I do not have the slightest clue how those of you with children out there manage. I have two rambunctious male cats, and one of them finds himself locked up in a cat carrier at least once a week so that I can keep my hands from choking his fuzzy, little neck. Unlike your average housecat, a child can outgrow a cat carrier within the first year, and after that, when they gain the power of spoken word, you are kind of screwed, because if they breathe one word about life in a cat kennel from that cute face of theirs, and the neighbours would have child protective service busting down your door.
So, I am quite happy that my cats cannot talk and that my neighbour is too allergic to go near them.
The other day, in the midst of this ongoing contagion I caught whilst working in the cubicle farm, I lay in bed, examining myself both physically and psychologically for as many flaws as I could mentally hold in a list at one time, because this is what the common cold does to me. It liberates all my self-loathing that I can normally quash down and lets it run amok. Thankfully, colds also make me stupid, so my list kept losing its stability at about point number five; otherwise, I could have driven myself into a truly messy unraveling. I chose to stick with the four or five things I could remember that were truly and awfully wrong with me (one of which was the ugliness of my belly button, I kid you not) and quietly lamented my fate as a has-been who never was.
And then, a pair of hind cat paws viciously interrupted my eeyore-ing. They dug into my still hysterectomy-tender belly flesh as they propelled the attached cat onto a second cat further down the bed, which was followed by thumping and galumphing and yowled pleas for mercy as the two of them tore through every room in the apartment, ripping out chunks of each other's fur as they went. Of course, my bed happened to be the focal point of said circuit. My yowled pleas for mercy each time they hurled themselves across and at me while I cowered under the blankets were obviously incorrectly pronounced, because neither of them appeared to recognize my plight. Cats don't give a whit for human tears or whimpers.
Normally, I can laugh at their behaviour, but that day I was too sensitive for it. Every crease in the sheets, every book out of place, each hair on my head: it was all too much with me, and the extra feline chaos was driving me mad. I abruptly sat up and pinned the larger cat to the bed with a flat palm. The smaller one stopped on the floor and stared up at me in surprise.
Cats, I said, my voice wet with new tears, I cannot handle this today. I love you. You are beautiful. But, I am crazy. I am lying here and going crazy. I"M CRAZY. Do you hear me? I am terrible and ugly and not very nice, and I can't leave the house, because I can't handle seeing everything out there today. So, be still, just for a little while. Please. Be still, and maybe cuddle me a bit or something, because I don't want to have to kill you or lock you up. None of us wants that. I know that you don't want that.
I sniffed. They stared at me with big, round eyes. Even their walnut-sized brains grasped the gravity of the situation. I could tell by the way they stayed put and bobbed their noses around to better sniff my derangement in the air.
I probably even smell crazy to you, right now. And I am LOSING IT. Do you hear me? LOSING IT. Oh, gawd, I need to lie down and for you to be quiet, quiet, quiet. Do you think you can do that? If the universe is not an entirely cruel place, and if you are a part of this universe, then you will know to stop what you are doing. Because I love you. And killing you is too crazy. Oh, I love you cats. I would never kill you. Really.
I lifted the palm I was using to flatten the larger cat, and he gave me a wary look. He did not get up. The smaller cat continued to stare. I realized that I was in the middle of a scene not entirely unlike one I remembered from the movie "Overboard" with Goldie Hahn and Kurt Russell, in which Hahn's character, Joanna, loses her mind and goes catatonic while three boys masquerading as her sons try to throw grapes into her mouth to get her to eat, except that my boys are both under fifteen pounds, cannot speak, and do not even have opposable thumbs. If they did, lord help me.
Which memory, by the by, brings me back in a roundabout way to my original thought: I applaude those of you with children for having the fortitude not to completely lose your shit on a regular basis, because this person right here, this one typing these words, stoops to shameless speechifying in front of two cats when faced with little more than the common cold and a mild depression. When you find yourself being stared at like you are gonzo by two not-so-intelligent housepets, you know it is time to either get over that cold or alter your medication.
(This piece was originally published at RealMental.org)