Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category
I would like to wish a long-ago friend of mine a happy 60th birthday today, even though she will never see this. She and I became friends in 7th grade when she became a student at St. Mary Grade School, a school that taught grades 1-8. At that time, public schools ended their elementary edcation at grade 6, and students went to “junior high” for grades 7 through 9. Typical of that era in the 1960s, students went to the public schools in their district. There was no crossing of district lines then as there is now. Depending on the socioeconomic status of the district, some schools were safer and better than others. St. Mary Grade School acquired a number of new students at the beginning of 7th grade, all of them female and all of them African-American. Their parents didn’t want them attending the public junior highs in their neighborhoods.
Kim and I became very good friends, and as the friendship blossomed, we wanted to do things that were typical of young teenagers. We wanted to hang out at each other’s houses, have an occasional sleep-over, that kind of innocent stuff. I thought nothing of bringing up the suggestion to my mom for her okay, not even entertaining the thought that she would deny the request.
She said no. I was shocked. I didn’t understand what the problem was. Kim was a quiet girl and got very good grades in school. She wasn’t a troublemaker. There was nothing about her not to like! I wanted an explanation. The explanation I received was that she was “colored.” It wasn’t appropriate to have close relationship with “colored people.” I could be friends with her, but it was not right that she spend time in our home, have meals with us, spend the night.
I was incredulous. I had no idea how a situation like this could possibly exist! I was living in a home with two bigots, and I was angry about it.
I thought it might resolve with some time and patience, but it didn’t. Kim said to me one day that her grandparents felt we were getting too close and needed to back off from our friendship. (She and her mother, a divorced woman for many years, lived with her mother’s parents.) They felt that she was becoming too “white.” I was as dismayed and shocked with their attitude as I was with that of my own parents.
Kim and I remained friends for several more years, but the friendship never really grew much after the initial obstacles. I could never forget the hurt and disillusionment of finding out how harsh and unfair the world could be to two teens who went into a friendship colorblind to what lay ahead.
I try to understand what my parents and her grandparents were feeling. Desegregation of the public schools had only occurred in 1954, the year before Kim and I were born. The incident of Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat in the colored section of the bus to a white person after the white section was filled occurred in December 1955. Even though the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, granting African American men the right to vote by declaring that the “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” was ratified on February 3, 1870, blacks were still excluded from voting. Through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests and other means, Southern states were able to effectively disenfranchise African Americans. It would take the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 before the majority of African Americans in the South were registered to vote. 1965, people! I was ten-years-old before our government said loudly and clearly enough that that shit has got to stop! Racial tensions and civil rights demonstrations were frequent in the 1960s, and the March on Washington in 1963 was huge, involving 250,000 people.
My parents were born in 1916 and 1919. Kim’s grandparents were born earlier in the century. Black people and white people did not mingle socially. It was the way it was. In the 1960s when Kim and I met, the concept of close relationships between the races was still very foreign and unsettling to many. We were caught in those turbulent times.
I know where Kim lives and where she has her pediatric practice. I’ve sent holiday cards. We exchanged a couple of brief sentences on Classmates.com some years back. I came away from those encounters feeling that she was too busy to pick up a relationship from decades ago. The time had passed, at least for her, to follow that path. I felt sorrow over that. I think we would have had a lot to learn from each other, a lot to share.
Happy birthday, KIm, and many, many more!
Forty-one years ago, Dale and I were married at the Douglas County courthouse in Superior, Wisconsin. Interesting story, this. Neither one of us were from Wisconsin. We were both living in Akron, Ohio at the time, my hometown, and he was from Hibbing, Minnesota. How did we end up on the first day of summer in a Superior, Wisconsin courtroom, getting married in 1973?
We were of the “hippie generation,” rather anti-establishment and questioning the need for a lot of rules and regulations in our lives. We were living together without the benefit of the license, but had every intention of making it legal when the time was right. For me, the time was right when I could get married without parental consent. I was young — five years younger than my fiance. We got engaged two months before my 17th birthday. I was engaged my entire senior year of high school. The legal age to get married in Ohio without parental consent was 21. However, it was possible to cross state lines and get married in a neighboring state where the age to get married without consent was lower. Maryland was such a state, and our plan was to take a couple of close friends with us to act as our witnesses sometime after my 18th birthday, date to be determined. We both agreed that Mike Willett and Margaret Myers (now also married for 40 years!) filled that bill very well. Those were the plans, such as they were.
Dale’s mom heard of these plans in the spring before his college graduation and my high school graduation. She had a meltdown. They were planning to come to Akron, Ohio for their son’s college graduation from the University of Akron in June. Finances were tight. She felt that they couldn’t make a second trip anytime soon, and by golly, her son wasn’t getting married without her being there. Our plans began to change.
Dale and I were going to return to Minnesota after his college graduation so that he could spend a couple of weeks at home before he started his first post-college engineering job at General Tire & Rubber in Akron on July 1. Dale’s mom suggested that we get married in Hibbing during those weeks that we were there in June. Okay, fine. Only problem was that Dale’s mother discovered that Minnesota wouldn’t marry us because I was an out-of-state minor. Even with parental consent, Minnesota wouldn’t marry us. On to the next idea….
Wisconsin, however, has been known to do things that Minnesota won’t do. Wisconsin would marry us, and it’s only an hour’s drive to Wisconsin from Hibbing. All I needed was the parental consent. I didn’t want to get married with parental consent — it was a pride thing for me — but I agreed that we’d get married in Wisconsin in June. Dale’s parents picked up the consent form in Superior on their way to Ohio for Dale’s graduation, and then we spent a frantic evening trying to get the damn thing notarized. My dad had a very limited window of availability to sign this form in front of a notary. He was a long-distance trucker and had to get on the road. From the time that Dale’s parents arrived with the form from Wisconsin, we had a few hours to accomplish this, and it was already late into the afternoon “supper hour.” It was a hassle. I found myself wishing I had stuck to my guns and said “no parental consent, Maryland in the fall.” But we got ‘er done.
Once in Minnesota a couple of days after Dale’s graduation, we made the drive to Superior, Wisconsin and applied for our marriage license. When the white-haired lady at the application desk rolled the form into the typewriter and asked Dale was his occupation was, he replied, “Engineer.” She wanted to know what railroad he worked for! We still laugh at that. We got tested for syphilis and told to come back after the five-day waiting period. We made an appointment at the courthouse for a judge to do the deed on the afternoon of Thursday, June 21.
On that day, Dale’s parents, his sister and brother-in-law, Sharon and Roy (our witnesses) and his younger sister, Joan, all took off for the Twin Ports. We had lunch at an interesting place called Somebody’s House, a restaurant in Duluth that served about 50 kinds of hamburgers. We then crossed the border over into Superior (the other half of the “Twin Ports”) and congregated at the courthouse. In ten minutes, it was done. Dale’s mother didn’t even have time to drag her tissues out of her purse and have a good cry. It was a cool rainy afternoon as we left the courthouse and climbed into our 1966 VW Beetle. We headed north towards Canada for a wedding night away from Hibbing, spending the night in Thunder Bay, Ontario at The Fort Motel, which we found was right on the railroad tracks. I was watching a train go by at 3:00 that morning. The VW Beetle broke down on the way back to Hibbing. Broken throttle cable which Dale “fixed” using wire from a hardware store.
Here we are, 41 years later, a happily married couple from some very humble beginnings.
Originally written on November 27, 2007
Yesterday was an eventful day. I went to work yesterday morning, even though it had been previously scheduled as a day off, because of the E. coli outbreak we’ve had going on. I went in to work over the Thanksgiving weekend to analyze some samples and see if there were any associations between the sick patients and some dried parsley we got in Wednesday afternoon to test. This ended up to be a negative association – a “dead end” – but I wanted to be there Monday morning to communicate any information in person as to what my findings had been and to answer any questions. I worked until 12:45 when I had to take off for a dentist appointment.
The dentist appointment was to replace a broken crown that has been broken for 10 years now. I just got tired of jamming food up in the larger-than-normal crevice that the broken crown was allowing between my molars and wanted it fixed while I have decent insurance coverage. The discussion before the procedure led to me wonder if I was opening a can of worms. (Dr. Lozne, a middle-aged woman of Rumanian descent, found this expression amusing!) The molar has had a root canal in it since 1978, and I was informed that the root canal technology in use then in now “antiquated.” (Of course, so am I, I suppose!) She said that once an old crown is removed, the aging root canal pins tend to come loose and then it requires a new root canal procedure. Great. Well, I was already in the chair, and the crown wasn’t going to get any less fractured with time, so we proceeded.
She drilled and drilled to get the old crown bisected and in a condition to come off. Then it didn’t want to come off. It was cemented on there for good! She pried and chipped and pulled and drilled some more. At one point, during a slight break in the action, I quipped, “Gee, this is a lot like a home remodeling project! The old tile doesn’t want to come off the floor, and when it does, you’re dismayed to find all the black crap that’s on the floor you wanted to finish!” She came close to letting loose with a belly laugh, which is quite unusual for Dr. L. She’s a very pleasant woman, but quite serious and business-like. I was impressed that I gave the old girl a good laugh!
Eventually, the crown did come off in a number of pieces, and no old root canal pieces went flying. In fact, she said that things looked good. I was quite relieved at that, and we proceeded with a straightforward crown prep. The rest of the “home improvement project” went without a hitch, although the gum retraction part was uncomfortable and I took three Advil tablets as soon as I got home.
I came home for a couple of hours, during which time I fed the cats and downed a can of “low carb meal equivalent.” Then I went off to Century College from 6:00 to 9:00 for a 3-contact hour seminar on “Narcissism: What It Is and What It Is Not.” I’m an RN and I need 24 contact hours every two years to renew my nursing license. This topic obviously has nothing to do with my current career path, which is public health and infectious disease surveillance. However, behavioral health issues are an area of personal interest, and I take advantage of opportunities to learn more about various topics in that field when I’m able.
The speaker, a Twin Cities social worker with his own practice (www.toddmulliken.com), was an articulate, sensitive, knowledgeable practitioner whose gentle and compassionate nature came across as he spoke. He was an engaging speaker and I found myself very attentive, as was the rest of the class at the community college last night.
This is the hard part to talk about and probably why I spent so much time droning on about E. coli and crowns and such at the beginning.
Todd spoke about what some of the root causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) may be. Some of them may be lack of attachment (bonding) between parents and the child (the child then developing the NPD), outright neglect by the parents or caregivers towards the child, shaming the child, traumatic events such as divorce, domestic violence, sexual abuse. Of course, it is not only folks with NPD who create such chaotic homes for their children. People with other major behavioral and emotional illnesses do so as well, and I had a mother who fit the diagnosis of some major personality disorder, although it will forever remain undiagnosed. I found myself thinking of my own childhood as he was discussing these points. Many of those key elements were there: the sporadic, inconsistent parenting, the instances of neglect, the blaming of a child for the mother’s problems with alcohol and the family’s dysfunction, the name-calling, verbal battering, and shaming instead of nurturing and guidance, the witnessing of violence between husband and wife. That atmosphere was wildly dysfunctional and in no way conducive to the psychological and emotional wellbeing of a child.
I sat there as Todd spoke and wondered about my own emotional and psychological balance and wellbeing. All in all, I appear to be pretty normal! I married, have been in a caring, stable marriage for 34 years now, have no major substance abuse issues (just minor ones!), no particular obsessions or compulsions. I earned two college degrees which I funded myself and have held down stable, long-term professional employment. I get along fairly well in most social circumstances, have friends, interests, reasonable expectations and goals.
Is this “normalcy” just an illusion? Where did it come from? Where did I learn it? It certainly wasn’t from the growing-up years in my nuclear family! If I do display some occasional traits of this-or-that – and I know I do! – it’s no freaking wonder!
Or are things not as “normal” as I’d like to think they are?
In discussing treatment strategies for a person with NPD and his/her family, the point was strongly made that the only way a person with NPD can live within the framework of a family system is by the enabling codependency of the family members. A person may always be a narcissist (or insert a handful of other diagnoses: borderline personality disorder, sociopathic personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder; they’re all applicable here), but they’re not going to be a married narcissist or a narcissist with a relationship with his/her children unless those participants play by the narcissist’s rules, in other words maintain the codependency. An emotionally healthy person with appropriate boundaries is going to eventually divorce an untreated, unchanging narcissist and probably take the children with her. (The majority of diagnosed people with NPD are male.) If the children have a relationship with the narcissistic parent until adolescence or adulthood, it may come to pass that eventually the child says, “No more! It’s not good for me to be around you when you’re like this, and it’s not good for my kids to be around you when you’re like this. If this is how it is, then I’m staying away.” And the healthy line is drawn. Usually that “healthy line” – the NPD person finding his stuff out on the front lawn, the locks changed, the divorce papers filed, the grown children getting an unlisted phone number – is the only thing that may incite some efforts at change, if indeed any changes ever occur.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard a therapist talk about adult children drawing boundaries with their dysfunctional parents, including the extreme boundary of no contact, and saying, “Sometimes this is exactly what you need to do because you care about yourself and your wellbeing.”
I felt something twist up inside me. This is, of course, what I did with my mother. I said, “No more!” and didn’t see her for 12 years, not until I saw her again when she was terminally ill with lung cancer. Did anyone ever say to me, “This is an okay thing for you to do. Not only an ‘okay’ thing, but a GOOD thing for you to do.” My husband was supportive, yes, and completely understood my reasons for doing this; he had had an introduction to the hell-hole that compromised my home life when I was in my teens. However, our society teaches us that we are to love, honor, and respect our parents, virtually no matter what. We are to love them unconditionally because – as I heard so often from family, friends, and virtual strangers – “She’s still your mother!” If I let an inkling of this slip out to someone, that I had no contact with my mother, I’d get this look, like, “What kind of amoral asshole are you?” The unspoken words were always there: she’s still your mother! And often they were spoken. Even when my mother was being her nastiest to me, drunk, calling me a filthy liar, a two-bit bitch (I was 15 at the time), she’d still turn around and say, “I’m still your mother, no matter what you think of me!”
I realized the full weight last night of the tremendous guilt and shame I lived with because of the stance I had taken for my own protection. Other than my husband (and my father – my mother’s EX-husband — who died when I was 23), I had no support for that action, no validation. I was a pariah. At least, that’s how I felt deep inside. I was a shameful person. Worthless. Couldn’t even love and take care of my own poor mother.
When I did reconnect with my mentally incapacitated, terminally ill mother in 1993, she assumed that I was there to take her home with me. When I said I couldn’t, she said, “How can you stand to see your mother in an insane asylum?” Big tears were rolling down her cheeks. “How can you just leave me like this, Bon?” I know where the suicidal feelings came from that afternoon as I left the care facility where she had been a long-term resident. It was the shame and the guilt hacking me up inside, the powerlessness in my life to ever effect any change in hers, the inability to have a relationship with her the way she was. (I almost wrote, “…the inability to love her the way she was…” but that’s not true! The real pain in this is that I always loved her and desperately wanted a good relationship with my mother!)
During this phase of seeing my mother while she had cancer and coming face-to-face with the harsh reality that was her life and my life, I could have used all the support that I could get. There was precious little of it, and I was acutely sensitive to this. My remarking on this caused the wife of one of my half-brothers (my father’s son) to say, “I’m going to write her a nasty letter!” Huh.
This was the start of a profound depression, I’m sure of it. I’ve never been the same since. I didn’t “bounce back” to my former self, although my former self was hardly the picture of “happy go lucky.” Eventually, I sought help and was put on medication for clinical depression. I am now under control and well-maintained on the antidepressant, Lexapro, but pills can’t heal that huge hole, that deep well of pain, inside me.
I had moments last night towards the end of the seminar of feeling like I was dangerously close to “losing it.” I just wanted to find a corner and sob until the guts were leaking out of my ears, until all the agony was purged from my being. I was afraid that there wouldn’t be anything left if I did that!
So, instead, I went to Perkin’s at 9:20 last night and ate some eggs and toast, drank a few cups of decaf coffee, and read my latest Dean Koontz novel. I didn’t cry. No guts leaked out. I slept well, my Katie-cat curled up beside me, my husband thousands of miles away in the U.K.
I woke up this morning, though, thinking about what all was said last night and what my feelings had been.
Todd talked about the concept of “re-parenting.” For those of us with “holes in our souls” due to parental abandonment, neglect, indifference, shaming and blaming, we need to find a way to give ourselves that unconditional love, nurturing, affirmation, and reassurance, that soothing, that we missed out on as children. That can’t come from the outside; it’s got to come from the inside. A spouse can’t fill that hole; a lover can’t fill that hole. Affairs can’t fill that hole. Obsessions can’t fill that hole. Money and possessions can’t fill that hole.
But I don’t know how this “re-parenting” happens. I know that some folks – most folks, I suppose – find this unconditional love and affirmation in the form of a Higher Power. That hasn’t worked for me. Because of this need for unconditional love and affirmation, I wish there were something that some church or spiritual group could offer me, but I’m not sure it’s out there.
So, where do I go? What do I do? Maybe I should make an appointment to see Todd Mulliken since he’s the one who stirred these feelings so profoundly last night. I’m reasonably certain that my insurance through HealthPartners won’t pay for it, but perhaps they might pay a part for an “out of network” provider. I don’t know. Perhaps that’s not the biggest consideration. I’ll check, I think.
Maybe Dr. Kavaney, my shrink at HealthPartners, would have some suggestions, although I know that he isn’t allotted much time during my 20-minute annual visit to have any ideas! Maybe he’ll get a copy of this and can find time to mull it over.
Well, enough for now. It’s a “school night,” and it’s after 9:00. Time to wind it up.
I haven’t been on WordPress in a few weeks to check on my blog stats. I was surprised that on March 12, I had 45 hits on my blog and the search engine terms following this post were used to find my blog. Any Devereauxs out there looking for me? My maternal grandmother’s name was Devereaux. I’d be happy to make your acquaintance.
The term “Archbishop Hoban High School” was also used. Any Hobanites out there who might be former classmates or friends or siblings of classmates?
“Hibbing High School Hematite” was used and my blog was discovered. My husband is a graduate from Hibbing High School, class of 1968. The Hematite is their yearbook. May I pass along some greetings to him?
Someone recently has found my blog by searching for saintpaulgrrl_wordpress_com. That was close enough to lead a person to the URL for my blog. It could be the same person or a different person or a combination of persons, but someone recently has read a dozen of my posts and all my “about” pages. Do I have a new friend or a secret admirer? 😉
Stop in and say hello! 🙂
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… My parents whipped my butt and I learned the Switch Dance… I didn’t hate them… I didn’t have trust issues with them because of it… I trusted I was in big trouble when I screwed up and did things my way!!! I didn’t fear them… I feared getting caught doing wrong… But I sure respected them… I learned what my boundaries were and knew what would happen if I crossed them… I wasn’t abused by no means what so ever… I was disciplined when i asked for it … This is why some children nowadays have no respect for others ….. *Re-post if you got your butt whipped and survived!
The above passage is from a Facebook status update that I read this afternoon. I’ve seen it before on others’ status updates from time to time, and I always feel decidedly unsettled inside when I see it.
I was born in 1955 and grew up in an era where nothing at all was thought of giving a kid a “whipping” with a hand, a belt, a fly-swatter, or a switch off a bush. Some kids received their punishment with a ping-pong paddle, a hairbrush or pancake turner. The whippings were usually administered to the back of the legs or the buttocks. I received my share of spankings with both an open hand and a leather belt.
I honestly don’t remember in any detail the early whippings when I was younger than about five. I remember one that I received when I was about five and walked out the door when my dad told me to stick around. I was shocked at him suddenly spanking me when I thought we were just messing around. He hit me hard and I spent the rest of the day sleeping, not feeling well.
I remember the occasion of one whipping when I was in sixth grade. My mother was working the early shift, 7:00 to 3:30 everyday, and I was alone to get myself up, ready for school and out the door where I would walk the six blocks to school. One morning I didn’t feel well and stayed in bed. I didn’t call her at work to tell her. She had a factory job and was not accessible by phone easily. For some reason, I got scared to tell her that I stayed home, and I got dressed in my school uniform before she got home. A classmate of mine called later that evening, my mom answered the phone, and my classmate asked why I wasn’t in school that day. My mother hung up the phone, grabbed a belt, and wailed me. She struck me again and again with that belt, sinking her fingers into my arm, screaming at me, her eyes blazing with anger. She was out of control and I was genuinely frightened. Why would you not ask a child first what was wrong and why she hadn’t told you she was home that day before grabbing a belt and striking it repeatedly against the child’s bare buttocks? I will never forget how frightened and how assaulted I felt. I prayed to be taken home to Heaven that night.
When I became a mouthy adolescent — and I had plenty to “mouth off” about given what I was seeing in my home at the time — my mother more and more often took to smacking me on whatever body part she could reach. My own anger mounted at this treatment. I was being treated as a nothing, as someone who didn’t matter, as someone who was just suppose to put up and shut up with whatever inappropriate and hurtful behaviors I was seeing from the adults in my home (excessive drinking, lying, marital discord and infidelity, etc.) When I was a young teen, my mother raised her hand to smack me yet again and I raised my arm to block her. I grabbed her arm in mid-smack and we had a stare-down. I had had enough of her acting out her frustrations on me in that manner. I saw the trepidation and doubt in her own eyes at that point, and I didn’t feel bad about it. She did not hit me again.
When I was a few days from my 15th birthday, my parents and I had a run-in regarding a guy they didn’t want me having any contact with. I understand their viewpoint completely — now. I didn’t then and said some things that were blatantly disrespectful. As a parent, I don’t know how I would have responded in that situation where a teenager is clearly out-of-line. I can tell you how my father responded. He got up and hit me several times in the face. He was very angry and out of control, and I was afraid that he wasn’t going to stop hitting me. I have never been so scared in my life. My father was a 180-pound truck driver with upper arms built like hams. He could have easily broken my nose or my cheekbone. Did he earn my respect for terrifying me like that? No, he most certainly did not. I’m sure that one of the hardest things he ever did was apologize to me several weeks later. I think that apology helped to salvage our relationship.
Is there a place for a parent smacking or spanking a youngster? Perhaps. I can make allowances for this when a child is very young and is in the process of doing something very dangerous to their well-being. For example, a parent may grab the arm of a 3-year-old who is about to run out in the street in front of a car and reinforce the total inappropriateness of this behavior by a smack on the butt. It’s a smack designed to startle the child more than inflict pain and make the child aware that his behavior was a huge no-no! He’s inclined to remember that lesson! (And the parent needs to be keeping a sharper eye on that 3-year-old!) Another instance is when a small child reaches out for the hot toaster and her mother administered a brisk smack to the back of the hand accompanied by a sharp “No! Hot!” Again, the jolt is designed to reinforce the danger of the situation. All other early childhood situations — toys not picked up, sibling arguments, temper tantrums, defiance of authority — can be dealt with in better ways than hitting.
If a third grader comes home from school with a bad grade on an assignment, is a whipping in order? No. If a 9-year-old utters a swear word, it is appropriate to hit him? No. If a 12-year-old comes home late from a friend’s house, is taking him to the bathroom and lashing him with the belt appropriate? I should hope not. If a 13-year-old “sasses back,” do you hit her in the face to discipline her? That really doesn’t seem like a good idea.
Granted, most of us have survived our childhood spankings with our mental health intact and are still on speaking terms with our parents. Fortunately, the majority of parents knew when enough spanking was enough, both in terms of quantity and force and what age to leave off with it. The kids of those parents have done okay, generally speaking, or at least can’t attribute their problems to the spankings alone.
However, in a society where spanking, whipping and hitting children is deemed acceptable behavior by a parent, it encourages other less emotionally balanced parents to engage in it as well. Why not? Everyone smacks their kids from time to time! It’s okay! It’s an expected part of disciplining the rug rats! These parents with poor control of their impulses and emotions are the ones who shake their crying babies until their brains hemorrhage, who break their toddlers’ arms by yanking them around, who blacken the eyes of their pubescent daughters for “back-talk” and lying. These are the parents with anger management issues who don’t know what else to do when upset and frustrated other than to strike out and hurt those more vulnerable. They raise children who are scarred, angry, depressed, and have learned in their homes that violence is an acceptable outlet for their emotions.
None of us want to live in a society where it’s acceptable to assault other people because they’ve frustrated you, dissed you, disappointed you, annoyed you. I think that most parents have spanked their children in situations where they’ve felt impotent and out of control of their kids’ behavior. Whipping and spanking was a way to get the upper hand again, to resume the position of authority and dominance in the quickest, most intimidating way possible. Was it the best way? Undoubtedly, no. There are better ways to discourage unacceptable behaviors without resorting to physical trauma and reinforcing all the lessons that such behavior condones and passes on.
I urge all parents to consider their emotional state when they want to spank their children. What is it saying about your sense of control? Is there a better way to demonstrate and reinforce right from wrong? Please consider the society you shape and the lessons you pass on when hitting is how you control the youngest members of your family.
On Saturday of this week, my Katie-cat will have been gone for 4 weeks, a lunar month. Where has a month gone? It seems like it was just yesterday that she died. For that matter, it could have been just moments ago. My heart still feels smashed to pieces, and I can’t quit crying. I keep reliving those last few days, the images rolling through my mind like a bizarre slideshow. I remember her last night, how she didn’t want me to leave her side as I stood beside her in her second-tier kennel at the hospital. She wanted me close and rested her head on my arm. I left, though, because we hadn’t had supper yet and it was going on 8:00 PM. I knew that the staff had things they needed to do for her, like get her IV fluids running again, checking her vitals and labs, giving her some pain meds, etc., and I thought it best that they get their stuff done and perhaps she’d settle down and sleep once I left. It had been a rough day for her. I wish I had stayed.
The following morning, after a discouraging night of bad things in her blood escalating and the good things going down, I held her at the hospital and asked her what she wanted to do. Her face portrayed her anxiety and distress. Her eyes darted around the room. She wouldn’t acknowledge me. She squirmed to get down, and I let her. She limped around the room, her front right leg taped to hold the I.V. catheter secure. She was weak, her legs were trembling. She desperately wanted to find a place to hide. She had her head completely under the low couch with only a few inches of clearance. That was her answer to me: “Mama, I’m dying. I want to find a place to go off by myself and die.”
Minutes later, I assisted her to do that, held warmly in my arms. As the overdose of anesthesia was given, she heard the sound of my voice, telling her how much I loved her, and felt the protective embrace of my love. I felt her little head drop against my shoulder and then her heart ceased to beat.
I continued to hold her for quite some time, still talking to her. If there was some part of her that could still sense me — her spirit, her soul, her life force — I wanted her to hear me and feel me until that had departed. Eventually, I knew I had to let her be taken from me, and the assistant took her, wrapped in her baby blanket, and cradled her like a small newborn. I glanced at her sweet little face for the last time, her eyes partly closed.
My heart feels like it’s been ripped out. I want to remember all the pleasure and enjoyment we shared, but all I can see right now is her limping around the room, looking for a hiding place. I see her half-closed eyes as she was taken away from me. She took a part of me with her when she died.
I miss her so much! I would give anything to have her back with me. Hell, I would have given her one of my own kidneys if it would have saved her and she could have lived another few years.
I hate death. It’s a very raw deal. I was blessed with the honor of being her human companion, her “mom,” for a very short, very quick 16+ years. Those years went in the blink of an eye. And now she’s gone, and she’ll be gone forever. What kind of crap is that?
No, I don’t do death well. I can’t wrap my head around the “forever” part, the permanency of it. Life is constantly changing, but death goes on just as it is for an eternity.
The permanency of this loss is making me crazy. I’m not going to get over it in a few days because she was “just a cat.” I’m not going to go out and “replace” her. Kate will never be replaced. She was too special, too unique to ever be replaced. There will never be another Katie-cat.
I hope that someday I will love again, someday my bed will be warmed with a snuggling little furball. I hope that someday my aching heart will heal. I hope that someday I’m able to think about Kate without the agony of missing her and the cold, stark knowledge that I’ll never see her again.
But not today. Today I am alone in my bed and torn with grief, trying unsuccessfully to fathom being without her for the rest of my life.