Diary of a Dog Walker: My Pal Shauna

by: dear occupant

Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 11:12:24 AM EST



Shauna

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Like most professions, jobs that involve personal contact with clients, it's inevitable that we have a few favorites, people that we linger with over lunch a few minutes more just because, send an e mail to say nothing more than hi to start a conversation. There are professional boundaries though, I have succesfully adhered to them myself in the many relationships developed in my own businesses, rather easily.

But I've never had animals as clients before.

It's an odd adjustment to make, thinking of beautiful, vibrant and happy animals as clients but we are a business, one that offers a great service but a service nonetheless. I love all my charges but there are a few that over time become family and that's where it gets hard, really hard when they leave.

One, Bones, a fiesty and playful boxer recently moved away to enjoy a suburban yard, that I could accept. Rus, a third level Shutzhund trained German Shephard was sold after competition judges found the tiniest of defects in her gait, guaranteeing that she would not advance any further. That was just too difficult to understand and more than worthy of a diary to be written to tell her story, the pain lingers.

And then there was Shauna who passed away last week.
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dear occupant :: Diary of a Dog Walker: My Pal Shauna
Shauna was one of the first dogs I was introduced to over three years ago, on a route I inherited from someone who found the job too stressful. His dogs were many of our oldest clients and were coveted by everyone, so yeah, I lucked out big time.

There are benefits and hazards in this job as there are in any other, attaching your heart to someone else's dog is both.

Honestly it wasn't a decision, my first visit it just happened.
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Shauna lived with her mom in a stone Victorian mansion on a double lot, in a now sketchy part of town. On rare occasions when she would meet me at the door, I could always find her snoring in that overstuffed bed. More than anything, she was a girl who lived to sleep, it was difficult waking her up somedays and getting her to excercise.

I visited her five days a week, twice a day for three and a half years and our routine was etched into habit that very first visit. I was a rookie and my inclination was to just be myself, almost every dog I'd ever met liked playing the mock monster game. Shauna wasn't walked, just let out into the yard so after a few minutes I crouched down and slowly, menacingly crept up behind her in a low growl, 'Shauna, Shauna.'

She kept me in her peripheral vision until the very last second before I clutched her backside, she did 4 whirling dervishes ending up a few yards away with her back to me again. We did it over and over and our bond was cemented instantly. She loved that game, it was fun and a tricky way to get her heart pumping and some much needed excercise.

Shauna's mom was home one day, we played our monster game just like we always did and she laughed out loud, appreciating my playfulness and creativity. It was my first dog/client validation on my new job and it meant a lot at the time, it still does. Her mom and I developed a language of our own on the handwritten notes that we leave, including nuanced emoticons, an indication when I saw something unusual that might need her attention. She also rejected using our new all digital service which is all notes, via email.

I respected her for that, old skooler that I am.

A Boxer breed speciman Shauna was not, only adding to her quiet charms, she never made a sound in all the time I've known her. She might have been the runt of the litter, I never wanted to ask but her proportions were a little off, she was very small with a crusty, upturned nose. When she sat, she never quite hit the floor and I would always ask her to sit for treats before I left. Second only to sleep, treats were the shiznit and to get her more excercise, I would throw the treats down the long hallway for her to find.

She always did.

It was only recently in the past few months, that I noticed her sense of smell failing and her hearing as well. Over my normal three day weekend last week, she suddenly developed a severe neurological issue and no longer could control her rear legs and bowels. Her mom called in the vet who said the condition would only get much worse.

Shauna went to sleep before I could see her one last time.
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Selfishly, I was a little upset, then I remembered our last visit that was as sweet as it always was. I didn't know anything was wrong and neither did she. Honestly, I doubt I could have held my composure, it just wouldn't have been fair. Her mom wrote in her last Christmas card that, 'I was a very important part of Shauna's life.'

Yeah, we were pals. So there are two holes in my schedule now and a big hole in my heart. I miss visiting that beautiful house, I miss being in the landscaped yard and writing notes about my visit. I miss her mom and our sometimes long conversations.

But most of all I miss My Pal Shauna, she was family. She had an old soul and a gentle spirit, we had a lot in common. I willingly crossed a professional boundary and attached my heart to someone else's dog.

Even with the sadness, I wouldn't have it any other way.
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peace.

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written for those special furry freinds in our lives. (2.00 / 15)


time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


As Gandalf said, not all tears are evil...and I'm teary right now. (2.00 / 14)
We do attach ourselves to various furbabies - our own, and others - and we miss them when they have to leave us.

Thanks for a wonderfully poignant diary. Shauna sounds like she was indeed very special.


[ Parent ]
thanks Lorinda, sorry 'bout that. (2.00 / 11)
i told her mom i wanted to write something and i'll send her a link. seemed like the right thing to do and helped me a bit too, provided some closure.

i'm not very good with loss, i had a really hard time when we had to put our 13 year old Great Dane/Lab to sleep a few years ago. writing has helped, it's awfully good therapy.

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
{{{{{dear o}}}}}} (2.00 / 12)
Thank you for sharing Shauna with us.  

Those furry animals just have a way of latching on to our hearts, don't they?  My two cats are a couple months short of 11, and although it was a joy to watch them grow from a bunch of fur no bigger than my hand to the kitties they are today, there's that part of me that's wondering how I'll be able to handle it 5 or more (please let it be more!) years down the road when they get old.  But like you, I wouldn't have it any other way.  


{{{Avilyn}}} thanks a lot for understanding. (1.83 / 12)
i don't know how they do what they do, but yeah, latching on to our hearts is what they do best, ours or someone else's.  

you have lots of time with your kitties A, i have a 14 year old pootie who is still tearing around the house like a kitten.

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
I hope so :-) (2.00 / 11)
The cat that I had growing up, appropriately named Mischief, lived to be 18 or 19; so divines willing I'll have mine for a good number of years yet.  But no matter how long it is, it will be too short.  

You know, I considered a career as a Vet when I was a kid, because I loved animals so much.  Then I got to high school and took biology, and came close to failing because I couldn't handle dissection.  Figured out that Veterinary medicine was probably not a good fit considering my squeamishness.  :-)  


[ Parent ]
Avilyn, i had the same hope (2.00 / 10)
and exactly the same result when told to dissect a frog.
i couldn't do it so i thank the 'divines' for vets and all the didcated folks who heal the furry ones. :-)

heh, Mischief, that should be my cats' names. toilet paper terrorists, both of 'em.

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
Toilet Paper is safe from our pooties (2.00 / 8)
Plastic twist ties or plastic bags of any sort, on the other hand, better watch out.  ;-)

[ Parent ]
thanks for... (2.00 / 11)
sharing a piece of your heart and love with us, dear o.

beautiful woozle...  


hi K. (2.00 / 12)
you're very welcome, you know i love to share.:-)

Shauna was very quiet and the whole visit was like a refuge, a place of solitude that started my day and ended my day. not easy to find in the hustle and noise of a big city.

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
Pooties, woozles... (2.00 / 11)
And children always remind us of what is truly important in life.

:-)


[ Parent ]
Lovely (2.00 / 12)
Thanks for telling the story. I can feel the emotion, and understand about not having it any other way.


thank you Via. writing this was (2.00 / 11)
a reminder to myself that even the quiet among
us need to be remembered and appreciated.  

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
dear dear occupant, (2.00 / 9)
Surprise!  I saved my first moose-print for you!  La!

Joined about a week ago, got through the technohurdles, read your last diary, eagerly anticipated your next diary ... This one!

I am sad with you about your loss of Your Pal Shauna.

I used to play Monster with my youngest sister when she was about 4 years old. I was 14. When I saw her playing in the back yard with her friend, I would  announce gruffly and loudly "I ... am ... SnowFire!" ... raising my arms and walking with stiff legs and out-grabbing hands. She and her friend would run screaming joyfully away. I would stagger slowly around the back yard, and they would hold hands and hide behind the birch tree or on the porch, making a circuit of the yard. The next day, they would beg me to play; sometimes I would play hard-to-get. Apparently certain primates like the Monster game too. I guess the Monster game is a variation on hide-and-seek and even peek-a-boo.

Thank you very much for sharing your therapy with us, dear occupant. You don't have to do that. I appreciate your gifts a lot, though. I was smitten by your style from the first time I read your revelations in January 2012 on Daily Kos; your style has improved a lot and yet remains the same.

Carry on, dear occupant, please carry on.  


yayayayayay!!! (2.00 / 9)
hi 2thanks!!!!!

been missing you, too.  :)


[ Parent ]
2thanks! Good to see you here! :-D (2.00 / 9)
Allow me to echo kishik:

yayayayayayay!


[ Parent ]
2thanks, i consider your first moose track an honor. (2.00 / 8)
my favorite new home just got better, i'm so happy to see you here. i do believe you'll find the climate here much to your liking.

thanks for noticing the improvement, i have found ways to say as much with less these days- saves a lot of ink, my typewriter ribbons seem to last longer too. ;-}

as a kid, i was the 'default' monster, usually Frankenstein because i towered over all my friends but i've found that many of my dogs like it too. some like the hybrid, hide and seek, scary monster, like Henry from my last diary.

welcome 2thanks, i always appreciate your heartfelt replies.


time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
A beautiful, poignant diary. (2.00 / 10)
Thank you for sharing your experiences with us... and for giving us a glimpse into a pup who was clearly very special. I'm sorry for her loss. I'm an animal lover, and I react to the death of a pet pretty poorly in general.

My heart goes out to you.  

Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again!
For so the night will more than pay
The hopeless longing of the day.


sricki, i react poorly as well to loss. (2.00 / 6)
i usually 'turtle', recede emotionally for a while. it took the week to put my feelings in order, writing does help that process enormously, so does sharing the experience. i appreciate and feel safe doing that here, so thank you.

Shauna was a sweetheart, my heart goes out to her mom. i haven't spoken to her yet, i'm giving her space. she and Shauna lived alone together in that house for a long time.

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
Thank you for sharing your story. Hugs. (2.00 / 9)
I'm glad you could bring joy to Shauna at the last visit you did have.

Wishing you the most peace possible right now.


thank you LightBulb. (2.00 / 7)
this week was a little rough, i'm a creature of habit so not starting and ending my day as i usually did with visiting Shauna, was jarring. she had a wonderful life, i was part of it so i take a lot of comfort in that.

peace

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
Beautiful story dear occupant. (2.00 / 8)
Shauna was lucky to have you in her life.

What is the proper etiquette regarding informing you on a last visit, etc? From your description it seems more of an oversight in a time of great stress from a person who certainly would have wanted you to be there? I would imagine that there is no rule book as of yet.

Again, thanks for sharing this wonderful story.


well, bill i am off on Mondays. (2.00 / 6)
i was told by my supervisor when i arrived at work on tuesday what happened over the weekend. actually i knew beforehand when i looked at my schedule on my smartphone.

i didn't see her name there so i asked and was told that she was going to sleep that day. i imagine her mom was dealing with her own emotions, i didn't want to intrude.

honestly, there is no protocol, we leave those decisions up to the owners. the whole company, all 30 of us signed a card and sent flowers. we always do that. i sent word i would post a remembrance online.

i expect i'll talk to her mom when she's ready.

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
What a beautiful tribute (2.00 / 7)
to a wonderful little girl. From your heart straight into mine. ((Dear Occupant))  ((Shauna's Mom))

"Hair on fire complicates the decision of how to deal with the knot in your knickers while clutching your pearls with both hands." ~ wordsinthewind

hugs to to you {{Khloe}} (2.00 / 7)
i will be reaching out to Shauna's mom this week, maybe send her the link to this diary. my thoughts are with her now so thanks for {{}} her too. i'm sure she'll appreciate it when she reads this.

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
Ohhhh, dear, dear occupant. (2.00 / 4)
I couldn't comment on this special diary yesterday because my own pain is still too close to the surface (and I need to be able to read for my job).  

My deepest condolences on your loss.  Shawna was beautiful - you were both very blessed to have loved each other.

Hugs to you and to Shawn's mom.


"Shauna" (2.00 / 3)
I knew that but I can't see to type ....

[ Parent ]
hhmm...really mikidee no apologies needed. (2.00 / 4)
So sorry about your loss, i don't remember reading about it. Usually during the morning open thread we all catch up on our pets. Do you want talk about it? It"s ok if you can't yet, it has helped me the past few years writing and sharing with folks.

((((Mikidee)))))

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
You are so kind .... (2.00 / 4)
In a nutshell (with eye-candy) - http://www.motleymoose.com/sho...

My Tucker (a rescue) had chronic health problems most of his life (Addison's disease, chronic pancreatitis, calcium oxylate stone-former, slow-growing malignancy on his tongue, etc.). Loving him carried with it a habit of constant vigilance, which is a very hard habit to break.  

I have only one woozle now, Sully (rescue miniature poodle) -

Je t'adore

but the era of standard poodles has, indeed, passed.



[ Parent ]
geez, i bet it was hard to say no to him. (2.00 / 4)
What a loving face mikidee, such expressive eyes!

Well, it's plain as day you and Tucker had a very special bond, i'm sorry he's not there for you ((((mikidee.)))))

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
I'm sorry, DO. (2.00 / 4)
I have only had to live through that once so far, and it hasn't gotten much better after 16 years. I would give anything to have Jax with me here. Though Benny is a good boy and I love him dealry, the relationship is just not comparable. It is safe to say it took a year or more to not feel alone even with company. We were identified as a pair to everyone we knew, including each other.

It is usually as a "first born son" that I describe the relationship, but to be honest it was closer to a marriage. It was not like losing a good friend, it was like losing an integral part of myself. Though he was only young when Donna and I got together it was less than a joke when I said "he was here first" and not for many years where I had any doubt which one I would choose if forced.

So when I say I feel your loss, I really do.  

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


i've been around a while Chris, (2.00 / 4)
and lost two of my own, my first dog as a kid under terrible circumstances and one dog that was my wife's before we met but we shared her for eleven years. we lost her just two years ago, now Shauna. i can say with certainty it might get a little easier to talk about over time, but the feeling of profound loss remains.

as difficult as it is to visit that feeling, i think we must, eventually and often. it's right that we grieve, it's helpful and therapeutic to share, it's as honorable to the memory as it is important to be kind when they're here.

so thank you for taking the chance, talking about Jax, sharing that truth, you certainly leave no doubt how you felt about him in your life. your're a lucky man to have had the freindship of a great dog for so long.

peace brother and thank you.

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
Thanks, you're right (2.00 / 3)
It is good and necessary to talk about. Both for ourselves, and to keep those we miss alive.

Jaxom was two months old and I was almost 18. This was right after that point where I had realized that my father didn't just leave but wasn't going to call (he didn't for six years), I had given up on school, lost my home and hopes for college and a future outside of the factory I was working in.

We shared all the family-level love and attention that I wasn't getting or giving elsewhere. We spent every moment I wasn't working together. He was a pit bull, and I didn't want to be that long-hair kid with the bad dog, so I focused on giving him enormous affection for doing well along with  infrequent but incontrovertible parental boundaries. Yes, I was externalizing a bit.

We got a rather close.

He was the most popular dog I ever knew. He as invited where other dogs were not allowed, my father in law the dog-hater loved him, the kids in our neighborhood would come knock and ask if he could come out and play (yes, he can). With a harness he pulled a toboggan full of kids at lightspeed across the snow.

Jax was run over by a city bus when he was three. He had minor nerve damage to his left front leg and bulked his shoulder to compensate, and still pulled the toboggan. A patch the size of your palm grew back as scar tissue on his left rear thigh, I had to put sunscreen on it in the summer. ;~)

I would rent a Jet Board on Kawagama Lake a few summers (a cross between a surf board and a seadoo). Jax would stand on the front down the lake while I did headstands. We traveled together by barge, boat, snowmobile, RV, motorcycle. There are not many places we did not go and things we did not do.

In my early thirties came the day he could not stand up in the morning. It had been a year of having to help him up the stairs, and I knew how the day would end. At the vets they confirmed that he had a tumor on his spine and while surgery was perhaps an option, it would be long and painful recovery at best and he was very old for a pit.

They asked if I would like to leave the room. Told me that he would twitch, but that he would not be suffering. I held his head in my hands with our faces together, told him everything would be good and that I loved him. He did not twitch or move, just stayed with me until the light was gone.

Donna got me home and I stayed there for several days. That night was, still, the worst of my life. But for all the years together, all the epic adventures, the places we went, the things we did, the uncountable and untold stories, I would have that day again.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


[ Parent ]
well Chris, we both share a significant childhood trauma. (2.00 / 3)
when i was over at the Orange, i belonged to The Tree Climbers, a group SallyCat started that dealt with childhood abuse. many of the nucleus of that group are here now. we wrote often of issues many of us never spoke about to anyone before, myself included.

regarding our common childhood, i also had father issues and began a series there that i never finished: http://www.dailykos.com/story/...

i would like to.

my childhood dog was a shephard, Flash and was also loved by everyone. she also pulled all us kids on our giant wooden sled. but she was brought into our home by my mom as protection, a guardian against the violence my ded would inflict on us for no reason. she was very good in her role for many years. he hated that wonderful dog and he eventually poisoned her and she died.

seems to me the circumstances of our childhoods attached so much to our dogs, they were surrogates for a relationship we didn't or couldn't have. these dogs represent far more than simple, loving, carefree pet ownership, i share your pain Chris.

this is rough territory and i don't often speak about it. but like i mentioned earlier, there is empowerment in telling the story, sharing with like minded or just empathatic folks.

heh, i wish i'd been prepared for Tate, i was surfing late one night and it had just started so i watched. of course i bawled like a baby. :-)

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
oh and if i don't answer until tonight (2.00 / 3)
don't be offended. i'm usually asleep after work and wake up 'round midnight to write until 4. i'll get back to you then.

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
And since I took the opportunity to wallow rather than respond, (2.00 / 2)
let me say that I agree. Very different circumstances, but the translated affections and unresolvable paternal conflict ring very near to my own.

The hardest part of Good Will Hunting for me is that seminal scene where Robin Williams' character repeats "it's not your fault" until Will breaks down. Worth an Oscar just from writing that one, and both actors nailed it enough to hurt.

So, while I do not know you well enough or your situation clearly enough to fully understand, let me at least offer that much for you. Because it is true.

It's not your fault.  

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


[ Parent ]
My own father conflict is itself unusual, perhaps. (2.00 / 2)
Or at least of a profile to add extra special twists of the knife.

I reference Good Will Hunting as a story that feels very familiar, though I may not be that smart and my childhood certainly was not brutal. In my case until 16 my life was almost embarrassingly suburban perfect as far as I could tell, with a funny and loving father who never did or said anything harsh.

Which made his sudden and unforseen disappearance difficult in very specific ways to deal with. My brother and I thought we were being called into the living room to be talked to about smoking pot, and found out that dad was leaving to marry another woman.

Which was - in a selfish way - OK. We were going to have this new branch to our family we would get to know in South Carolina, two little sisters and something of an adventure while we continue to stay in our home comfortable with our mom. Very post-modern. And being late teenagers we were 'all grown up' and didn't need all that parenting, anyway.

The creeping reality that after that night we would only hear our father's voice a few more times before he completely cut off all communication dawned on us slowly. A few months later the home was gone and our mom was struggling, while our dad lived in splendor with two kitchens and two daughters he doted on. That the next visit would be six years later for an uncomfortable 45 minutes, followed by another 25 with few and unsatisfying points of contact at all was unfathomable and left - still leaves - my brother and I in an unresolvable cycle of feelings of abandonment and self doubt.

On the one hand the abandonment is real. Particularly now - with a son a year older that I was and just younger than my brother was - the fact of how unfit we were to be cast loose so abruptly is clear, but we were not to know that at the time. On the other hand, we had a pretty good life to that point unlike kids who had it really rough, so what right do we have to be sour?

Over the years - most often prompted by a comment from my brother about his own feelings - I have re-engaged with Bill and attempted to reason, shock, nuance or otherwise find an end to it, but there really isn't one. In 2000 I had established a channel that we could have pleasant and intellectual conversations as some form of contact and he called me full of enthusiasm after witnessing the birth of his first grandchild (other than my son, which he missed), a little girl. Five days later my first daughter was born and I called to share it with him and left a message, which he returned two months later.

Today he is a fit and trim 76, teaching yoga and respected by his friends and peers. He has met my children a few times and lives a few hours drive from here, but is not likely to visit or call. The sonofabitch will probably live to be 110, all the while being loved by his family and friends and unwilling to acknowledge his two grown sons and his three grandchildren.

Frankly, I would have chosen the abusive father.

It's a clusterfuck. ;~)

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


[ Parent ]
heh, clusterfuck indeed. (2.00 / 3)
our dads apparently read the same manual,
'how to replace your family and scar your kids for life.'

mine chose the same route, hardworking suburban outwardly 'perfect' life for 12 years, a few shakes of the Etch A Sketch, we're gone, he has a new wife and kids our age, he keeps the house and sends us packing. instantly poor, no explanation other than just because he could.

i have a diary going up this weekend that touches on this subject, on how these abrupt and profound changes altered my worldview and eventually my politics, because it did.

Chris, the bruises heal, the emotional scars, the irrationality of it all, the abondonment at that age takes many of us decades to resolve if we ever do. the wounds are deep and the scars are permanant. for years i wore the unresolved anger on my sleeve, blaming others for things they had no part of. it took almost a decade of intense, unnattached introspection, some professional counseling to put these issues in a proper, workable perspective. i'm much better now, that was my life, it isn't now.

these days and in case i forget, i keep a well worn copy of
'i've learned what not to ever do to my kids' on my shelf, comes in handy sometimes.

what happened was clearly not our choice or our fault but what we do afterwards, how we allow it to affect the lives of people around us, is within our control. sounds easy and as you probably understand, is anything but. it's our burden and i can say with some certainty, i'm a better father and partner for having experienced what i did.

not a bad outcome really, for such a poor start.

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
I'm so glad I didn't miss this conversation (2.00 / 2)
I'm also an early supporter of Tree Climbers, especially the amazing writing of SwedishJewfish: her horrible treatment by trolls and thereafter abandonment and neglect by the admins of that site is something I'll never forget, and rarely forgive.

So much of what you and Chris say chimes with my own background: the only difference is this. I suffered extreme turns of fate, family estrangement, multiple bankruptcies - and my parents remained married all the while.

I clung myself to the concept of marriage as stability which explains why I met my wife to be when I was 23. For 15 years I held to the belief that stability came from a safe home, regular routine, two parents who would remain married regardless. What happened next I'll outline a bit in my new book, but the important consequence is this.

Myself and my ex wife split and eventually divorced: but we stuck together, going through years of marriage counselling, and then having a low cost fault free divorce where we agreed to co-parent our children. Since then we've shared every Christmas and most the other major family holidays, despite both having new partners. Our commitment to each other has grown even now we've been apart longer than we were ever together.

Kids were an important part of that glue - you can't divorce them ever, and realising that they still loved us both forced us, in the early days of angry separation, to remember what we loved in each other.

I think - from both of your experiences - it sounds like it was the abruptness of the family break up, the lack of input or comprehension from the kids, which made the event so traumatic.  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'


[ Parent ]
Precisely. (2.00 / 2)
I think - from both of your experiences - it sounds like it was the abruptness of the family break up, the lack of input or comprehension from the kids, which made the event so traumatic.  

I was ready for anything, just not the sheer cliff from presence to absence. Not just of my father, but everything I had ever known. There was no context, no handles, nothing to orient by.

From what you have said now and before I can tell that you did what my father did not. Everything else could have changed - home, economics, divorce: all of it - and I could have coped. What was unmanageable was that last final link.

As Donna and I have moved about the planet we have been aware of this. It isn't the things or environment that are important to maintain for our children's sake, it is the parental bond. While having the parents together is good, even that is not the crucial point.

Children do not fully understand the inter-spouse relationship, and as your and many others' experience shows that relationship itself is not the most important key to them. It is their relationship with each parent that matters.

So much post-modern focus has been on maintaining an effective harmony between divorced parents. But even that is not the key, though as your case shows it helps. The key is abandonment of the parental relationship.

In my case as I am sure in many others, with one parent abandoning the family the remaining parent is not in much condition to parent either, and the children are fully cast adrift. My mom did the best she could then, and today is a wonderful mother and grandmother. She bears no blame in this at all.

I certainly do need professional help with this, and always have. For all the suffering in Will Hunting's imagined life, he had the Robin Williams character who stepped in and provided that steadying hand. It probably won't be long before I finally seek it out myself. So much that I do - like talking here with you folks - is to an extent my ongoing search for just that.

Thanks, Peter and Mr. Do. You're good eggs.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


[ Parent ]
Yes, very well put (2.00 / 2)
Children do not fully understand the inter-spouse relationship, and as your and many others' experience shows that relationship itself is not the most important key to them. It is their relationship with each parent that matters.

And - as I experienced - my dad abandoned the parental relationship, even when he was sitting in the same house. It's that connection that matters, and my connection with my kids - or rather those two wonderful individuals who happen to share half my DNA - is that this connection deepens as they get older.

Abandonment is awful, and for both of you it seems even more incomprehensible than what happened to me. Sons particularly, need to internalise and understand their fathers, and the baffling mystery of moody inexpressive dads is kind of the bane of our generation I think. Our childrens, I hope, not so much...

Love to you both

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'


[ Parent ]
sorry Peter, i didn't see this comment. (2.00 / 2)
i try and put myself in your place as a kid and wonder how damaging it would be to have someone so important there, but unavailable. sure there is a finality to a parent leaving but the ongoing cost of being rebuffed daily is incalculable, the skewed perspective of pretending a relatonship exists when it doesn't, no, not much good is going to come from that either.

hey, at least all our kids are benefitting from our difficulties and that's a lot to be thankful for.

{{{Peter}}} {{{Chris}}}  

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
the trauma of divorce is unfortunately a shared commodity. (2.00 / 2)
as impossible as it is to comprehend as a kid, unexplained, abrupt abandonment will wreak havoc with even the most well adjusted and self assured among us. sometimes as intended.

my mom had no coping skills to understand what happened to her spouse, the father of her children, her home and as a result couldn't put it into context for us. honestly, what possible context is there for abandonment?

she tried valiantly but ultimately it fell on my shoulders to make my own early mistakes and realize that my dad was wrong; i had to fight and claw my way to attach whatever self value i could.

if you read the diary i posted above, that rejection of my dad and his judgement came early for me, at 16. for more reasons than one i realized that no matter how hard i tried, how desperately i wanted it to happen that a healthy relationship with my dad was not possible. more than that, it was toxic and detremental.

that stand i took, that first affirmation of self value was instrumental.

at least in my recent experience, the post divorce spousal relationship was very important. i remember being quite aware at a very early age when terrible fights would happen. my daughter was less than three when i left, the fighting was nonstop and as difficult as it was to leave, i did. at that point it wasn't about our relationship anymore, it was about the effects on my daughter.

we promised not to fight in front of her post divorce and we haven't, we went through mediation and not the courts, my daughter went to a child therapist for a few years and it was really beneficial. her mom and i have a better working relationship now than we could have ever achieved together, there's one goal and that's my daughter, her sense of stability, her education and well being.

i gave up the house and lost my 10 year old business and at my age i'll probably never recover financially but that sacrifice was worth it, in my view as a father. i learned a lot being witness to what my and other parents hoisted on their kids during a divorce, there's a lot to be said about learning from others mistakes.

there's certainly a lot of shared experience between us three and i appreciate this forum and this thread to talk to you both so freely.

Moose rock.  

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
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