A Tribute to Winky

In January 2013, my mother and brother spoke of a stray cat, which they had never seen around before, suddenly frequently appearing around their home, that would pop-up randomly in their yard.
My sister had also just temporarily moved back home at the time, and claimed she would randomly seen him as well.

They began leaving out food on the back deck and front porch…and when they would check the next morning, they had seen that the food was gone.

Seeing it could have been numerous different animals that had eaten the food, they started to keep a closer eye when putting out the food, waiting by or frequently checking out the window, hoping it would soon reveal who the mysterious eater was.

Sure enough, they suddenly started seeing the “skinny orange cat with white paws,” that they had been describing as the “newly seen stray,” as the one who was appearing and eating the food.

On February 7th, 2013: which was just hours before the record-breaking snowstorm was to begin, I had made a quick stop by my family’s home before heading back to my apartment.

(Reference: “Top Ten Winter Storms”, “Winter Storm Nemo”, “Blizzard of 2013”, and “Nor’easter Charlotte” – which ended up impacting where I lived the most, leaving 40 inches of snow and ice, 9 fatalities, and several weeks without power).

I was just making the quick stop to drop-off a few things, seeing I would probably be snowed in for a few days if the storm was going to be as bad as they were predicting.

As I stepped out of my car to walk to the front door, I heard a large crash come from the side of their house, where they stored their garbage and recycling bins.

I slowly walked over to where the noise came from, and instantly stopped when the tipped over garbage came into view, for I finally saw this “orange cat with white paws” next to it, digging through the trash that had fallen out…and I wanted to make sure I kept a safe distance from him, so that I wouldn’t scare or startle him.

I crouched down to the ground where I was, and just stayed still, observing him for a few minutes.

I texted my sister (who was the only one home at the time) that I was there, and what I was doing…and to quietly watch from the window, and to come out with food if I could get him to come near me.

I calmly started calling to him to get his attention, to which he instantly squatted to the ground as soon as he heard my voice, began frantically looking around, and got ready to run.

I continued to keep my distance by keeping in the same crouching position, to let him know I wasn’t a threat, and continued to try and coax him over to me.

Very slowly, he started walking towards me.

I continued to talk to him in a soft voice, while slowly offering him my hand with only a few fingers stretched out, giving him time to smell me at his pace, in hope of gaining his trust.

He continued to walk slowly towards me, first towards my hand, where he began sniffing my fingers for a few seconds…then unexpectedly, he suddenly let out an extremely loud cry, and jumped towards me.

I didn’t knowing what was happening, and my initial thought was he was attacking me…so out of reaction: my body completely tensed up, I closed my eyes, and just froze.

Next thing I knew, he was sitting on my shoulder, as if he were a parrot, purring louder than any cat I had ever heard before, and began rubbing against my head and face.

I signaled for my sister to come out.

When she first came out, his first instinct was to dart… but I quickly called him back, as my sister offered him a plate a food, where he trotted over to her, and he than began rubbing all over her as well.

I then noticed he was in bad shape.

Besides him being obviously extremely skinny, he was also missing an eye, and was either excessively drooling from his mouth, or had an extremely bad runny nose.

I knew this poor baby would die if I just walked away: knowing about this pending blizzard they were predicting, and seeing what kind of health condition he was in: he would definitely freeze to death.

I started panicking.

I wanted to take him in to my apartment, but having two other rescue cats, I didn’t know his current bill of health (if he had any contagious diseases he could give to other cats), I couldn’t risk exposing my cats to that if he did.

Having now gained his trust, he followed me into my parent’s garage, where I quickly made him a bed out of whatever materials I could find, while I frantically called every no-kill shelter in the area.

garage

I was facing 2 huge issues:

  1. It was almost closing time for most businesses
  2. The storm was supposed to start within 2 hours

I was getting hopeless by my 6th phone call, because they were all turning me away and wouldn’t take him, either because: they were closing, weren’t answering, had no room, staff left early because of storm, etc.

My mom couldn’t take him in either for the same reasons as me, for she also had two cats…and the garage wasn’t warm enough for him.

Finally, it dawned on me: to try calling PAWS, who was a shelter I donated to every year.

Despite the fact that they were about a half hour drive away from where I lived at that time, it was my last hope.

I was desperate, and was willing to drive anywhere at that point to save this guy’s life.

When I tried contacting PAWS, I had just reached someone as they were closing, and most of their staff left early due to the blizzard that was approaching.

I begged and pleaded with them, told them what was going on, and I was desperate for help.

The lady I spoke with said she would keep the shelter open, just to wait for my arrival, and take him in.

I borrowed my mom’s cat carrier, and quickly rushed to PAWS as fast as I could.

In that short few hours I had with him, especially on my car ride there (where I was singing to him to keep him calm on the way to the shelter, especially because of all the traffic from people leaving work early due to the pending blizzard), I realized I had instantly become attached to him already.

When I had arrived at PAWS, they had me fill-out forms as they took him… and halfway through filling out the forms, I stood-up and walked over to her and said, “I already decided I want to adopt him.”

They said they couldn’t “reserve” pets before they were adoptable, especially because he looked in bad shape and needed to be seen by a vet first, and go through a lot of testing, but they would make sure I was first on the list of people they called when he was deemed healthy enough to be on the “adoptable” list.

I donated to them for being so kind, and for saving this poor baby’s life, especially at such last minutes notice (and they had gone out of their way to do so), when all the other shelters had shunned me away.

Please donate to them, for shelters like this need to be recognized, and be fully supported by all the help they can get (which rely on your generous donations):

http://pawsct.org/

I realized as the days went on, I became more than attached, and found myself calling like an obsessed worried mother, even though he wasn’t even mine, constantly calling and emailing PAWS about his health condition, and any possible update they could give me.

They were more than kind and patient with my constant inquires, and kept me fully updated.

Unfortunately, his eye had been previously surgically removed, and he was already fixed.
Which meant he was previously owned.
They estimated he was about 10-years-old.

After searching databases for anyone looking for him, and checking for a microchip… then seeing how badly he was sick (and what his intestines and stomach was filled with…estimating how long he has been eating “garbage” on the streets for, as well as seeing how severely malnourished he was), they sadly came to the conclusion that: whoever had previously owned him, had literally thrown him out like a piece of trash, and abandoned him: leaving him to die.

This made me physically ill.

How could anyone abandon their pet (something I could never comprehend, since I treat mine like family), but especially one they KNEW was special needs…they just left to fend for himself on the streets?!

How completely heartless can someone be?

I don’t care what the excuse is, even if the circumstances were extreme: why not give him to a shelter?

But nevertheless, this made my final decision: I was going to adopt him no matter what, because I wanted to give him a second chance at life, and show him he didn’t deserve that.

Also knowing lots of cats live their whole lives in shelters without ever being adopted (if I could adopt them all, I would), and now knowing he was a “special needs cat” in addition to being an older one, which are two things that make him last to be picked on most people’s adoption list…I knew if I adopted him, he would definitely be able to have a second chance at life…and that was the only way I knew I could guarantee that.

Because he had been out on the streets for so long, he had to be medically induced into a coma to get him treated quickly with all the antibiotics he needed to be cured of everything that was wrong with him (severe upper respiratory infection), and then begin being treated for his severe malnourishment.

 

On March 9th, 2013, as promised, PAWS called me to let me know (they had named him “Dickson”) he was now healthy enough to be on the adoption list.

I literally dropped everything, and raced down there.

On my drive down there, I started having thoughts of:
“What happens if he doesn’t remember me?”
“What happens if we don’t have that connection we did that one-day we met anymore? Should I still adopt him? Or is he better off without me?”

As I walked into the shelter, I instantly recognized him in the “Adoptable Cat Window,” socializing with all the other cats.

I told PAWS before I filled out the adoption paperwork, since it had been a month, I wanted to see if he would still recognize me, and asked if I could possibly visit with him first.

As they let me in to the adoption room, he was playing with the other cats. I quietly saw down in the chair that was in the room.

He then looked over and noticed me.
When he did, he let out that same loud cry, just as he did the very first time I saw him, as he came running over to me, leaping onto the table next to me, then right onto my shoulder.

It felt as though we never had time apart.

paws

Of course I instantly filled out the paperwork, paid the adoption fees, paid a little extra (since I know I was a nuisance for bothering them so much), and we began our journey home, to what would now be his new home.

My other two cats (who are twins, both pure black cats: Sami and Kali, also both rescues), have been indoor cats since the day I adopted them at 6-months-old, and I had forgotten they had never seen another animal before in their entire lives, besides each other.

When I first introduced them to Winky (which was just a nickname a friend called him before I adopted him, which ended up becoming his name, but I mostly called him Winks for short), they both puffed out with wide eyes, and ran and hid, as if they had just seen a ghost.
They didn’t know what to make of him.

I couldn’t help but laugh, because they probably didn’t realize this was another cat, just like them.

The first couple days they still didn’t know what to make of him.
But then Sam came around, and as brothers do: they play fought, wrestled and tumbled around with one another, and chased each other around the apartment.

Once Wink had gotten comfortable, he didn’t hesitate to eat his food as quickly as possible, and then quickly push Sam out of the way and eat his too.
(Kali preferred dry food to wet food, and Wink didn’t care for dry food, so they never had an issue).

Wink quickly went from thin to Chubby… and he was the happiest, most social and lovable cat I have ever had.

chubby

In July 2013, I moved into my house I had bought, which gave the 3 of them lots more room to run around.

Especially moving from the “city” to (what my friends like to call) “the woods”, their favorite spot was the 4-season porch, where they could sunbathe or watch all the various birds in the forest.

Wink instantly decided he was man of the house, and didn’t hesitate to mark his territory on every piece of furniture, or dominate every food bowl…even the dogs.

There had never been a family member or friend that wasn’t jealous I had him, for they wanted a cat just like him for themselves.

He didn’t care who you were; he instantly loved you, wanted on your lap or to cuddle with you, and just to be with you.

He loved being held, and when you did, he always loved to climb on your shoulders or head, and just sit there.

He was even obsessed with cuddling with my Golden Retriever, even if she was just walking around the house, he constantly had to be rubbing on her.

He loved everyone, and everything.
(Even my friends, that “hated” cats, loved him!)

He honestly was the most beautiful cat I have ever had, inside and out.

WinkHouse2013

 

 

Sadly, March 2015, I noticed a random lump in his mouth.

PAWS warned me he has really bad teeth and decay, and would definitely need them pulled in the future, so I instantly though it was an abscessed tooth, and made an emergency appointment with my vet.

But instead, I heard news I never expected to hear…

“The good news is, his blood work came back he is very healthy, and his X-Ray showed his body is very healthy… but unfortunately, that lump in his mouth is a tumor, that is spreading to his throat.”

My heart completely sank.

How could that possibly be?

The vet I had met with was filling in for “my vet” I had always gone to and trusted, but he was away at a conference, so I rescheduled an appointment with him, because I needed to hear it from his mouth.

I saw him the following week, and he loved Wink instantly, for he reminded him of his first cat he had ever owned.

He was still acting like the same old Wink, rubbing up against even my vet like they had known each other forever, so I was having trouble accepting how this could possibly be.

He felt around in his mouth, and said he was 99% sure it was a tumor.

He gave me a month supply of antibiotics, but said to check-in with him after two weeks, to see if they were helping (making the mass smaller): for that will be the final determination if it was a tumor or an abscess.
But by the way he was acting, he still had a lot of life left in him.

I had high hopes it was an abscess, since the antibiotics started making everything bleed and puss instantly.

But as the weeks went on, I saw him start to struggle with eating more, and scheduled another appointment for my vet to see him.

When he went to see my vet last week, he said the mass had rapidly grown, and had now shifted his jaw, which would mean it’s definitely a tumor… and the only option I had was to have it removed: which required removing half of his jaw, and then several rounds of chemo.
He also has lost 2 ½ pounds in those short two weeks.

I asked him, if this was your first cat he reminds you of so much, would you do it?

He responded, “Honestly, no, I wouldn’t. He would have to relearn to eat, since he would be missing half of his jaw, and then his body would have to go through a lot with chemo.   I would never do that to any of my own pets.  It’s too much for them to go through.”

Not only was I in complete shock, since this came out of nowhere (and suddenly), but I was also completely heartbroken.

 

I didn’t want to believe it.
I refused to believe it.

Wink had barely been in my life for two years… he can’t leave me yet.

Although I trusted my vet, I wasn’t about to give up on Wink.

I began researching the best cat doctors in the area.
I needed a second opinion, for my own piece of mind.

As soon as I contacted her, she immediately made room to see Wink the very next morning (this past Saturday).

Her being one of the best cat doctors in the area was definitely correct.
She was compassionate, and spent a full hour with him, treating him as if he were her own.

But she too, unfortunately, wished she had better news for me, but said only cancer would be able to shift his jaw as far as it did.

She gave him high protein food to help him gain some weight back (or at least maintain it), and meds she referred to as “Kitty Tylenol”, and told me to enjoy the time I had left with him, for it wasn’t long, and I would know when it “was time”.
(My vet had said the same.)
She also said she would contact me on Monday, to see how he was doing.

I spent the weekend with Wink, struggling with accepting this, especially since he was still acting normal.

I decided to contact a close friend, who was there for me when I went through one of the most traumatic events in my entire life October 23rd, 2012.
She knew how much Wink meant to me, and how he truly helped me get through that traumatic experience, (for I had found him shortly after).

For that reason, I felt:  I didn’t save Wink… that he had saved me, and I wasn’t ready to let him go.

I told her I was struggling with the fact that, I definitely decided I would not put him though surgery and chemo, for I would not wish them upon anyone, not even myself.
But I felt like the decision to let him go was not only cruel (euthanasia), but it was also my way of telling him I didn’t want him anymore…which was the farthest thing from the truth.
I just had run out of options. It was either surgery or let him go.
I had tried absolutely everything…

She explained to me:  The decision to let them go, it’s actually an act of love, for you love them enough to end their suffering while they still have their dignity, instead of prolonging the inevitable for your own selfish reasons because YOU can’t let go, and they end up suffering more.

As I spend time with him over the weekend, while thinking about what she said, I noticed him starting to suddenly begin to deteriorate fast.

He was still eating and going to the bathroom like normal, and being lovable and cuddly, but he was severely struggling to eat.

He ran to his bowl as soon as he heard me opening the food like normal, but then when trying to eat, not only did he struggle trying to do so, but he was almost giving up trying because it was either too difficult for him, or it was too painful.

I also noticed he would scratch at his face when he was done, as if he knew something was there and he was trying to remove it (for I know cat’s don’t understand what things are, just that something is there and making them uncomfortable, and they are trying to fix/remove whatever it is), and then I realized that was were the blood was coming from. He was cutting his mouth and/or gums by scratching at it.

Suddenly, I just couldn’t watch him eat anymore. It was too painful for me.
It shattered my heart into pieces.
I didn’t want him to have to struggle like this.

And I felt I was now responsible, for making him have to struggle like that:  For if I couldn’t stand to watch it, how could he bare to go through that?

I called him over to me, for he loved sitting on my lap.
When he came over to me, he tried to jump on my lap, and instantly lost his balance.

That’s when I knew, it was his way of telling me:  it was time.

I asked my family to come visit him yesterday (Sunday), for I felt in my heart he was telling me he wanted to “go home”, and I wanted them to see him one last time.
The last time they had seen him was over the Holidays.

As soon as my mother, sister, and brother arrived… my mother was the first to come into the room where I was with Wink.
Her cheerful smile instantly turned to sadness, and she was completely silent.
My eyes started to fill with tears.
Her first words out of her mouth were, “Cait, it’s time.”

My brother came into the room to see him, and just took one look at him before bursting into tears, and walked back out.
He didn’t need to say anything.

I said to my mom, “I feel it’s cruel to put him down, or any animal down… but I also feel he’s no longer living, he’s just existing, and I can’t do that to him anymore”.
She responded, “He’s still happy right now. Do it while he’s still happy. You don’t want it to get to the point where he’s in severe pain and suffering. Right now, it’s not fair to him anymore. He’s still continuing to act happy for you.”

Later on, he started withdrawing from me.
The most social cat in the world, was now finding places to hide from me.
He would always come out when I called him, but I realized he was doing it for me, not necessarily because he wanted to.

I decided to call the vet this morning, who I had gotten the second opinion from, since she seemed much more compassionate towards Wink.

I told her I made the decision to let him go… and I wasn’t doing it for me, it was for him.
She responded, “I couldn’t tell you what to do, but if that were my baby, I would have made the same painful decision. You’re doing the right thing.”

His appointment was made for this Thursday, and she was even kind enough to come do it at my house.

His only hope at this point is a miracle, as he’s slowly deteriorating more each day.

He’s beginning to be in and out of it: where he’s his normal self one minute, and then he doesn’t want to eat or socialize the next, and just hide.

 

If I could have one wish, it would be to save him.
If I can’t have that, I wish I could just have ONE more summer with him, so he can loaf on the 4-seasons porch, sunbath in the sun with the skylights open in the warm summer sun, and watch the birds.
If I were to put him there right now, I’m not sure he would even care.

I can tell he just wants to be comfortable and left alone…but still shown love.
He’s telling me in his own way:  He’s ready to go home.

I decided if that’s what Wink wants, I’m not going to stop him, try to force feed him, or anything anymore.

I just need him to know how much he’s truly loved, and despite how much I don’t want to let him go, I will respect his decision.

I want him to know how much I love him, have always loved him, and will never stop loving him, nor will I ever forget about him…and a piece of me will truly die with him when he leaves me.

I hope he never forgets about me, and there’s truly a “Rainbow Bridge”, and that he will be there waiting for me someday, where I will get to see him again.

I know he had previous owners before me (who just abandoned him and threw him away like garbage, leaving him to die)…but never forgets that he belonged to me too.

photocrying

I’m so sorry, Wink, if I didn’t make these last two years of your life the best they could have been.
I truly tried my hardest, and you were loved more than you will ever know.

You will truly be missed by all.
(Especially by my family, and your “siblings”: Sami, Kali, Sadie, and Holly).
You touched the lives of everyone you met, and you will leave behind a hole in everyone’s hearts…especially mine.

I will always hang-up your Christmas stocking every holiday, and make you a pumpkin every year.

I will keep your paw print in a safe place, for now that’s the only physical part of you I will have left, even though you will always be in my heart.

pawprint

I never imaged you would leave me this soon…
but I am, and always will be, beyond grateful you came into my life:  for you truly have changed my life in ways you’ll never know, and the thought of having to live without you is unbearable…

I will miss every little “unique” quirk about you…
Home will never feel like home again, especially without your loud meow when I first get home, just like the loud meow you gave me the very first time we met.

Not hearing your paw prints walk on the floor during the middle of the night, now just to be replaced with the sound of silence, will constantly be a reminder that something special is now missing from my life, and it’s a void that will never be filled.

No other cat will ever purr as loudly as you, or cuddle as closely as you.

You have the purest heart, which has taught me many things about life, and no matter how many cats are in my life after you, there will never be another you.

You will always be in my heart, no matter where you are, or where I am.

I hope your new home is everything you wanted and more…and I send you there with nothing but love, and the best of luck on your next journey.
I truly hope it’s a great one.

angel

Please forgive me for having to do this on Thursday, and please understand it’s because your heart is so strong (as it always has been, and how I learned to have a strong one)… and that’s why this is the only way I can end your suffering, despite how much suffering it will leave me… for that’s how much I truly love you.
I will always put you wants and needs before mine.

God wants you to come home now, so I know you will be in good hands, and I am setting you free.

Just never forget… You will always be my baby.

stone

 

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ABANDONMENT

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There is no greater pain than withholding the truth of how lonely you really are inside.

It’s said when darkness falls is when you feel the pain the most.
Maybe a huge sign to never depend on anyone in the world other than yourself, is realizing even your own shadow leaves you at night, and then possibly you wouldn’t be feeling this way right now.

Abandoned.
Lonely.
Misunderstood.
Forgotten About.
Left Behind (Without a Reason or Explanation
).

No matter how many times you are told that you are loved, or the amount of people that constantly remind you of it, the pain continuously seems to linger…night after night.

You become so used to people coming and going out of our life, or using you for their own selfish reasons; that subconsciously you just begin to push people away, because you never know who’s the next one to leave. Then eventually, you just prevent yourself from getting close to people in general anymore, until eventually, you just shut down completely.

You lay awake at night, replaying the same scenarios over in your head of what went wrong, or what could you have maybe done differently to make them stay…or simply just question the fact: why did they abandon you?

Even if you came to a conclusion, which would just be blaming yourself and that everything you did was wrong, since you can’t find any other reason, the truth is: It’s NOT you…it’s just a cruel world.

We can’t sleep away the sadness, so choosing to sleep every opportunity we get just wastes the moments and times in life’s short stay. Plus when we wake-up from those times we intentionally choose to sleep – trying to forget the pain, those same awful feelings will still be there waiting for us.

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I don’t believe “Time Heals All”, but I do believe time just helps us learn from our past, and that all you really need is yourself. You have to move on and forget those awful feelings consuming your life, simply because if someone could abandon you when you needed them…they are not going to come back to fix you. You need to become your own indestructible machine.

Some days will be tougher than others, but you do have the strength to push through them, or else you still wouldn’t be here today.

Of course the pain will always be inevitable, but you have to remind yourself the suffering is optional.

You can’t let the unspoken goodbyes haunt you forever, for it’s simple: they were never able (and never will be able) to see your worth, and how much you had to offer…but that doesn’t mean others don’t deserve to see it.

(null)
Although you’ll never be able to forget, and occasionally reminders will trigger the pain to come back, you don’t have to forgive those that abandoned and hurt you, but you need to forgive yourself so those negative feelings stop taking up space in your heart. You must learn and find some way to let go, and figure out a way to instead use those emotions to give yourself that unconditional love that you’ve always longed for… which will help you figure out how you will never allow yourself to feel those awful feelings ever again.

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I Used To Believe in a Thing Called Love…

What is the definition of love anyway?
Apparently I’ve had it wrong all these years.

What ever happened to “soul-mates”, or there being that special someone out there for everyone, or even “love at first sight”?

I understand people’s lives (with work or just in general) can be busy and demanding, so meeting someone online is much easier than meeting someone in the grocery store, but I’ve discovered in this day and age: the majority of people I’ve interacted with are just looking to “hook-up”.
(Which is a totally different topic I would like to rant about later).

Call me old fashioned, or blame it on Hollywood for making my expectations higher than they should be, but I think at this point, I’m throwing in the towel with this “love” thing.

I think my last relationship made me bitter to the whole topic, because after dating my string of jerks for years, I finally thought I found what everyone defined as, “The One”: the person who’s your soul-mate, your match, your mate/person for life.  That person you are always excited to see (no matter how long you have been together), and no matter what crap you had going on in your life at the time – just them being in it changed everything for the better, and made you “happy”.
You know you’ve found “The One” when you get that “butterfly” feeling (which I had never felt before, or even thought actually existed, until I met him).
I knew, personally for myself, it was “love” when people would ask me, “What do you see in him?” and my response would just be, “I don’t know, there’s just something about him…”
Those that know me personally know how much I am against the whole “marriage thing”, but I would randomly catch myself suddenly daydreaming about it.  Then I realized: if that was happening, which was something that had never happened to me before, and that if someone could make me reconsider something I had always been against, then he had to be “it.

(UNFORTUNATE) REALITY CHECK:  The guy end up being a Narcissist.

What I had thought was the best relationship of my life, ended up being the absolute worst…and I wish I could warn all future victims to steer clear, so they wouldn’t have to go through what I did.

Not knowing what a Narcissist even was, as many of us “normal” people do not, I had to educate myself completely about it once the relationship had ended, and excuse the cliché term, but: “I wish I had known then what I know now,” because I could have saved myself a lot of emotional damage.

One particular article I had come across was so spot-on in describing him, that I will post it separately from here, because I think it’s important for anyone that reads it that thinks they may be involved with someone like this, to GET OUT NOW, AND DON’T EVER LOOK BACK!

My biggest thing had always been: “If there is no trust, there is no relationship”… but through all my experiences I’ve learned: Sadly, you really can’t trust anyone but yourself.

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Finding “Cait”

Whether it have been while on a job interview and asked the question, “Who is Cait?”
Or when filling out any type of document that asked, “Tell Me About Yourself”…
This is something I have always struggled with.

I had decided my keyword for myself was “blank”.
This was because most of the time, if it was something I was filling out, I would leave it blank, or if asked the question in person, I would just stare at the person blankly.

“Honestly, I’m just me,” was always the best answer I could come up with.
After saying that a few times out loud, I came to the sad realization, I actually didn’t know who “me” was.

I could tell you my likes and dislikes, what I enjoy doing during my free-time, my hobbies, what my major was in college, what I’m good at (or what I’ve been told from others that I’m good at, or I’ve been good at doing), and I could tell you what my personality is like (based on what others have told me, or just based on what my current mood is at that moment).

But is that what people are really wanting to know when they inquire about who I am as a person?

I’m hoping this blog helps me discover who the hell I am, and answers that question for me.

Lately, I want to reply with that question as my answer, “I’m not sure, I was actually hoping you could tell me, and also tell me what the hell am I doing here?  Everyone supposedly has a purpose in this world, right? Well, what’s mine?  Because I’m sure as hell tired of trying to figure it out.”
But I know that’s not the answer they, or even I, am looking for.

The last thing I ever want (and actually despise it) is sympathy.  But I think the combination of being through so much crap in my life, (and I’m not talking about the normal day-to-day stresses people go through in their lives, but several traumatic experiences that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy), that I ended up spending my entire life trying to forget these random, constant, (and always something new) unexpected traumatic experiences that always continuously kept reoccurring throughout my life, by doing things that were actually more damaging than helpful.
Things mostly like: subconsciously finding people that would be randomly going through a hard time in their life, or just a troubled person in general, and dedicating all my time and energy to helping fix it/them, so they could get back on their feet again.
Somehow, without realizing it, in my mind it had made sense this was the right thing to do, since I couldn’t control what / fix what was going on with my own life. I would get caught up making sure I could help fix everyone else’s problems, and unintentionally forgetting about myself…which meant I never fixed any of the issues I had from what happened to me, or what I went through.
(Not only did this just cause things to continue piling up on my shoulders over the years), but I never took the time to figure out who I was, or what I wanted, or what made me happy, since to me, “happiness” was making sure everyone else was happy.  I never realized, not realizing what made ME happy, was part of figuring out who I was, who Cait was.

It may have taken me 29 years to realize it, (just throwing out that random number, since that’s my current age), or maybe it was the last traumatic experience I went through this year, (or maybe the last 3 over these last 3 years, because they were probably the worst out of all of them), that finally made me wake-up and  realize what I had been doing wrong all these years.
All those previous times I had thought I had hit what they call, “rock bottom”… I can honestly say I didn’t know what rock bottom was until this past year, when I finally had just broken down after trying to be strong for so many years… and not for myself, but so I could be there for everyone else, and be their rock to help them get through whatever they were going through.

But this time, I just couldn’t. I realized, for the very first time, I could honestly say, I was completely broken.
I felt lost, confused, and alone. I couldn’t get off the couch, I couldn’t eat, and because of the anxiety setting in and making a permanent home for itself, I felt I couldn’t breathe most of the time.
For the first time in my life, the always known to all, “bubbly, happy, and fun Cait” was gone, and I didn’t know how to get her back.
The friends and family that truly cared, (which let me tell you, weren’t many), had tried so hard to get what they knew as “me” back, but I just couldn’t feel anything. It was the first time in my life I had ever felt what I now know was depression.

It’s been a hard journey, and also what seems has been the longest journey ever, but I’ve SOMEHOW been able to slowly come back, (which I feel is an actual real miracle in itself), because I truly thought I was done for.

I’m not going to sugarcoat anything, because the truth is, every single day is a battle. It’s an internal struggle with yourself, where you constantly are fighting. I have to force myself to fight, or give myself something to fight for, even if it’s just a reminder of some sort that I’m worth something, no matter how worthless I’m feeling at that moment, even the days when it would be so much easier to give-up.

As shocking as it may be for some to hear (or for me to even say), as much as it still hurts to think about all the things I went through this past year, I continue to fight by staying focused on the positive: I am thankful I went through what I did, and I am thankful for the experience of getting to feel completely broken.

Why?

You only have one life to live, and you have to.
I know this is easier said than done (trust me), but those people that hurt you in the first place rather see you still fail after they defeated you (or for the sick ones: dead), so why give them what they want?  They have already destroyed enough of you.

I learned (unfortunately the hard way), you can’t rely on anyone but yourself, no matter how much you may have been there for someone else in the past.

I also learned what the saying, “Only YOU are in charge of your own happiness,” had really meant… and discovered, there’s actually nothing more true then that.  You just have to do your part of figuring out what that happiness is. (Which is the point of where I am at right now).

Which gets me back to my original point:
I am now slowly getting to know myself for the first time in my life, which I didn’t realize I really never did before. I’m getting to discover what Cait wants, what makes Cait happy, and most importantly: do something I have NEVER done in my whole entire life: put myself first.

I learned this world is an evil place, and it’s filled with lots of evil people (this includes the ones that pretend to care, that are actually just nosey)…and the first people to always get hurt are always the ones standing by willing to help people like them at a moments notice.  (AKA: me).

But I realized now, you can’t change these people. These people can only change themselves, and some of them are sick (some with serious mental illnesses that you would have never have known about, because they are so good at hiding them, so if you are one of those people that blame yourself in a situation like this: STOP RIGHT NOW).
These people will hurt you the more you try to help, and you need to learn: no matter how hard it may be, you have to walk away, because that’s the only way to save yourself and your own sanity.
And unfortunately, some of these particular people with mental illness and addictions can’t ever be helped. And the more I tried to help or change them for the better, the more I was seriously affected and hurt myself, until I was eventually completely destroyed.  And because these people drain so much out of you, they even cost you the most important part of you: an identity (AKA: you).  You don’t even know who you are.

Every experience in life is supposed to be a learning experience.
Well, what I can tell you what I learned so far was:  I never want to go through (or even come close to) feeling anything like I did this past year, EVER again.

As one of my favorite quotes says, “Sometimes you don’t realize you’re actually drowning when you’re trying to be everyone else’s anchor,” I don’t believe necessarily means you can’t be there for people like you always have, you just have to learn to be more cautious of who’s trying to sink your boat.
From this day forward: learn that you are the priority, so you never drown again.
Be strong enough to know: who you are, what you want, and what makes you happy.
Still be willing to throw life preservers to those who deserve it, but stop letting them take steer of the boat…YOUR boat.

 

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