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.


  1. Well said....

    I have an Abused Puppy Syndrome story...or many! In my experience, it has been the most amazing thing that I moved far far away! Now, I only have to be in the same place as my offender(s) once or twice a year, and to me it is easy to put on a happy face and just be lovey to everyone! In the time between, I just communicate as little as possible and I keep it very superficial...maybe that isn't the best solution, but it works for me.

    And can I also say, I did apologize for my parts in any confrontation/whatever without reference to anything they had done what-so-ever. I have found that taking full responsibility for any wrong you have done (which doesn't seem to be relevant to your story, but is helpful in life) and not shedding any light on them is always the quickest way to diffuse! A lot of times they won't even admit their part, but that's okay, that is on them come judgement day! xoxo, Hannah

    1. Sweet Hannah. I never thanked you for sharing this. (THANK YOU.) You bring up excellent points, one of which is that absence does make the heart grow fonder, even with those you're not always fond of to begin with. :-) Also, I'm 100% with you on the importance of that continued transparency. xoxo to you!!!

    2. I keep thinking I replied to this!

      I'm sorry you've dealt with this. Distance certainly helps -- no doubt about it. Wish I had pearls of wisdom on the subject, but as you can see, well, I am the one who clearly thinks most about the problem, but also maybe thinks most about my actions and how they're affecting the other's feelings. And have been for many years. Sooooo....

      I think you're spot on with your wrap up. Xoxo, sweet girl.



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