Tag Archives: cats

In Defense of Me

I had a little text exchange earlier today.

My sister sent me a picture and two videos of the kitten she is giving me in the fall.  I did not want a new cat as I have three and that is enough.  But my sister cleverly sent a picture first and then asked me if I would like to have a new kitten.  She would pay for all the shots, the spaying, and bring her to me from N. Carolina since they were coming up anyway.  It was a cute cat, and my sister always gets her way, and one of my cats is 19, so how long would I have to wait to be back down to three cats anyway.  So, I said yes.

Now my sister sends regular updates via text, which is considerate, I suppose.

Today I felt compelled to thank her for her efforts which are allowing me to see my kitten grow up even though she is hundreds of miles away.

Instead of responding with a “you’re welcome” she texted back with “You’re welcome to come down and see her and bring her back with you.”

Gahhhhhhh!

Why would I want to drive myself all the way down to Asheville, NC to pick up a cat (that I probably shouldn’t have said yes to) when you’re coming up to New York anyway in September???  In fact, all of this was your idea to begin with.  In fact, about a hundred whyshouldI’s raced through my mind when she responded the way she did.

The safest answer I could come up with was, it wasn’t in the budget to make a big trip this year.

Her answer:  Budget?  It’s a couple of tanks of gas!  We have plenty of room for you.

Gahhhhhhhh!

This convo was exactly like nearly every exchange with my mother.  No matter what I say in answer to any question, large or small, my answer is up for grabs, correction, improvement.  How did these people get so far into my brain?  Why do I have to defend everything all the time????

It’s the boundaries again.  I never learned good boundaries.  Neither did they.  But they are okay with it and I am not.

I can not be okay with poor boundaries.  I will never get better if I don’t firm up the boundaries.

And why am I still thinking about it and turning it over and over in my mind an hour later?

I get so stuck sometimes.

I probably should have sucked it up weeks ago and turned down the kitten even though she is super cute.  But I didn’t and now I am entangled.

My answer that shut down the exchange: I would have to fly.  That’s a hell of a drive and I’m not up to it these days.

She had nothing but an “oh, okay” for that one.

Score!

Such small successes in this journey, but I’ll take it.

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Filed under anxiety, boundaries, bullies, decision making, decisions, dysfunction, family, getting along, growth, history, honesty, journey, pressure, progress, self-care, self-respect, Uncategorized

Anxiety is a Bear

There are occasions when I doubt my decision to do this emotional illness journey without medication or therapy.

Like at 3:43 this morning.

My anxiety was so all encompassing that I felt nauseous and heavy and claustrophobic.  Untethered.

My usual tricks didn’t help a lot.  I was determined to stay in bed rather than go downstairs and surf the internet.  This left me with changing my sleep position, welcoming a cat into bed, getting some water, holding onto my piece of obsidian as a sort of shield and chanting to myself, “It’ll be alright, you’ll be fine, you are fine, it’s just anxiety…”

I don’t know what worked, but I eventually got back to sleep and dreamed a bit.

I woke up feeling unhappy and overwhelmed but more clear-headed than I felt during the dark before the dawn.

It occurred to me that I had let life get a little out of control lately.  For the past few weeks I have said to myself, ooh this week is a little busier than I like, but it will be okay.  Before I knew it, I was back to promising away my time and my space to my own detriment.  Such a long-standing habit!  So easy to fall back into.

Maybe the anxiety bear is now my friend because it is my own red flag for lack of self-care. Or maybe it’s a white flag.  Surrender, Gale. Stop fighting.  Start listening to your too quiet self.  Start valuing your own voice.

So, I texted my friend to say that today would not be a good one for dance practice.  That made me feel a bit lighter.  So, then I was motivated to catch up on paperwork.  One of my quirks is that I enjoy doing paperwork and getting it in order.  I made a really good civil servant in my day.  Too bad the bosses of this era do not appreciate such things….

I remembered to hydrate and eat a little something.  Soaked in the tub and got dressed.  Accomplishments!

The soak in the tub alerted me to a plumbing mishap from the big job we had done yesterday.  I didn’t panic and go into despair.  I was able to figure it out and get it taken care of.  And now that is all in order too.

What I am doing is letting my illness be its own medication.  What are my symptoms telling me?  What bad habits and decisions may have contributed?  Is this behavior the same thing I have been doing for decades hoping for a different result each time?  What can my madness teach me about doing things differently?

This is a slow method, but I think it is leading to genuine change.

 

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The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award Q and A!

I have been following an awesome blog called The Elephant in the Room and today Ms. Elephant nominated me for the above-mentioned Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. Being a very new blogger, and awkward at that, I can handle the questions part of the award. But the nominating part is a skill that I do not have yet. Perhaps in time.

Now to figure out how to get a link to The Elephant in this blog entry– http://telephantitroom.wordpress.com. Wheee! It worked!

Now for the easy part, which was actually hard because I thought I lost my draft for awhile there….

Q: What is your favorite type of animal in the world, real or myth?
A: Any and all kinds of felines. I love their faces, their paws, they way they move and the way they sound.

Q: What is your favorite type of pet?
A: House cats, naturally. It does not feel like home without cats. I have three of them and expect to always have at least one.

Q: What is your least favorite type of pet?
A: Reptiles. Maybe if they were warm-blooded and had fur I would reconsider. But in their current form, they just don’t seem like a house pet to me. They belong outdoors in ponds and under rocks.

Q: If you could BE an animal, which would you choose and why?
A: It is hard to choose what kind of animal I would want to be because I have a hard time getting past the various things they need to eat. I tell myself that if I were actually an animal, then the horrible things they have to eat would actually taste good to me. I would crave cold, gooshy things and bloody things with bones and fur and feathers. But from this side it makes me want to hurl. Based on food choices only, I would choose to be a deer. I can handle the idea of eating leaves and twigs and seeds.

Q: What tends to be your favorite season and why?
A: Easy! Fall. It’s nice and cool out. It rains. And when it rains, the tree trunks look black and dramatic against the colored leaves and the gray sky. I love that sight. And the dry leafy smell of the air gets my blood going.

Q: What tends to be your least favorite season and why?
A: This makes me an oddball but I kind of hate summer. It gets way too hot and humid for me. I actually feel sick if the heat and humidity get too high. If I liked swimming, then it might not be so bad. But I’m not a big fan of getting wet and I also sink and have a very hard time swimming. Once I almost drowned because of that sinking thing my body does. Not fun.

Q: Have you ever visited a park or landmark of any sort and, if so, what has been your favorite and why?
A: Several years ago, we visited Santa Fe, New Mexico because of the Georgia O’Keefe Museum there– http://www.okeeffemuseum.org. I loved the museum. But the big surprise to me was how much I loved Bandelier National Monument– http://www.nps.gov/band/index.htm. It is ancient and arid. It has some forest and some water. There is canyon and mountain. There is lots of red rock. If we had been prepared with proper shoes and some water, then we could have stayed many more hours hiking. Of the five days we spent in Santa Fe, two of them were devoted to Bandelier.

Ms. Elephant, thank you for thanking me and for giving me the fun questions to answer.

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Kittens

We always had cats, and sometimes kittens, when I was growing up. I loved them more than I loved anything. For years I often dreamed of cats and in those dreams the main feelings were love and a sense of peace. I wanted to be buried with my favorite stuffed cat when I died, and I wanted to come back as a cat in my next life. That’s how much I loved cats.

When we had kittens, we always gave them away when they were about six weeks old. I hated not getting to keep them. But it could have been worse. The neighbors down the street always drowned their kittens. Now I realize they probably couldn’t afford to get their cat fixed. The father hated cats and his word was law. Hence the demise of the kittens.

When I was a teenager, my mother consented to let me have my own cat. I picked out a beautiful gray boy and named him Choo Choo. One night he got hit by a car, and I found out when my sister came racing into the house and said he was flattened in the road. She was kind of giddy with this exciting news. I was crushed.

The next cat I got was a calico and she, of course, had kittens as I was too young to afford to get her fixed. They all had to live outdoors in the garage. I had started giving away the kittens but couldn’t get rid of them fast enough for my mother. One day I came home from school and all of them were gone, including the mother, my calico cat. No real warning. And not a word was said when my mother got home from work. I found out later that she had her boyfriend take them away. He said he found homes for them but I believed for a long time that he killed them.

As an adult I can have as many cats as I can care for. I have three now and that is my limit based on how much litter I want to deal with and how much annoying cat behavior I can tolerate.

Temporarily, I am also fostering two babies.

They were abandoned in a friend’s yard and were probably about a week old at that time. Nobody else could foster them as everyone else in my circle works. I knew they had to be fed every two hours and that was the extent of my knowledge of how you replace a mother cat.

Fostering baby animals is not an activity I would ever recommend to someone with depression. I’ve just about gotten through it and they have turned out damn fine if I do say so myself. But it was probably the roughest activity I could have come up with for myself during these days of healing. It was a risky thing to take on.

The first thing I discovered was that I do not exactly have a knack for taking care of baby animals. They would not eat for me at all at first!!! Here I thought my biggest issue would be waking up every two hours to feed them. Nope. The biggest problem was being awake all the time trying to figure out how to get them to eat anything at all. They might have been starving, but they were also stubborn and my efforts were met with resistance.

A friend offered to come over and show me how to do it. She has lots of experience with baby animals. She is Dr. Doolittle. Each kitten calmed down in her hands and easily ate from the syringe and it took mere moments. I was shocked.

After she left and it was my turn to try, they went right back to being overly excited. But they did eat better than before so I couldn’t really complain. But what a thing. Blind and deaf baby kittens somehow picked up my “electric” vibe just the way humans do and could not settle down in my hands even to eat.

There were several nights when I truly thought, these cats will be dead by morning. How can they go so long without eating? They could sleep and sleep. Their schedule was nothing like the suggested routine on the kitten milk container. During those long nights when I thought for sure they would die, I would mentally kick myself for even taking this on. If I had let them be, they would have died in their sleep the night they were abandoned in those frozen bushes. They wouldn’t have even known any better. Instead, I decided to bring them to my house only to starve to death at my hands.

The first day, I called around for help. I called our veterinarian and the local animal shelter. Neither place could take them off my hands but they did say that no matter what happened it would be a 50/50 chance of them living or dying. They offered other bits of advice including the one that helped me the most. “Keep them warm, let them sleep, and do your best.” That one became my mantra.

For at least the next month my priority was the feeding and care of these kittens. This meant that I accomplished next to nothing else. All my sewing projects stayed in their bags. I missed dance classes. I turned down invitations to go places. I didn’t even bother to call my mother as I knew she wouldn’t be able to work around my kitten feeding schedule and wouldn’t even support this idea of mine to do this in the first place. It was kind of a bleak time.

Fortunately, a friend offered to take them when they are grown enough so I didn’t have to keep kicking myself for taking them in and ending up owning five cats, which is too many. I didn’t have to break my promise to myself keep it at a barely manageable three cats. I do not need more things to kick myself about.

However, my next worry became: how can my friend take you guys if you refuse to eat solid food or drink milk from a bowl? Yep, I discovered that they were supposed to have started solid food at about four weeks and by six weeks should be almost done with kitten milk. OMG! Here we were still tussling over the bottle feedings at six weeks!!! I’m failing miserably at this fostering business!

Depressed people simply do not need such triggers as come with fostering baby animals. I suppose there are emotionally ill people for whom this activity would be empowering. For me, it has been another trial by fire.

The past week or so has been satisfying. They are super cute. They play, run around, do big cat things in miniature. They learned to eat and drink from bowls and one of them has litter-trained himself.

Which reminds me–Shorty! Pee Wee! Cat with the white nose! Whatever-your-name-is-or-will-be!!!! You will never be able to go to your new home if you keep refusing to use the litter box! This is not funny anymore! Get in there and do it!!!

There were times I prayed. It seemed like the best thing to ask for was, let us heal together, me and these little abandoned babies.

I would have to say that my prayer was answered in the affirmative. But it was pretty dicey along the way.

I will not search out another opportunity to foster baby animals. At one time I thought maybe taking care of animals would be a good job for me. Now I know that it is not.

Taking care of animals, or any living creature, is actually another one of those things that I can make myself do in a pinch. But it takes the kind of toll on me that I cannot afford to pay. Especially at this stage of my life where I have depleted my reserves to a dangerous level.

My reserves are so low that I think it is permanent. From now on, I need to mostly do things that will fill me up. I need to rest a lot. I need quiet. I need to not have power of life or death over any creature.

These kittens have turned out well and I think they will make good companions for my friend and her family. I don’t know if they made it because of me or in spite of me.

I feel a little bit proud. I felt a lot of shame and fear and despair and love along the way. I learned many lessons, too.

I hope I am done with the particular lessons this experience brought me. We shall see.

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