I can’t help but notice how every time (literally every time) my family comes into my small but comfortable apartment, my cat runs away into her safe place. It’s the guest bathroom which is actually bigger than the master bath, where we keep the litter boxes and cat beds.
Plainly, it’s a cat sanctuary.
And every time my nieces, my nephew, my brother in law and sister walk in the door, jovial and excited, she runs to her sanctuary. She also runs there during heavy rains and lightning storms.
Now that I’m connected to my animal instincts for survival, I can see and feel her uncertainty, her fear, I can almost hear her catastrophic thoughts! “Little kids, new people, I’m gonna die, oh no, it’s the end, I’m going to run and hide in my safe place!”
Every animal not only has the instinct but has the right to keep themselves safe and secure, to ensure their own survival.
It’s like the older woman in Minority Report says
Dr. Iris Hineman: It’s funny how all living organisms are alike…
[she starts crushing a mutated plant]
Dr. Iris Hineman: …when the chips are down, when the pressure is on, every creature on the face of the Earth is interested in one thing and one thing only.
Dr. Iris Hineman: [the plant scars her palm] Its own survival.
Every animal not only has the instinct but has the absolute, inalienable and unqualified right to its own survival. Each and every living organism on this beautiful planet.
It’s weird, actually, to be able to admit that, to feel that, to be able to connect that logic to a movie and a seemingly innocuous scurrying away of my cat into the bathroom. It’s weird because I am starting to connect to that right, possibly for the first time.
There are so many tragedies in my personal story of sexual and emotional abuse by my dad, one of them being that learned and validated instinct of survival was completely removed, severed from my soul. It didn’t die, it was just disconnected. And because I wasn’t connected to that, I was connected to a need to please. To please everyone else but me. I would even assume responsibility for the bad driving of the driver behind me and would change my driving behaviors accordingly. Some may suggest that’s just good defensive driving. I’d say “you’re not hearing me.” I’d assume responsibility for their behavior.
When your actions and responses look like normal healthy responses, no one wants to dig deeper and get at the core of the issue. But that’s where I need to be repaired.
Before I understood the survival instinct, I would cull my cat out of her sanctuary and into the “loving arms” of our visitors. All the while, she’s having a panic attack. I didn’t understand that she just wanted to feel safe.
Now, I tell my visitors to let her be. She’ll come out when she feels safe and ready. And to my credit, she does. She loves warmth, attention, affection. She feels safe enough to receive those offerings from others.
In so many ways, my furry little friend is a lot like me.