We’ve had our littlest fur baby, Alderaan, for almost three weeks now. He continues to be a love bug, crawling into my lap and head-butting my chin whenever he wants to cuddle. He enjoys playing with his big brother, Wallace the Wonderful, and he absolutely adores his human daddy. But I’ve noticed something interesting about this bundle of light gray fur: he stands his ground.
What do I mean by that? Well, Dear Readers, each morning as I drink my coffee and continue laboring away on the most recent rewrite of my novel, Alderaan will climb onto the back of the couch, set his front paws on the windowsill, and stare out at the street. I suppose there’s nothing peculiar about that—most cats window watch—but what caught my attention is how much my little love bug trembles whenever people or dogs pass by. His whole body will shake with fear, but unlike Wallace who will run for cover (Mommy isn’t judging you for that, Wallace!), Alderaan stays his ground. He will not budge. He will not break eye contact. Alderaan endures this discomfort until it passes, only relaxing when the perceived threat on the other side of the window vanishes from his field of view.
This little cat’s courage astonishes me and it has made me question, can I do the same? Do I have the wherewithal to stare down the parts of my life that are scary and/or uncomfortable? Do I tremble and endure? Or do I tremble and run?
By most accounts, I live a good life. I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, and most importantly, I am loved. But I struggle with anxiety. I struggle with the weight of my cancer experience. I continue to struggle—every day—with the task of rebuilding my life. Most days, if I am being honest, I take Wallace’s approach and run for cover.
Example? The past two months, I have been in an inordinate amount of pain. It started with isolated hip pain and has progressed to include both legs. I am stiff, loosing flexibility, and, the way I ache—it reminds me too much of my stint in ICU and the pain of relearning how to walk. I’ve been pretty good about ignoring that similarity. I am, in fact, quite gifted at pushing ugly feelings and emotions down. But last night it came rushing out of me. Last night, despite medication, despite aromatherapy—I woke up sobbing, shaking. I couldn’t control it. I couldn’t make it stop.
It was Alderaan that came to the rescue. There was a purr rumbling in his throat and a reminder: these memories surface for a reason. Emotions pushed down for too long will inevitably come roaring up out of us. And we have a choice; to see them for all that they are or to run from them.
I am choosing to see them.
I am choosing to see the similarities in the past and the present and to remind myself that “now” is not “then”. That the situation is different. That I am different.
I wanted 2017 to be a year of growth—of building resiliency, of strength—and the Universe, through this inexplicable leg pain and the memories it is triggering, has presented me with that opportunity. I may tremble at what I see, Dear Readers, but I will not avert my eyes until I can look at my past without fear, without judgement, without reliving it.
A little cat showed me how to do it.