I know it’s probably unwise to compare one's kids, but it’s hard to resist. When you catch them in the same situation, at about the same age, exhibiting opposite behaviors, you can’t help but consider the differences. In this case, I don’t think any harm will be done. Our first child, Henry, would have welcomed the debate, while his brother Darwin is pretty easy going about this kind of thing. And given that they’re both dogs, I think I’m okay to continue.
When Henry the pug was alive, he and his brother Darwin were the best of friends. They ate together, slept together, took walks together, played together, and slept together some more. They were never apart for any significant amount of time, and there were very few times I can even think when they would have been apart. And yet, their personalities couldn’t have been more different.
Henry, bless his heart, was stubborn. He was persistent, determined, and relentless. Henry never took "no" for an answer, and he insisted that things go according to his plan. He didn’t stop until he was satisfied with the outcome, and even then, sometimes he’d ask for more.
Darwin, on the other hand, is none of those things. He’s laid back and almost passive. He’s not forceful, or pushy, and he doesn’t even know the meaning of the word “nudge”. Though in the last few months, he has exhibited some impatience when it’s time to take his salami, I mean, his arthritis pill wrapped in salami, I’m going to give him a break. He’s 14 years old…and the man wants his meat. Even still, he’s as docile as they come.
In summation: Henry was trouble. Darwin is not.
And yet, I realize that in various situations involving my life with lupus, sometimes I need to channel Henry’s doggedness, while others, I need to embrace Darwin’s passiveness.
When do I need to be persistent? When does my voice need to be heard, like Henry's? At the doctor’s office for one. Getting my questions answered are essential for making the most of my doctor’s appointments. Henry would have never left an appointment with questions on the table, and I try to keep that in mind when I’m prepping for and organizing my thoughts before an appointment.
Another opportunity to act as only Henry would is when it comes to asking for help. It’s not that I need to be pushy, but I do need to be assertive. I need to figure out where I need assistance, who is best equipped to lend me a hand, and then I need to ask for the help. I can’t feel embarrassed, or second guess myself. I can’t give in to feelings of self-doubt – something that Henry didn’t even know existed. I need to be confident in my need, and forthright in asking for it. Of course, Henry had a way of making people want to do what he asked, so I could sprinkle some of that finesse in there, too.
When does sweet Darwin’s patience and restraint come in? No place better than when it comes to making plans…and then having to break them. Thinking of Darwin in action (or in inaction) reminds me that sometimes, I have to just sit back, and let things happen. Life isn’t always going to take the path I want or expect it to. But just rolling with it is a lot more peaceful than getting my panties in a wad…a thing I know Darwin has never let happen. He knows that with patience, comes reward. With a little accommodation and yielding, comes a less dramatic, or traumatic ending.
Another example where Darwin’s gentleness comes in handy is in trying to help non-lupites understand lupus, its symptoms, and limitations. If I’ve tried explaining it, and someone just isn’t getting it, I realize it may be best to take a break. Step back, and don’t force the issue. Some things take time…and we may need to ease into understanding, over a period of time. Darwin also knows that some situations are best handled by walking away. He’s left many a room when one of the three Gorman women are using raised or whiney, shrill voices. Henry would have never backed down, and he would have never left a good brawl. Good old Henry.
I’ll continue to use my pugs as reference points in my life with lupus. It brings a smile to my face when I do, and I’m always amazed at how appropriate one of their approaches to life truly is. Oh, how lucky I am to have such cute, smush-faced life coaches!