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46. My yoga teacher is not a meanie. But other people are.

February 27, 2012

Alternative post  title:

What the F* just happened?!?

pitbull dog pet pitbull pit bull dog pet emotion emotion angry letting go dog dog dog
So yesterday, I tie Charlotte the pit bull  up outside the coffeehouse. I do understand that pit bulls can be frightening, despite the mad wagging of her tail. So I don’t do this often. Also, she has no patience. She barks. She’s barking now, while I wait for my decaf Americano with room.  A man comes in angry, ostensibly to order coffee, but also to ask “whose dog is that?” I say she’s mine – and he grumbles, loudly, that she lunged at him and it’s not safe to tie her up out there. This might be my cue to shrug and leave. But maybe not.  See, I have a long history of shrugging and leaving. Or apologizing abjectly. Sometimes this is called “letting go.” Sometimes it’s called “not standing up for myself.” I should also add that my alternative behavior is to get righteous and angry back – which is not only often inappropriate, but also unsafe for me. So this guy comes in on the attack, and I respond. I say something to the effect of “She’s just trying to be friendly,” and “I’m sorry that she bothered you, but she isn’t going to hurt anyone.” Both of which are true, and both of which have no meaning for him whatsoever. As a matter of fact, he makes it clear he doesn’t want to listen to anything I say. Ok. NOW is my cue to shut up and dose my coffee in silence. But I perservere – as does he.

Me: “I just want to have a conversation about this.”

Him: “I don’t want to have a conversation about this. You are an irresponsible dog owner. What if a child had passed by? I’m a dog trainer…”

Me: You are a dog trainer?

He refuses to confirm or deny that he said anything about being a dog trainer.

Him: I love dogs. Dogs that are well-behaved and have responsible owners.

Me: I’m sorry that she scared you but…

That was a bad idea. I told an angry, middle-aged white man that he was scared.

Him: I’m not afraid! I should call the police.

Me: Fine. Call the police. Lets just talk about this.

Him: I don’t want to talk to you. I’m going to call the police. What’s your name?

And here’s where I d0 something really….. not smart. I flash on how much I hate anonymous notes. I flash on how I’m trying to stand up in the world. I gave him my full correct name, and my phone number. Yes, gentle readers, I won’t tell you my name, or even overtly the city I live in. But a block-and-a-half from my house, I gave a crazy person my name and number.

He wouldn’t give me his. He stormed out of the coffeeshop, railing about how he was about to call the police. I even began to follow, still asking for his name. Thank god I stopped at the door.

I turned around, looked at the three flabbergasted witnesses, and burst into tears.

I cried for the next hour and a half – at the coffeehouse, walking down the street, at my neighbors house, in my living room. I spent the rest of the morning a drippy, blubbering mess. We’re having a dry Spring? Phew, solved that problem.

Did I cry too long? Well…yeah. Whatever it was that drove me to continue to engage this guy also pushed me into what was probably a big over reaction. Was I particularly tired that morning? Was there something else, unrecognized, bugging me? Had I just not had my (decaf) coffee? I don’t know. But I do know that this experience was what my friend S calls “Another Fucking Growth Opportunity.” I am starting to see the gifts.

In the midst of my blubbery messiness, I got a number of nuggets from my sage friends:

My friend Minnie reminded me that what I called an over-reaction was a trauma response, stemming from old old stuff. I can be more forgiving of myself if I think about it this way.

My friend A talked about how it can be really hard to practice new behaviors , especially when they don’t work out the way I want them to. In this case, I’m trying to find that thin line between being conflict-avoidant and conflict-creating. And I didn’t do it perfectly. But I did try. And its not my fault the guy was a jerk.

My friend S reminded me that there are jerks in the world. In my good moments, I can have empathy for them, but I don’t have to like it when people are meanies.

This morning, Charlotte took me for a walk. For 45 minutes, we wandered lazily through the park, playing with other dogs, and chatting with their people. Charlotte behaved as her usual wonderful, loving, goofy self – and was deservedly well-loved by all. So I feel better though the residual of that enormity of feeling lingers.  Another Fucking Growth……….oh wait a minute… is that someone at the door? Looks like the police. Gotta go. Put in a good word for me if, you know, the meanie wins this time…..

17 Comments leave one →
  1. emily permalink
    February 27, 2012 4:19 am

    You stood up for your dog–that’s awesome. Mine died today as I was trying to decide if i wanted to spend the money to take her to emergency. Probably wouldn’t have made a difference but I am left knowing my inertia will always be there to be second-guessed.

    So I sit here with my other two smallish dogs on my lap desperately missing my beloved gentle giant who was always so sweet even though she seemed scary to others with her giant annoying bark–thinking back to how much comfort and security she provided me.

    The jerk can go screw himself–

  2. February 27, 2012 4:44 am

    I’m so sorry about your gentle giant. Dogs really are such a great blessing to us. I know Charlotte is to me. Thanks for your comment – and my thoughts and prayers to you.

  3. Anonymous permalink
    February 27, 2012 1:12 pm

    The guy was looking for a confrontation, or a chance to make some one feel bad, so it’s good that you stood up to him and called him on his claim to be a dog trainer. A real dog trainer would know that some dogs are ill mannered and others are just insecure–i have one of those myself.

    • February 27, 2012 5:38 pm

      thanks. Yeah – his unwillingness to confirm what he had just said should have been yet another clear indicator to me that I needed to get out of the conversation. Anyone who knows dogs wouldn’t have been threatened by the mad wagging of her tail. And if he was actually coming in to give me constructive criticism about my dog – I wouldn’t have loved that – but he wouldn’t have done it that way.

  4. February 29, 2012 5:44 am

    The big thing here is that you actually tried to correct an old pattern that was causing you trouble. Regardless of if it actually produced a result, you stood up and did a good job anyways.

    Hold your head high, you did well today. And thanks for the like on my blog, btw. 🙂

  5. March 3, 2012 9:00 pm

    Sounds as if his confrontational attitude brought out something in you that you were trying to subsume. He was an ass. Your cry was deserved. Just don’t go giving away your personal info to jerks any more,

  6. March 6, 2012 11:22 pm

    It sounds to me like he was just looking for someone to lash out at and you happened to be a convenient target. I’m sorry that happened to you. When I worked in customer service I used to see it all the time – people who had no interest in buying anything or in being in the store but just needed someone to yell at about something, so they’d just make something up.

    • March 7, 2012 4:35 am

      I hate to say it – but I was that person once. Over ten years ago now, I yelled at an overworked, underpaid clerk at Filene’s Basement, for no good reason (not that there really could be a good reason… that wasn’t you was it?) Anyway – since I can’t apologize to her, I make an effort to be considerate and polite in stores. Thanks for the comment!

      • March 8, 2012 8:26 pm

        LOL no, wasn’t me, don’t worry. And lots of people do it, trust me!

  7. March 16, 2012 3:57 pm

    Love this post!

    Congrats on standing up to a bully.

    I have the other sort of dog (the kind that I can’t take to a coffee shop because of her fear aggression). I’m learning to value good dog trainers, and good owners (like you) who understand their dogs well enough to know where they can take their dogs. And I’m learning to accept the growth opportunities that come my way, whether I want them or not, with irresponsible dog owners (definitely not you). Sadly, there are enough of that second type to make jerks like the one you encountered assume they can act like know-it-alls.

    By the way, if he’d been a real dog trainer, he would have given you his card and tried to drum up some business with you and your not-really-scary dog.

    • March 16, 2012 5:20 pm

      Thanks! Now that the emotional impact has worn off, and there has been zero further fall-out, its starting to become one of those weird, funny stories. The best part though, has been all of the supportive comments like yours!

  8. Katrina permalink
    March 16, 2012 7:50 pm

    OK, I’ve owned pit bulls and they are born kind, gentle, loving, playful, did I say gentle? I’ve also owned dobermans, german shepherds, and wait for it…wolves, yes, I’ve had wolves as companions, I once had one of them at the vet, after his visit, my car wouldn’t start, so, I called a cab, the cab driver refused to let me put my wolf in the cab, even when I offered to muzzle him, and trust me, he had never been muzzled, not even for shots at the vet. So, I have to call a friend to come pick us up, take my wolf home and go back to get the car that won’t start. I really feel your frustration, that man was just vicious mean. He was the animal not your poor baby.

    • March 18, 2012 1:24 am

      Thanks for the support. I have only ever met a half-wolf – and he was tremendous. I don’t think I have the stamina, or frankly, the smarts for it – but i love to hear about it.

  9. March 17, 2012 1:43 am

    I just discovered your blog. Brava to you for standing up for your dog!

    • March 18, 2012 1:24 am

      thanks. Yep. in retrospect – a very good moment for me. except that whole part of giving my name and all….


  1. 51. Falling together « I am not who I think I am

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