I have eight cats. Last May, Sasha, my little siamese kitty, had five kittens, and we had trouble finding homes for all of them. When the kittens were eight weeks old, we started asking around and posting pictures on Facebook to see if any of our friends wanted a kitten. Only one kitten got a new home. After a few more weeks I contacted the local no-kill shelters and they were all full – there was nowhere to take these kittens. We decided to keep them and I was actually worried about what people might think. I mean, eight cats in our tiny house?
You know what? Fuck ‘em! Months have passed and I absolutely love having eight cats! The thing is – when I contacted the shelters, the kittens were already a part of our family. We had named them. We cuddled and played with them every day and we were starting to see their different personalities.
We spend a shit ton of money on cat food and we are constantly cleaning littler boxes, but I don’t care what people think. Our kitties are family and it’s worth it.
That’s just one small example of how I’ve felt judged, but it goes a bit deeper.
I’ve realized that most of the judgment I’ve felt in life has come from my family – I’m sure this is true for many people. My family has always cared about keeping up appearances which has had a detrimental effect on my mental health.
Recovery has been the main theme in my life for almost twenty years now. I have schizoaffective disorder as well as an eating disorder which has required ongoing treatment. In a way, I wanted to be the model patient. I take my meds every day. I work. I went to community college. I’m a wife and mom. To most people, my life probably seems pretty normal.
I wanted the perfect recovery. I wouldn’t allow myself to struggle because I was afraid of what people would think – especially my family – but anyone who has been in recovery knows that struggling, setbacks, and relapses are all a part of the process. I know this now. After spending two months at a treatment center last year, I can finally be honest with myself and everyone else about how I am really doing.
That brought about a lot of change in my life. My relationships have been redefined.
The arts have always been a part of my recovery, and I’ve seen a shift in my work. I can be more authentic and celebrate being different. My mental illness is a part of my life and I don’t have to be normal – I just need to be myself.
I am learning to not care what others think – I’m learning to just be. I don’t have to prove anything because I am enough. I want to feel comfortable just being myself and I want to help others to feel the same.
I hope I can model these lessons for my daughter.
Can anyone relate? Was there ever a time when you felt a turning point and stopped caring what others think?
John Morales says
Two types of caring about what others think:
1: When it becomes problematic due to antipathy or other bad consequences; and
2: When it’s due to self-esteem issues.
They’re in tension, but avoiding the second one is definitely a worthwhile attitude, IMO. The first type, not-so-much.
When I lived with my middle sister, she had up to twelve indoor cats and never less than ten. I loved those cats. However, the only time we had to care, was when it came to the outdoor strays and other critters who would come to feed at times. We lived in a community membership and had to try to mind the neighbors and HOA.