Sadness and Gratitude

Yesterday I dropped Isaac at school knowing that I wasn't going to see him again for over a week.  He has gone off with his Daddy on their annual trek to the frigid outskirts of civilization, aka Minnesota.  Today Isaac is no doubt getting into all sorts of relatively harmless yet thrilling mischief with his 11 and 12 year old cousins.  I am glad that he has this time to climb and play in the Minnesotan half of his family tree and, to be honest, I am also grateful that I no longer am required to accompany him.  As a matter of fact, foregoing the annual week-long shut-in with my cranky, conservative in-laws was one of the first benefits I noticed when I was suddenly single back in 2005. 

Still, every time Isaac leaves this life he has with me to join again with the life he and his dad live together, I feel a very slight slide of grief in my gut.  It is not a large grief -- thankfully I have been recovered from the full-fledged anguish of my divorce for some years now.  But it is an aching little loss each time I have to relinquish my child for days at a time.  And it takes a second to rebound.  In the past, I had become so accustomed to that regular visitation of separation sadness that I did not attend to it like I should have.  I would have passed the day in a fog not even knowing that anything was bothering me at all. I would have been disappointed and anxious because of my unproductive day but I wouldn't have even touched the original feeling of sadness that made my day what it was.

Yesterday, after sending my son off, I watched myself and saw that I was a little checked out, more scattered than usual.  I had the urge to burrow and be still, to find a crappy novel and read it all the way through in one sitting, to nap and nap and nap.  In the past, that's exactly what I would have done.  But after a year and a half of skill-based therapy aimed at teaching a person to be mindful of present experiences, it has become fairly difficult to check out like I used to.  Someday I should try to express how annoying it can be to just want to take a good, long escapist coma-nap but to be unable to do so because of my damned Wise Mind.  But maybe that's something only a DBT graduate would understand.  Instead, I'll just say that I am so glad for the hard won awareness that now allows me to say, "Isaac is not here and I am sad."  I am so grateful for the new ability I have to keep company with that sadness as it inevitably fades.  I rejoice that I can connect the true and real feeling of sadness with the behavioral urges I am experiencing.  And that I know so much better now where to seek comfort when I am sad, such as in exercise and time with friends, like I did yesterday.  Every day I am reminded that being a whole and healthy person does not mean that difficult experiences do not occur or that I will suddenly morph into the first human who is exempt from the experience of grief.  It just means that I am able to do those challenges better.  Yeehaw!


Caturdays at Our House

This is our cat Atticus:

Often known as Badicus:

He is the product of an ill-advised love affair between Miss Maggy (current house mate of Kris E.) and an unidentified Old North Durham alley cat (It was a cold winter night and he was very persuasive.  Miss Maggy doesn't like to talk about it.). We met him only a few days after he was born.  He charmed Isaac immediately but I was a harder sell.  Honestly, it's been a few years now and I'm still not sold on this guy (Just kidding, Kris!  No, you cannot have him back). 

I can't figure out if his feline intelligence falls well above or well below the norm.  It makes little difference, I suppose, because the result of either is the same -- MISCHIEF!  I think he must just get bored or something.  He loves to carefully tap-tap-tap-tap a full cup of milk off the edge of a table, drawing the suspense out as long as possible.  He seems to find the floors of the house offensive, preferring instead to leap from one item of furniture to another, even scaling the tops of doors and the door frames.  Plastic objects hold an unholy allure for him so Isaac has a number of small dinosaurs, snakes and sharks with chunks that have been chewed off.  Don't even get me started on his rubber band compulsion.   He constantly harrasses our other two cats, both of whom had their fill of him about five minutes after he joined our household.  When Atticus was a kitten, my fat cat Ralphie used to sit on him to keep him quiet, but that hasn't been effective in some time. 

Ralphie has been in a perpetual state of irritation since we brought Atticus home.

When he is truly out of his mind with boredom, Atticus finds the single spot in the house with the best acoustics (the corner in the dining room) and yowls at the top of his lungs.  For being so easily bored, though, he sure is a skitty kitty.  He once ventured across the road in search of something interesting to do and got lost for two weeks.  He was so terrified by his heroic quest that he wouldn't come when called so I had to trap him in a cage I bought from Lowe's that was intended for rabid raccoons. 

For all of his faults, though, that cat loves the hell out of Isaac.  Those two chose each other, I guess.

A few weeks ago, I heard Atticus yowling from the backyard and went out to find that he had gotten himself into mischief again.  He was on top of the shed and couldn't figure out how to get down.  All I can say is it's a good thing he has Isaac at this point because my motivation to rescue is at an all time low.

Why can't he just find a cozy spot and stare into the fourth dimension like the other cats do?