The Gardens - In the Beginning

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Burden of Regrets

If you're one of those people, who needs  perpetual sunshine in their life with no room for a rain cloud or two, then pass up this post today.  Old feelings are resurfacing as they sometimes do with me, and I'm having a sad time dealing with them. Happiness suppresses these memories, but a bad day will bring them back to the surface and wreck havoc on my well being.  I hate bad days.

I don't know how old I was...I think it was seventh or eighth grade.  I seem to remember we always had cats, and there was a time when our family of cats reached the number eleven; as mom and dad were clueless or indifferent to the benefits of veterinarians, having cats spayed and neutered, they never went that route until after this event.

When you're a child, you don't understand the conspiracies going on in parent's whispers and the decisions they make, the decisions that find you without a voice, the decisions made for you whether you know them to be right or wrong in your heart, the decisions that transform your life for better or for worse.

I don't know why...I've always thought of it as an act of cruelty on mom's part...that she and dad decided to keep just one cat out of the eleven, and she gave me the choice of which one it would be.  Her responsibility was dumped on me, a child...perhaps she thought to escape guilt free, but I, I almost drowned in that guilt that ensued.

Mom had a favorite, and one of the eleven, Fluffy, had been my cat from a kitten.  She had bouts with mange and was always a mess and truly only loved by me.  I was trying in those days, to have some kind of loving relationship with mom, as she could be so extremely cold emotionally.  I could never tell whether she loved me or not, I could never feel it at all.  

I needed her love.  I would do anything to try and please her...for some resemblance of a token of love that would fall my way that I could understand and feel.  Simply...I chose her cat to live and my cat to die.  I have regretted that decision from then to today.  It changed nothing on my mom's part; it changed everything on my part.  

They took photographs, then dad stuffed those ten frightened cats into cardboard boxes taped tight, and drove out into the desert with boxes of cats and shotgun, and I never saw them again.  Many years I had those dreams of Fluffy meowing just outside my bedroom window, and I would wake up and find her there for me to love again, only she really wasn't was just so hard for me to let go of her, to let her die in my head and heart.  

I love myself and my parents, but I have never been able to forgive myself or them.  I don't know how to and make it last.  I grew up suppressing these memories, grew up suppressing everything about me to fit into that mold of what family thought I should be or wanted me to be.  I did it through my earlier years of being on my own, through marriages and divorces, through most of my middle age.

I never found my voice until someone dear to me, dying, expressed so many regrets over never allowing herself or never being allowed by others to live life the way she needed to.  I heard my future in her voice, and it jolted me to the depths of my being.  This was me at the end of my life.  Oh, how I so much did not want to journey to her place of sorrows, grief, and loss.

That day I started trying to change how I looked upon myself and my life.  I seem to have failed miserably with the regrets still woven into the fabric of my life.  They'll stay buried during good times, and resurrected again in troubled times.  I don't know how to make it not so.     


  1. Thank goodness you decided to let the real you surface before it was too late! More power to you. And I am so sorry you had to have such a cruel choice to make as a child.

  2. Great post. Being an animal lover myself with 4 dogs and 3 cats, I am very sensitive to 'animal issues'... I'm glad you were finally able to find your voice. I think we all come form somewhat dysfunctional families, some more than others. My relationship with my mom grew quite far apart, during her last years, and I found it very liberating to tell her exactly how I felt about it, life is too short to keep everything bottled up inside.

  3. Oh, honey, no wonder you're sad. That's a lot to deal with.

    Creativity, writing, is a lovely and logical choice to process emotion. I wish you the best -- it was unfair of them to put that choice on a child.




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