Monthly Archives: December 2008

puppy love

IMG_0373So, I was never a dog person.  I grew up with cats, but saw myself as a happily pet-free adult.

Then I got together with Mr. X.  From very early in our relationship, he made it very clear that about how he couldn’t wait to live in a house with a yard so that he could get a dog.  At first this was not a big deal, because, really, we were just getting to know each other, we were just having fun, it’s kind of cute that he likes dogs so much…etc.  You see where this is going.  Before I knew it we were married and moving into a house with a yard and I was resigned to putting up with his dog–not my dog, HIS dog.

I had been bit by a dog a while back, and had lived in fear of dogs for a few years.  I actually doubted that I would be able to bond with a dog, but thought that if we got a puppy, I would be more likely to tolerate the animal.  (ahem.)

So with that positive attitude, Mr. X and I headed off to a local shelter to check out the scene.  2006 summer 044 - CopyThe most puppy-like dog they had (which really WAS a puppy, but looked awfully big to me), was about 4 months old and 15 lbs.  This was much bigger than the puppy in my head and I was not so sure about this big-looking practically full-grown dog.  The shelter lady said, “Why don’t you take a closer look?”  Famous last words.  Yes, you still see where this is going.

At this shelter, they had the dogs in group kennels.  The shelter person told us that this little dog was always the last to eat and that the other dogs “step on her and stuff.”  Literally.  So she gets her out of the kennel and hands her to me (WHY ME!?!?), and this dirty little puppy just curls up and leans into me.  Total cuddle monster.

I was feeling very torn at this point.  The IDEA of the puppy I had in my head was very different from the ACTUAL puupy in my arms.  The shelter lady could tell that I wasn’t sure (funny how quickly Mr. X’s dog became MY dog, huh?), so when Mr. X suggested that we check out the other shelter, I said OK, and nice Ms. Shelter Lady said that she would not give this dog away (it wasn’t as if they were knocking down the doors to get in and adopt dogs that day).  So we get in the car to drive across town to see if they have any more “puppy-like” puppies, and what do you know?  I start crying for this silly, dirty dog that I didn’t even want.  Needless to say, we took her home, and it was the best decision that we made living in this town, I think.

2006 fall 026So Miss Famous is the cutest, sweetest dog ever.  She’s so perfect for us, as she lets us pick her up (she’s probably too big for that at 32-35 lbs, but she tolerates it), and cuddles with us, and makes us laugh.  We are about to move, and as we got her puppy-kins right after moving here, life with Miss Famous really defines life for me in this city.  She will be three in March ’09 (we think) and is purebred Heinz 57.  People always stop us to tell us what a pretty dog she is.

Miss Famous has filled my life with such love and joy and has opened me up to a world that I didn’t even know existed.  And I didn’t want her.  I never ever in a million years on my own would have gone to a shelter to adopt a dog.  At this point, I must say that this is not turning out to be the post I was intending to write.  I wanted to write a fluffy post about my cute dog 2006 summer 027 - Copyand her cute nicknames (she has about a million–Monkey, Pupstress–take your pick).  But as I was writing I realized that the things that I would choose are not always the best things, or the things that will bring me the most joy.  I definitely would not have chosen to get a dog.  I can’t even imagine what life would have been like here without her.  Now I can’t even imagine the rest of my life without a dog.  I have officially become a dog person.

So there are a lot of things about my life right now that I would not choose, that I would not ever in a million years have chosen.  But thinking about my dog, and how much surprising and hidden joy came out of our adopting her, gives me some hope about the rest of my life.  Maybe there is joy waiting to be uncovered in other places, too.

Meanwhile, I’ve got plenty of puppy love to keep me busy.

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Part of the Pain

My sister had a baby last week.

In some other context, that would be a cause for great celebration for me.  And a small part of me celebrates.

I finally stopped telling people that I have a new niece, because the reactions I was getting (CONGRATULATIONS!!!!) were not what my heart wanted to hear.  I had one friend tell me what I wanted to hear…”I’m sorry.”

My sister and brother-in-law had a healthy baby girl following a planned, healthy pregnancy, and just the thought of it feels like a punch in the gut.

Part of me is glad that my sister doesn’t have the grief that I do, that she has gotten what she wants.  A much bigger part of me wants to scream “IT’S NOT FAIR!” (not so original, I know).  A much bigger part of me wants to crawl in a hole and never come out.

A much bigger part of me wants to wrest control from the universe and make it impossible for anyone to have children who hasn’t struggled and fought to do so.

I’ve been thinking about this idea of struggling for pregnancy/parenthood being what makes one “deserve” it (and the contrary) for a little while.  I think what started it was a visit by a couple of friends earlier this month.  I hadn’t seen these friends for three or four years, and was really looking forward to seeing them, as I had remembered how great it had been to hang out with them.  (It isn’t always so easy for my husband and I to find couple friends that we are both equally enthusiastic about.)  A couple of weeks before they arrived, my husband told me that he had just found out that she is pregnant.  Suddenly, I didn’t even want to see them.  I didn’t even want them to exist.

The first day and a half of the visit was tough.  At some point (I think I would have exploded otherwise), after feeling more comfortable with K, I told her that Mr. X and I are having “fertility issues” (I’m still not sure why I did this).  K then told me that she and Mr. K had had a hard time getting pregnant, and talked a little about how painful it was. All of a sudden, it was okay for me that she was pregnant.  All of a sudden, she was allowed.  She had struggled, she had hurt, therefore, she deserves it.  After that, it wasn’t hard for me anymore that she was pregnant.  She may be the only one of my friends right now who are pregnant whom I feel this way about, in fact.

Pretty fucked up, huh?

So here I am in this great pain, and part of the pain is that I have a new niece and I’m not happy about it .  Part of the pain is that little voice in my head telling me what a bad person I am for not being happy for my sister, happy in general.  Part of the pain comes from wanting the attention from my mom that my sister is getting (will I ever get that kind of attention from her?).  Part of the pain comes from dreading the inevitable day when I travel back to my home state and meet the new bundle of joy.  Part of the pain is some kind of strange sibling rivalry like I have never before experienced (I was always the successful one) and hating that I can’t just be a “good” sister.  Part of the pain is feeling like a failure because I can’t seem to do what is so easy for so many people.

There are many parts to this pain.

A.wak.e in the Wo.rld…about the title.

Part of my surviving the last year and a half or so has been about learning how to be present.  My typical MO generally has me trying to numb out, often with food, sometimes with busy-ness.

One of the hardest things for me to learn has been that my pain will not kill me if I let myself feel it.  It passes.  It does not stay in its most intense form indefinitely.  The trick is allowing myself to face it.  I have been learning my whole life how to escape from my true feelings, and despite my constantly turning back time and again to that mode of survival, it doesn’t really work.  It doesn’t really work because the feelings don’t go away if I ignore them or numb out to them or pretend they are something else.  They are like a beach ball pushed under the water; they have to come up eventually.

One of the most painful realizations of the past year has been that I have been letting my life slip away, numbed to the present, because I was putting all of my stock in an imaginary future.  In this future, I have a baby (babies, children) and my life is complete.  I realized a few months ago that I haven’t been living my life, I’ve been tolerating it until this magical future would appear.  And then I was told that it might never appear.

Suddenly, the meaninglessness of simply marking time (but just until my “real life” could begin) became apparent to me.  I had been living my life for the imaginary baby that would surely be here soon.  The terrible job I am vastly overqualified for was good enough because, hey, I would be pregnant soon, right?  There’s not much point investing too hard in friendships, because this isn’t real life yet, right?  The thing is, this was just another way of numbing out to the things I was unhappy with:  just focus on the magical future and don’t live in today (because today kind of sucks).  But part of why today kind of sucks is because nothing was really getting invested in it.  Everything was going into the magical neverland in my mind.

And one day I woke up.  This is the only life I get and saving all my energy and focus for the “future” is just another way of throwing it away.  I felt like I had been living life asleep and I wanted to live it awake.

So I am trying to live life awake, which can be hard, particularly some days.  Some days I remember better than others that I WANT to feel my feelings and that I WANT to live in the right now.  Change is hard, and I am trying to change my way of looking at the world.  It often feels like two steps forward, one step back, and sometimes two steps forward, two steps back, but I’m learning.  I’m learning how to live in the now and how to love myself in the now.  And that’s a good place to be.

The background.

I think that I put off starting this blog for so long because I had the idea that I had to categorize it, and my life didn’t seem to fit completely into one category or another. To explain: I read a lot of blogs. I read body-acceptance blogs, infertility blogs, jewish blogs, etc., etc. The thought would come to me many times over the last few months “I’d love to be able to blog about this,” and then I would over-think it. I’d think, well if I have an infertility blog, I’ll want to talk too much about body acceptance. If I have a body acceptance blog I’ll talk too much about infertility, etc. But then I realized…

Fuck it. My life doesn’t fit into neat categories. I think I have something to say (probably nobody else will read it anyway), so fuck it. I’m starting a blog.

Some background about who I am.

I grew up in a conservative Christian home and was into it (Christianity) 100% for many years. In my twenties a number of changes occurred in my life (that could be a whole other blog), and I realized that I no longer fit into that world, and that I was no longer a Christian. For a short while I was “between religions” but very much missing having a spiritual/religious community (but knowing that I would not fit into the Christian world). Long story short, I was introduced to Judaism (around the same time I was introduced to my now-husband), I fell in love (with both), and I converted. There was a lot of hurt to go around in my family due to this process and their reactions to it, but things are getting better.

A year and a half ago, Mr. X and I (finally) started trying to conceive. The fertility battle began. Long and painful story short, our most likely hope for pregnancy is through IVF. We are currently in a “break” in the fertility battle, due to life and financial circumstances, but we hope to get back in the game once some of these circumstances get settled. We will be moving in 6 months or so, but don’t know where, yet. All is dependent on Mr. X’s job, who is in a more specialized field than I am. We are also hoping to sell our house, which may go on the market in a month or so. So this is a big area of stress, as I’m sure you can imagine.

During early months of the fertility drama, some issues that I have had with food (since I can remember), came up again, but much stronger than ever before. I am an emotional/compulsive eater. I did therapy for a few months and am working on developing a healthy relationship with food and my body.

That’s the gist of it.

After months of deliberation, I begin.

For quite a while now I have considered blogging as a means to deal with what is happening in my life right now.  And what is happening?  Oh, not much, just:

Infertility.

Career in the crapper.

Marital stress (which seems to be improving).

Public role as the “lovely wife of…”

Upcoming move  to who knows where.

etc.

So, this is the start.  Stay tuned.