In my next life, I want to be a cat…

When you stop to think about it, cats really have it good. I’ve been watching my cat Grace for the last few days and her life is so simple. The biggest decision she seems to have each day is deciding where she’s going to take a nap: “Hmmm, the stool with the afghan on it is nice and warm, but scrunching up in all the blankets on the bed is so warm and comforting. Maybe I could lay on the floor where the sun is coming in the sliding doors… the sun would feel good on a cold day like today. Almost forgot that warm place near the heating vent… so many choices!”

As I’m writing, Grace is curled up on the footstool with the afghan my grandmother made so long ago. It’s become her favorite place to sleep and I’m no longer allowed to use the afghan myself. She’s really possessive about it. It’s her’s, not mine. My grandmother would probably appreciate that. She had a fondness for cats too.

The simple life of the common (or uncommon) house cat really appeals to me. Sleeping, eating, playing, bathing, visiting the litter box, and occasionally allowing her human to interact with her… what a great life! She’s so totally in control Nothing much happens to mess her life up. She doesn’t much like other people so visitors cause her some anxiety as do loud noises like thunderstorms, but visitors and thunderstorms don’t happen often so her life is generally one of peace and contentment. Wouldn’t that be lovely?

Do cats get depressed? Somehow I don’t believe they do. Grace seems to have three moods: content, curious, and anxious. The anxious times usually involve strange people in or around her home or loud noises like the snow plow in the parking lot or the men shoveling snow and ice from the walkway or thunderstorms. Grace is curious about everything. She has to sniff or touch just about everything she sees. Mostly, I think she’s just the most contented soul that I know. I envy that contentedness. It’s something that’s generally missing from my life.

I was diagnosed with chronic depression almost 12 years ago and my therapist at the time felt that I had suffered from this since at least my early teens. Chronic depression isn’t something a person sheds after a few therapy sessions and a course of anti-depressants. It’s a long-term, on-going journey. The journey involves grief, anger, sadness, anxiety, confusion… all those emotions, phobias, and insecurities I’ve spent years hiding deep inside have to be acknowledged, understood, and ultimately accepted as part of who I am. It’s a painful process. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

It’s difficult to give up coping mechanisms that have gotten me through life to this point. It’s difficult to look at issues that I’ve essentially forgotten because they were hidden so deep. Sometimes the process is too painful and I shut down again. That’s a lot of what’s been happening to me in the last few months. I must be getting close to something my subconscious doesn’t want to deal with it. In the past, I would just completely shut down and never get to whatever the issue was. Now I’m just filled with anxiety and this nagging feeling of something being wrong. I’m simultaneously fighting to avoid dealing with whatever it is and wanting to get it dealt with and out of the way. That’s progress, I suppose. It’s not a comfortable feeling and it makes it difficult to get through day-to-day life sometimes, but it is still a sort of progress.

So, while I try my best to get through all this, I look at my cat and envy the ease and comfort of her life. And, of course, I appreciate her being in my life too. She’s such a comfort. She loves and accepts me just as I am. She’s always there for me no matter what. She doesn’t get mad if I don’t say anything to her for hours at a time and she’s happy to listen while I ramble on late at night. Grace helps keep me grounded.

Take care,
Karen

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