"If you saw an elephant, would you take it home?"
I moved out of my huge 5 bedroom house in a small town (only 600 people!!) in which I lived for over 10 years last November (2016). I had a 16 year history with rescuing and owning cats.
I've been a cat lover since birth. As a child, I would carry cats with me everywhere--even in our kiddie pool! And they kept coming back. To this day, my dad has a meowing cat as my ring tone. They called me the cat whisperer.
When I got divorced, my kids AND 4 of my cats moved out of the big house. I then rescued 2 more, but these cats basically destroyed my house. My other cats were depressed. One cat was terminally ill. One cat was old and had troubles eating and caring for herself. My chronic illness was rearing its ugly head, and I couldn't keep up with the house, the cats, a full time job I needed to pay my bills, living alone, and living 50 miles away from a good doctor.
After a near death experience in April 2016, it really started going downhill. In October 2016, I decided to move away from this little town and into a house in a small city 50 miles away, where my doctors AND my boyfriend lived. But to do this, I had to get rid of my cats. The terminally ill one passed away. The elderly one, my original "Pooky", my favorite, is now buried under a flowering tree in the yard of my small town's house. Other cats were sent to a client's farm. One cat, my poor Fizzgig, went to an apartment. For some reason, he still haunts me in my dreams. I tried to find him again, to no avail.
I am still having trouble with adjusting to all that has happened in my life in the past couple of years. I've lost 3 family members (2 of them the matriarch and patriarch of our family), gotten divorced, my kids moved out of my house, I started dating again, I started working full time for the first time in...well, I don't know how long. My chronic illness caused a near death experience. I moved to another town. Need I go on?
I'm not asking for sympathy, or a "poor you" reaction. We all go through tough times in our lives, and this is just what has been put on my plate for now. It isn't what happens TO me, it is what I DO when something happens to me. I'm fighting the nightmares and racing thoughts and nausea and headaches and anxiety. I'm in a good place in my life. I have loving people around me. I have a good job.
But I still haven't fully forgiven myself for letting those cats down. Perhaps it's because domestic animals love unconditionally and are so vulnerable. Perhaps it's because they trusted me and I feel I've abused that trust. Perhaps because I feel like I wasn't a good owner/mama.
I still have the urge to have a furry someone curl up next to me on my bed and my couch. I was talking to my mom about this feeling, and she asked me, "If you saw an elephant, would you take it home?" Of course not. She asked, "Why not?" Because it is too big, and I can't care for an elephant. She then replied, "Well, next time you want a pet, tell yourself that it is an elephant. Remind yourself that although you have love for animals, you don't have the money or the time or the health to keep one".
This is true for many things in my life. Not just pets, but social engagements, some friends and relationships, expectations, unrealistic goals. I have to tell them--"You are an elephant. I have to leave you alone. I can't handle you." Things aren't perfect, but they ARE more manageable. If I let my "elephants" go, there is less weight on my back. I can go on.