A couple months ago I noticed a cat across the street from my house. I’m not exactly sure what has changed in me, but lately I have been loving cats. It doesn’t make sense to me, I’ve always hated cats. I’ve only ever loved one cat my whole life and it was my best friends grumpy old cat that had a smooshed face and matted fur (he wouldn’t let anyone brush him or touch him, except me). That cat reminded me of a senile old man who just wanted company and a hug, but would never admit it to anyone. But other than that cat, I hated cats. So, I took myself by surprise when I suddenly said, “Oh, hi kitty! You should come over here to see me.” Why the heck did I just say that, I hate cats. Not only that, but I just talked out loud to a cat across the street. I’m inside, it can’t hear me! Plus it’s a cat.
But the cat heard me. I’m dead serious, either that or it’s psychic or something. Oh, I bet it’s that freaky 6th sense thing that animals have. Anyway, it walked over to my driveway.
And as it walked up my driveway I continued to talk to it, “that’s a good girl, come say hi.” The cat walked up front path.
I continued my creepy cat talk until it stood right outside my door.
I stared at it for several minutes from the safety of my home, but then I made the decision to go out there and pet it. All I wanted was the feel of soft fur and that cute little purring noise. What the hell is wrong with me? I hate cats! I hate pets! I decided not to fight my new desire for pet cuddles, a lot about me has changed over the past year, I guess this is just another thing. So I went outside and I pet that cat for a good five minutes until it got bored and walked off. I have secretly wanted that cat to come back every day since then. It has not.
Then, yesterday I noticed a different cat across the street from my house. This cat was black with 3 white socks. Once again, I started the crazy lady cat talk. This cat wasn’t as responsive to my sweet talk, so I walked outside and tried to lure it into petting range with clicks and tuts. It was a slow process, and just as I was about to give up, because I was freezing my buns off, the cat started to creep towards me. As it slowly moved closer and closer I noticed something red on his face. Is it blood? Does he have a leaf stuck on his face? What is that? Then when the cat was about 8 feet from me it stopped and sat down. It was at that moment that I realized the red thing on his face was his eye ball bulging out from his skull.
(This is not the cat, but I wanted you to understand what I was looking it. The eyeball on the left most closely resembles the sight.)
I’m sorry I had to expose you to that. It was a very sad sight, even for me, a recently reformed cat hater. I wanted to run away and never look back, and definitely never look back into that cat’s giant, bulging, mess of an eye, but I couldn’t. It disgusted me and captivated me at the same time. It was clear the cat could no longer see out of that eye. When he looked at me, it was only out of his good eye. The good eye gleamed that cool greenish yellow color when the sun hit it just right, but not the bulge eye. The bulge eye was a mess of tissue and blood.
No, I did not pet the cat. Part of me wishes I could have, but if I’m completely honest, I did not want to somehow contract bulging eye syndrome from the cat. I don’t regret my decision, I don’t even feel shame. Old Liz would have guilted myself into touching the cat because of the “shoulds” I had placed on my life. “I should give love without reservation”, “I should love all things”, “The cat can’t help it, so I should treat this cat like any other cat”, and “I should not be repulsed by this cat”. These expectations I have placed on myself are not bad expectations, but they are expectations that I could not live up to at that moment. You see, old me would have pet the cat out of guilt and pride and then afterwards I would have felt shame over my feelings of repulsion. I then would spend two weeks googling bulging eye syndrome to reassure myself that I would not contract this disease and yet, the whole time I would slowly begin to resent the cat for putting me at risk. My pride would tell me I’m a good person for touching the cat despite my fear, and I would then proceed to tell people of my cat story, pretending to love that cat as if it did not have a disgusting, possibly contagious, bulging eye. In fact, I might even only mention that bulging eye as an “afterthought” just to prove that I passed no judgment on the cat because of its giant, oozing, bloody, red eye.
That was old Liz. Liz before recovery. Liz before I accepted Liz for who she is and where she is at. I know what you are thinking, “New Liz is kind of a hardened, judgmental, brat, who only loves things that are beautiful.” False. Although I did not touch the bulge eye cat, I did not hate him. I talked to him for a while. I squatted 8 feet from him and told him how sorry I was. But I knew my limitations, I knew my boundaries. I knew what I could handle at that moment and what I could not. I did not shame myself into doing something that would later cause me to resent the cat. Days after the incident I still feel genuine sorrow and love for that poor bulge eyed cat. I accepted my imperfection and I accepted myself exactly where I was at and as a result I felt at peace about my decision.
There was a moment where I put myself into the cat’s situation. Would I want to be rejected over something I could not control? No. Would I need love, even with my imperfect face and bulging eye? Yes. But here is the thing, at some point or another we all feel rejection, and a lot of times it is over something we cannot control. I often thought that if people just accepted me the way I was, then I would be at peace. But I never once considered that maybe I should stop rejecting myself first. Old Liz, would have forced herself to touch the cat to prove to herself that she could love how she was supposed to. But the very act of trying to prove to myself that I was not judging the cat would actually be an act of rejection to myself. In a way I would be telling myself that I did not accept the feelings I had because I was not good enough the way I was, imperfect. This behavior did not bring me any peace, and in fact it exhausted me to be around me.
But here is the cool thing, we all have a figurative bulging eye and no matter how disgusting it is, there is one person who will loves us just the way we are, he will sit down and cuddle us close to his face without fear of contracting our sickness. You have probably heard me talk about him before, it’s Jesus. You see, I don’t have to lie to myself about where I am at, because Jesus accepts me just as I am. Sure, I want to be a better person, and right now God is helping me with my boundaries and finding peace by being true to myself exactly where I am at. That doesn’t make me a failure. That doesn’t make me mean. That doesn’t make me a cat hater, or hardened, or a jerk. It just means I accept that I am a human, I am not perfect, I am not God, I have limitations, and I am still loved unconditionally. Thank you Jesus!
Oh and bulging eye cat, if you are out there and able to hear this with your 6th sense thing, I wouldn’t be opposed to another visit from you. I did some research, you probably have glaucoma and it’s not contagious.