A year and a half into my divorce, I took a job at an ad agency after working for myself, from home, for 15 years. This required shoehorning my life into the conflicting timing requirements of my workday and my son’s preschool.
Pete and I worked out a delicate dance that involved me showing up at his place with Teddy at 7 a.m., leaving both child and car with Daddy, and taking a bus downtown. Pete would use the car to bring Teddy to school when it opened at 8:30 and then leave it in his apartment parking lot. I’d take the bus back to Pete’s at end of day to collect the car and then speed off to collect Teddy from his preschool.
In this race between worlds that I was always losing, I managed to fall in love.
I noticed a stray cat living in Pete’s parking lot and started feeding her twice a day as part of my comings and goings. Six months into our relationship, I had named her Sadie, made her a secret, waterproof home for winter, and secured a trap from a feral cat organization to get her spayed.
While I was preparing myself for Sadie’s capture and release, Pete decided to move. My life would no longer be orbiting this parking lot, and there would not be a shred of wiggle room to get here regularly to feed Sadie. So I did what any reasonable single mother of a four year old, three cats, and a dog would do: I brought Sadie home.
I set Sadie up in my garage where she’d have shelter, privacy (my animals had no access) and multiple sunning/sleeping stations to choose from. Eventually when she felt safe enough, I’d add a cat door. And then I set out to help Sadie heal from her terror and distrust.
Sadie has been with me for a year now, and I have come to understand my daily ritual of caring for her to be one of the most significant ways I have been calling myself back to love. As this abandoned cat has transitioned from cowering in a dark closet to running out to greet me for her food and even exploring our back deck and yard, I have healed. As Sadie’s terror slowly fades, so does my own. As her trust creeps in around the edges so that desire is less circumvented by fear, I find the same to be true for me.
I had no idea when I set out to rehabilitate Sadie that I would also be rehabilitating myself. I didn’t understand that loving this cat would help expand my love for myself. But now I know: inviting another being to receive love teaches us how to let love in.
What love projects have contributed to your healing? What will your next love project be?