I’ve been feeling guilty lately.
In my sophomore year of college I asked my roommates if I could get a kitten. They said okay, and that weekend I went to philadelphia to pick a kitten from my boyfriend’s brother’s friend’s cat’s litter.
I named her Soma and I loved her so much.
When I got home from Philadelphia, I found out that one of my roommates had driven all the way to Iowa to get a cat.
It was strange – how she brought a farm cat home. I remember feeling startled by the Single White Female feeling, but just figuring it was one of those things.
But then for some reason she wouldn’t take the cat to the vet. And I was so upset. I was righteous. I was scared that Soma would get worms or fleas or some other disease. I did not want that cat near mine before I knew it was safe.
So while Soma took naps in tissue boxes, climbed up sliding glass door screens, sat next to me while I did my homework and ran around the house, the other cat lived in a room. Her cat cried sometimes, and my roommate started to not stay at our house anymore.
It was a strange time. No wonder my memory is so fuzzy.
I don’t know why I didn’t just take care of the vet stuff myself. I’m sure I didn’t have the money, but I’m more sure I was standing up for my righteous beliefs.
One day, my other roommate had enough, I guess. She let the cat out, brushed his fur, cleaned the whole house even! I remember coming home from class, and taking a deep breath, feeling like maybe it would be okay.
The next day the roommate who had moved out came and took the cat to the SPCA.
So now forever, I have imagined that that poor cat’s fate. She was taken from a lovely outside farm life, stuck in a college bedroom for a bit, then most likely, put down at the SPCA… all because I had the principled feeling that things had to be done a certain way. For an animal rights activist, this is a very wrong story.
I told that story to my therapist the other day to make the point that I have been trying to figure out how to know what the right thing is at any given point. How do you know if the thing you are feeling so sure about is the right thing?
I feel so guilty about that cat. What other decisions have I made, have I stuck by like that? What have the ramifications been?
My therapist paused after my story. She may have sighed, I don’t know.
“So let me get this right,” she said “You took care of your cat, which is what you are supposed to do. Your roommate did not take care of her cat, which is not okay.”
I nodded, and she continued. “I think maybe you should explore why you feel responsible for that cat.”
So, I guess I’m not done with therapy!
PS. My memory is hazzy. It may have been 2 cats from Iowa. I don’t know.
2 thoughts on “A Slice of Guilt”
Oh my dear have I felt this feeling. It’s like, something I felt very sure about and invested in turns out not to have been what I thought. What ELSE am I wrong about?!? And then panic.
Wow. This is…BIG. Like you, I think I would have carried the guilt over that cat along with me, tucked into my pocket with all those other things I bring along. But your therapist had such a clear and different way of approaching the situation in a way that allows you both comfort and grace. I never would have thought about it that way, but it’s true. It also makes me wonder why we carry what we do for others. This. It’s going to take some thought. Thanks for this slice. I’m going to be noodling on it for some time…