He will always be feral. You’ll probably never see him again after today!
Well, that’s what they said about one particular tomcat we took in to get neutered. She was wrong. Turns out nearly the whole feral colony living in the woods behind our home is now “formerly” feral and … ours! The mama of the brood, Sandi, birthed approximately six litters before we came into her life a year ago and had her and the rest of them fixed. She’s really “done” with being a mom. She’s extremely friendly to humans but can be quite testy with all of her grown kittens.
We can learn from role models and reverse role models. Today the cats have reminded me about acceptance, most importantly self-acceptance, by reminding me of my own unhealthy patterns.
All the cats who call her mama still go up to her to test the water and see if she’s feeling loving by some miracle that day, or that moment. Usually she isn’t but every now and then she will graciously give a sniff. If it’s a really lucky day, they might get a lick or two. On a not so good day, she will hiss and growl and charge her “babies” who love her so much.
Glen’s New Mom
I witnessed this again today with Glen, the tomcat referenced above who does it the most. He’s easily twice his mother’s size so Glen could certainly stop and let her know who’s bigger but he doesn’t. Glen just wants his mom’s love so bad. But he turns to me when Sandi rejects him. Glen has a new mama ready to embrace him and tell him how special he is as often as he will let me.
There are people in my life where I have done the same thing. Their love, their approval, their ability to esteem me and confirm that I’m enough aren’t at the level I would like to experience. Rather than continuing my advances, hoping maybe this time will be different, I’m better served to surround myself with people who can genuinely support me and offer love and encouragement.
Continuing to Seek Bread from the Hardware Store
In Finding the Gift, I remind all of us that if we need bread, we need to go to the bakery not the hardware store (which is full of nuts and bolts)! Observing Glen today, my own continual approach for acceptance from the unaccepting came to mind. I was in the throes of having imaginary conversations with someone who has a knack for stirring up my own feelings of inadequacy. Notice how I worded that. I wanted to say, “She makes me feel inadequate.” But if there wasn’t an original wound, then this person couldn’t trigger me. So she is just a resource, a gift to remind me of the wound and the need to practice healing that part of me—a reminder to give myself the validation that I need while also surrounding myself with other people who do nurture my soul.
Like Glen, there is part of me that insists on going back again and again to these types of people to receive their blessings, their encouragement. Rejection plays a funny role in relationships. Maybe not with “normal” people (if there are any?!), but for those of us who grew up without all of our basic emotional needs being met, rejection challenges us to try harder to win the approval of the very ones who are most resistant to offering it.
Who Decides My Worth?
I want to ask this person for a favor of sorts, but I’m already having imaginary conversations combating the anticipated rejection, based on her historical responses to me. And worse, I’m ready to allow her answer to define my worthiness. If she says yes, I’m good. If she says no, I’m worthless.
Putting my worth in someone else’s hands is a persistently insecure way to go through life. And mental arguments about projected conflict are a sure way to stay out of the present and miss the joy in the moment.
Choosing a Better Way
Dwelling on the past or jumping into the future is not where I want to be today. This moment that I’m in is far better than all of the anticipated conflict inside my head. I’m writing this early morning as the world is waking up, all the inside and outside cats are stirring. and a calmness fills the air when I exit the “argument” and return to what’s true right now. I feel so much better coming back to the present to receive the gifts waiting for me to notice.
For today, I forgive the people who originally created the wound. I forgive myself for seeking out people to reopen the wound. And I commit to being my own best advocate. To turn to God with my hurt and to remind myself frequently of my inherent goodness, my “good enoughness.” I hope you will also. What presents surround you right now?