A feral cat showed up in the yard about six years ago.
He did not trust humans, but Dad didn’t let that stop him. Since he fed the birds, the squirrels, and, more recently, the neighbor’s cats, Dad started putting food out for him when Bubs showed up. The cat would cautiously eat the food, staying alert for anyone approaching. It took years before Dad could feed him and stay close while he ate. Eventually, Dad could even reach down and pet him. Then one frigid day before Thanksgiving, Dad opened the door and let Bubs into the house.
The cat stayed for two weeks.
I frequently visited Dad’s house, but as soon as my car hit the driveway, Bubs would run off to his safe place under the bed. Being a cat lady, I tried my best to get him to come out to snuggle with me, but he wouldn’t even give me the time of day.
Then we decided that Dad and Bubs would move in with me. At this point, the cat would come out and sometimes let me touch him, so I wasn’t sure how this would go.
The day after the cat moved in with me, he was curled up on the couch next to me.
Now he is like a totally different animal. He’s lovey and purr-ey. He comes to bed with me in the wee hours of the morning just for snuggles. He lets me pick him up and dance while I sing, “You are my sunshine…”
When I contemplate the change in Bubs, I realize that it was all driven by love, acceptance, and security. We are a lot like this cat. The comfort of being known allows us to open up and share our hearts and dreams. Once we’ve shared with others, it gives us the courage to live a more authentic life.
Things still frighten Bubs, and we see the old version come out. If I move towards him with something in my hand or too quickly, he will shrink back and run for the bed. Still, when that happens, it usually just takes me lying down on the floor next to the bed and talking for him to regain his confidence and come back out.
Safe places are an essential part of life.
They allow us to explore who we are and what we want to be going forward. Where do your love and acceptance come from? It could be family, or it could be a few friends who are like family.
When life creeps in, and you lose your confidence, retreating is okay, but don’t crawl under the bed. Move towards that safe place so you can be built back up.
Let’s chat: Do you have friends who are a safe place for you to be yourself?