Week #19 – Do the unexpected

Okay, those of you following the daily sunrise posts on my photography blog know that I had a bit of a shock this week.  Rather than going over it again here, I’ll post a link:  2016-02-12 – Writing copy… exposing weakness, underscoring strength

On the plus side, I managed to avoid an argument and get Jerry to modulate both his voice and his emotional state this week.

Years ago, a family of friends had a dog named Cinder.  He was a German Shepherd-type, though being taller with a narrow, deep chest there might have been some greyhound in his background, and he went to become a police dog.  He washed out of training – a bit too high strung; he broke out in hot spots.  When he came back, he was still the same energetic dog, but he’d developed a quirk; you couldn’t put your face down near his.  He’d tolerate it for a few seconds, then he’d develop this strange, almost feral, look in his eye, and he’d lunge for you.

One afternoon he tried it with me.  He wanted a walk in the worst way, and he shoved his muzzle up to where it was almost touching my nose to plead silently.  As our gazes met and held, I watched his expression change, then – just before he would have lunged – I turned my back on him.  Mom Terwilliger laughed and said later his face was something to see as he tried to work out what had just happened and what he should do.  I let him make friends with me again after about five minutes of him circling around, whimpering and poking at me with a paw.

So this week, Jerry’s been in a temper most of the time.  He shouts, throws tools, and congratulates himself for ‘getting it all out’ so he ‘won’t turn into a wife beater.’

First of all, I have a serious problem with that phrase.  Basically what it means is that he’s content to not be a bad person, rather than wanting to work on improving himself to that he can be a good person.

There was a matter we had to discuss, and he wanted to shout and engage in hyperbole and empty threat rather than talk.  I was tired of his volume, I wasn’t going to start shouting in return; imagine my surprise when I found myself turning my back on him, given that I’d all but forgotten that incident with Cinder.

And like Cinder before him, Jerry didn’t quite understand what was happening or what he should do about it.  When he stopped shouting, I said over my shoulder that I wasn’t interested in discussing anything with someone who couldn’t use a conversational tone.  Twice more he started shouting; twice more I turned my back until he stopped. We eventually got the burr under his saddle talked out in a reasonable fashion.

It felt good.  No muss, no fuss, no anger feeding back on itself and growing into massive proportions.  And it was satisfying, too, because for weeks I’ve resented (while trying to choose otherwise) the fact that because of the MKMMA and the Franklin Makeover, he could say anything he wanted, however inflammatory or hurtful and I couldn’t.

I’m starting to suspect I need to spend less time around him, as long as he’s determined to be anxious and angry.

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