have to throw yourself at the wall, over and over, yelling at the top of your lungs, until something cracks. And while today’s crazy bus driver had a captive audience to her solo performance and no one responded, I kind of get what she was doing. Sometimes you just have to keep repeating yourself, no matter how crazy you sound, over and over, until someone responds. Even if it’s just a “have a nice day” when you get off the bus.
I do hope the poodle made his escape.