Being in the doghouse is a metaphor
It indicates the adult version of being sent to one’s room. One can be in the doghouse for a wide variety of reasons and situations. An angry partner, boss, spouse, or even mother. Basically, it means we messed up somehow according to someone else’s expectations, wants or desires.
For some of us, this may not be a particularly difficult place to wind up in. It may, however, prove to be a challenging place to remove oneself from.
My doghouse of life usually resulted from my mother.
My mother is a person I describe as having no grey area of life. Things are what they are and you are what she expects you to be. No matter what you live up to her expectations or else. It also doesn’t matter how old you get. There are no excuses for anything, not ever.
Me, I am a person full of grey areas in life. Not only do I have them, I also accept them in others.
Nothing in life is perfect and shit happens. Sometimes that stuff is beyond our control and some days life just gets the best of us. What I may have put in the front of my mind in the morning, by evening could have totally escaped, nowhere to be seen.
I may not have even caught that I lost track of that thing I was supposed to remember or do for a few days. When suddenly it pops into my head, colorful expletives come out, and now I have to make the fateful call.
What comes next
Reluctantly I dial the phone, knowing all too well what was coming. I could tell by the cold curt tone of her hello exactly what that meant. The doghouse is waiting for me.
At that moment in time, the exact moment hello came out of her mouth, I suddenly had the overwhelming feeling to pretend I spoke another language and in some sort of broken English and say so sorry wrong number. Thus freeing myself from the awkward and difficult moment ahead.
That brief bit of humor that flew through my head somehow made the next agonizing moments a slight bit less painful.
Yes, I mean moments, cause it usually didn’t get further than that. Bam! I am in the doghouse again.
Maybe, if she would listen
Maybe if she took a moment to understand and listen she would know how difficult my day was. How hard and stressful it was and all I wanted to do at the end of the day was pull the covers over my head and have the day be done.
If she could just understand being in my shoes for a minute, there would be the glimmer of grey area. A concept I wish she could understand, but never did.
I would like to say we took turns
Life would have been a bit more tolerable and fair if there were some turn-taking in that doghouse. There rarely was. For the most part, I had sole visiting rights to the doghouse. My brother and sister may have visited once in a blue moon, but me, I had permanent reservations.
They say we all have special talents and I have several. I love art, painting, writing, and many other creative hobbies. The one that stood out most when it came to mother was my innate ability to wind up in the doghouse. On some level, you could consider this a skill.
The doghouse was never my intended destination
I always had good intentions and a very stressful chaotic life, a lot of misery at the time and a somewhat worse memory. My mother also had the acute ability to stay mad for a dog’s age. Like the pun here, lol. But it was true. She could literally stay mad for a very long time over small things.
Some of those things I thought fit into the grey area of life. You know the one I mentioned earlier about shit happens.
She was mad as in not even answering the phone, not even answering long enough to make you feel like crap. The fact that she lived over an 8-hour drive away, this often made working things out rather challenging.
There just comes a time in life where you grow up enough and no matter how much you love your mother, you have to make peace with your doghouse.
I want to say I eventually hung curtains, got a big cushy pillow to sit on and stocked the bar. If I was going to spend repeat time in here, well then hey let’s make it fun.
I am not trying to make light of things
I am not trying to make light of anyone’s stay in the doghouse, ok maybe just a little. But really, for each of us, our doghouse stay is different. We all wind up there for different reasons. And there are probably just as many ways to deal with it, make the best of it and find a way to get out of it.
Feel free to share your doghouse experiences here.
In the end
In the end, somehow, we all have to make good. We all have to find our way out of life’s doghouse. Now, how you remove yourself can either be easy, painful or get you an extended stay.
- I believe being right is overrated. Ask yourself do you want to be right or be happy.
- Owning what you did matters. Take ownership and apologize. This goes a long way.
- Listening and actually, hearing makes a difference. Can you truly understand how whatever you did or didn’t do made the other person feel? I mean truly understand! Whether you agree with it or not. Feelings count, they may not always be
understood but they count.
- And making peace because you love the other person is what matters. I always tell anyone who asks, can you remember why and what you love about this person. Then go there and do what you need to do the right way.
- Often times we get caught up in whose right, we listen but we don’t hear. Someone has to be right, and then there is the ultimate it’s not my fault.
Depending on the situation, you may have to weigh your options and decide which is your best course of action.
One thing to always consider
I am going to say there are as many reasons we all wind up in the doghouse as there are doghouses in the world. Some minor some a bit more serious.
There are people that are easier to deal with in order to get out of the doghouse and some not so much.
The saying choose your battles can go a long way in life if we think about whether this is a battle we want to fight. Maybe yes maybe no.
Also listening and hearing how the other feels and validating those feelings. Don’t make light of them, even if you think they can be a bit over the top. Validation can go a long way to understanding how someone feels and defusing a situation.
Footnote on one of the earliest origins of being in the doghouse.
In Chapter 16 of Peter Pan, 1911,
J. M. Barrie used a plot where the father of the family, Mr. Darling, sent himself to the dog’s kennel aka (doghouse) as an act of remorse because he felt he inadvertently caused his children’s kidnapping.
Lastly, how does moxie fit in here?
It takes MOXIE to admit you’re wrong and to not make a battle where one isn’t necessary. It also takes moxie to own whatever you did and listen with your heart and make things right, no matter who put you in the doghouse.
Share your doghouse story in the comments or send it to me here.