chrisg

From the mind (and hands) of Chris Gwilliams

As a child, I do not think I experienced shame or guilt or other complex emotions. Perhaps I internalised it but I certainly did not know how to recognise it. Many cruel things were said and/or done to me, things that were typical of bullying kids in high school; nothing out of the ordinary for any kid that seemed slightly “different”.

After receiving my Autism diagnosis at 20, I was given me the option to put it on my record or not. I did not understand why and later realised that it was because it could affect employment options and other areas of life (both in positive and negative ways). From what I remember, that was the first time I experienced shame and that I had something to hide.

Through therapy, learning more about masking and people's thoughts made me more aware and, hopefully, more empathetic but it had the drawback of adding shame that I could not do those things by default and that the energy required was exhausting. As well as the fact that I still could be wrong or I could come across a situation where I do not understand its meaning.

When I later got diagnosed with Narcolepsy, I did not feel relief for the sleep issues or that I had not killed myself (or others) when driving to work, I felt shame that I needed more things different to “normal” people. I needed medication to fix it because I knew I did not love myself enough to take a nap in the middle of the day, as was prescribed, or to tell my employer that I needed a space to sleep.

When things went well in life, I felt like they were not deserved or that some mistake was made. I only felt good when being used and, in a few rare occasions in my life, that need was so great that I sought it from paid sex workers.

Outside of those occasions, I sought it elsewhere by trying to find ways to tell myself that I was wanted/needed/valuable/useful. I could not talk about it because I felt like I was already a burden just by having these “disorders” and showing someone else that I sometimes cannot recognise what I am feeling or that I cannot soothe my own fears was too much; too much to even admit to myself. All of these experiences felt like situations I had put myself in and I deserved the outcome.

Talking about any of this made it seem like I am not capable, maybe a fear that I have not realised until recently. I already felt broken enough that I was not “normal” but not being able to identify an emotion I was feeling (but acting on it) made me feel like I could not even handle daily life.

I wanted to seem capable, to seem like I can help others. I hope and believe that was for honest reasons but it was also because I could not help myself and showing that was admitting it.

Last weekend, I co-organised a bachelor party and the great people, as well as the atmosphere, somehow made talk of previous sexual experiences come out. Typically, I would say very little (or joke a lot) but recent events made me be try to be more open. I discussed times when I had been sexually assaulted, times when I had been in a situation and “gone ahead with it” because I did not know how to say no or to get out of it.

Previously, I was not able to call it sexual assault because I felt like it was my fault or that it was “only touching” so I was exaggerating. In other situations, I know I put myself in them so I felt like the outcome was my fault, and it partially is, but I was led to choosing those situations because of learned maladaptive behaviours, shame and a lack of coping mechanisms

From the past few weeks, I now realise that the shame comes from not talking about these things and the damage it causes boiling up inside you is so much worse than the fear of someone you love walking away from you if you show them all of you. And the shame inside is not hidden from others, it comes out in the pain that is caused to them by those negative actions, by listening to the shame, by staying silent and hiding in fear. I am sorry I did not realise this before.

On the flip side, trauma is talking. It is not getting drunk and recounting painful details to strangers, nor is it spilling personal information to everyone you meet. It is communicating it to those within your circles in a way that works for you. You may need to joke about it, you may need to write it or discuss it privately or share with your friendship group at once. It really does not matter how and there is no right way. What matters is that you do. Shame is a disease that can grow inside of you and it only gets stronger the more you listen to it, act for it and let it rule you.

Showing that shame to the real world helps you to acknowledge it, become more conscious of your actions and determine which parts are reality and which parts are cruel lies it has told you to live rent-free inside of you.

Almost 3 weeks have passed since I crushed a life that I desperately wanted and hurt the person I care most about in unimaginable ways.

Since then, it has only become more complex and the need to face difficult truths has come up daily; not only for myself but to friends and family as well.

What I have read

What I have learned

“You must love yourself before you can love someone else”. Some sage wisdom that has the opposite adage, “Learn to love yourself through loving others”. For a person that does not have strong emotional awareness, these kinds of wisdom are useful in helping me to understand where focus should go.

I do not love myself. I do not think much of myself at all. I have always had the rule, “other people’s happiness before my own” and I have often been fine with that. Where this thought comes from, I do not know. There is no comparison of myself to others or feeling that someone is better than me and I am genuinely happy when others achieve positive things; especially if I have helped that in some way.

I never saw a problem with this because I never needed to love myself. The problem does become clear when you realise that not loving yourself makes it harder for someone else to love you and makes self-sabotage so much simpler, because you can justify it. “Of course I would need validation from other people while I am in a relationship, I am a piece of shit” or “of course I would betray my partner’s trust and cheat, I am shitty”. So much anxiety and shame has come from believing (and saying) that I hold certain principles dear and I follow them as best I can, but then actively going against that in times of weakness. Believing that I should know how to handle these things, how to stop these behaviours (or not do them in the first place) because I am an adult.

This is just not true.

I am flawed. I want to be honest and I try my best to be. I enjoy efficiency and I almost always need things to be explained to me in a step by step way with clear outcomes. Changes to plans scare me and the idea of someone I love leaving me scares me most of all.

But it should not scare me enough to cause it to happen. It should not scare me enough that I cannot discuss it with them. If I love this person so much, why should I be masking myself around them?

So, I guess, this is what I have learned: I am Chris. I am autistic and I am needy. Needy because I do not fully understand communication or my own emotions. I am working on this and I know I can do it. I do believe that my goal in life is to make others happy but not at my own expense and certainly not when that happiness is overshadowed by immense pain being caused.

I do get afraid and I do overthink and I do question my own ability to handle situations where I rely on myself. So many things have likely contributed to that: the death of my father, the belief that I am “broken” due to the autism and I should mask, the view that I must constantly show value because “just me” is not enough. But I owe more to myself than that, more to those that I have hurt because I have not faced these fears.

I do not have the skills yet and I am certainly not ready to sit in a room in silence for 10 days and feel grateful towards myself but I am (probably) capable and I deserve more.

What I am learning

I do not (and cannot) control outcomes. Attaching outcomes to actions is not healthy and leads me to need a particular outcome and/or panic when that does not happen. Embracing uncertainty is no trivial task and accepting that those close to you have their own agency and choose to be around you is even harder; particularly when you struggle with self-esteem and/or have a low opinion of yourself.

There is a movie, starring the glorious Ben Schwartz, that is average at best but it has a line: “it is not called gently reclining in love, it is called falling in love”. For someone that needs control, that needs things to be in black or white, that cannot handle uncertainty, that is a crippling fear: “I cannot control how much I care about this person and, as time goes on, those feelings grow stronger and my sense of control slips even more”.

The mere thought of that drove my mind insane with negative overthinking, with urges to do unhealthy soothing behaviours to make me feel in control again. Those behaviours hurt the people I love the most and they hurt me. There is no need for that, and explaining why they are done to somebody sounds so stupid. But, in that moment, seeing that this amazing person in your world is so close to you, so important, so integrated that the idea of their leaving creates a pain inside you that feels like nothing you have ever felt before.

Now, without those urges, I need to sit with the pain and the discomfort, as well as accept the pain that I have caused to others. I also need to sit with the fact that I do not know what comes next and that I cannot control it. For any anxious person who shows love through acts, this is the real work. I could distract myself for weeks, months with acts that show how sorry I am, acts that show I care, and they would be real, genuine, caring acts. But to sit with it, to not fix it immediately, to give the other person space (knowing full well that the space could drive us further apart)? This is the work, and it is likely the work I needed to do a decade ago but did not know it.

What I am reading next

To do the work, I need tools. The previous tools I had were harmful and unhealthy, now that the urge to do this is gone, this leaves a gap where my mind overthinks, catastrophises and causes more panic attacks in the last 3 weeks than I have had in my life combined. Tools that come from mindfulness, from DBT, from self-acceptance.

So I have workbooks (so many workbooks), for a month in the UK where I have no contact with the person I most want contact with and no idea when they will speak to me again or what the outcome will be. All I can do is do the work, sit with it and learn to be OK with the uncertainty and the chaos.

The exercise from my therapist for this week was to write down the thoughts that came and caused the distress over the week; to give some insight into what makes me feel like I need to do act out these negative behaviours in order to “calm my mind”.

First thing to note: I know I do those actions and I take full responsibility for them, it is not my mind or some part of me on autopilot. However, I do accept that my own body is interpreting normal situations as some sort of prehistoric attack so the coping mechanisms feel like “survival instincts” and become hard to ignore.

A second point is that there has been a lot of therapy focusing on identifying emotions but the work has been primarily focused on reflecting after the fact. One of the downsides of autism is that my connection between brain and body is different. While I may have more sensory inputs than Neurotypical folks, I am not able to read them as well. This often means that I am not looking for “I am feeling sad, I wonder why” but I am looking for “What physical sensation am I feeling (tight chest, hot head etc) and what feelings does that indicate”. To find out what I am feeling in a moment is not simple, finding out why makes it seem like a mammoth task.

I will say that “sitting with the discomfort” is the hardest thing I have ever done, still now, and my ability to self-soothe/self-regulate is poor without external input.

Maybe I am prefacing this because I do not want to write these things, maybe I need to excuse them. But they have created enough shame in me for years and if transparency is part of the work, then this is the route forward.

1. If I am not useful, then I am not wanted (Value)

Low self-esteem, I know. Pretty typical, right? Many of us have been there. Many books have been written about this and it does not only impact relationships, it can affect work life; especially when working remotely.

If I cannot show, quantifiably, that I have done things, that I am useful, then I am not. I do not think I fully believe this myself but it is enough of a thought that “the idea of “just be” or let people “accept you as you are” is panic inducing. Which likely leads to the next, more extreme, one:

2. If they need you, they will not leave (Self-worth)

Even my shitty head knows this is not true. And I am so sure that I do the things for other people because I want to do them and not as some form of manipulation. I know this, I think, because I would give all of those things to someone who I did not know so well or to someone that I was no longer dating (that may be a separate problem in itself), but I know my core motivation is fear and not a nefarious, co-dependent need for someone to fully rely on me.

3. Out of sight, out of mind (Object permanence)

This is maybe because this is how my head works and my empathy skills are still developing. If someone goes away, then it almost feels like a surprise that they are there when I get back or that they want to continue speaking to me or that I am still in their life when there is distance between us. That is the most extreme version of the thought, I have become infinitely better at dealing with this one and giving myself evidence and being more proactive in reaching out to show that is not true. In weaker moments, though, this one can really take hold.

4. You do not deserve this, they will leave (Self-protection, catastrophising)

I am unsure how to phrase this one (or even if I believe it) but, as a black-and-white thinker who likes rules, I think this comes from father’s death. A person who I could relate and discuss things with was a cornerstone of who I am today, his death was like a wave of pain that my brain could not process and so decided to implement extreme measures to stop me from feeling that again.

About the deserving, I neither think I am special/better or worse than anyone else, so I am unsure why I feel like I do not deserve the things. I do know that my brain seems to follow the rule of “other people’s happiness before my own” so maybe that has deeper roots than I am aware of.

5. They have left/moved on/they don’t need you. They don’t want you. (Uncertainty, catastrophising, fear of abandonment, self-worth).

This one is the kicker. Without certainty, all thoughts are welcome and they focus on the very, very negative. This pit, once in it, is almost impossible to get out of and it often comes with a paralysis from deciding for the other person. If someone does not want me to do something, they can tell me and I will not do that thing. However, in this pit, my view is that they think I am disgusting/annoying/pestering/pick one and any action I make to them is harmful/abusive/triggering. Crawling out of that pit and doing something as simple as reaching out a hand to hold seems harder than running a marathon.

Possibly because I seem to struggle with long-term thinking, this thought kicks in very quickly and, the longer the uncertainty exists, the stronger it gets and the harder it is to do things. It also feels closely correlated with the next thought:

6. Needing to know for sure (Uncertainty)

Yes, I have read the book. Yes, I know the irrational nature of needing to know things for sure and the harm it can do in the long term but the risk of doing something and being rejected/not wanted/not useful is powerful, possibly made stronger with not being so great at reading people that I want to do the right thing and validate it before doing it. I am sure there is some efficiency thoughts in there as well but, typically, I believe the worst case scenario is true (see above) and, without the external certainty, the pit seems oh so deep.

Some good coping mechanisms for these thoughts have been found over the years:

  • As other people change plans, it is better to plan things as open ended. For example, instead of “Cinema with X on Thursday”, it is better to see it as “Spend time with X on Thursday” and that plan can change without triggering anything (or could even run later into the night).
  • Fake it: This one I learned from running. If I need certainty, I can be the one to give it to myself by pretending the other person has given it. It does not work indefinitely but I can give me a few days/week of comfort/strength to try and act independently.

It is so much effort to think these things, not react to them, let them pass and rationalise them. So much so that I am incredibly jealous of people (Neurotypical or divergent) that are able to do this naturally or that have developed mechanisms to make this more natural. I know that deeper fixes (working on self-love, self-esteem and my own needs) are part of the issue here but I do not feel like they are the core; the core seems to be not being OK if these thoughts are true. That could be my mistake, though, and may be part of the issue.

After a week of panic attacks, surges of “feel good” and obsessively listening to “Whatever It Takes” by Lifehouse, I do know what I feel. I know it is many things and I know it rockets between “ecstatically hopeful” to “you piece of shit, you ruined this” on seemingly hourly basis.

Doing the work is hard. Really hard. No contact is even harder. When your inner fear of rejection and/or abandonment is ingrained for decades, it is tough to deal with those thoughts when someone you love is in your life. When they are not (in whatever ways) then they really ramp up their effectiveness. They have moved on, your life means nothing. You know, the usual.

I went to my first group therapy. When I was first diagnosed, group therapy was the primary support available for those diagnosed with ASD. At the time, I thought it made no sense and would be more triggering than anything else.

Foolishly, I did not go and instead opted to do one-on-one counselling; teaching me the skills of masking to be neurotypical and all of the magical anxious thoughts that one should be thinking during a social encounter.

I spent many years being angry at how that therapy did not help and, in many ways, created more issues. But that is pointless, obviously.

Panicking in the foetal position in the cabin of a ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki, I decided to leave the dark room and walk the dog. To my surprise, it was light as hell outside and the deck was filled with people walking around and taking videos. My last ferry was an overnight from Helsinki to Germany and it had nothing but grey seas and no signal.

Seeing that I had missed a call from a good friend, I circled the deck with a confused dog as I talked into some bluetooth sunglasses and explained the events of the last few weeks. They listened and challenged the thoughts coming from that dark place that everyone’s mind goes to and focused on what can be done now. In this moment. Instead of tiring myself out overthinking and thinking how it could have been different, just having the thought “what can you do for yourself now?” is vital.

Doing that in practice, however, is a whole different thing. It absolutely sucks that your brain is your own worst enemy but knowing it, and taking steps to “fight” that is already a big step.

Doing the work is tough to recognise, particularly if you are a person that feels like productivity is only productive when it is visible.

From reading and therapy, I started down the path of co-dependency and whether that applies to my experiences or thoughts within relationships. Hearing or reading the content is painful and I hope that is not because I am avoiding admission of things; I recognise some of the patterns and certainly behaviours fit into them but I would not consider myself a narcissist or a sociopath (though I have considered it in therapy sessions).

My actions come from a place of fear and, quite possibly, from complex trauma stemming from my father’s death but I never do things to manipulate or hurt people. At least, not consciously. This is where “doing the work” feels tough, it makes me question the origin of my thoughts or actions, which is undeniably a good thing overall but it also increases the anxiety and shame felt. Shame and fear are powerful motivators and rarely in the good direction.

To be sure (as sure as one can be), I have taken multiple tests for narcissism and sociopathy (solo and with therapists) and not scored as one. I do not think I am special or that I deserve more than others, nor do I want to harm or manipulate. I am scared and do not feel worthy enough to show my own needs.

As a kid, I did not experience trauma (that I am aware of) nor did I believe anything special about myself or even consider what others thought of me. I would only talk to people about the Libertarian party and I barely understood what an emotion was. I was, and am, autistic. After diagnosis at 20, I went through years of therapy that taught me how to understand some of my own emotions, how to try and identify what others were feeling and what to do/how to act. It was scary as shit. It was like showing me a whole new dimension that was inside the same dimension we live in. “People really think this?”, “People really do that when X does Y?” rolled around my head, a head filled with blissful ignorance before.

Sidenote: I remember asking for a girl’s number when I was 13 and texting them (rarely, because I had no idea what to say) and then being told that I had to write “tbcx” at the end of every message, which apparently meant “text back, Chris x” in txt speak. So, I did, to every female contact and every message, for 5 years until flatmates in university told me that did not need to happen (nor did it ever need to happen). Such a simple statement modified my behaviour and also taught me to expect responses even when messages did not have questions; so many grey areas.

My head did not cope, apparently, it took this huge grey area and try to turn it into black and white rules. Loaded with the loss of a parent who did understand how my brain worked, it focused on following those “rules” and doing whatever it could to avoid the hurt it felt when my father died. “People you love will leave. You can control your actions. I will do that for you” it said. I remember telling a therapist that I spent some time each day imagining my mother’s death, my brother’s death, those of friends, so it could prepare and detach and implement its master plan to avoid the world crashing pain it felt when father was gone.

It created a series of masks to wear to be as neurotypical as possible, never showing a need for others and hiding the autistic self.

There is no excuse for the things I have done when using the wrong coping mechanisms to deal with fear or discomfort, to avoid relying on someone but I very much hope that it is not due to narcissism. I am a people-pleaser, as many are, but I do it mostly because I want to and because I like to feel needed or that I have something to offer this person or this world. Potentially it is for attachment as well, but not to artificially force attachment or trap someone. This behaviour is learned, learned in an effort to live in a neurotypical world and have successful relationships. This fact gives me hope because it can be unlearned and new lessons, more in line with who I am, can replace them.

I hope I can look back on this post in 6 months and either:

  • see that this is true and have done work to address showing all facets of my authentic self
  • accept that I am wrong in my understanding and have done the work to address being something I never thought I could be

When I wrote the admission post, I did not know what I was going to do from then on; I just knew I had to do something different. Owning it myself was hard enough but admitting it to others, accepting that fear that I had tried to avoid for decades was tougher still.

In this past week, a rollercoaster of emotions, self-reflection, self-loathing and actions have happened: panic attacks, eating nothing and getting to silly levels of drunk, wanting to sleep all the time just to block it out.

Normally, I write notes in Obsidian but these findings, reflections and lessons also felt like something that should be as open as the first post. A journey that I need to go on but one that I can throw into the void. Maybe others with a similar issue would read this or maybe those affected by my actions could gain some closure.

What I have read

What I have learned

54321 Grounding

When feeling a bunch of things, doing the 54321 grounding can be essential

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can hear
  • 3 things you can touch
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

This works as like a reset and, while it is frustrating to keep doing it, it is like a mini superpower and has helped tens of time this week

90 second reactions

All these things I have done, I have always seen them as subconscious and that I have no control. An excuse, I knew, but having the research to back it is a nice arsenal of evidence to use against myself.

When a thing happens, an external event or a feeling comes up, your parasympathetic nervous system has control for 90 seconds; that makes you flinch or scream or run. After that, it is all you.

This is not only important for ownership, but also to understand that, when you want to do something quickly, you likely need to wait 90 seconds to think clearly. “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast”, it seems, and the grounding technique above is a good 90 second killer.

Feelings have a physical sign

Discomfort. I feel it. Physically. Often. I do not often know what I am feeling, it is hard for me to connect brain and body and identify emotions. Sometimes it feels like being in a shoe store and I am asking the shop worker what I am feeling and they go out the back to check. Sometimes they will come back with the item or they may stay in the back for hours and come back much later.

Studies have been done where people were shown black and white images of people next to emotions and they were able to link the images with an emotion.

I did not know this! Now I do not need to ask the shop worker and I just make a best effort guess based on what I physically feel and try and identify if there is a trigger that might be causing that.

feelings

What I need to do better

Lying

I want people to like me, all people do. Maybe it is because off the autism or feeling like I cannot read people but I need them to like me. To continue to like me, to see good things in me, to not leave me. Enough therapy has me aware that the fear of leaving comes from my father passing away due to a brain tumour but this behaviour existed before this.

This fear, “you need to do things to make them like you, dont show the bad things, dont need them or they will go”, does not just cause the negative behaviours and outlets that I look for in relationships but they impact my communications daily.

Lying? No, I would never call it lying. I am a good person. I do not lie. My brain (once called “the director” by a therapist) does these things. I do not want to do them. I do not know that I do them. Yet I do them. I tell a person that I love them and then I use these outlets to deal with that fear that comes from loving them, wanting them. To show myself I do not need them, that I can handle it if they leave.

Let's call it what it is: lying. It permeates every layer of my life. I filter my speech for what the other person wants to hear. No, what I think the other person wants to hear. Not just a partner, a random colleague or friend. This needs to be struck from my life. I need to gain self-respect, gain a sense of identity and accept that honesty is the only option.

Validation

I still want it. And I still do not know how to give it to myself. What is worse, I want it from the very person that I was too afraid to seek it from. I still find myself messaging them, going to message them and to tell them of all the work I am doing, of all the new things I have learned. I want them back but I made this situation. And the work is for me. For my lessons learned. They may move on, without me, and that is my doing. I did that.

Fears and Reliance

Love doing things for people. Love it. Feels amazing. The opposite? Not so true. It hurts and creates such discomfort that the urges to do shitty things grow exponentially. I have done the work in therapy and I know the things. I know it can be equal and I know that someone doing a thing for me is a good feeling for both parties. But the fear of “owing them” or not being seen as capable of doing it for myself or that I am not worth those things being done for me is so great that I do not know how to sit with it, let alone process it.

But I will. I have to master these things. To live consciously and actively. To take charge and stop blaming my brain/the director/my fears for my actions.

An Open Admission and a Promise to do Better

I doubt anyone is reading that does not have a direct link but I think my work needs to be done in the open.

My name is Chris Gwilliams, I am a developer by trade and I am an incredibly anxious person, diagnosed with Autism at the age of 21. I am also a person who has low self-esteem and is unable to validate themselves so I seek it from others; typically in relationships. For almost all of my adult life, I have been in long-term relationships, with a maximum of a year in between (but normally a few months).

This is because the loneliness creates discomfort and anxiety in me. Discomfort and anxiety are feelings I want to avoid so I seek a distraction: dating. Dating typically then leads to a long term relationship and, in most cases, they have been with some amazing people.

That anxiety stays through the relationship. I believe that I should be the best version of myself for my partner and I do try, but it is tiring. And I do not know what to do with the not so good parts, the “shadow self”. I am afraid to show it because I think they will leave and that fear leads to me doing awful things, like:

  • Looking at online classifieds for external validation, through adult chats or audio/video sessions
  • Looking on escort sites to message someone (for the same reason) and engaging in physical cheating
  • Sending messages to previous partners about feelings (for the same reason). In one instance, this went on for months, engaging in physical and emotional cheating that hurt both my partner and the previous partner.

All to be told (or to feel) that I am good, I am loved, I am OK. But I know this is not true. I know this behaviour is not OK. It is abusive, manipulative and it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of the very thing that I am trying to avoid.

Anyone that knows me knows that I am a person with low willpower. I eat pizza regularly, impulse buy gadgets and rarely go for the “hard thing” (unless it is for someone other than myself). I always believed that these behaviours were the same part of it, and I am sure they are related somehow. But I have also never talked about them directly, openly. Part of me thought that these things were “under control” but I knew that I was ashamed of it. Ashamed that I cannot soothe myself, ashamed that I do not have the skills to fix this for myself and ashamed to admit to needing people.

I am still ashamed but mostly because it has taken me this long to admit it to myself, to others and to work on it. Because I hid it for so long, it became a part of me; a routine, a habit, a knee jerk reaction. For those reasons, and for all of those that have been hurt by my fear and my actions, I need to be open about it; so here it is. And to those people that I hurt, I am so incredibly sorry, you deserved none of this and I hope this goes some small way to addressing that, making some small amends and know that I am doing the work, now, in the open, before causing any more harm to others or myself.

How to look after this anxious hound =====

Born: 2017 Race: Mixed Nationality: Italian Weight: 20kg Eats: – Brit Care weight loss/Acana/Frolic soft (soft dry food): 1 cup – Can also eat 1 packet of wet food with dry food if he is being picky

Daily Routine

  • Between 6 and 8am: Walk
  • 830am: Breakfast (dry food)
  • Between 3 and 5pm: Walk
  • 530pm: Dinner (dry food)
  • Between 9 and 1030pm: Night time pee

Commands

Saying this is an excited, slightly high whisper is the best way to make him responsive.

  • Sit (point downwards or click your fingers)
  • Spin (after sitting, rotate your finger clockwise)
  • Twirl (after sitting, rotate your finger anticlockwise)
  • Down (flat hand lowered to the floor)
  • Roll (after down, rotate your hand)
  • Wait (hand up, flat palm)
  • Suche/Search/Go get it (after wait, to retrieve a treat)
  • Up (onto your chest, double tap it as you say it)
  • Up (Point to a log/bench/wall as you say it)

Guidelines

  • Not allowed on the bed (up to you if you want to enforce)
  • No jumping up without being told
  • Should sit and wait before being fed
  • Wet food can be used but should be limited
  • Should be pulled off of other dogs and leave area if he attempts to mount multiple times

What to do when...

  • He has ticks – Once you have stopped screaming and calling him, “disgusting”, there is a tick remover in the zipped pocket of the treat pouch; grip it and twist, if you get legs and head then you are better than I am at removing them
  • He will not walk – Sometimes he may stop for no reason or try to pull in a different direction. As long as he is wearing the orange harness then just continue to pull him until he starts to walk with you (do not worry if you have to pull quite hard!)
  • He does not eat – Soaking his food in cold/warm water for a while can help sometimes. He also struggles to eat if there is a lot of movement so you may find he will eat when you sit down to eat. This is perfectly ok and it is ok to leave his food out if he does not eat it right away
  • He vomits – Firstly, sorry! Second, do not worry unless it has happened more than 2 or 3 times.

Fears

  • Bald, larger men 🤷‍♀️
  • Loud noises
  • Noisy packaging
  • Large objects moving
  • Vacuum cleaners

Notable

  • Does shed quite a lot of hair
  • Might not want to walk sometimes or leave owner; pulling the harness is perfectly ok in that case

  • Labyrinth Park
    • Strongly recommended, very cheap and quite empty in mid afternoon
    • Escape room is cool and mini golf is free if you finish the max
  • Agios Nikolaos – Small town with a lake close to ocean
    • Town that the Spinalonga boat leaves from
    • Nice but maybe not worth the visit otherwise
  • Sissi Port
  • Boufos Beach
  • Animals
    • Amazonas Wildlife Park
    • Cretaquarium
  • Water parks
  • Historical
    • Malia Minoan Palace – From 1900 BC
    • Monastery of Areti – Active monastery
    • Dikteon / Psychro Cave – Birthplace of Zeus
      • Long walk but recommended
    • Spinalonga Island – Take a ferry to the old leper colony
      • full day but very recommended. The island is cool and the boat stops for an ocean swim
  • Horse Riding
  • Richtis Waterfall
  • Snorkelling – Dis Island

Purchases

  • Maximum 5 video games
  • Maximum 3 gadgets/hardware
  • Maximum 15 books/audiobooks

Food / Drinks

  • Max 6 bottles of carbonated drinks per month
  • No sweets

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