Recently I was awakened by my cat meowing outside my door in the middle of the night. It started soft and infrequent and just kept gaining in volume and intensity. I was not happy. She doesn't usually do that and I was not about to start a new routine where she meows insistently and I get out of bed to attend to her. I’m a light sleeper and really don’t like getting woken up unnecessarily.
The meowing continued and eventually I did get up but only to turn on my sound machine to drown her out. Her meowing got extra loud and piercing as she heard me get up. My sound machine was on the floor by the door and in the darkness, I felt her paw touch my hand. It kind of freaked me out at first (I was alone in the house that night) and then I thought "Sheesh, she's sticking her paw under the door! That's pretty nervy!" I went back to bed. There was no way I was going to open that door and let her in, or cater to her whims in the middle of the night. I was not reinforcing that behaviour for an adult cat.
The meowing continued. And continued. Sometimes it sounded like it was coming from the side of my bed which was weird because the door was closed. I tried not to think about it. I had the sound machine on and my ear plugs in, and I was doing my very best to block her out and get some sleep.
The meowing continued. For a couple of hours. I was getting a LOT of practice in mindfulness and deep breathing and intentionally letting things go (like my sanity and a good night’s sleep).
Suddenly there was a 'plop' beside me as she jumped up on my bed and I realized that all this time she had been stuck in my room trying to get out. I guess she’s older now and, as well, I have a higher bed and so she hadn’t jumped earlier. I flung back the covers, hopped out and opened my door and she shot out in a flash.
For the last two hours, while I refused to get sucked into letting her in, she had been inside trying to get out. I had it so wrong. All the time I'd been trying to stand my ground, block out her voice, not open my eyes, ignore her 'inconsiderate demands’, she had in fact been trying to communicate something important, that would have greatly benefited me to listen to. All the time I thought I'd been right, righteous, wronged and I’d just been wrong. She had rushed over when I got up to turn on the sound machine, and put her little paw on my hand as a desperate attempt to inform me of something, and I’d been exasperated because I had ear plugs in and a blindfold on and didn’t hear or see her approach.
She’d not had access to her litter box and so had used the corner of the ensuite by the toilet. She had picked the easiest spot for me to clean up after her (as opposed to using one of the carpeted areas). As if, opposite to my thinking, she was actually trying to be considerate.
It occurred to me that this is a good example of what happens all the time in human relationships. We are so sure we know what’s going on. We are so quick to assume malevolent intent on the part of the ‘other’. We believe we have all the facts we need. That the conclusions we draw are obvious and accurate. We become indignant. We stand our ground. We will not give in. We even meditate and practice deep breathing and mindfulness as a ‘healthy’ way to block their inconsideration. All the while we have had it wrong. Sometimes it is the exact opposite of what we’d believed and we’ve been suffering needlessly. Sometimes we have judged and condemned the very people who actually had our best interests in mind.
The problem is that we really do not see what’s happening at the time. We truly believe our feelings are justified and our conclusions are true. We have no idea that we are the deluded ones and, in the moment, we are not really interested in exploring that possibility.
If you have had the enlightening experience of realizing you were quite wrong in assuming things about your spouse, child, boss, employee, neighbour, mother-in-law, father (the list is endless), even though you were so sure you were right, then good for you! That’s a huge realization. If you are confused, frustrated and a little afraid that it could happen again, but don’t know how to do it better next time, then call me. If you are in a place where your conclusions feel indisputably ‘right’, and you just can’t get the other person to see your perspective and be more considerate, then also call me.
I can help.