I turned the corner a couple of days ago and suddenly am longing to read, write, paint, to do everything and to get out. That is the difficult part actually because I must not overdo it. I must reign myself in. It's a bit of a surprise that I am doing okay at this moment because in the past week I have been through a challenging and emotionally difficult experience which I was not sure I was going to be able to write about. In the end, writing is always a very good way for me to relieve the burden of emotions and while I am not one for airing the dirty laundry, this bit of news has to be shared. It has to be shared because it involves Sophie.
Rest assured, Sophie is alive and well. But she is no longer living with me. I shared stories and pictures of her on this blog and I believe, I hope, it is obvious that I love her. She is a complicated character though and what I didn't share was her violent side. Yes, I did just use the word violent. Sophie spent the first two years of her life growing up with a puppy. It is another difficult story but suffice it to say the dog is no longer my companion either. I thought I was cured, that I no longer had M.E. and I wanted a dog. It went well for the first year. That's a long story and I will cut it short but the point is that I chose Sophie because she displayed a very boisterous personality and I thought she would do well with a dog. She sure did. She loved to play with Lucy and they chased, wrestled, hid, pounced, attacked, and bathed each other. Sophie did most of this and Lucy just sort of lumped around and enjoyed it. It has been nearly a couple of years since Lucy lived with us and Sophie has been without her playing companion.
I thought this would be okay. Cats, after all, usually outgrow play to some degree and Sophie proved skilled at amusing herself. But in time it became obvious that she is the border collie of cats. She is intelligent and very active. She gets bored and when she is bored things get destroyed. She wants to play for hours and expects human participation. One of her favourite games is fetch. When Sophie wanted me to play with her, which was nearly constantly, she attacked me the same way she used to attacked Lucy. Lucy loved it. Lucy had thick skin and fur so hardly felt it and after the roughhousing Sophie would wash Lucy's face. I tried many tactics to train Sophie, to redirect her energy and to give her alternative things to bite. I researched online what to do but nothing worked. I tried to put up with being scratched and bitten. I excused it and focused on her sweet side. Sophie's frustration at being bored was increasing over the past year and she would often bite the sofa or a pillow with the most intense ferocity. She knew she was not supposed to do this. In fact she would stop if I said 'no' but stop only for a minute and then possibly attack me if the sofa was not an option. Eventually she began to get sneakier. She would sneak up on me and attack so that I had to be on guard all the time she was awake.
I find it difficult to admit to her dark side. I do not think it her fault, but rather that she is a cat not meant to be an indoor cat. She needs physical and mental stimulation and I could not give her the life she needed. Last week she bit my arm so hard, sinking her teeth in, that I looked like I had been attacked by a vampire. That was when I made the difficult decision to give her up. I did not know anyone who could take her (unlike Lucy for whom I found a wonderful and better home) so it had to be the SPCA. I was not physically able to cope with this myself, being so exhausted, so Mum helped. Although they said they could take her, it was four days later that they actually had physical room for Sophie so it was yesterday that she went. I miss her. I am, of course, experiencing guilt along with the sadness.
The place in the kitchen where her food and water were looms large and empty so that I almost trip on that unexpected space. I woke this morning and instinctively reached out my hand and spoke to her though she was not there. I came home from an appointment today and expected her to greet me when I came in the door. It feels like a death although it is not and Sophie and I will both be fine. She is a lovely cat in many ways and with the right home, with the opportunity to go outdoors and perhaps other animal companions, she will get the stimulation she needs and will be a loving companion. I miss her snuggling with me, but I do not miss being bitten. I do not miss feeling close to tears because she still wants me to play with her and I have done as much as I could. I miss the sounds of her breathing. I miss the mess of her toys everywhere. It is quiet in her now.
Life brings changes. It brings difficult things and joyful things. It brings endings and new beginnings, it brings both growth and loss. The only thing I know how to do is to keep going and I have done so in situations much more difficult than this. And yet this is difficult. It's possible that the emotional strain of not being able to cope with her contributed to my small crash, and it's possible that the relief of dealing with it has contributed to what looks like my recovery. I am not sure I can live without a cat. I have hardly ever done so. But for awhile I will. And right now I mourn my loss of the beautiful, intelligent, complicated, affectionate and rambunctious Sophie.