I am thoroughly tired of having to let go of the people and things I love out of my life. I’m sitting hear tears streaking down my face writing this after driving home from the gas station in the same state. I’ll be fine but the first part of this day ended up being ten times more difficult than I ever expected. I should be happy, instead I just feel loss.
Let me back up a couple steps. There are two theories which together are sort of a yin to the other’s yang, but they are competing theories and not really meant to coexist but instead to point towards the attitudes and approach that people bring to life, their communities, communities to their economies, and even nations and leaders to the world.
One is a theory of higher or raised expectations and the other is a theory of lowered expectations. These theories have played out through history and in every economic or political system known to humans. The theory of raised expectations would show that we can achieve higher things, we can keep growing and solve problems and find a way to rise to every occasion, especially if we work together. The theory of lowered expectations is one of caution and guides us to live simpler, live with less, take the safe route and do less, be as self reliant as possible and do not expect much from anyone else.
As I have gone through a shift, and moved from one life to another in the last year. I have felt like whether I wanted to or not, I’ve had to purge many things from my life in order to make way for the new life. Sometimes I have lost, cut, purged or had things taken from me that I did not want taken and at other times, I was happy to either break away or benefit from the resulting new growth that sprang up afterwards.
I have also gone out of my way, lets call it one of my guiding principles from the early days, to continue to be able to feel and to love and to help people. These are fundamental aspects of who I am. I did not want to lose this part of myself. Even while going through a divorce and losing half of my time with my three children for the remainder of their childhood, I did not want to fall into the trap of anger, despair nor the soul searing carnage that can come with this kind of life event. I have my scars but I wanted to be able to live and love again.
As I have gone through this last year, I have succeeded in this goal. I do love. I still feel and I still help. Sometimes I help until it hurts. I am learning to balance this helping thing as I am a codependent in recovery and I am new to learning boundaries and putting them in place with people.
Yet, even with the new ability to create boundaries, I did not want to ‘react’ and say no to all requests for help. I’ve seen recent ex-smokers exhibit extreme difficulty being around smokers. I did not want to shut out everyone just to protect myself as I learn how to consider each request and give a considered yes or no or establish a boundary somewhere in the middle.
Part of me, though also has a belief system. I do consider myself an atheist, but I am not immune to beliefs. I feel that there is something to the concepts of karma or paying it forward or simply improving a community such that people will be happier and in such a community, I too will be happier benefiting from the tide that lifts all boats.
A simplistic piece of dialogue from the movie Saving Private Ryan comes to me. It goes something like, ‘well maybe if we can find Private Ryan and bring him home to his family, well then maybe we’ll all have earned the right to go home’ (from World War II). There is a bit of that belief, one that I recognize is based on nothing, but there is a bit of that which sticks with me. I do sort of feel that maybe if I help, I’ll earn the right to heal and be better and move up out of the place I find myself in.
I have given money to friends in need. I have given free assistance to friends and even strangers in need. I have given discounts and shaved off hours or not even added them up for many people. I have done this when I felt as if I did not have the time, and I certainly didn’t have much money to spare. I have literally given until it hurts, but I am getting maybe better at that, trying to find more balance. I did not give expecting something back from them nor I hopes of something from anyone. Other friends and family have helped me tremendously. I do hope that this simply opens up something somewhere somehow that enables me to find and recognize some new opportunity.
I live in an apartment complex on a ground floor. Every other week I live alone. Last winter sometime, a stray cat, pretty much a large kitten started coming by and hanging out near my porch. Occasionally, when I was eating out on the porch, it would beg a bit. It was pretty much starving. I gave it a handout hear or there.
As these things go, the cat came by more often. I started leaving water out for it. Several months back, I broke down and bought a bag of cat food. I started putting a handful of food out every two or three days. Then every other day, then a bit each day. I wasn’t always in town. When I wasn’t home, I continued to let the cat fend for itself.
This apartment complex has 6-12 cats running around at any given time. There are two other neighborhoods and some woods nearby as well where there are dozens more cats.
Sometimes I would watch this cat and 2-3 others playing in the parking lot In the evenings. One cold winter night, I let the cat come inside and hang out for a couple hours. I was lonely and started talking to the cat. It was friendly and not wild or completely feral.
When my kids were here, they would see the cat and feed it too. It was friendly with the kids. We started calling the cat Snuffles. We had suspicions early on that Snuffles was pregnant. Those suspicions were confirmed about 7 weeks ago as her belly inflated like a balloon and confirmed four times over 6 weeks ago when she gave birth to four kittens.
I helped Snuffles give birth to the kittens. I’d never done that before (not counting being in the room for the birth of all three of my children). I had no kitten birthing experience. They lived under a bathroom sink for a night.
I ended up helping her get them to the point where they could be weened. We looked for people to adopt and had a few close calls. Eventually, my daughter found a friend, whose grandmother lives in the country near a farm. They were interested in all four kittens.
Today was the day to take the kittens. They were six weeks old. They were getting large enough and crazy enough that I literally could not keep up with them on my own in an apartment.
Oh and no, I’m not supposed to have pets here. They spent sometime on the porch, but we had a heat wave and even that seemed dangerous for them.
They were never my responsibility. I did not set Snuffles or her parents free. She was pregnant when she first came to my porch. I just didn’t know it for sure.
I do not have the time nor space nor financial ability to take care of a cat and four kittens.
keeping it real, My rent is due in five days and I have no idea where exactly the funds will come for my rent. I’m rebuilding my business and cash flow is just starting to take off again. I’m rebuilding my career and that is not currently taking off at all. 🙂
I have no health insurance. The AC went out in my car 3 weeks ago and I do not have the funds to pay to fix it. I’m juggling things just to try and keep the bills from getting more than a month behind.
I definitely do not have the ability to keep cats here (where they are not allowed) and where I won’t be allowed if I don’t come up with a thousand dollars quickly. 🙂
I’m not worried. I’m not anxious. I’ve been in tough scrapes and gone through a crucible of a year.
Still part of me felt that if I could save Snuffles (and her kittens) maybe that would be one more notch that helped me earn the right to save myself.
Today, I spoke with the lady that would take in the kittens. I asked her about Snuffles too. She was interested as Snuffles was friendly with people. The cats will be living outside near the farm, but the cats need to be friendly with people and small kids in particular. Snuffles and all of her kittens have this quality.
I travel and can’t be here for days at a time. I am trying to relaunch my life and take care of my children and myself and struggling in major ways. I did not want to lose the opportunity to place Snuffles in a home that would be more stable than my own. I wanted her to have the ability to eat regularly and maybe get away from the dozens of feral cats on the prowl looking for fights in the parking lot.
So today, my daughters and I took Snuffles and her four kittens to their new forever home. I was happy and even upbeat.
Before leaving, I was hit a couple times with feelings of grief and remorse at having to say goodbye. In addition to Snuffles and the Kittens, my children are going away with their mother for ten days. I had them overnight last night after they had been with her for the last 6 days for a trip to see their cousins. For a seventeen day period, I will have seen them for 24 hours. That’s the longest stretch I have or will have ever been away from my kids.
I do sort of need that time (see all the stuff above about business and career rebuilding). Still, its not something I have ever experienced before. So I was not just saying goodbye to Snuffles, the four kittens that I was a bit attached to as well, but also my own children.
It was tough. We dropped off the kittens. My youngest daughter was crying. My older daughter was crying a bit although it was difficult to tell as her allergies (from the cats) were at a couple defcon levels higher than normal. (She has pet cats at her mother’s house too, plus dogs.) And as I drove them to their mother’s house, tears were hitting me and I was choking up a bit too.
Then I took them inside, and listened to a new song that my son was learning on the piano, listened to it in the room that used to be my bedroom when I was married to his mother. My former dogs and cat at that house were there. The bassett hound was crying as he does everytime I visit.
My emotions were cranking up higher and higher.
I said my goodbyes and drove on down to South Carolina to fill up the car with less expensive gas. To get there, I had to drive on one of the worst roads in South Carolina, but the gas is about 30-40 cents per gallon cheaper. I’m trying to save every bit that I can.
After filling up and heading home, the tears just let loose like broken flood gates.
It was rough. I hadn’t let loose like that in months and months, but less than a year. I was sad for saying goodbye to my children, sad for the past, sad about sending the kittens to a farm and very sad about saying goodbye to Snuffles who had been there to keep me company all these nights over the last few months when I was learning to live alone. For many of the last few paragraphs above, I have calmed down a bit, but as I write this one, the tears let loose again.
I can still feel. I know this because I can feel it like crazy right now. I can still love. I know this because I love many people and for that matter I love that stray cat Snuffles too. I can still help people and I think I did the best thing I could do for Snuffles today as well, even though it hurt like hell and hurt like hell to see my daughters feel it too.
The thing is I’m tired of lowering my expectations and reducing my expectations to meet a reality that unfolds from lowered and lowered and lowered even more expectations.
I’m ready for life building. I’m ready for being able to take on more and achieve more and realize more and being able to easily help, because I have abundance to spare and then some.
Today, I gave until it hurt. I gave my cat away. I barely even admitted that Snuffles was my cat. In reality, she was not, but I loved her and giving her away will be better for her, but it still hurt to do the right thing.
Now, its time to do more right things and build more. My cup has runneth over in years past. To fill it with something new it was too full. I dumped out a bit and dumped out a bit more and spilled some here and the cup slipped and dropped out of my hand entirely, breaking on the floor and there was hardly anything left.
Now its time to make a new cup. A bigger cup. Its time to open up my heart and take in more and more and more so that I can keep helping and loving and feeling.
This hurt today, but as the Reznor song goes, I know that I still feel. I do not need the pain nor want it, but I can do more and do better and this just all adds to my motivation to do just that.
I am resolved and focused and intent. I’m making a new day and more of it and a new life and more of it too.
I hope you will join me in doing the same for yourself and making it great!
Next week when I’m back in town, I’ll be setting up an appointment at the spay/neuter clinic to get Snuffles fixed. A close friend who also help me kitten sit from time to time gave me $40 to put towards the Snuffles cause and I promised the grandmother of my daughter’s friend that I’d help Snuffles one more time with that. We do not need more kittens running around and Snuffles who is probably almost a year now herself, needs time to recover herself.
I know there are more important things in the world right now. My challenges are inconsequential compared to most and a stray cat is probably the least of concerns for many people. But this one meant a lot to me and to my kids. She probably helped me more than I helped her. Maybe I have this all backwards and by Snuffles helping me, choosing me to help, maybe that earned her a little more karma to be saved herself.