Monday, November 5, 2012

Lana: the Soulcrusher.

So, I ultrafailed at posting yesterday, but I’d at least like the opportunity to explain and to admit something that really scares me.

I have ridiculously high expectations of the people I love and care about, and while typically this is a good thing (think: encouraging them to be better people), it can sometimes turn into a bad thing. Yesterday was one of those times.

My lovely boyfriend and I both had the day off yesterday, which hasn’t happened in a while (without one of us taking the day off, that is). We didn’t really do much, though... we both just sort of sat around, did laundry, and so on. If you know me, you know that I don’t particularly like these types of days as I’m the busybody who loves to be doing things all the time. But I thought it might be a nice break. However, by about 5-6 pm, it was starting to get on my nerves. The fact that a) I didn’t accomplish anything productive (aside from laundry), and b) I didn’t really have much fun (because in my mind if you’re not being productive, you SHOULD be doing something you’re really enjoying!) was eating me up. But I tried, for the sake of the lovely and the dog, to not let that show.

Well, it was about 15-30 minutes before my little man (dog) was supposed to have dinner. I let him outside to pee about 30 minutes prior, thinking that an hour after he pees, he could eat, and then go outside to pee/poop. This is nothing unusual. However, about 30 minutes after his potty break, he kept going to the back door and looking at me. Now, this is how I prefer him to signal to pee, so he knows he’ll get to go outside if he stands over there. But I just had him out, and so I told him, “You don’t have to pee yet.” (First mistake.) He came over to the couch, chewed on toys, etc, and about five minutes later headed back to the door. “You don’t have to pee! You were just out.” (Second mistake.) See, I thought he was just playing me. Since he knows that the door = going outside, I thought he wanted to go out just to have a sniff. With me hungry/tired/and not really feeling an ultra-cold trip outside, I kept telling him he didn’t have to go yet (third mistake, repeat of mistake #1). Finally, he peed on the floor. I was mad. He’s four months old, and has been housetrained since about two months. He has the *occasional* accident, especially when we’re gone for hours and he can’t hold it, but he most certainly knows that he needs to pee outside. So, I took him by the collar, put his nose by the pee, gave him a quick swat on the butt (not hard! so relax!), and said, “Bad dog, Tucker! No! You are a bad, bad dog. Good dogs don’t pee in the house!” Then, I got his leash on and took him outside, where he proceeded to be not once, not twice, but three more times. He really had to go.

The guilt set in the minute I did it.

After we got inside, I put him in his crate for his own good - so he didn’t get into the pee while I cleaned it up. I told him it was only for a minute. When I opened the door, he wouldn’t come out of the crate. (The guilt was building.) I tried to coax him, offered him toys, and eventually he only came out because it was dinner time. After dinner he hid behind me and curled up in a tiny ball. When I got the leash and asked if he wanted to go pee and poop, he ran the opposite direction.

I terrorized my dog.

He was so sad and emotionally distraught. He was crying (real tears!) and was very, very subdued (even moreso than usual). I felt disgusted with myself on two accounts: first, because I didn’t take him outside when he wanted to go, and second: for yelling at him to that degree.

I love my dog so much, and the last thing I want to do is upset him. In my mind, I was yelling for the right reason - to prevent him from making that mistake in the future. Yes, I know my dog can hold his pee for more than 40 minutes. But don’t you and I, as humans, pee more some days than others? No one can be on THAT tight a schedule, and I failed to recognize that he might require an extra break. He hasn’t had an accident in the house in weeks, and I am so proud of him for that - but all he saw was the negativity I expressed over one (small) peeing indicator of “Hey, I need to go outside NOW.”

It’s still weighing on my mind today. He was upset all night last night, and went to sleep upset. This morning, thank goodness, he was back to his normal self.

But this made me think of something much more personal. Do I, as a person, let my own high expectations get in the way of expressing when I am happy with someone? I’ve been trying to show a lot of positive reinforcement with my boyfriend lately, especially by telling him how happy I am to be with him, and so on. We celebrated four months yesterday. :)

At the same time, I sort of feel like, despite me trying to express when things make me happy/proud/excited, it’s often that I express my negative feelings in a much much more visible way. I either become silent, or I express myself sarcastically, or loudly, or both. I feel sometimes like I’m turning into my parents, who never really “congratulated” me or showed much positive reinforcement for my good grades in school, but if I got anything lower than a B, they would react negatively and ask why I wasn’t getting A’s anymore.

Looking back, that really hurt me, and that’s part of the reason (at least academically) I’m a perfectionist today. My writing, though not always flawless, is always of a superior level. My math and science work follow suit. Even the work I do at work is of excellent quality - and I’m often asked to check over things that others do, so that I can find and fix mistakes.

While I’m using this in a positive way, I don’t think I want to be a reinforcer of this mindset. I DO have really, really high expectations for the people in my life that mean the most to me, my dog included. However, is that coming across if I flip out over a little thing like pee?

This is not to say I’d like a “no discipline” approach - that can be just as detrimental. But I really need to work on finding my happy medium. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had one, but I need to find one now more than ever. Because the happy, encouraging Lana is a really cool, fantastic person to be around. The Soulcrushing Lana, however, is not. And quite frankly, she’s taking over a bit too much of the time.

For the next week, at least, I’m going to try to present things in the most positive ways possible. This does NOT mean I’m going to be happy about everything, because that’s impossible. However, I will take the extra effort to think about reactions before I take action. I will more actively try to consider the feelings of others before I do something rash that could be handled differently.

Because no puppy deserves to go to bed crying.

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