Watching Her Grow

It’s been a short while since Kuno, my cat, moved into our new home. Those first two nights were rough: she howled all night with this sad, anxious cry. She was lost; this wasn’t home; something was wrong. In this phase, she slept the days away up on the closet shelf and cried all night while her humans tried to sleep. It was a pretty dark time for us all.

Since then, she’s started wandering into the main house, looking out of windows, examining the environment and more. It’s encouraging. We moved the cat tree into the main room, and now she sits up there and watches us in the evenings, which is as it should be. All is well.

For her.

The problem with identifying with your cat, well one problem with identifying with your cat, is that the cat will adapt faster than you do to massive changes. Her whole world changed at once- territory moved, landmarks changed, access to the outdoors removed, people changed, furniture changed, etc. It was big and yet…

Here she is, lounging on laps, sleeping in the sun, and getting fur on the furniture. She belongs here now, but I? I don’t. I am allowed to live a much bigger life than what I’m living now. I can walk around and go wherever I want, but I just stay in my house or in the public places I know best. She hides in my closet and I hide in my house.

Where is the adventure? Where is the risk taking? Why don’t I have someone preparing the world for me, like I prepared this home for her?

Why didn’t I learn these skills as a child? How did I become a helpless adult?

Do I need to stay helpless? Can I be more?

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Indoor Introvert

This morning, I asked my husband if he was afraid to be surrounded by people.
H: *pause* Are you afraid to be surrounded by people?
Me: Yes.
H: *pause* I don’t really find it scary, no.

Of late, I’ve taken to using others as sounding boards- asking them about gaps or dark spots in my worldview just to see if our experiences line up. If they don’t, then I have discovered an area in which my view doesn’t need to be true. This may sound confusing, but it’s pretty simple. People aren’t necessarily dangerous, because I know people who enjoy meeting strangers. Taking risks doesn’t need to be scary, because I know people who enjoy pushing their limits. Having neighbors isn’t a guaranteed problem, because humans are made for community.

I’m trying to grow, and it’s working. But, back to this morning…

I’m afraid of my neighbors, in principle, not in practice. I’m afraid of the idea of neighbors, not by the people themselves; I don’t know the people and am thus incapable of having true fear, joy, dislike, or even apathy towards them personally. How can I have an opinion on an unknown quantity? It’s like professing my love or hatred of a foreign fruit that I’ve never tasted- I can imagine its texture or admire its appearance, but I cannot truly know what my experience with it will be like.

I am hiding indoors from these people, because I am afraid that they will be prickly or sour, that I will be hurt by the experience. So, my fears get to grow in rich soil because nothing challenges them, and I get to keep my worldview intact because no experiences get to challenge it. Win win, right?

I have to stop this. It isn’t healthy to live in constant anxiety.

Hiding

It’s a little funny- the sad kind, not the ironic or pleasurable kinds- but I am actually going through life changes and hiding them from you. You, my blog with one follower. (P.S.- Thank you, Problems with Infinity. It’s good not to feel alone out here.) You, my blog that I am writing with the explicit purpose of processing baggage in a public setting, so that hopefully, I’ll be diligent in continuing and maybe someone out there will benefit from it.

It’s ridiculous. And understandable.

What I paint is personal and if I don’t tell anyone, then maybe it isn’t real. Because if I don’t have to select the words or hear my own voice, then maybe it’s just thoughts in my idle moments, not signs of something larger.

So I hide it. But the thing is: this blog is bathed in obscurity and totally anonymous. No one will know it’s me unless I send them the address or physically show them the painting. So, in theory, I could post it up here and explain it, but STILL have it be hidden just the same.

Except that the Internet is a cruel place that follows a simple rule: don’t post it unless you want to take the heat. Content creators are shredded. Cosplayers are insulted. Musicians mocked and writers ridiculed. It’s like we are all a bunch of jerks- have always been a bunch of jerks- and today is our day to shine through anonymous trolling.

It’s scary.

It reminds me of elementary school, when my coat had a vest attached to it and everyone called it a life jacket and asked me about my fear of floods. One difference between us, one divergence from the norm, and I was fair game. So is it the same?

Are we all so insecure, so desperate to fit in that we will attack anyone who sticks out (because we hope that doing so will reinforce how well we fit in)? Is that it? Are we all just scared?

Terrified that no one likes us?

Terrified that we are less than we want to be?

Maybe. But if it’s true, it doesn’t really help me to know if I should hide myself or just thrive in spite of the sad small people. After all, cruel words really do hurt, no matter who says them.