What My Dog Told Me About Me

No! My dog did not teach me to drive! In fact, she still refuses to learn. She just likes to sit behind the wheel because it’s where I’m sitting. Brat.

This is my dog, Darrell. (She’s a girl, please don’t make any comments on her name, she’s very sensitive about her facial hair and being mistaken as a boy….hahaha!)


Darrell is far too frequently in trouble for doing something she’s not supposed to, such as “marking” the bathroom rugs that I just took out of the dryer and put back in the bathroom; rugs that had to be washed because she had done the same thing the night before, while I was sleeping. She knows she did something wrong, but she’ll pretend to be innocent until the moment she hears “that”  tone (my “scoldings” voice). As soon as she hears her whole name in “that” tone, she books it. It’s pretty funny to watch the change from “pet me, pet me, please, feed me, I want, can I sit on your lap, what are you doing,” which is what I imagine is the gist of her thinking most of the time, to “oh shit. She knows. Dammit. What gave it away? Shit! Okay, just act natural, Darrell, drop the eye contact and slowly turn around and then run for it! She’ll never catch you!” which is what I imagine her thinking to herself when she’s in trouble.


FYI: her punishment is not corporal or physical, it’s geographical. She gets confined to the 300 square feet of the living room until I feel like she’s had enough time to think about  what she’s done. Which is usually about an hour or two.

I’ve realized that she got this sneak away and hide thing from me.

I mean, I don’t pee on my bathroom rug or chew up anyone’s shoes, but it is my first instinct to run away and shut myself in somewhere when my issues get to the “Overwhelm Level,” or Code Red. Like last week.

I wasn’t going to say anything about it, but then I told myself, “Kerissa, grow the fuck up! The whole point of talking about it is to fucken talk about it. Let people know that you didn’t become the Dalai Lama over the last year and that you’re not immune to “episodes” and bad days.” Yes, I did have a very snipe-y conversation with myself. Happens all the time. Well, not always the snipe part, but the conversations are daily. Hourly, even! Anyway, wrong tangent. Sorry.

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Last week I hit a little snag in my journey. It started with me being hit with a wave of grief that was very….uhh… all-encompassing. Grief is nasty in that it surprises the shit out of you sometimes – and those times are the worst. I was singing a song (remember, I LOOOOOVE Karaoke) on Smule and in the middle, with no obvious provocation or anything, I started crying. And I couldn’t stop. You know how crazy it is? This crazy: just sharing it with you right now, has me in tears.

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I can’t explain it, I don’t know how to and even if I did, I don’t know that the words would make it out. I will say that I know that my grief consists of not only missing my dad as I knew him, but missing him as I could have known him. See, I never got to have a real “adult” conversation with him. He had his first series of strokes when I was 21 – far from an adult. He recovered from that first round but had his second set just short of 2 years later, and that one took the first of his speech. Unfortunately, I didn’t grow up until after his maladies had made it impossible for me to understand most of what he said (half his body was paralyzed about 8 years after that first series).


It made me uncomfortable to not be able to communicate with him and not be able to fucken do anything to change that, so I visited him less and less. That was such an asshole move, I can’t even look at myself when I think about it. What a fucken joke – I was uncomfortable?!? I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive myself for being such an asshole.

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I won’t make you listen to any more of my “Confessions of a Sometimes Former Asshole” docu-series. But I know I had to include this part because this is the part that anyone experiencing any kind of emotional whiplash — like my potent and vicious mixture of grief/guilt that I think many of use experience when a loved one dies — this is the part you need to know: YOU HAVE TO FORGIVE YOURSELF. No, I don’t think it’ll be easy. Shit, it’s been almost 3 years and I’ve only recently admitted to myself that this is a factor in my life that is creating a crater.

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Just like anything else for us Uniflakes (no, that sounds wrong, okay, I’ll keep working on it), each of our solutions is unique for each of our unique mash-up of issues. And, honestly, I have no fucken clue how I’m going to pull this forgiving myself thing off. But I’m going to keep at it.

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How does Darrell fit in? Well, she taught me that as ridiculous and hilarious as it is to watch the change in her that I mentioned earlier, it is even more ridiculous and not hilarious at all for me to shut myself away in a dark room, in a dark place, rather than show anyone any of the feelings – my real feelings and risk the skin-peeling feeling of vulnerability that I absolutely detest.

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Now, that doesn’t mean I’m ever going to go broadcasting my current mood on the news – or even Facebook, haha – at any point, but it does mean that I am working towards being able to answer the phone even when I’m down and in pain – which I couldn’t do last week. I know, I know, it’s ridiculous!

And most of all, I need to let people who love me in. If for no other reason than because they loved him too and it could help them. That way I can justify it to myself. Hey! That’s how I have to go cause that’s how I roll! Ha!

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Anyway, I’m sorry this is such a long (and rambling) post, but I hope anyone reading this who has ever felt like they’ve “relapsed” knows that bad days are a part of life and while we can’t eliminate them completely, we can change how we deal with them. YOU ARE WORTH IT.

And so am I.


I’ll never stop missing him, but I have faith that it won’t always hurt this much.


Take care of yourselves, mon amis!!





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