Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What I Learned from Cat-Sitting

My neighbors were kind enough to feed and play with my cat while I was out of town a few months ago, so I am returning the favor with theirs.  Only, their cat is psycho.

Her "mom" did warn me that she liked to bite for no apparent reason.  Well, I've been around cats for years.  It's never for no reason, they always give some warning.  "Mom" is a teenager, she just doesn't fully understand kitty etiquette, I figure.

Day One - the cat is wary.  I don't approach her, just feed her and scoop her box and stay out of her way.  Day Two, she is approaching me cautiously - I let her sniff my hand, she rubs against it, purring up a storm.  Day Three, she climbs into my lap and gives me a delicate kitty-kiss, purring, I give her lots of pettings.  Obviously, the poor thing is lonely, being alone all day and all night.  She's quite a beautiful cat, black with white bib and stockings, and super-soft fur.

Day Five, she's happy, purring, rubbing against my hand, then Zowie!  Claws and teeth, with intent to draw blood (and she does.)  Day Seven, I have become waaaay more cautious in petting her, though I am still petting her - even aggressive kitties need love, right?  She's prowling around on the floor, purring, rubbing against the corners of tables and boxes, and suddenly she lunges at my hand, trying to bite, drawing deep scratches.

funny pictures-the dog jumped. i saw everything. very sad. he'd been depressed for quite a while, you know.

Okay, the cat is clearly psycho.  Since that time, there have been three more attempted bites - she's also climbed into my lap more than once and purred, purred purred her furry little brains out.  I've played with her with toys, brushed her, and given her a lot of petting - not to mention being the holy bringer of food.  About another week and a half to go, before "mom" gets home.

Well, I can handle it for 15-20 minutes, twice a day, for a couple of weeks.  But I can't feel relaxed around her any more, even when she seems to be happy.  I am now slightly tense and always wary, trying to anticipate the next attack.

And I realize, although he has been "trying" very hard (trying hard short of actually getting professional help, that is), that I feel the same way around OCPD b-f that I do around Psycho-Kitty.  Even when he is being "good," I don't relax and feel emotionally safe around him.  I can't.  Over Christmas Eve, he only made snarky hostile remarks once or twice.  The rest of the time he was really nice.  For him.  Christmas Day, he behaved beautifully.  (Aside from his OCPD-anorectic fretting about his weight, that is.)

I don't trust him.  I am all too aware, even if he seems to be on his best behavior, that the claws could come out at any time.  I can forgive his past behavior - I know it is caused by his mental illness.  I believe (mostly) he truly doesn't mean to hurt me, though sometimes I wonder if in fact he does have a sadistic streak.

But I can't forget it.  I can't pretend everything is going to be okay when I don't feel that way.  I have too many emotional scars and wounds, and just feel too bruised and raw, inside, even six months after I got my own place.  Even the little contact I have with him now is too much. 

I had to force myself to Christmas shop for him.  Usually I have so much fun picking stuff out, and wrapping it; this year it was a joyless duty.  When I hear his ringtone, the emotion that grips my heart is not happiness, but dread.  And I cannot BEAR to think of spending New Year's with him.

I'm glad that I let him have a nice Christmas with me and my family.  (They're basically his family, too, he's been very close friends with my brother-in-law and sister for 36+ years.)  Maybe it's co-dependence on my part, but even though it was hard doing it with him, realizing more and more how I truly feel, it would have been much harder to "do" the family Christmas without him there, this year.  I would have felt guilty, knowing he was sitting home alone, the rest of the family would have missed him...  And as I privately tipped off my sister and others in the family that I was probably going to make the break very, very soon, they all had an opportunity to hug him, to tell him that no matter what, he will still be family, that they will always love him. 

Sure seems like a long way down.
(Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon)

Hopefully that will mean something to him, in days to come.  Co-Dependent me, I am still very worried about how this will affect him, what will happen to him... 

But I canNOT spend  New Year's with him.  I just can't.  Every cell in my body rebels.

So, that gives me a deadline I can't avoid.  My plan is to leave work today a little early, go to his house and tell him it's over, in person.  I'm scared.  And very sad.  And a little bit excited, at the thought I will truly be free.

Did you ever have to face a breakup you knew you needed to make, for your own sake, 
but had trouble pulling the trigger? 
What helped you get through it?  Tell me about it in the Comments.