I didn’t know any cats, growing up. My father hated them with a callous disgust and viciousness that, at times, bordered on frightening. Cats were “bad,” according to him (as were women, girls, vulnerability, emotions, and children… but I digress.).
My mother said it was so “funny,” meaning ironic, because my father was like a cat, himself– “Pet me, love me, give me attention…. Okay now go away.” I think, in hindsight, this assessment reflects: my father’s probable Autism (because I am Autistic, and it is an inherited neurotype) and his resultant threshold of over-stimulation, and the socially ingrained expectation in my mother that marriage and partnerships “should” be codependent– as if romantic partners don’t deserve their own space, even within the context of a partnership (which I think the burden of also is primarily placed on women, but I digress again)…
As you can see, I’m still processing some things about my father… or related to him. But this post is about cats. Or maybe it’s about me.
I’ve always loved cats. I’ve wanted a cat ever since I could imagine being an autonomous adult– honestly, probably before that. Maybe it was the divergence from my father’s opinion of cats that inspired me to consider a life of my own, away and apart from his all-encompassing reign of authority.
So, in a way, caring for a cat feels like a threshold into adulthood. Some maturation ritual I’ve promised myself for decades and not yet enacted.
My roommate, B, came home one evening, excited to tell me that she had a cat for me– a coworker had found a stray kitten who needed a loving home. I knew, in that intuitive way, that this was a sign, or a test– something about this kitten was a lesson. I didn’t know yet what.
Over the next week, I waffled back and forth over wanting to adopt this kitten, and wondering if I “should.” Set introduced me to Sekhmet during this week, and the two of them even suggested a name for this kitten– “Sekh-Set-Saret,” which, according to what I could find, means something like, “The Wisdom of Sekhmet and Set.” I thought this meant that I definitely “should” adopt this kitten…
But something felt off… Something was’t right.
Around this time, Kelly-Ann Maddox released a video talking about deciding to be childless. Childless living has always been my plan, but I realized, watching this, that I still had a few ingrained seeds of expectation or conditioning as a uterus-haver that I “should” use it… I realized that some part of me, deep in my subconscious, maintained the hope and naive dream that I could still, one day, be the person my parents always wanted me to be instead of myself– a woman, cisgender, heterosexual, a mother, monogamous, conservative, codependent, obedient, dead inside… in exchange for the only love they knew how to give. It really wasn’t much love at all, but rather fear and violence, an illusion of things being “right,” but not happy… It was their world and the only thing they knew. Some part of me still wished I could be a part of it… somehow… Some part of me was still holding myself back, waiting to be loved. To gain their approval of my life and my choices.
I watched videos about raising kittens and cat behavior and wellness. The more I watched, the more I doubted myself and my ability to raise a kitten– and even my desire to! I had never wanted a child… And even though a kitten is not a human child, I had to ask myself if I really wanted to be responsible for “a baby,” or was this some desperate throe of my ego to grasp at the motherhood I never intended to have?
A week went by. I heard nothing more about the kitten needing to be adopted– which probably meant that someone had done so. I wondered what the gods had meant by naming the kitten “Sekh-Set-Saret,” if I wasn’t even going to have the opportunity to adopt them… I also felt embarrassed that I had told my closest friends and roommates, P and B, about the gods’ input, and now I thought I had gotten it all wrong… Maybe my intuition wasn’t as good as I thought it was– yadda, yadda. You know how anxiety, doubt, and self-invalidation goes…
So, I put down the idea of having a kitten and instead started interviewing adult cats at the local no-kill shelter and its associate pet stores– where I found a darling, sweetheart, almost-two-year-old cat: a curious, gentle boy, a Sagittarius, who likes having his chin scratched and whose energy (clair-sentiently) got along with mine. With animals and people, you know how sometimes you just have this inexplicable sense that you really want to get to know this one…? That’s what it felt like. My heart just went, “Whelp– okay, this is the one– this is the cat for me!” And I felt like I could anticipate his traits and resultant needs, and give him a good home.
I wanted to check with my roommates, who were already fine with having anther cat in the house (P’s cat is filled with the tenderest love for only him, and the purest bitterness for everyone else for the crime of existing in their world. I love her dearly, but, alas, it is one-sided)– to see if they would meet him before I made a decision. B agreed to go with me. But as P listened to me explaining why I wanted him to meet the cat first, I realized that, instead of wanting to make sure they were comfortable with a cat, what I was really doing was asking for permission…
Hey, Dad, will you still love me if I want to love and care for a cat?
Thankfully, P is perceptive and usually knows when I’m full of shit. “Yeah,” he said to my realization, “Does it really matter what I think? What if I don’t like him? Then it comes down to– you have to decide where the boundaries are, yourself, and deal with any consequences of the risks you take. And then, if you make a mistake, hopefully you can count on your friends to support you with the present situation based on decisions you’ve already made with the acknowledged risks– instead of tearing you down about stuff that can’t be changed…”
P is the actual best and I love him so much.
That sounded eerily like something Set (and and Lucifer– but let’s not go into that right now…) had told me before:
Who I am is based on the choices I make. And that power of creating myself and my life– is too precious to hand over to someone else… Consequences and all. What I sow, I reap. What is mine is mine. Who I am is mine to decide.
So, making myself a coffee this morning, it hit me– very suddenly– what “The Wisdom of Sekhmet and Set” was actually was about… Even my WordPress feed echoed my realization, as I opened my computer to write–
“Don’t Agonize. Strategize.”
In other words:
I am an autonomous adult. I don’t need to ask for permission. I can decide what I want to do and then DO it. Then the consequences– and the joys– that follow are all, irrevocably, MINE… I am the ultimate authority and judge of my life. And that is beautiful!
And, as P said, the people who love me– will love me.
And the ones who don’t…
Were probably never along for the ride in the first place.
So, if I adopt a cat– I’m going to make sure it is my choice, because that is the source of my power to be– uniquely, unquestionably, irrevocably–
In parting, I’m going to leave this video– the song “Battlecry,” by Angel Haze, because it is exactly what I needed to hear today.
And in my heart, this is the Wisdom of Sekhmet of Set.