Tag Archives: cat

The Power of Acceptance, OR I talk about my cat

This is Rye, having a breakthrough moment by being in my lap only a few days ago. There’s no way to know for sure, but it’s possible that this was the first time she has ever been in a lap at all.

I am a cat person. 

So just to explain more of where I’m coming from when I talk about my cats – I have four cats. My nesting partner and I prefer to adopt cats that are struggling to find homes, which means we do tend to gravitate towards cats who have, shall we say, emotional issues. One of those cats is Rye, a cat I initially adopted purely because nobody else wanted her because she was just too scared for anyone to want to deal with. She’s just not the kind of cat who’s a little shy at first but then you win over within an hour or two of being nice. She needed a home, I know how to deal with anxiety and I didn’t need her to be friends with me, so I provided her with a home.

Now onto the bragging part. In the years she’s been with me, she has absolutely blossomed. Her foster mom warned me that while she is sweet and lovely once she feels more comfortable, there are some things she would just never do. And I was ok with that! Well, as it turns out she is both sweet and loving, AND she has absolutely blown away all of my expectations of things she would never do. I mean, she sleeps on my bed at night, often choosing to sleep physically on top of me. I could fill a whole blog post about how she has come so far in her time with me but that’s not actually the point of this post so I’m going to try to move on.

Sometimes I brag about her on facebook to my friends because of how proud I am of her, and sometimes my friends will comment back about how patient I’ve been with her. I try to just accept the compliment that I’m sure they are intending, but it always feels weird to me. It recently struck me as to why that might be feeling so weird.

See, it seems to me that “being patient” implies that I’m waiting for something. Or, if we go by dictionary.com: “bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like.”

Which is to say – I haven’t been patient with Rye at all. Even a little bit. I’m not waiting for anything from her, and I never was. I’m not bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, or whatever else AT ALL. Or at least, not from her (let’s be real, it’s been a rough time, just in general). 

Here’s the thing – I’ve never asked anything from her. I never wanted anything from her; not really. My goals for her, from the very beginning, were for her to feel safe and happy. That’s it. That’s all I wanted. I didn’t adopt her to be her bestie, I adopted her because I genuinely believed that I could provide her with a home in which she felt safe and happy. THAT’S IT. 

I knew that she was afraid, and I wanted her to be less afraid. But thing is, I can’t force that. So instead, I made the conscious and deliberate choice to follow her lead. She would tell me when she’s ready to try something new, and if she’s never ready, that’s ok too. I made the choice both to trust her, and to accept her for who she was AT THAT EXACT MOMENT IN TIME. Not an idea of what I wanted her to be – exactly who she was, as she presented herself to me. That’s it. No more, no less.

And you know what? IT WORKED. Better than I ever imagined.

When she first approached me to ask for pets, I was beyond astonished. I legitimately did not think that would ever happen. 

When I realized that she likes me, I was astonished again. 

This list could go on for a very long time, so let’s skip to the end. I’ve learned by now that I can never assume that she will never do something. She’s stomped on that assumption more than enough times by now that I’ve learned better. I mean, I can’t apply my own timeline to her – she will do things in her time and in her way. However, allowing her the freedom to choose her own timeline is what has given her the freedom and safety to expand her boundaries as much as she has. 

For years, I never asked ANYTHING of Rye. Literally nothing. Until recently, when she found a way to communicate to me that she likes me so much that she will do things purely because it makes me happy when she does them. (do you want me to go into what happened? I was about to write it out but then I remembered that this isn’t supposed to be a “brag about Rye” post) So now I will sometimes ask her for small things, specifically because it gives her the opportunity to show me that she cares.

She likes me. She trusts me. She feels safe and cared for with me. The reason for this is because I accepted her for who she is. I met her where she was, and I was willing and happy to stay with her there forever if that’s what was needed for her to feel safe. And because I met her where she was, because I didn’t need anything from her, because I trusted her to move at her own pace, she DID move. She has progressed so much more than I ever imagined, and I am absolutely certain that she never would have if I had demanded she be anything other than who and what she is. 

She doesn’t have to meet any timeline to be valid or for her progress to be real. She doesn’t have to conform to anyone’s idea of what a pet should be like to be a sweet and wonderful pet. My patience will never run out because in the end, the only goal is her safety and happiness, and we met that goal long ago. 

Everything else is just a bonus. And I love her for it. 

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Let’s all join together and not touch at all

I think the day before Major National Holiday That Clogs Up All The Malls is a great day for a silly, fun post.

Now, as I’ve mentioned before, this blog has impacted my life in various different ways. Here is yet another one.

As of right now, the all-time most popular post I’ve written is Why I don’t like social touch, by a rather significant margin. It got a lot of comments relative to my other posts, and has been shared on facebook over 100 times (that’s a lot for me!). Since posting it, I’ve learned that people are regularly asking google why they don’t like social touch. I’ve learned that it is not just an aspie thing – plenty of neurotypical people experience the same thing as well. I’ve learned that I don’t need to feel strange and alone about this – while the majority of people may be ok with casual social touch, there are still plenty of people out there like me. Who maybe wish there were other ways to build casual social connections with strangers that did not involve getting their sticky on our fingers.

As usual I do not actually have any solutions. However, that does not mean that I cannot speculate! Let’s see what I can come up with on How To Not Touch People.

Warning: no promises that any of these will be good ideas. ^_^

1. Wave instead. Actually, I do this one for real. If I’m not feeling up for touching strangers but am in a situation where I am being introduced to people, I’ll make a point to stand at a sufficient distance that they’ll feel a little awkward thrusting their hand towards me. I also make a point to wave right away, before the usual hand-thrusting part. People are generally willing to wave back instead of grabbing appendages, though I do sometimes get weird looks.

by RedHerring1Up on flickr

You don’t have to wave this much, but you can if you want to.

2. Do the chicken dance. Everyone knows the chicken dance! Surely that would be a great way to connect. Plus, I imagine that it would be challenging to grab someone’s hand while said hand is tucked into their waist and I only have access to elbows.

by soundfromwayout on flickr

*wiggle**wiggle**wiggle*

3. Thrust your hand at them before they get a chance to thrust their hand at you. (also, am I the only person who thinks that people look really pushy when they’re trying to shake hands?) Yeah, you’ll still end up touching, but you’ll also be more in control.

pic by me

GIVE ME YOUR APPENDAGE!

4. Plank. No one will know what to do with you, so hopefully they’ll just leave you alone. Warning: they may decide to poke you instead. Hard to say.

by marcoderksen on flickr

It’s probably ok to plank in more comfortable places

5. Bake cookies ahead of time (if you know you’re going to be meeting people who will want to touch you) and give them to the people you meet. Your hands will be occupied holding the cookie tin, and people will like you because they associate you with cookies. If you want to be as ideal about it as possible, include things like sugar-free, gluten-free, and vegan varieties of cookies, so as to not unintentionally leave people out.

by yevgene on flickr

OMNOMNOM

6. Hunch your shoulders and glare at everyone. I used to do this one when I was younger. It’s a good way to avoid touching people, but it works poorly for helping to connect with people or smoothing social interactions. I recommend this idea least of all.

by edwaado on flickr

This cat knows what I’m talking about

7. Borrow a greeting ritual from another culture or time period. Maybe bow, or nod your head, or tip your hat (if you’re wearing one).

by Narith5 on flickr

This one is Cambodian

Ok, I think that’s enough for now. I would love to hear any ideas you have! Silly, serious, or otherwise – they’re all good. ^_^

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