Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Festival on Porches, Demons That Will Never Die, and Vera

Trigger/Content Warning (TW/CW): this blog post contains mentions of abuse, self-mutilation, masturbation, and homicidal thoughts.  Reader discretion is advised.

Note: some names have been changed for protection.  They will be marked with an asterisk (*).

Last week was my (official) neighborhood's annual "Porchfest;" a festival where vendors lined up Larchmere Boulevard, between East 121st and East 130th Streets, in Cleveland to sell their wares, as well as a few of the numbered side streets held 45 minute to an hour concerts of numerous musicians on the porches of volunteering housing units.

Out of all the years that I lived in this area, I never attended the Porchfest. That was, until last week.

There was a significance to going to this year's Porchfest.  The significance had to do with one of Callie's previous owners.  This person's information was listed in the folder that came with Callie's paperwork from the Animal Protective League.  It turned out that the former owner lived about less than 500 feet from me.  I decided to give this previous owner a visit; not to be brash about me adopting Callie, but to let them know that she has a new home.

About mid-afternoon, I put Callie into a backpack carrier and set on out to see Jordan*.  I was a bit nervous at first, considering it was a hot and sunny day, people were out in droves, and I didn't want neither Callie or myself to get sick.  Upon approaching Jordan's house, the front main door was already opened (the front screen door was closed, however), which was a surprise to me.  Nonetheless I rang the doorbell.  Within seconds, Jordan appeared behind the front screen door.

Jordan: "Hi."

Me: "Hi. Are you Jordan?"

Jordan: "Yes I am. How are you?"

Me; "Good. My name is Vera, I live over at the [apartment building] nearby.  I also brought a friend with me."

I turned sideways so that Jordan could see Callie in her carrier.  Jordan gasped in shock, looking as if they were about to cry.

Jordan came out to give me a hug, which I didn't mind, and the two of us sat down on Jordan's tiny, but cool and refreshing, front porch.  I set the carrier down and took Callie out, placing her on my lap, and allowing Jordan to pet her.  We talked about Callie's quirks and medical problems (apparently Callie's thyroid was tested at the APL to discover her T4 count was slightly high, so Jordan had no idea).  Jordan responded with: "I am so glad that she is now in a good home."  After 20 minutes, I placed Callie back into the carrier, hugged Jordan one more time, and was on my way.

Walking down the street towards Larchmere Boulevard, there were a couple of bands either setting up or performing in progress.  On Larchmere, there were people aplenty along with stationary food trucks and numerous confused drivers, trying to navigate through the boulevard.  I found a food truck and had some of their yums (I probably shouldn't have done it; but I was hungry).  After eating, I hurried back to the apartment.  The day was getting hotter, and I didn't want Callie to overheat in the carrier.

A couple of days later, that sentence Jordan said to me struck me like a fist to the face.

"I am so glad that she is now in a good home."

It struck me the way that Callie and I struck each other that night.

Callie was bopping me and meowing agitatedly for some food.  Hungry cat already had three meals that day, and yet she was still hungry.  It didn't help that I ran out of the prescription food, was waiting for the food to be sent to me via delivery, and that her hyperthyroidism was making her this massively hungry.  Every time Callie would bop me on my face, I would use my lips to gently and quickly clamp down on her paw, indicating to her to stop.  It worked on other nights, but not on this night.  Callie then put both of her front paws on my lips and then nipped at my nose, another tactic Callie would use to get attention.  My reaction was: "Hey, what's the big idea?  You already ate!"  Callie didn't like that answer, so she pulled her paws back before striking me just below my left eye (thank goodness she was declawed) and attempted to attack my nose via nipping (or biting because she was angry) before I pulled myself away from her.  That's where I did a big no-no; never strike an animal. I smacked her on the top of her head with my open fingers and snarled: "NO."  Callie, looking defeated, got up and walked away.

"I am so glad that she is now in a good home."

I knew I fucked up big time. Unless you have a tremendous life insurance policy, you don't hit an animal, regardless of size or demeanor.  After apologizing to Callie numerous times while bawling my eyes out, I went into the bathroom and began carving into my forearms, punishing myself for what I had just done.

I thought I had learned my lesson several years ago, when Sam was introduced into my life.  Prior to that, I punished Belle and Junior as if my mother was punishing me, and for minor infractions, like running out of the house, or defecating in the living room at Dingbat's house.  I had the disturbed idea that physical discipline was the only way I was going to get these cats (literally these were all cats) to listen to me. When Sam came around, and I stopped this cycle of abuse, I saw the effects of what I had done:  Junior wanted little to nothing to do with me. Sam chose Dingbat over me as a furparent, primarily because Dingbat treated the cats like the kings that they were. Belle, for whatever reason, was loyal to me until the very end, when I escaped from Troll Central Station. Hell, I lapsed when Belle wasn't listening to me one day and I swatted him on his backside to make him behave.  Ironically, this happened in front of my mother, who was like: "Vera!" acting all like she had never seen that type of discipline before in her life.

I even told this to the psychologist prior to me adopting Callie.  And I shit you not, this was her response (paraphrasing):

"You are a different person today than you were all those years ago, Vera. You are not the same person that did those things."

When the psychologist saw me last, after adopting Callie and numerous slice marks on both forearms, she said: "well, I didn't know this would happen."

"I am so glad that she is now in a good home."

And after it sank in that I raised a hand to Callie, even after taking to slicing so that I wouldn't hurt Callie, I felt the demons awake in my body.  And these demons are kind of like the ones where about everyone has in themselves; like a very bad character flaw.  My demons are especially evil; they want to kill both of my parents and my sister for what they have done to me.  And these demons didn't come overnight; they have been in me as long as I can remember.  They were dormant for a good while; until I lapsed in judgment against Callie.

Somehow, I had the wherewithal to let both my rabbi and his wife know about my fear of being abusive to Callie before the incident.  My rabbi assured me that if something were to happen, that Callie would be taken back to the APL.  He also suggested getting counseling designed to help abuse survivors from a Jewish-based organization.  When the incident did occur, I sent an SOS email to both my rabbi and his wife, explaining what had happened.

Callie and I were walking on proverbial shards of glass for about 36 hours, not knowing what the other was going to do next.  By Thursday, she and I had "made up," if you will, with both of us returning to our comfort zones.  At the same time, I got the email from my rabbi's wife that she was going to come over the next day to pick up Callie and take her back to the APL.

Looking at Callie, laying next to me, purring with her eyes partially closed, I knew that what I was about to do was going to give both Callie and I peace with ourselves.

I responded to my rabbi's wife via email, asking her if she needed Callie's paperwork and belongings as well.

By yesterday afternoon, my rabbi's wife stopped outside my apartment, and I greeted her with Callie, inside her backpack carrier, along with her catnip mouse and collar also inside, and her feeding dishes (I discarded the litter and the litter box).  I told Callie that she was going to go to a new home.

After Callie was sent away, I was back in my apartment unit, feeling a bit relieved and a bit numb.  I have no regrets over these past 30 days (sans the incident). I am a completely selfish person; I loved having my independence and privacy back. I can now return to going to bed and waking up whenever I wanted. I can get myself to climax once again in peace. I can eat meals without having to argue with a cat who wanted a little nibble. I told my demons to go the fuck back to sleep.

Yet, despite me being a selfish person, I did the one thing that was completely selfless; making sure that Callie would be returned in good health and good spirits so she can be placed "in a good home."  Like the one Jordan referred to during the Porchfest.

Meanwhile, I meet with this Jewish-based organization on Monday morning to do intake and to figure out how can I break the cycle of violence and abuse once and for all. Before I can take care and love anyone or anything, I need to take care and love myself, whatever that means.

One day, should I see Jordan again, I will apologize to them for not providing the good home Callie deserves.  Until then, I hope and pray that Callie will be "now in a good home."

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