Dooby

*Note: my apologies up front for this long, raw, post. I had to get it out. You may hate me after reading this.

When Rooferman and I first got together, I gave him a dog. My gay friend’s hairdresser told me about a pit bull that a single mom was being forced to get rid of. She was going through a horrible divorce, had 2 kids and was working 2 jobs. She didn’t have time to take care of him, but she loved him so much she didn’t want to just send him to the pound.

Rooferman had mentioned that he wanted a pit bull if he ever got another dog, so I told my gay friend I we should take a trip down to New Mexico and check out the dog.

It was the middle of winter. We walked up to a shoddy-looking trailer, where an exhausted 20-something woman invited us in. Two kids were hanging off what looked like a miniature white horse. The dog stood about thigh-high, and had the biggest head I had ever seen. His jowls drooped in pink curtains, and he had chestnut patches splotched over his white skin. His eyes were calm and kind, as if he didn’t even feel the little rug-rats tugging on his ears.

The single mom bent down and hugged her dog when we said we would take him. As she stood up, we could see tears in her eyes. She loved this dog. We assured her we would take good care of him. He immediately refused to sit in the backseat of my car. Instead, he situated all 80 lbs on my lap, and farted the entire way home.

Rooferman was delighted when I presented him with this monster of a dog. Being good Stoners, we decided to name him “Dooby”, though most of the time we just called him “Doob” or the “Doobster.” He was a tank. The most lovable, happy, mellow tank in the world.

Of course, a lot of things happened between the day I brought Dooby home, and what eventually led up to the following events. We moved 4 times in the next 6 months. We got engaged.  I quit my job. We lived out of our car. We moved to New Orleans. We got pregnant. My gay friend got arrested. We moved into Rooferman’s parent’s house. He got another pit bull. We moved into a spider-infested cabin where LB eventually joined us.

I don’t really want to go into the depths of the misery I was living in after I had LB. My student loans had defaulted. Collection agencies were calling me. I was living off WIC and my daughter was living off my breast milk. Our propane was shut off. I never saw any money after I became solely dependent on Rooferman.

Then Dooby got hurt. One day he started limping, and eventually it got to the point where he was snapping at people, getting into fights with other dogs. It was obvious he was in awful pain, and it was causing him to react violently. We knew it had to be his ACL.

Our dog needed surgery, and I was completely helpless. I had spent every penny of my own money. I had no car. I had no job. I had an infant on Medicaid. I didn’t know what to do.

At this point, Rooferman had started to show his true colors. He was angry most of the time, and the stresses of our life had sent him into chronic physical and emotional shut-down. He would spend hours locked in our room, alternated with hours in the bathroom. Sometimes he just wouldn’t come home at all. He consumed copious amounts of weed to kill the pain. I don’t think he could bear to see the condition of our little family.

After Dooby had bit our neighbor’s dog and drew enough blood to require stitches, Rooferman said these fateful words to me:

“Take him to the pound, or I’m shooting him.”

I retaliated. How could he ask me to do this? I screamed and cried, refusing to take him to the pound where they would most certainly euthanize him. He was a 80-pound pit bull with a torn ACL, what good Samaritan was going to adopt that? While Rooferman was at work, I frantically called vets, asking for payment plans on surgeries. I dreaded the sound of a diesel engine, which meant Rooferman had returned home.

Maybe I was still in love with him at that point. Maybe I really didn’t think he would do it. Maybe I wanted to see what type of man I really was living with. Maybe I was in basic survival mode, and couldn’t think of anything other than making sure my baby was ok. Or maybe I should have blocked the door as Rooferman led Dooby outside. Maybe I was just a coward.

I never saw our dog again.

I feel sick as I’m typing this story. I feel disgust, regret, anger, guilt, pain and grief when I think about what happened to Dooby. I think about the single mom who hugged him the day he became part of our family. I think about the long, lonely days taking care of LB, with only my dog to keep me company. I think of choice Rooferman presented me that day, and how it killed just a little bit more of my faith in him.

I’ve tried to forget a lot of what happened during my relationship with LB’s dad, but sometimes it all comes crashing back. I probably wouldn’t have written this at all, except last night I had a dream about Dooby.

 I dreamed I saw a white dog laying on the side of the road. I stopped the car I was driving and got out. The dog was beaten, bruised, bloody, barely alive. I called Animal Control. I saw that Rooferman’s name was on his name tag. Animal Control arrived and I said I wanted to make a report against Rooferman for cruelty to animals. The guy from Animal Control looked at my dog and shook his head. “He doesn’t look that bad,” he said. He picked Dooby up and threw him in the back of his truck. Then he drove off, and I ran after him, screaming and crying for him to bring my dog back.

I don’t know why I had this dream, or what it means, but I’ve been upset all day about it. I guess that’s why I’m blogging, because I can’t get it off my mind. I don’t know if its because I’m on this Deja Vu/Memory research kick, but ironically, I’m reading this parenting book about dealing with your unresolved issues before you pass them on to your kids. Maybe my brain is telling me I’m obviously not over this.

I don’t know what to say to you, Dooby. I’m sorry I let this happen to you. I wish your life wasn’t cut short the way it was. I miss you, and I loved you very much. I hope you are in a better place.

Psychological Revelations

Thank you all for your awesome words of comfort. Blogging is such a strange thing. In all physicality, you are completely isolated from the rest of the world; alone with your thoughts, staring at a computer screen. Yet, I feel such a strong sense of connectedness to humanity through these virtual writings. I’ve traveled to Africa, I’ve gone back to college, protested in California, and glimpsed into religion.

Further still, I’ve recieved tangibles from bloggers through the mail. I’ve actually glimpsed fellow single mom bloggers via youtube and flickr. I’ve even broken down the barrier of anonymity and met a kick-ass girl blogger in real life. Blogging’s shrouded Internet presence has become so much more to me, and I wish I could express my gratitude to those who have made it so real and meaningful.

Mr. Hippie Counselor asked me why I like to beat myself up so much. I said “I don’t  like it! Who likes making themselves feel miserable?” Apparently he thinks I do.

I started to think about how much I hate people who blame the world for their problems. How much I don’t want to be like that. Obviously most of that hate comes from dealing with Rooferman’s dysfunctional worldlyattitude. Maybe blaming myself for everything guarantees that I won’t be one of those despicable “Its never my fault” people. Maybe I’m so afraid of being that person, I take it to the opposite extreme. That way I can separate myself from Rooferman and everything he represents.

How Pisces of me to turn myself into a martyr.

Mr. Hippie Counselor asked me if I could forgive myself. Forgive myself for what? For getting involved with someone who told me it was my fault I got pregnant? For staying with that person for another year and a half? For putting my daughter in a situation where her parents were raving lunatics? Those are unforgivable offenses to me. Normal human beings don’t compromise their emotional, mental and physical safety. We are smarter than that (at least that’s what I’ve always believed).

Maybe I think too highly of humanity. Mr. Hippie said he thought I was one of those people who truly believes in the golden rule. Well duh, I’m a Pisces, we are famous for being sensitive, empathetic and getting ourselves hurt because of it.

So here’s the emotional homework that was given to me: Repeat and tap on the pressure points:

I forgive myself for the choices I’ve made.

I deserve to be happy and in a good relationship.

Even thought I’m still angry and afraid, I love myself deeply and completely.

Apparently I’ve acquired a therapist. Maybe our next session we can act out this scene from Good Will Hunting:

Oh, and thanks to Ms. Single Mama, I now know that I’m dealing with a “Kid Man.”

This must be the week for psychological revelations.

Guilty

Ms. Single Mama had us all going on a “fear” topic, so I’m switching gears to another pleasant subject.

Guilt.

I feel a lot of guilt in my life, which is odd cause I wasn’t raised anywhere near the Catholic Church.  To understand just how much guilt I feel on a daily basis, everything posted in red is something I feel guilty about.

don’t think my parenting decisions are bad ones, or that I’m slacking when I could be excelling. But I can’t help feel that twinge of sickness in my stomach everytime I make a choice for myself, which may or may not put my kid in the backseat.

Sometimes when I’m at work staring at the clock, waiting for 6:00 pm to roll around, I start fantasizing about cocktails and margaritas. I start salivating at the thought of sitting on a patio listening to live music. I pictureshameless gossip and greasy taquitos. I start drooling over the thought of flirting with a studly stranger. That’s when I pick up the phone and call my friends to set up dinner plans.

I’m not thinking about my daughter, and the 10 hours she spends at daycare everyday. I’m not thinking about how her face lights up when I go get her (which is one of the best feelings ever). I’m not thinking about how she’s probably tired, and just wants to go home and hang out with mama. No. I’m not thinking about what my daughter wants. I’m thinking about myself, and how much mama wants to have social interactions that don’t involve scheduling meetings and filing or washing underwear and talking about poo.

Last night’s battle over bed time and potty usage still wasn’t over by 11 pm. I finally broke down and cried a little while I was trying to get LB to lay down for the 10th time. She looked at me and said “Mama Sad. You Ok?” I swear she goes from Toddler Monster to darling daughter in 1.2 seconds, and what does that make me want to? A body shot off a six pack.

Since I work for a school district, I have access to lots of books, which I flip through while my boss figures out how to send an emailduring my free time. My boss has lots of books written by Berry Brazelton, and one is called “Toddlers and Parents.” Even though it was written in 1974, it has a section on single parents, which gave me a little comfort on my creakhead-like need for girl talk and bean dip.

“Being an only parent is lonely work. Days can stretch on interminably, relentlessly, and nights are hard to fill up. A job may break up the powerful monotany as well as providing necessary income, but the ups and downs of a family are all on one parent to manage, and its demanding responsibility. There’s no one else to pick up the pieces at the end of the day…but most important of all, no one but children to talk to.”

I hate talking on the phone. Its been an aversion since I was a kid, living on a hippie farm in the middle of rural Vermont. I think we used to get an average of one phone call every few days.  Since becoming a single mom, I have forced myself to use the phone. My phone is my only contact to the grown-up world (besides the internet). After LB is in bed, I am chained to my apartment. I cannot leave. Sometimes I feel like a grounded teenager, stuck babysitting. I used to brush it off when I got someone’s voicemail, or a busy signal. Now I want to cry when I can’t hear another adult’s voice.

“Children’s talk can be fun when its mixed in with adult conversation during the day. But there’s a stagnating aspect to it too. The responsibility which an adult feels when she is trying to listen to a child- to understand what the child means, what he is trying to say, to supprot and encourage him and then lead him into more complex thinking- is strenuous and demanding.”

After I clock out, sometimes I can’t face the thought of returning home to a place where I am constantly powerstruggling against a 2 year old. Where every answer is “No.” Every word is a demand, and every activity is interrupted after 1 minute  with “I don’t want to.”

“The first year is rewarding; each of the infants new achievments is like a new petal opening up, and the problems are those that lend themselves to a one-on-one relationship. Not so for a toddler. As babies become more independent, more active, more demanding- and more negative- they are suddenly cats, not kittens. This year can represent a crisis in many ways for a single parent alone.”

Yay. Is this why I would rather table dance at the end of my workday than go pick up my toddler? Is this why I ate a bag of Salt & Vinegar kettle chips while watching Resident Evil  last night?

My boss keeps telling me not to worry, she won’t be wearing diapers to her wedding, and as for the whole “sleep” thing…well..I just won’t think about that for the next 16 years.

What do you feel guilty about?