Lessons from Cat Sitting Gabriel
Guestpost by Loral Pepoon, Clive’s Mom
This weekend, we are watching our friend’s cat, Gabriel, because he just had surgery a couple of days ago. Our friends, his owners, just wanted to make sure he was OK since they were going to be away so soon.
My husband and I were elated to report to our friends that he was feeling well enough to jump up on our laps this morning!
But the events that ensued after that were a bit surprising—and yet insightful!
I was so excited to see that Gabriel was better, to receive his love, and to have him with me on my chair! He could sense that love, and his motor began to roar. He then took the next step to show his adoration: kneading…you know, that’s when cats press one hand and then the next into you…
The problem was, that Gabriel has claws, and the claws were pricking my skin with every move!
Gabriel just wanted to be close to me, to show his affection and to rest in companionship. But I was unprepared to receive it. I hadn’t put on a protective clothing—I was wearing shorts.
I was sad to have to interrupt this precious moment and make him get down, but I had to—for the sake of my legs! He then promptly got onto my husband, who had longer shorts on. My husband was able to grab his claws and keep Gabriel from kneading and to keep them both comfortable. He saw the hurtful potential in this interaction and stopped it in its tracks. The morning love sweetly continued.
Tonight all was redeemed with Gabriel and I. He jumped up on my lap once again. This time, I was ready. I was covered with a blanket on the couch and he could offer cuddles without pain. He could relax and so could I, and in a couple minutes, he fell fast asleep. He is sleeping on my legs as I write this—but it took us another attempt to get here.
Relationship interactions cycle like my interactions with Gabriel did today.
Sometimes, in our best efforts to love people, we prick them just because we are excited and haven’t trimmed our own claws enough.
I know my husband and I accidentally prick each other much more often than we would like. All we are trying to do is express love, but somehow—to our complete surprise—our actions end up scratching a sore or unprotected spot.
So, how can we cover ourselves? How can we still experience the closeness of love? Put on a protective blanket that covers our fragile skin or sore spots.
As I live in relationship with my husband, that covering also means looking past what actually happened in a hurtful moment to what I know what was intended by him.
It can also mean trying to gain an understanding of how he has been created or conditioned as as factors before I make a judgment about how his action translates into his feelings for me.
I’m actually thankful for these accidental “pricks” are also fantastic conversation starters and lie busters.
We can clear the air by sharing what we meant to do, just as soon as we can stop the immediate hurt and get each person to hear an explanation. We can also share about why we tend to do what we do, and tell each other how our previous experiences have shaped us.
Sometimes another person giving a loving reaction despite the prick we might have given can help us realize that perhaps our defenses came out when they weren’t needed—like the cat’s claws came out when he was trying to love.
We can also try to alter our perceptions based on the totality of another’s personality rather than making a judgment based on a single action. Gabriel, like my husband, is a gem the lionshare of the time—those claws only come out and hurt on rare occasions. In my husband, I see sweetness, care, responsibility and love with 95% of his actions—and that track record helps me forgive the small percentage of actions that hurt me without him knowing or intending to.
But today, I’m also thankful for those accidental pricks. They help us learn about what we can do to make the situation better—and our relationship continues to grow.
With every accidental love prick, we learn.
To learn more about relationship lessons on the adventures of life, please visit my husband’s blog, hikingwithyourhoney.com
Has something that has “pricked” you taught you something? What insights might you have to share?
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