Notes on the Journey

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Learn As You Go

I have three cats, and I love them...unconditionally, unabashedly, wildly, completely, overwhelmingly, unreservedly, generously, over-the-top love them.  I'm also allergic to them.  It's something I work on in healing sessions, but have yet to affect.

Recently, it was suggested that I would do better in terms of my health if I were to re-home the cats.  The allergies are bad enough and affect my health on enough levels that I actually considered it.  I contacted everyone I knew to see if anyone was interested in adding any of my cats to their household.  Or, if anyone they knew might be interested.  But, no.  This is one of those times when Life saved me from myself.  Thank goodness no one stepped forward.  As much as I thought it might be the best thing for all of us in the moment, it would have been a huge mistake.  It would have broken all our hearts beyond repair and the damage would have been way worse than whatever my allergies are causing.

I understood all the logical reasons why re-homing the cats might be a good idea.  But, it didn't take into account the love factor.  It didn't take into account how long we've all been together and how our love for each other shapes our lives.  My cats have been through a lot with me, especially my two girls.

I rescued Negri from a shelter when she was four months old.  She'd been abused and injured and was feral before I adopted her.  She had a very difficult adjustment into domestic life, but she's now been with me for thirteen years and one of her greatest fears is being taken away from me.  She's turned into a very grateful and loving companion who would have been confused and devastated by being re-homed.  Through an animal communicator, Negri told me that she is the reincarnation of a cat I previously had named Eva.  Eva was a beautiful, gray Siamese.  I left her with my ex-husband one time when I was on location and he lost her.  He was living in a motor home at the time and parking in a variety of different parking lots.  He made the mistake of letting her out in unfamiliar territory and she never came back.  I was angry, sad and homicidal.  When Negri told me she was the reincarnation of Eva, she said that she came back to be with me so we could finish our time together.  Well, you can only imagine what the tragedy of re-homing her would have done.  And, the guilt would have eaten away at me in ways I can only begin to imagine.

When Negri was three years old, I adopted Sophie from a friend's litter.  She was six weeks old when she came to live with me and Negri and she took over immediately.  If Negri had not been so kind and patient with her, battles would have erupted.  But, Sophie's small size and young age worked for her.  The interesting thing about Sophie is that when I got her she was gray with blue eyes.  But, she loved Negri so much, and thought Negri was so beautiful, that she morphed herself into a mini-version of Negri...black with gold eyes and a little white patch under her chin.  It makes her very happy when I tell her she has beautiful eyes, and she's very proud of herself for accomplishing this feat of shape-shifting.  Sophie is very mischievous and a bit of a bully, but Negri loves her in spite of everything and they are fast friends with a close relationship built over the many years they've been together.

For all of their lives until now, I've left them home while I've gone on location for months of time.  I have a caretaker come in twice a day to take care of them, but it's not the same as having a loving person in the house living with them.  They've been so accepting and patient with me for all the long absences, and always happy to see me when I finally come home.  To have re-homed them just at the time when I finally retired and was going to be able to be home and spend time with them, would have been unforgivable.  Thank goodness Life conspired against me and saved me from having to wrestle with that.

Buddy joined us a couple of years ago.  I rented an apartment temporarily in Los Angeles while I was there for work, and the deal was that I would take care of the resident cat during my stay.  Buddy was that cat.  We bonded immediately.  His previous person had adopted him out of a shelter when he was three years old and he'd been with her for nine years as an only cat.  He thinks of himself as more human than feline.  He's a love bug and very physically affectionate.  He loves to be held and cuddled.  His purr is as loud as a jet engine and pretty constant.  After staying with him in his apartment for a month, his previous person told me she was moving and couldn't take him with her and asked me if I'd like to adopt him.  Yes!  By that time I'd fallen totally in love with him.  So, he traveled back to Albuquerque with me, much to the surprise and consternation of the girls.

Buddy was an invader and usurper of my love and attention from the get go.  The girls have never really accepted him into the household.  In the beginning, he was delighted to have the opportunity to be with others of his kind and only wanted to be friends.  But, after constant and unrelenting rejection by the girls, he's turned a bit aggressive toward them.  There are places in the house and times when all is peaceful and co-existance is possible, but there are also times when all-out war happens.  But, Buddy has a piece of my heart, and re-homing him would have ripped that piece out and left a hole in its place.  He follows me around the house like a little dog and talks to me and loves me and makes me his own.  His absence is unthinkable.

The other thing I realize in hindsight is that my efforts to re-home the kitties were in response to a suggestion, not out of my own awareness and knowing.  I understood the suggestion and could see the benefit of it, but it did not come from within me.  So, it has proved to have been a good lesson in further honing my internal instincts.  Did it come from me?  No.  Okay, then.  What am I thinking?  This is an important barometer for similar situations in the future.  People are always suggesting things, and often their suggestions are good ones, but they are not always good for me.  People suggest things out of their own situations and experience and perceptions, which often does not align with my situation, experience or perception.  And, it's important to be able to make these distinctions.

Because of the mistake Life helped me to avoid with my cats, I now have a stronger sense of my own internal guidance system.  I now have another tool in my kit to discern and filter the suggestions that come to me.  I'm now more able to say, "Thanks, but that's not for me."  People mean well when they suggest things; they really think they're helping and coming up with viable solutions to whatever it is we're facing in the moment, and what they suggest is worth considering.  But, in the end, we have to make our own decisions based on our own knowledge and intuition.  Ultimately, I realized that re-homing the cats would have been a huge mistake that there was no way to come back from.  And, having made those types of mistakes in the past, I'm beyond relieved not to have to add another one to the list.

Sometimes our live-and-learn experiences can be devastating in their consequences.  We can make mistakes so tragic that we can never recover from them, can never fix them or make them better, and will mourn them for the rest of our days.  We can learn from them.  We can struggle to forgive ourselves.  We can move on as best we can.  We can apologize and atone.  But, we can't change them.  What's done is done.  But, they do make us softer, more understanding, more forgiving.  If I could make that mistake, then I can understand how someone else could, too.  And, I want to be forgiven for my mistake, so I am able to forgive someone else for theirs.  We're all capable of horrible trespass and unconsciousness, but those acts are not who we are.  Those acts do define who we are ever after, though.  It's ultimately how we respond to those acts and what we learn from them that grows and changes us.

I love my cats all the more for having almost lost them.  I appreciate them on levels I didn't before.  I notice them and spend more time with them.  I listen to them and respond to them.  I hear what they want and give it to them.  My relationship with them is deeper than ever.  I'm more committed to them and my heart is more open, not only to them but to everyone and everything.  No matter what is happening, or what suggestions might have been given, if love is at stake--and, it always is--don't be hasty in your decisions.  Give yourself time to come to your senses.  Give yourself time to discern what's really happening.  Give yourself time to hear that still, small voice within.

If we're careful, the possibility of the mistake can teach us without the actuality of having made it.  If we consider the consequences of our actions beforehand and feel those through, we can learn as we go and avoid the traps instead of falling into them.  Of course, there are the things that come out of left field and hit us before we can think or know what happened, and those things are unavoidable and often require more of us than we ever thought we could give.  But, most of the time, that's not the case.  Most of the time, it's about awareness and choice.

So, next time you get into a situation where suggestions are made and choices need to be made, take your time.  Listen to yourself.  Feel it.  Learn as you go, not in hindsight.  And, be happy and grateful, not sorry.  

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