Saturday, March 10, 2012

Abused Puppy Syndrome.

Ever had a friend or relative whom you look up to, but who seems to result in physical pain from giving you the time of day?

Typically, when that happens to me, it's a pretty easy decision to limit my time, emotions, and connections with the person. Yet somehow, some way, some people manage to creep in and slip through that tolerance filter. That phenomena never fails to leaving me shaking my head over what appears to be sincere rudeness. But after some sadness, a rant or two, and a little time, I eagerly think that person -- who's clearly proven themselves to be ridiculously uncaring -- will be different the next time we communicate.

My brilliant cousin and I have come up with what we think is a sadly appropriate name for this disorder: Abused Puppy Syndrome.

In my opinion, if you think that term's too harsh, you've never been treated badly by someone you continue to eagerly and innocently go back to for more. Be thankful for that!

In my experience, Abused Puppy Syndrome probably could happen to anyone, but most often strikes optimists. We bound into a situation expecting the best, eagerly perform our best tricks, whimper away after getting negative reinforcement, lick our wounds for a bit, then get starry eyed again when we see the giver of negative come back. Surely she wants to play with me! It wasn't THAT bad last time! Wait till she sees THAT NEW trick. She'll never frown at us again!

So. This probably sounds like a literal abusive relationship. As in, someone I've dated. To clarify, not the case. (Praise God above.) My experiences with this have providentially been very few, and have always involved those people we love but don't always like: family.

So what's the solution? Become hardened and jaded? Snarl at the "abuser" and refuse to bound through the yard when he drives up? Stop learning fun new tricks?

Well. Yes. That's one approach. However, that approach happens to leave me empty and sad.

So, instead, I keep doing what I do, and reaching out (but just every so often, not every day). I'm not saying this is The Answer to this situation, but since cutting off family isn't an option I can live with, it's the route I take.

Is it fun? Not always. All better? Not yet. But can I sleep at night? Yep.

And for me, that's worth a lot more than the approval of even people I share DNA with.

If you have an abused puppy syndrome story, would you mind sharing your solution? Since family is forever, and since I'm not anticipating major personality changes in myself or anyone else anytime soon, I'd genuinely like to hear it.