Releasing the past in order to find myself

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Cat

I'll bet if you ask NM, one of the worst things I've done to her is get my cat.  NM hates cats.  NM claims to be afraid of cats, which I think is partially true.  But she also hates them.  Which I guess says a lot about her. It's not enough just to be fearful of the thing, you also have to hate the thing too.  I mean, I'm terrified of snakes.  I don't particularly like them.  But I can recognize their beauty (except those cold, staring eyes).  But I don't hate the animal.  NM has lots of water snakes around her home.  She once told me that she runs them over with the lawnmower...FOR ME.  Ick.  No one asked her to do that.  And in fact, I wouldn't want her to do that.  It's not the damn snake's fault that I am afraid of it.  But again, there is some insight into her mentality.  It doesn't have a right to exist because of my fear.  With cats, she has no problem making comments about how she wished this or that cat dead.  Or hope that something would kill them.  She has absolutely no care for the fact that it is a living being.

Anyway, NM is deathly afraid (we'll just use this word) of cats.  She has been since she was a kid.  She will run screaming from them.  She used to jump behind me or my sister, death grip on our arm, if she was at a home with one.  It was always our job to "protect" her from the cats.  She used to profess often that she hoped my sister and I wouldn't also get her fear.  I somehow believe she felt differently.  I bet she wanted both of us to be afraid.  She wanted us to "share" in this with her.  She certainly didn't try to hide it from us.  She always has made a huge show of it.

I am very allergic to dogs.  So, due to this and mom's fear of the cats we never had a pet growing up.  When my sister left home, she immediately got a dog.  I felt so badly that she didn't have one, because I knew it was my fault and was glad she finally got to experience having a pet.  Several years ago, Mom decided to get herself a dog.  She claimed it would be an "outside" dog, as I'm so allergic that I would never be able to come to her home with the dog.  So, she kept it "outside" most of the time.  But it started to slip that the dog would come in here and there.  She would say she was watching T.V. while the dog was on her lap, etc.  These little slips were no slip at all, but purposeful digs to let me know she was doing something to harm me in a way.  But I didn't begrudge her the dog.  Sure, my allergies acted up at her house, but not that significantly because the dander wasn't all over the house.  And we rarely went to her house anyway.  And why should she have to sacrifice for me anyway?

Then several years after she got the dog, a stray cat wondered onto my porch.  It refused to leave.  It followed me around outside.  And once, when our door was open, it bounded inside and jumped on a small piece of fish on the floor that had fallen near the garbage as we were cleaning up the nights dinner.  I felt sorry for the wretched creature.  And so I opened up a can of tuna fish.  Well, that did it.  It refused to leave.  And it really was such a nice cat.  It was clear that it had, recently, been someone's pet and they'd dropped it off, far from it's home so it had no way to get back.  Everyday as  I came home from work, that cat was waiting for me and would run and meow for attention.  So, I fed it more and looked for a home for it.  I believed that I was also allergic to cats, but as the cat came more and more into the house, I noticed no allergy attacks.  The cat slept next to me, curled up next to me and nothing happened.  And then the day came that I was to take it to it's new home.  I couldn't do it.  I cried and cried.  I put off taking it to the new house.  This would've been my first pet I'd ever had and I was bonded.  I was so torn though.  I knew NM would kill me.  But I kept it anyway.  And there was hell to pay.

NM took it as a personal affront to her.  That I'd done it on purpose.  And maybe she was right in a way.   Maybe I felt it would be somewhat of a boundary that I couldn't have put up myself.  It was a way to assert my independence.  My individuality.  I didn't keep it because of her, but I certainly didn't hate that their were consequences for her.

Unfortunately, that poor kitty passed away shortly after we got it.  It was struck by a car and I was devastated.  Ironically, it passed on the same day that my mother came to visit.  I couldn't go look for him despite the fact that I knew something was wrong, because I was busy entertaining her.  But  I was guilt ridden and devastated when I found him the next day.  I remember NM calling and asking if I'd found him yet.  Well, she texted.  And she used my nickname for the cat, and she spelled it very wrong.  When  I told her what happened, she said "Oh, I can't believe that I'm crying over a cat!"  (bolding is mine) .  She didn't really ask about me much before she turned it to her.  It was always about her.

Several weeks later, I went to the pound to get a another cat.  If NM  found the first cat to be a personal attack, me actually choosing to get one, was a slap in the face.  And she's never let me forget it.  She never has a nice thing to say about my cat (who I'll call kitty).  She's always making faces and disparaging remarks about him.  She and Estep-father like to make nasty comments about cats, how they hate cats, how they want to kill ones around their house.  How their dog trees cats and would kill one.  She once brought a cattle -prod to keep the cat away from her when she came to stay.  She said it with a smile on her face.  Like it was funny.  I became enraged and said their would be no way she would use force on my cat.  And let's be clear, the cat is rarely, if at all out of a locked room when she is here (he is very well taking care of in a large room with a litter box and food) but locked away, none the less.  I do allow him out so that he can visit the litter box (if he's in another room) and I let him out at night because he would scratch up our room.  Again, this is a personal attack.  She makes big deals about texting before she gets here.  She has snuck around to the back of my house to peer in the windows to see if he is "put away".  She loves to use the excuse that she is just looking for the cat when she snopes and peaks in our windows.  She makes huge deals about it and jumps and bounces around the room.  She sinks her fingernails into my skin if he walks past her.  She damn near knocked me to the ground once trying to get away from him as I was four days past a c-section and holding my infant.  She never apologized to me.  She has yelled at the cat for cleaning itself (she also yells at her own dog for bodily functions that it can't really control).  She is down right hostile towards the animal.  But now, she tells DS that she is "allergic" to the cat because she doesn't want HIM to be afraid too.  Yeah, because he would be so easily swayed by her jumping around like a freak that he'd be afraid too.  I don't mind her being afraid, I understand that.  But the fact that she openly hates the cat, talks horribly about it, and wishes him death bothers me.

And ironically, she takes very personal affront to the fact that I don't allow my kids around her dog.  Because her dog bites and growls and has snapped at other small kids.  She thinks that I'm implying her dog is a bad dog.  I don't believe that, but I believe he is and "adults only" dog and is behaving how many dogs would.  But I'm not stupid.  I won't trust my kids around him.

It's all very strange and bizarre.


  1. Reading this I get the impression that her alleged fear of cats is more like an attention stunt. It reminded me of a friend that does the complete opposite: she is so over the top about how much she loves dogs. One time she even crawled into the pen of a relative's dogs while we were all watching in horror. It was gross, but she got everyone's attention. I think true love (and true fear too) is more discreet. People who are fearful of pets don't like to draw too much attention to their fear, they're generally embarrassed by it.

    1. You are right. Anything that someone has to "force" people to see is generally less of a true trait, and more of a purported trait, whether it be love, fear, religious orientation, etc.
      I know she does have a fear, but she exploits it to no end to get attention (from her immediate family) and sympathy. It allows her to be coddled. She has never tried to do anything to get over it. I once suggested hypnotherapy (as it's really hard to avoid cats all together and i thought it must be quite limiting for her) and you'd have thought I accused her of some crime. She compares it to my fear of snakes, but I point out to her that I still camp and go into nature, despite my knowledge that snakes are there. Many of my science teachers as a child had snakes in the room. It was just something I tried to work through. And she uses my getting the cat as a way to prove I don't love her enough. She also compares it to my allergy for dogs, which is so not the same thing, because no matter what I have tried (and it's a lot) I can't change it, and it causes serious physical harm to me.