Episode Five: Do you have any wegwets?
That pretty much sums up everything, but I’m a “long story” kind of gal, so I’m gonna elaborate a bit.
There comes a time in one’s life when we start to observe what our mothers and us have in common. Then what our grandmothers, mothers and us have in common. Some are good things. The good skin, the nice hair, the short legs. Well, not all good. Then, behaviour-wise, you start to understand “where you got that from”. It is a frustrating process, I’ll tell ya’ that. It’s like looking in a fucked-up mirror.
I’m battling the exact same things I’m trying to change about myself and there they are, coming at me full blast straight from the source. Call it genetic, call it behaviour pattern, whatever. It’s a glimpse into the future, ‘cause those bad patterns evolve into worse go-to reactions if you let them. Inhale awareness, exhale “let go of that shit”. I wanna fix those things for myself in order to live my life with peace-of-mind and less worry. Seeing the same shit you do on another person, multiplied by a bajillion is a really good spin on the “try and see yourself from the outside” exercise. Wake up and smell the similarities! No, they don’t smell like roses.
I made a list in my mind of what I think causes them unhappiness and worry. Then I made another list with what I find particularly disturbing. Then I put my lists together and there they were, staring me in the face: people-pleaser, indecisive to the point of exhaustion, obsessing over things, not letting go, caring too much about others and not enough about yourself, always feeling the need to justify yourself, anxious, chaotic, worry-er, sufferer/victim of the “I didn't do enough” disease.
You may think it’s bad, I used to think the same thing until I wrote them down. I can work on all of these. I actually felt overwhelmed by gratitude instead of [insert negative feelings here] because my people are good people. Sure, they have their flaws, but who doesn’t? Most of all, I wish they wouldn’t be tormented by their flaws, not for my occasional sake, but for themselves. I wish I could have the patience - and the whatever wise-bone it takes - to help; to really inflict some change. I guess that’s my regret.
Oh, who am I kidding?! I have bags full of regrets hidden in my closet. The thing is I kinda decided to throw them all in the river. When my dad died I made a list of all my regrets regarding him. After it was all laid down it felt like a cold fire was burning in my gut and there was nothing I could do. Nothing I would do would matter. Still, there they were, all written down… I wanted to say that it felt like I notched them on my skin with a blunt blade but that’s a bit overly dramatic and it would mean that it was hard. It wasn’t. It was easy, the easiest thing; and that is a different kind of pain altogether. Regrets poured out of me like water from the sky - a raging summer rain that hit the hot asphalt with a thud. I spit them out in a fury and then… then I was left empty but burdened.
Regret feels like you’ve got slime running through your veins instead of blood, and boy, does it run slow…
I could’ve choked on them and died right then and there or I could let them live in my flesh and poison me bit by bit. Ooor, I could come to terms with it. Because at the end of the day I did what I could do with what I had in that moment in my life. My capacity to accept, to give, to recognise, to face, to admit… Defence mechanisms make us act in silly, unfair ways sometimes because their only purpose is to “defend” us and that’s all they know. No point in blaming myself now, but I still do it either way. Every now and again a regret would a appear like a freckle after sunburn. I acknowledge it and I say to it what I said to you. “You did the best you could have done with what you had in that moment.” Then it goes away. Until the next sunburn. It’s ok, though, I live in Ireland, you don’t see many of those around here.
I always learn a lot about myself while back home. This time was no exception - in fact it was probably the most fruitful trip of them all. The biggest life lesson I’ve uncovered was due to Oscar, our forever flea-ridden, bat-eared cat. From the day he came into that house he had been covered in fleas from ear to claw and it was only getting worse. Because he was so small, we couldn’t apply the magic phial that promises to vanish all fleas from the land. He had to weigh 1 kg and he wasn’t there yet, so until we managed to get him fat we applied the old school disinfestation method. Special shampoo, regular water and you soap and you rinse ‘till you’re blue in the face and the cat hates you. Theeeen you use your hands to kill the ones that are still alive roaming the furry streets of that unfortunate lil’ cat. I did just that. Many, many times. Whenever I thought I was seeing the light at the end of the fleanfestation, the fuckers kept coming back stronger, faster and with extra baggage. They brought their flea cousins and their flea aunts and uncles, their flea friends and their flea pets! As a result, I was losing my mind. It deemed everything useless: my hardship and the poor cat’s suffering! It’s one of the five most frustrating feelings in the world!
This next chapter is called: What I learned about myself while de-fleeing my cat.
Lesson One. When chasing fleas I stumbled upon the “grass is always greener on the other side” syndrome more than once. If that is not clear enough try this: the flea equivalent to “A bird in the hand is worth three in the bush”. Almost every time I had a regular-sized flea in my hands ready to begin operation “off with his heeeeeaaaad!” a Mr. Big of the fleas would casually walk by mocking me! I felt like a fool, like a fool, I tell ya’! Here I am wasting time on this nobody when I could have the Bugsy Malone of Fleas! So I’d abandon the small one and go after the big one. I rarely caught the big one and almost always lost the small one. Don’t go chasin’ after bigger fleas, kids! It ruins your focus and you won’t like what it says about you as a person. Finish the flea you started and then move on. That’s integrity.
Also, there is no such thing as “one flea to rule them all”; it’s a myth. They’re all equal fleas in the eyes of the Lord.
The conclusion is I go through life the same way I de-flea cats. I’m confused, I hate making choices, when rushed I often make stupid ones, I get overwhelmed and I always think it’s not enough. There is also, that rare moment when everything seems to slow down; I’m waltzing through the fleas, I’m popping them like it’s hot, suddenly I’m Snoop Dog, cool and in control.
Lesson Two. Be more like Snoop.
Lesson Three. After a while, the cat got fat, the magic potion was applied by a vet and we got strict instructions to do nothing. All we could do was wait for the fleas to abandon the kitty-ship. It was out of my hands, I could be liberated, right? Wrong.
One night, while I was chilling in bed the cat came to do cat things. I started petting him, he started to purr, I started seeing fleas, he kept on purring, I wanted to ignore the fleas, he continued purring. Then a black fog clouded my judgement and the next thing I know I’m hunched over him, tense and weird, holding him still while I killed, killed, killed once more. My thirst for blood was even bigger than that of the fleas.
I realized I had turned a nice, cosy, very cat-like moment into torture. I looked at Oscar and I felt terrible. He was disappointed and he had every right to be.
The lesson here is to focus on the big picture not on the many tiny black spots that roam all over it. To see the cat beyond the fleas. Otherwise, you tend to completely miss a perfectly good cat because you can’t keep your focus on what’s really important. Fleas come and go, but the cat is always there. The way I looked at him was the way I look at life: I let the fleas ruin the cat. I allow the little things that bug me grow blacker and bigger until I forget there was even a cat in the first place. That was a real wake up call. Thank you, Oscar and thank you fleas.