“Humility, is sexy.”
That’s what Demi Lovato said.
It’s been a difficult few days.
Avery and I had to walk away from a difficult situation when we moved out two years ago. There were a lot of lives involved; dogs I loved, cats I cared about and had worked hard to save, and friends connected to that life who saw me as a quitter, a failure, and selfish for putting my own needs before the helpless critters.
I continue to wrestle with overwhelming guilt for this. Of course, logically, I know I need to forgive myself. As the therapist, and those close frequently remind me, I am not a quitter, I did not fail, and I can’t provide for helpless critters unless I care for myself as well.
The animals I left have never been far from my mind. My time as a rescuer has not been forgotten. And I have never abandoned compassion. I left a toxic home that was literally killing me to pursue health, wellness, stability, and vitality. I’ve remained committed to those objectives. I put in the time, and learned how to deal with myself.
My former roommate has not. She continues to make impulsive and emotional decisions that feel good in the moment. So when she met a new lover, she just up and left “pulled out of rescue completely” in her words. She moved in with her new friend leaving all those cats alone in her old house. She also stopped paying for the house, since she no longer needed it for herself.
Every time I checked in, she assured me that everyone was happy, healthy and cared for. She was lying.
Those cats were living in hellish conditions, because it no longer suited her to care for them.
I left that place to make my life better with the understanding that the cats would be cared for. I didn’t just bail on helpless creatures. THEY HAD HELP when I left! Now they don’t, the house is foreclosed on, and she STILL has no plan.
Unless you count sending me aggressive text messages to get my cats out of her house immediately! Not bothering to fill in the details until way later.
In the past week, I’ve made arrangements for 5 of the cats, put her in contact with a person able to help one more, and my former roommate has decided to keep one. That’s 7 with solutions, 6 dead in her care, and 10 still to go. In addition to placing 5, I’ve also found ways to secure medical care for each of those 5. They are all unvaccinated. She told me last night, she hasn’t trimmed a single nail since I moved out, and there is no scratcher in the room she’s got them locked in. One of the cats I’ve already removed has 2 claws that grew so long they are severely embedded into her paw paw. I’m sure there will be many more with that problem.
She asked how I was able to find so much help so quickly. I told her, “humility is sexy.” I’m not out to start a hate campaign against her. I don’t want to get the crazy rescue folks all riled up. I just want to help the cats. I listened to the things people said and responded personally. If they offered prayer I thanked them. If they offered a place for a cat already settled, I suggested a similar one. If they asked what I needed I provided multiple concrete suggestions; each cat will need a $10 capstar and $11 rabies shot when it leaves. A large size tube of advantage will rid 5 cats of fleas. I am in need of a safe place for some outdoor cats, do you have any ideas?
These are small needs that are less overwhelming than the greater issue. It helps me stay connected to the task without giving up.
I didn’t demand anything from anyone. I didn’t assume I was entitled to another person’s assistance. I just asked, thanked profusely, and expressed clearly my own contribution to each step, making sure no one felt they were carrying me like dead weight.
It’s worked well for me. I feel like I set a good example. But I don’t want to fix the rest of this for her. I am saving for the admission deposit for the BS program I’ve been accepted to, and preparing to be without my primary job for six weeks beginning in February. This is not my mess to clean alone.
On a really cool note, one family that’s taking two of the cats asked for the details and my involvement so I told her the whole story. I had told her I would take care of the medical needs and bring the cats 5 hours to her, because offering a home to both of them was already more than I could have asked for. It turns out, she is a therapist, with lots if experience treating eating disorders. She said she was so proud of me for staying committed to recovery during this highly emotional time and knowing that I need to find homes for the cats even though I really care about them and wish I didn’t have to pick and choose the ones to keep. She knows it’s easy to used disordered behavior to cope with challenges. She’s so proud that she is not only going to adopt, but also help with the vetting for her two cats.