My mother in law and nephew are visiting for five days. They came to commemorate Veterans Day with TCB - it's his first year post-active duty and he's the Post Commander for our local American Legion - and are staying through Sunday. My mother in law is a very kind woman but she has some boundary issues and I usually spend the entire length of her visits feeling tense and under scrutiny.
This visit started out no differently than all of the others. I had to work Wednesday and Friday, have a meeting with my team from class today, and TCB had class from 6-10 last night and 8:30 to 2:30 today; we don't have time for guests, particularly ones that demand a lot of attention and time. (That's my assessment, by the way...I know it's not fact.) So I was tense when I got home Wednesday and they'd been piling stuff up around my living & dining rooms, and I stayed tense that night, the next day (Veterans Day), and yesterday (Friday, when I had a tough day at work and couldn't come home to a quiet house). When I came home yesterday, I found that MIL had been cooking and had also rearranged things in several of my cabinets. I was triggered, I was tired, and I wanted nothing more than to eat, play with the Pug for a little while, then go up to bed early. But I couldn't. And I didn't. I stayed downstairs until TCB got home from class, then excused myself to go to bed, where I promptly fell into a very deep sleep.
This morning began much as every other one does for me. The Pug woke up at 5:15 am and began barking at 5:15 am + 25 seconds, so I took him out for a bathroom break then settled in to watch some things I'd recorded on the DVR this week. One of those things was Dog Whisperer and, in this episode, Cesar spent a lot of time working with an owner who was so tense and stressed that he was making his dog that way, too. And I know that I am too tense on a normal day around the Pug, much less when I have extra people in the house and am triggered and tense, so I consciously focused on relaxing myself. I breathed and focused on my breathing. I let my mind be clear and my face grow soft. And you know, it was the darndest thing, but I suddenly felt the Pug relax, too, and then his head fell on my leg as his body released his stress with a huge sigh.
So this journey of creating a healthy lifestyle isn't just about me, or about me and TCB. My anxiety and the piss-poor way I handle it (which basically consists of not handling it) is affecting the Pug, too. Niiiice. But my actions can have a beneficial effect on him, too! I've seen it in action this morning and now I know I can do this for him. For us.
Never would have guessed that my mother in law would teach me to be less anxious. You can truly learn something new every day.