Crazy Cat Lady

I’ve never been a huge fan of the term “Cat Lady”. It immediately brings up images of sad, matronly looking women pouring ridiculous amounts of food into a living room flooded with greedy cats. I picture myself in a muumuu, rollers in my hair, loudly proclaiming that there was just never a man that was good enough for me, and that my cats are my true children. Despite all of my misgivings, I added a second cat to my small family nearly a year ago.

Today, my little tuxedo cat PJ turned one. I celebrated her birth with some cat-friendly cupcakes and a little can of tuna. Last June, I walked to the PetsMart by my house and ended up taking PJ home on a whim. Now, I get made fun of pretty routinely for how much I focus on her, how obsessed with her I am, and that I’ve completely turned into the “Cat Lady” persona I so fearfully dreaded.

While I still dress and act the same, the truth is, my reasoning behind my adoration for this tiny cat is grander than anyone really understands.

The morning of the day I ended up adopting PJ, I had planned to kill myself. I had been thinking about this decision for a few months; I had my reasons, and I was all but ready to go. I woke up and wrote a letter, making sure everyone in my life close to me knew that they were not to blame, and should feel no guilt for the actions that would later take place.

After I had set up everything that I needed to end my life, I remembered that a good friend from high school wanted to go out for a belated birthday lunch that day. I figured my plan wouldn’t be foiled even if it was few hours delayed, so I went, and I ended up having a good time. When I got home, I returned to my letter and my process, but my cat Mia was meowing incessantly, and I noticed that her food dish was completely empty. Not wanting to leave my only pet without an owner and food, I rushed over to the pet store to grab her a bag of cat food. After this, I thought, I will carry out my plan.

While I waited in line with the heavy bag in my hands, I saw that the windows in the adoption center each had tiny little black cats playfully frolicking behind them, with a notice informing curious cat parents that black cats are rarely adopted because of their color (and potential for bad luck, I assumed).

“Do you want to come inside and meet the kittens?” a sweet looking Humane Society volunteer asked me.

I shifted in place with my bag of food. “Um, I kind of have something to do.” I answered.

“Ok, well they’re all very sweet and up for adoption,” he shrugged.

“Fine, but just for a minute.” I decided. I set my cat food down by the door and walked inside the adoption area. An elderly woman was cradling a tiny black cat and I had literally never seen a happier person in my life.

I awkwardly stood by the door, wondering what the fuck I was doing.

A little black kitten jumped on top of my sneaker, attacking my shoelace and purring contently. I liked her. I stroked the little cat’s head and she looked up at me, hugging tightly to my Converse laces.

“Can I have this one?” I asked the volunteer.

He said yes, and informed me that today, all adoption fees were waived, so I was welcome to take her home right away. He handed me a bag of cat food and a cardboard crate. He told me congratulations. The elderly woman smiled and waved.

As if I was a robot who was slowly learning human functions, I swiped my debit card for Mia’s food, carried my crate home, and welcomed this small black cat into my home. She strutted around like she had been living there her whole life.

I aimlessly leafed through her background, which had been provided in a cute folder. Her paperwork stated that she and her sister had been found abandoned under an old shed, covered in mud and riddled with diseases, basically left for dead. As I looked at the playful kitten bravely exploring my home, she didn’t look like an animal that had ever experienced anything so terrible. Even though she’d been alive just two months, she had figured out a way to forgive and forget, to be happy and playful, to even let me be her new mom, though I was clearly unqualified.

I tucked myself into bed a few hours later, and as I started to doze off it occurred to me that I had forgotten to kill myself that day. My letter was still intact, my pills ready to go. My new pet crawled into bed and settled herself right next to my heart. She fell asleep easily, a gentle purr came shortly after her eyes closed.

I never did anything after that. I threw the letter and the pills away. I named her PJ (short for Princess Jasmine, one of my favorite Disney characters). I bought her some toys and a little bed. I held her when I was sad, and I played with her when I was happy. She’s still here, and I am too. She’s asleep at my feet right now.

I don’t know if we were supposed to find each other, or even if I made the right choice. But she makes me feel like I did. If this is what it’s like to be a Cat Lady, I’m ok with it.

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Stupid Inspirational Quotes

Despite the fact that I’m a writer and lover of books, music, poetry, etc. I’ve always kind of hated quotes, especially inspirational ones. I’m not just talking about the terrible quotes people put on repurposed wood in their home like “Live, Laugh, Love” but just any kind of seemingly helpful phrase folks will throw around whenever you’re in a time of crisis. The only quote I kind of like is: “it is what it is”, because like, it is…what it is.

Anyway, recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the notion that “time heals all wounds”. As a person who has been mentally and emotionally wounded quite a bit, this thought is something that I often return to, as I’m always curious if it’s true, and in what way. After all, if people are going to keep saying the same stupid thing to you over and over, shouldn’t there be a nugget of reality in there somewhere?

It occurred to me, quite randomly the other day, that I no longer remembered the name of the girl my husband had an affair with. It was interesting to me that this name, a name I had previously hated, a name that circled my mind over and over like a rusty old record, had suddenly slipped out of my brain. Truth be told, I even strained my mind to recall it, but I couldn’t. Not even the first letter. While I’ve done a pretty good job of cutting myself off from things that may remind me of my ex, and the pain associated with him (not an easy feat in the age of technology), it only made sense me to that the simple passing of time had removed this person’s name from my memory. I don’t know if I am healing yet, but slowly and surely, I am forgetting.

What I haven’t forgotten, though, is exactly how many glasses we had in our cupboards when we shared a home. I remember the way his shirts smelled, and which ones were his favorite. I remember exactly the way his palms felt when we held hands, or when he touched my face. I remember everything about us, and I think about it almost every single fucking day.

Whether it’s a bad romance, a death, a pet, or a friendship that ran it’s course, you do eventually stop crying. You do pick yourself up off the floor, you talk it out, you return to your life. No one tells you exactly how long it will take before your routine continues, before your bones stop aching, but they do. They just do. It’s the waiting part that sucks.

Having depression follow me around like a needy cat for most of my life has caused me to seek out various solutions to sadness, and the most common practice I utilize is distraction. I just throw myself into a variety of jobs, extracurriculars, or creative projects until I don’t have the energy or time to acknowledge my sadness. I would hardly call this a path to healing, but it works in its own way.

And isn’t that what we’re all kind of doing with our pain? Pushing it to the back of our mind, hoping we forget about it eventually? What this shitty little quote fails to mention is that though we may not outwardly be a mess after a few weeks or months or years, the person you become after trauma is not the same. I don’t look at men the way I used to. I don’t see a young, smiling, open, potential partner anymore (if I can even muster a crush these days). I see someone who will lie, who will cheat, who will cause me pain. Even more so, I see this changed me: someone who is covered in thorns, who doesn’t want to be touched, that is ready with a brick wall of sarcasm and nasty comments to prevent anyone from getting in.

I’ve seen too much now, and I’ve felt too much now, to ever be able to hug someone of the opposite sex without internally shuddering at the thought of what they might do to me and my heart.

Yes, it’s going to take more time. It always takes more time. And maybe there will be that super special guy that just makes all of those terrible feelings disappear like the name of the person who, not so long ago, contributed to making my then-life so terrible.

Time doesn’t heal you, it distracts you from the pain until you forget about it, and you eventually feel brave enough to let another version of that pain come for you again. I guess that quote is just too big to put on a throw pillow.