Finding the Problem


I have a taken a leave from work for the next ten days or so in an effort to try to figure out what to do about Haru. I seriously doubt that I can do anything in such a short period of time, but at the very least I may be able to kick her butt out of the house and force her to go to school.

As I have been mention previously, I know what the problem is. Haru has a serious addiction issue. And although it’s not substance abuse (alcohol or drugs), in my opinion it’s as equally life robbing as substance abuse.

I TOTALLY regret giving Haru an iPhone. Since she wanted one so badly, I saw it as a good incentive to work hard in prep school so that she’d get accepted to a good private school. And for the most part, it worked. Haru’s was accepted to her first choice school. However, she had no real incentive to work hard to stay in junior high school, because she got everything she wanted when I bought her an iPhone.

Taking it away or severely limiting usage seemed like the obvious solution to get her back on track, and under normal circumstances that probably would work. But in Haru’s case, it only served to make the situation worse -MUCH worse.

Like any other addictions, she would go through pretty severe withdraw symptoms (headaches, loss in appetite, severe irritability and anger, nausea, etc.) It’s like trying to get an alcoholic to quit drinking. It takes a lot more effort than just removing the substance.

Haru is seeking counseling now to help get over this problem. However, Haru seems to always side track her counseling session so that they never discuss her real problem. She always talks about the symptoms, so the counselor deduced that perhaps she has some kind of chemical imbalance and recommended medication to get her emotional outbursts and her physical ailments under control.

I was so frustrated by this that I wrote a fairly lengthy email to the counselor describing what the REAL problem is: smartphone addiction, in the hopes that she would point that out to Haru and suggest solutions on curbing her need to use her phone all the time. But, again, Haru had somehow sidetracked the conversation at her session, so they only talked about the symptoms of the problem and not the problem itself. It’s as if Haru is deliberately doing this to avoid having discuss her real problem, partially because she is in denial; she doesn’t believe that she is addicted to her iphone. I am going to try to get them to discuss what is really relevant on her next session so that we can get on track to fixing this problem.

So what is Haru really addicted to? In the beginning, it wasn’t so bad. She was really into Kpop at one point so she just listened to music, and watched music videos on YouTube and TikTok. She did spend a quit a lot of time watching the videos, but she was able to put down her phone when it was time. She never complained or lost her temper when the time limit was up.

Then her interest changed abruptly, and she was no longer interested in Kpop and gained interest in Anime. This too wasn’t such a bad thing either, because she would often watch her favorite animes on TV, then go online to read about the back stories and find out when the comic books would be released. Again, not such a big deal, and she was able to distance herself from her iphone without any drama.

The problem really began when she started forming an obsession with a particular anime character, and the voice actor behind him. Her interest in the character seemed to shift more and more towards voice actor in a very short time. Although I thought it was a bit odd, it didn’t bother me too much; I figured that all girls will form some crush on some idol figures, whether it’d be boys bands or teenage idols.

Her obsession escalated very quickly, to the point where she had completely lost interested in cheerleading (the main reason for choosing the school she chose) and gained interested in volleyball -the sport her favorite anime character was involved in. I was not very pleased about about this, because eventually she decided not to join the cheerleading team, and decided to try out for volleyball -a sport she never played in her life nor had any interest in until watching this anime. But I decided to support her on this none the less. Perhaps she might turn out to be good at it.

Again, her interest shifted, and she began to show interest in interactive social media sites, which I was vehemently against. So much so, that I insisted that none of these apps be installed on her phone. However, my wife insisted that she was able to use LINE, so that she could talk to her school friends -as if she couldn’t do this at school. I wasn’t too keen on that either. I hate LINE and all apps like it. I think they are all full of online bullies and social media predictors -not to mention that they only serve to make it difficult for people to form real relationships outside of the virtual world, but I gave in with the condition that it’s monitored carefully.

Over the last month, she started forming online friends outside of her school friends -mostly anime fan clubs. This threw up a ton a red flags for me, and I was about to pull the plug, but Haru insisted that her new online friends were a cool and that they all had so much in common.

Over the weeks, in-app text conversations became voice conversations. The conversations went from being a few minutes a day, to several hours a day. Haru started making up reasons for not going to school, and spent the whole day at home talking to some girl she met on LINE. Suffice it to say, I was very uneasy over this whole situation. I soon learned that this person is some girl who lives on the other side of the country. She had dropped out of school because she was being bullied by her classmates. I suspect this was what attracted Haru to her. She belonged to a group called “drop outs”, which Haru also joined without my knowledge. My wife demanded that she remove herself from that group, but Haru refused.

Growing concerned, I had looked through Haru’s LINE app to make sure that these kids weren’t negatively influencing her to quit school. And although I didn’t find anything in the text messages to suggest it, I suspect that there had been a few verbal conversations on subject.

At this point, we’re are at a crossroad. It seems that every time Haru has one of her long conversations with these kids, she would get on the subject of not wanting to go to school. They are definitely influencing her to drop out, if not directly definitely indirectly. My wife was very close to deleting all of the contacts to these kids from Haru’s phone, but Haru went off on a wild fit when she found out what my wife was up to. But at this point, I feel I have no choice. I can’t have these delinquent brats being a bad influence on my daughter. I think they have already done a ton of damage, and I can only hope that it’s reversible. I am going to lose a tremendous amount of Haru’s trust, but I have to protect her. These are online predators and they are going to do a lot of damage if I don’t stop them now.

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Mentally Exhausted!


I am so mentally exhausted. I don’t know how much more of this I can deal with. I am pretty sure that this is from stress, but I am now having to deal with nausea.

I now know how I am going to die. Haru’s behavior is going to be the end of me. She is going to drive me to mental insanity and I will either be put away or I might do harm to myself.

I HATE THIS! I HATE THIS SO MUCH!!!!!!! I JUST WANT MY FRICKEN DAUGHTER BACK!!!!

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WHY?


The only way I can deal with this situation now is to just write about it. Writing about it normally helps me sort and organize my thoughts in my head. With that said, I am feeling so much sadness and despair, even writing doesn’t seem to help me cope with this situation with Haru.

WHY? WHY do I have to always have to deal with so many issues in my life? I am so exhausted! Truly EXHAUSTED! I just want everything to be normal again! Is that too much to ask?

As a child, I had to deal with loneliness, with parent(s) who seemingly didn’t care that they were leaving a small child home for several hours a day, and not being appreciated for anything I do. I know its ridiculous to say this about yourself, but I was such a good kid! I was independent, asked for so little, never got into trouble, went to school everyday despite being bullied, and yet I had no one to appreciate it. Yes, I get it. Someone needed put food on the table, hence sacrifices needed to be made.

I promised myself that when I become a parent that I would be so involved in my child’s life. I would take her to and completely support whatever activities that she would be involved in, make sure that she would get everything I didn’t have, get her the BEST education I could afford (even if it meant starving myself), and make sure she is happy.

I thought I had pretty much delivered on all of these things, and yet again I am once again completely unappreciated. I have been giving her EVERYTHING except happiness, and it’s killing me. I totally envy her. I wish I had a parent that took interest in what I did, as much as I have taken interest in everything that Haru does. I wish I had people help me with my school work so that I had a better chance of getting into a good school. I wish that I simply had someone to talk to when everything sucked about life! I gave her so much, so what the hell did I do wrong???? What the hell did I do to be hated so much?? Even if hadn’t delivered on any of these things, and yet she was happy, I think I would be okay.

I HATE this! I HATE having to feel like this all the time, pulling my hair out and trying to figure out how to turn this situation around. People tell me that the onus of responsibility id really not mine but hers, and that she is going through a phase that she’ll get over eventually. But I feel as if there is a wake of irreversible damage being created while she is going though this phase.

I think I am psychologically damaged because of this and not sure what to do about it. I want to seek psychiatric help, but we are already spending so much on Haru’s schooling (schooling that she is not taking advantage of), and her counseling, so I don’t think I can afford it.

I’ll think I just need to ride this out, but hopefully I don’t completely lose my mind in the process.

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2020 Sucks!


These are dark times. I have been having a difficult time coming to terms with the issues I have been experiencing with Haru. At this point, I feel as I am just a piece of furniture in my own home. Communications with Haru is practically zero. The only time she really talks to me is when she really needs something like her screen time extended on her iPhone. But most of the time I am completely ignored.

I learned from my wife that she has gone to Disneyland today with her school friends. With all of the missed classes, the constant talking back, the barrage of I hate you’s that she stabs me in the heart with, among several other delinquent behavior, I would have normally totally forbidden her to go to Disneyland. My initial thought was, are you kidding me! We’re just rewarding her for REALLY bad behavior! But I felt that had I said no to this, not only will she hate me even more, it would have made the situation MUCH worse in many ways.

For one thing, she would have just locked herself in her room all day, and literally just talked to her online friends all day on her iPhone, which I am trying to get her away from. Secondly, I really want her to build her relationship with her school friends so that she gets invited out more, and she is motivated to go to school more. I was afraid that had I told her no, that her friends would no longer invite her to hang out with them, and she’d be further demotivated from going to school.

I desperately also want to rebuild my own relationship with her and to regain her confidence that I am not just the parent that says ‘no’ all the time, but someone who can be reasonable. Yes, it irritates the hell out of me that after the hell she has put me through in the last months, that I am essentially rewarding her for bad behavior.

With all that said, I am really depending on this outing with her friends to restore her confidence in people. It could easily could go in the other direction and these kids may really mean, and drive her to distrust people even more, and as a result drive her to become further withdrawn from reality. But since Haru is going to a Christian private school, I am under the belief that these kids come from good homes and are far more empathetic towards others. I am not a Christian, but I do believe in traditional Christian values (to treat others with kindness, and help those who are in need) -values that we tried to instill in Haru. I believe that deep down inside, she still has these values in her, and that due to peer pressure from her elementary school friends, and this whole situation with the coronavirus, she has somewhat lost her way.

2020 has been such a horrible year for everyone, and it really has taken a toll on me mentally. I try to act as normal as possible, but in reality, I am completely broken down on the inside. I even spent last weekend in my bedroom crying out of sense of hopelessness and despair. I have had thoughts of taking a few weeks off from work, running away, and going into total seclusion from everyone and everything. I have even thought about doing the worst. But I think the best thing to do right now is just continue to try to ride this out and try to get Haru back to where she (and our relationship) was less than a year ago.

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Living in a Dystopia


It’s been nearly five years to the date since I stopped updating this blog. Since then, things have changed really drastically, and unfortunately a lot of it is for the the worse.

The last time I updated this blog, my dogs had just passed away, Haruka was still 7 years old and half way through the second grade and doing very well with gymnastics and cheerleading, We were already discussing Haru’s schooling and whether on or not to send her to public or private school, and things were relatively happy, except for the loss of my dogs.

It’s a totally new world now. It’s now 2020, and we are on a verge of living in a dystopia. The planet is almost literally on fire, a deadly pandemic is killing thousands of people daily, hostility, hatred and greed causing social unrest all over, deadly storms are ravaging Japan, and Donald Trump is president.

On the home front, things aren’t so kosher here either. My relationship with Haru is very different from the last time I sat down and typed on this blog site. As a matter of fact, things are very different from the way they were just six months ago.

Haruka is now 12 years old and she’ll be turning 13 in November – a teenager. At this age, I realize that she is not a little kid anymore and she is trying to seek more independence from her parents, which is a good thing. However, the sudden change in her personality has been so abrupt and drastic. It was only six months ago, when we would happily go out to dinner together (just the two of us) and have fun. We would even go to the mall or to the movies together. However nowadays, she hates even being in the same room with me. Example: when I am in the living room, she’ll come down from her room only if she needs something. And if she’s already in the living room and I come in, she immediately scuttle up to her room as if to avoid me.

She also has not qualms about telling me how much she hates me, as she’ll stand in front of me and just repeat it -yell it to me over and over again. As much as it hurts, I feel as if I have not choice to let her vent whatever frustrations she has at me.

I am still trying to work out how and why things had devolved so much in such a short period of time. Initially, I had believed that the pandemic was at least an indirect cause of her sudden personality change, and to some degree I still believe it. Last spring, at the height of what was then considered the worst of it, the government had closed all of the schools in the more populated areas. Because of this, both her elementary school graduation and her junior high school commencement ceremonies (the two biggest milestones in her life) were canceled.

What should have been a celebrity moment for her, were very minimized or canceled altogether. Additionally, the first day of school was held online and spent looking into a screen of a laptop of people whom she had never met.

As both a graduation present and as a reward for passing her junior high school entrance exams, as well as getting accepted to her first choice school, I had bought her an iPhone which she had been begging for since she was in the fourth grade. I did so under the conditions that it would not interfere with her school work, and that she would keep her grades up. But since there was no school, her whole day consisted of just watching YouTube and TikTok videos. Because of this, she quickly lost interest in everything including school, friends, TV, cheerleading, gymnastics -EVERYTHING.

Watching Youtube and TikTok videos escalated to talking to strangers (mostly other kids her age) through online apps like Line and TikTok. This concerned me greatly and I began growing apprehensive about letting her use her iPhone, so I started installing GPS apps that would let me know where she was at all times. We always had filters installed in her iPhone, but also added another filter that limited the time she could be online. Suffice it to say, she didn’t like to be limited at all. Originally, the filter was set to allow her screentime from 6AM (the time she gets up to get ready for school) until 9:30PM. However, with school and potentially after school activities, this would probably only give her a couple of hours of actual screen time. So after my wife and Haru begged me to extend the time, I VERY reluctantly agree to allow for her to use her iPhone until 11PM. In hindsight, I completely and utterly REGRET agreeing to this!

Having had spent nearly 4 months\ in the house in complete isolation during the pandemic, her iPhone became her only companion. She had lost interest in doing any else. She became afraid to step out of the house because she had spent so much time time indoors. Even the thought of going out for dinner or going to the supermarket terrified her and caused her to cry uncontrollably. I began to believe that having left her by herself for so long in an empty house for several hours a day, had affected her mentally. I know the feeling very well, having grown up practically living by myself for the majority of my childhood. Although, the loneliness subsides over time, interacting with others becomes somewhat of a chore and extremely difficult at times. I still struggle with it to this day. I was afraid that Haru was starting to go through the same things with her friends.

School finally started in July, but by then the damage had already been done. Haru was so withdrawn from life, and so deeply engulfed in her online activities, that she could no longer interact with others without being so deeply frightened or falling into depression.

Our relationship suffered the most. I feel as I can no longer talk to her. Every time I try, it would always devolve into a shouting match, and she would attack with me with those really harsh words that feel like I am being stabbed in the heart with a dirty rust dagger. I hate you! I hate you! Over and over again. At first it use to anger me and I would yell at her to stop being so disrespectful. But if anything, it only made things worse. Then it would make feel really sad and deeply depressed, and I would tell her how I sad I felt every time she said that to me. But then should would say good! I’m trying to hurt you because you always try to hurt me! But for the life of me, I had no idea what she was talking about because I never tried to intentionally hurt her or otherwise.

Later I learned that that the mere fact of trying to limit her screen time is what was hurting her, and that I was being too restrictive. But in my opinion, 17 hours of screentime hardly being restrictive at all. If anything, its being overly permissive. I also learned that anything over 5 hours a day is obsessive and potentially dangerous.

I genuinely believe that Haru is addicted to her iPhone. The symptoms all fit: the irritability when she is away from her iPhone for more than a few minutes, loss in interest in everything else, erratic behavior, erratic eating habits, etc. She even shows classic symptoms of withdraw that drug users and alcoholics get when they are away from their substance for too long: headaches, nausea, vomiting etc.

But the worse thing that has arisen out of all of this is her refusal to go to school. She had worked so hard to get into that private school and now she is prepared to throw it all away just so that she spend time talking to her drop out friends online. The thought of it so so deeply depressing that I also am begging to feel deep despair to point that perhaps I should seek counseling for myself.

I feel like a complete failure as parent. I tried so hard to make sure that she gets the best of everything, even if it means sacrificing everything I have, and yet it feels as if I failed in raising her to understand the importance of getting a good education and doing the right thing. I tried…I really tried, but I guess it just wasn’t enough, and I am failing.

Right now, Haru is going to counseling to help her get over her fear of going to school, but I am not sure if it’s going to work. She usually feels better after her counseling sessions, but by the time Monday rolls around and its time for her to go to school again, it’s as if nothing had sunk in and she is reluctant to go to school again.

I really don’t know what to do. I really do feel like I just want to curl up and die sometimes. I guess the only thing that’s stopping me from giving up on everything is the fact that giving up won’t help Haru. I have not yet accepted that she truly hates me as she would like for me to believe. But if she truly did hate me, I don’t know if I could live with that.

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The Monday After


Its been one week since Princess passed away.  Although I am less emotional, I am still profoundly saddened.  I’m taking it day by day, and I feel as if things are getting better for me, but at the same time, a part of me feels guilty for feeling better.  I feel as if I owe it to Princess and Jenna to mourn and feel sad bit longer than just a week.

Looking at old pictures and videos helps.  It reminds me of all of the good times we had, without otherwise, I would have probably forgotten.  The trips to the mountains, the onsens, to Chiba, and the trip to Okinawa right before Haruka was born.  I just wished I could have done more and taken them more places, especially towards the end

Yesterday, I took Haru to her weekly gymnastics lesson.  I had promised her a week earlier that I would rent some movies for her on the way home, so we stopped of at the DVD rental shop and picked out some movies.  The hole time she was looking for a movie to watch, I kept looking at the clock on the wall by habit.  It use to be that every time we leave the house I would have to always be aware of the time because of Princess’s hypoglycemia.  If unattended to too long, she would have a seizure, so it would be my job to be the time keeper.  Now that she’s gone, I don’t have to do this anymore and yet I still do.  I just wish I could just finally move on and not think of them so much.

While looking at old photos of Princess and Jenna, it reminded me of all the times we use to get together with other westie owners.  Princess and Jenna loved playing with other dogs, especially other westies, and this was a very happy time for them.  It made me wonder what happened to the other dogs, so I looked them up and have found that most of them have passed away too.  But during my search, I found that one of the westies named Wing, who amazingly was Princess and Jenna’s cousin, had just passed away just last year.  Wing was born in 1995 which made her just over 18 years old when she died.  Wing was one of my favorites, because she had this amazingly long tail that was trimmed in a shape of a feather or wing.  Looks-wise, she looked like a cross between Princess and Jenna, and there was definitely a family resemblance.  I visited Wing’s homepage last night where there were even a few photos of Princess and Jenna, and I could tell that she was deeply cherished as well.  It makes me wonder if Wing’s owners felt as sad as I do when she passed.  I wonder if they recovered or are they also still in mourning -after all 18 years is a very long time.

September 13th and 14th will forever be etched in my memory as one of the saddest days of my life.  If only they had lived one more month, we could have had a huge celebration to mark their sweet 16th birthday, which I had been planning.  But never the less, I will celebrate their birthday anyway, complete with cake, candles and birthday wishes to thank them for being such great companions.

 

These are some rare photos that I haven’t even seen, taken from Wing’s homepage.

 

 

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One Week


It’ll be exactly one week in a few hours since we lost Jenna.  Although I am coping, I’m still trying to come to terms with the loss.  My mind is still in disbelief and denial.  I still see and hear them.  And although I know I am hallucinating from the grief of my loss, some websites that I have been reading about coping with pet loss, suggest that the spirit or the souls of the dogs are still in this house and they are trying to comfort me.

Today, my wife took Haru to cheerleading practice to practice for a special event next month.  I decided to stay home, because I really just wanted some time to be alone and collect my thoughts.  But I think I was too alone, because I kept hearing things all day. I heard Princess snoring like she normally does when she was asleep, and I could also hear them walking around the floors.  I also found comfort laying on the floor, where both dogs spent most of their time.  I felt as if they were laying their with me.  Perhaps this is why my wife spent the entire week sleeping on the living floor.  Maybe subconsciously she also felt as if they are still with us in spirit.  Usually, I don’t believe in this kind of stuff, and I am usually more logically minded person rather than spiritual, but I definitely feel sense of presence (not all of the times) but sometimes.  It makes me wonder if there is such thing as spirituality and an afterlife, are the dogs still here?

Princess and Jenna were somewhat famous among the Westie owners community in Japan.  We use to go to a lot of events a long time ago and we would often see the same people, hence Princess and Jenna was like a household name like Terry and Lala, Wing, and Mint and Basil.  They were all well known names within the community.  When some of the owners learned that Princess and Jenna passed away, they were kind enough to send us flowers which I included in the dogs’ memorial.  The memorial has gotten so big now, that I actually had clear everything off the shelved to fit everything.  So, rebuilding and expanding the memorial actually helped be to take my mind off of things and was extremely helpful and therapeutic.

I’ve also gotten to the point where I was able to sit down with Haru, and watch old videos of the dogs.  Haru loved doing this, because some of these videos we haven’t seen in years.  It was the first time I had been able to laugh in days.

And finally, I have created a memorial page for the dogs on this site.  I will probably be updating it from time to time with pictures and videos I find of the dogs.

 

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A Belated Congratulations and It’s About Time!


Yesterday was a bit better, I think.  I managed to get through most of the day without having too many thoughts about Princess and Jenna, which in reality means that instead of thinking of them every single moment of the day, I thought about them a bit less than that.  The memories have been slightly less painful, but they are still there and still painful none the less.

I think what remains to be the hardest part of the day is coming home.  Right now, that house is a toxic haven for memories for me.  The moment I see the house as I walk down the street, I begin to see the dogs on the balcony poking their heads through the railing, and hear their paws clicking against the wood deck as they bark and welcome me home from work.   And as I walk closer, they begin to fade, only to bring me back to the realization that they no longer exist -except in my memories and in my heart.

Yesterday, coming home was particularly difficult, because my wife had taken Haru to cheerleading practice, so I came home to in empty house.  As I opened the front door, the silence was deafening.  Usually, I would come home to the sound of the TV blaring in the background, or Haru talking or singing out loud, or to the sound of water running in the kitchen or bathroom, or …to the sound of the dogs clicking their paws on the wood floors of the hallway to see who just walked into the front door.   Instead, it was just lifelessness, darkness, and dead silence, and the memories started again, and I began to cry.

This weekend is going to be hell, because it will be one week after their passing, and I already know I am going to struggle with it.  Since its a long weekend for me (9 days off from work due to national holidays), I really wished we could just go somewhere far away from this house.  But since we didn’t plan anything because of Princess and Jenna’s illnesses, it would be too late to plan anything now.  I thought about going out to the summer house in Chiba, but that place would be equally painful for me because we spent so much time out there with the dogs.  So in essence, I would feel trapped and imprisoned in my own home with painful memories tormenting every moment that I am there.

I am very angry at myself because I haven’t been able function well in almost a week.  Aside from work, there seemed to be no purpose for doing anything.  I just wanted to sleep all day, and I feel really bad for feeling this way, and for neglecting Haru.  Haru, if you read this someday, I hope you forgive me for those days when you always saw me  sad and crying.  I shouldn’t let this sadness take over our lives , and I feel really really bad for not giving you more attention, and I promise to make it up to you when I feel better.

Despite the dogs leaving us, we had one really good thing that happened that unfortunately got overshadowed and nearly forgotten.  Haru finally FINALLY got chosen to join the advanced gymnastics class!  I couldn’t be more proud of her.  She actually participated in her first class as an advanced gymnast last Saturday (right before all of this happened).  She struggled with it at first because she had gone to her usual class earlier that morning, and was fairly tired by the afternoon.  But her new advanced gymnastics coach, which is the same coach she had when she first started out in her kindergarten gymnastics class said that she will do fine once she gets use to the new routines.

Haru will actually be starting advanced gymnastics regularly in November, once she has completed all of her cheerleading events which will take up most of her Saturdays in October.

So out of curiosity, we all wondered why it took the coaches so long to recognize that Haru was ready for the advanced class.  I thought that perhaps my wife and I were just being stupid parents for thinking that Haru was better than she really is.  Or perhaps the coaches just didn’t see any potential in Haru’s ability, and just thought it’d be best to keep her where she is, or eventually that she might even quit.  Or maybe it was because the coaches where just plain stupid and not paying any attention to the fact that Haru was clearly out performing everyone in her class including the much older senior level students.  Well, the answer is none of the above.

Apparently, the coaches did recognized Haru a long time ago, apparently back in her kindergarten days.  But the reason why she never got promoted to the advanced class was because of one misunderstood comment she made to her gym coach back when she was in kindergarten.

When Haru just started cheerleading a few years back, she use to be so proud of her cheerleading hair ribbon, that she use to wear it everywhere -even to gymnastics class.  When her coach asked her what the ribbon was for, Haru said that she is a cheerleader and that she was so busy with cheerleading that she had forgetten to take it off.  (which wasn’t true -she just wanted to wear it) Based on that one comment, her coach assumed that Haru would be way too busy to commit to being in advanced gymnastics and passed her up.  She assumed that Haru was doing cheerleading several times a week, when in reality it was (and still is -if you don’t count tumbling) only once a week, and in no way would interfere with her schedule if she joined the advanced class.

This all came into realization when Haru attended the nature camp last month with her gymnastics school.  My whole intention for Haru to attend that camp was not only to make new friends and have fun, but to also to be able communicate with the coaches in the hopes that they would recognized that she is a good gymnast -and IT WORKED!  While at camp, her once was, and soon to be again gym coach approached her and asked how her cheerleading career was going, and Haru responded okay.  Then the coach asked, are you still really busy? to which Haru replied, no….it’s only on Thursdays.  The coach probably assumed that Haru was a competition cheerleader who practices several times a week and do complicated cheer routines, hence her ability to do skills beyond what is taught in regular gymnastics class.  Thus, started a new dialog between us and the coaches and clarifying what Haru’s schedule is really like and how we wondered when Haru would ever move up into advanced gym.

The reason why the coaches what so concerned over Haru’s schedule is because her regular gym class was once a week and 50 minutes per session.  Once she moves up, this can go up to 3 times a week and 90 minutes per session.  If she moves up further to competition level courses, it can go up to 5 days a week and 3 hours per session.  By this point, Haru have to make a commitment and pretty much quit everything else she is doing (including cheerleading and tumbling), and I know she isn’t ready to do that.   But for advanced gymnastics, we both have time in our schedules to do it at least twice a week.  Three times a week will be more of a challenge, but we will cross that bridge when we get there. So at this point, we are just going to ease in the advanced class to test the waters.  If she enjoys it and is good at it, we will see about bumping it up to twice a week, and maybe even more if she wants to.

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The Most Important Thing in My Life


I promised yesterday that I would try to focus on Haru, and I am going to try to keep that promise, but in a more gradual sense.  I am still feeling an enormous sense of loss and loneliness, and I feel as if the only person who understands me and the profound sadness I feel, is me.  I am at best. a “functional” emotionless zombie at work.  One of my coworkers commented that I looked very fatigued, in which I gave very little or no reaction to, not because I was offended, but because I really didn’t know how I should react.  Right now, I feel as if I have to turn off all emotions while I am at work otherwise I will fall apart, which is never a good thing in a structured environment.

However, by doing this, I feel that my despair over the loss of my dogs are being too suppressed and they tend to build as if I were holding my breath, to the point where I erupt with sadness the moment I walk into the door at home.  I know Haru feels bad for me, but she’s not too sure what to do about it.  It’s totally understandable -I mean, how is a seven year old suppose to react to an adult who constantly cries, especially when it’s their own father.  She came into the bedroom last night and offered me ice cream, which I thought was kind, but I feel so weak in that I couldn’t even sit down and have ice cream with my own daughter.

I think my wife is getting sick of me.  I haven’t eaten much in days now.  Just maybe some bread and orange juice in the morning and that’s about it.  I’m afraid that if I go out to lunch that I will start to think about them again.  It’s best to just keep busy and keep my mind off of them as much as possible. so I would either work through lunch or sit on the bench in front of our office building for an hour and just space out until its time to go back to work.  My wife actually got angry with me last night for not wanting any dinner, but  I really didn’t feel like eating, and being in the living room is still too difficult. Even as I was sitting at the dinner table and Haru was spilling food all over the floor, I would think, it’s okay, Jenna will be by to lick it up, but of course that never happened, and I broke down and cried while my wife looked on with more anger.  I wish she were a little bit more understanding of my pain, rather than caring so much about the time she wasted preparing my dinner. I just wanted to do what I did the night before and just go to sleep so I didn’t have to think about anything anymore.

Last night, I heard noises again.  This time it wasn’t the sound of the dogs walking on the wood floors.  It was whimpering sounds, -the kind of sounds that Princess use to make when she wanted to go outside. I buried my head in pillows and just begged for it to please stop.  Why is my mind torturing me!  But after a while, I realized that the sound wasn’t my imagination; it was real.  So I got up and tried to figure out where it was coming from, but it was so intermittent, that I couldn’t pin point it.  It sounded as if it was coming from the hallway.  Maybe it was my mind playing tricks on me again.  Then it happened again, and it came from Haru’s room.

I went into Haru’s room to check on her to see if she was alright.  Her asthma seemed to be flaring up as she slept, because her breathing sounded rough.  It reminded me of Princess in her final days; her breathing was very rough too.  So naturally I was very worried.  I crawled into her bed with her and every once in a while she would make whimpering sounds in her sleep -the same sounds that I had been hearing all night.  I hugged her, and asked if she wanted to sleep in our bedroom (which she loved to do) but there was no response.  She just continued to sleep.

I couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night.  My thoughts shifted from the dogs to worrying about Haru.  She is the most important thing in my life, far more important than the dogs, and if anything were to happen to her, I couldn’t imagine being able to continue on.  Life wouldn’t be worth it anymore.  All I could think about was Haru’s breathing and whimpering in the next room, and how Princess did the same thing before she passed away.  So I stayed awake for most of the night making sure that she’d be alright, and walked back and forth to her room periodically to check up on her.

Having only slept a couple of hours or so, I woke up the next morning and immediately checked up on Haru again.  She was breathing much better, and wasn’t whimpering anymore.  I felt a great sense of relief, but then my mind shifted its attention back to the dogs.  But this time, I felt a bit better.  I think that realizing that the most important thing in life for me is Haru, and she is living and breathing and is right there with us.  I need to stop feeling so much misery because it wasn’t doing me any good, nor was it going to bring the dogs back.  I need focus on Haru and give her my full attention going forward, because she is who counts the most. This helped me to take a step closer to coming to terms with the loss of our dogs.  I am still very far from achieving acceptance, but I think I am finally on the road to it.

 

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Haunted by Memories


First of all, I need to apologize to Haru for completely hijacking your blog site.  I know this site is suppose to be dedicated to you, and not so much about me, but I really need a place to write about the sad events of the last couple of days to help me get over the pain.  Perhaps when you are older and hopefully read this, you’ll understand why your father was so sad after Princess and Jenna left us.  I promise that I will return to topic soon.

Yesterday started out okay.  I started the day off pretty confident that I would be stronger, and I refused to let my emotions get to me.  For the most part, I think I did pretty well.  I kept myself busy at work, which kept my mind off of the sadder things.  But at the same time, I barely remember anything I did yesterday.  It was as if my brain was completely on auto-pilot and just doing things without being aware that I was doing them.

I completely skipped lunch because I have had no appetite for days now, but I did go for a walk during my lunch break, which might have been a mistake because it made me think again.  It also reminded me that a part of me is still in denial.  As I was walking, I saw a little stand selling charcoal broiled sweet potatoes -Princess’s and Jenna’s favorite food.  I reached for my wallet while thinking,  I’ve got to buy some.  This will help Princess with her hypoglycemia.  But then, reality hit and I broke down and cried.

Everything has been reminding me of them, and when I say everything I mean absolutely EVERYTHING, even things and objects that has no relationship to the dogs.  For example, as I was doing my routine work yesterday, I would see dates and times on emails and think, Princess and Jenna were still alive then, or Princess and Jenna were doing this then, etc.  And since I work for a pet food company now, seeing pictures of pets and their owners around the office in some ways helps, but in other ways makes me feel even sadder.

But the worst place for me to be right now is at home.  Everything about that house reminds me of them and there is no escape from it.  Pictures in the hallway, the stairway, the living room, the empty water and food dishes in the kitchen, the stock of unused toilet sheets and dog treats are all constant reminders that they are no longer with us.  The living room is the worst.  It’s where we all spent most of out time together, especially the dogs.  The scratches on the hard wood floor where they use to chase each other around, the little memorial we created, the pictures, the painting of the dogs that my mom gave us, the old toys that Princess use to love to play with were in the living room.

As I came home from work  and entered the living room last night, Haru knew I had been crying.  Are you still sad?, she asked.  I just nodded my head because I knew if I tried to say anything I would start sobbing again, which I wound up doing anyway.  I laid on the living room floor for about 15 minutes and the more that I was there, the more difficult it became to be there, so I went up to the bedroom, where I had to pass several pictures of the dogs to get to bringing back even more memories.  I figured that the bedroom had the least reminders of the dogs, but I was wrong.

As I entered the bedroom, it was as if there was a movie playing right before my eyes.  I had an instant flashback of when I use to throw Princess’s favorite blue squeaky toy across the bedroom and play fetch with her, while Jenna would tackle her when she brought it back and try to take it away from her.  It was like I was being tortured with flashbacks -one after another of all of the times we had playing fetch in the bedroom, to the point where I had to just bury myself in a pile of blankets in the hopes that I would just fall asleep and not have to think anymore, so that I could be temporarily relieved from the pain of the memories.

20 minutes later, I was awoken by Haru telling me that dinner was ready, but I was not in the state of mind to where I could go into that living room again.  It was too much, too soon, so I skipped dinner and went back to sleep.

I was constantly awaken by what I thought were the sounds of the dogs walking on the  hard wood floors in the living room.  I knew that it wasn’t real and I kept saying STOP! STOP!  You’re not real!  Go away!  Stop torturing me!  But it kept persisting.  I felt, and still feel as if I may be losing my mind from all of this grief.   They’re just dogs!  Get over it already!  I kept saying to myself.

16 years is huge part of my life -almost 40% of our lives were spent with Princess and Jenna; 100% for Haru. And to have that suddenly gone, feels a like a huge hole.  I guess it’s only understandable that I feel the way I feel, but I have been wondering why my wife wasn’t feeling the same.  How is she functioning?  Is she over them already?  But then I realized that she has still been sleeping on the living room floor, and hasn’t slept in the bedroom since last Saturday night when Jenna passed away.  I guess this is the way she had been grieving.

This will probably be the last time I write about my thoughts (at least on this site.) I doubt Haru would want to go back and read about how her stupid father fell completely apart over two silly dogs.  So hopefully I will be able to return to topic the next time.

 

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