In the early morning light, as I was deeply immersed in my book, orange fur poured over my quilted blanket in the form of a kitten. My train of thought was interrupted by the sound of moist sandpaper scraping over fine hairs. I peered over the top of my pages, pausing to take in the moment.
I had always wanted an orange cat. Instead, I found two. The tiny blue-eyed brothers had been abandoned on the side of the road and were in a shelter overflowing with kittens. Likely to be dead by the end of the week from their open wounds and dehydration, the staff let me take them off their hands. Knowing their survival was bleak, they waived the adoption fee. Their mama, her loose skin draped over her bony frame, was in a separate cage having already smothered her other kittens instinctually knowing their chances of survival were slim.
Observing the one on my lap now, a large healthy Tom just over a year old, I am moved to joy. Laying my book aside, I reach out and scratched him in one of his favorite spots just behind his ear. He completely stops his pruning as if he had never started and melts into the moment.
Where his eyes had been open and focused, diligently attending to his hygiene, he is now in dreamy elation.
This strikes me.
As I pause to take in this moment…to notice the warmth of his body sprawled across my thighs, to experience his fur moving like hues of sunrise between my fingers, to take in his soft purr singing of contentment; the contrast of life before and life now is so clear.
We are sharing a moment, he and I. A moment of knowing. An understanding between us of what it means to have gone through hardship and come out of it on the other side. The knowing of having been in danger and the knowing of now being out of that danger and safe.
I remember early years in social work, having had a rocky start myself, I was strongly affected by the work. My body would have a visceral reaction to wounded children who were no longer in their abusive environments, but were still in the process of healing. I had to tell myself, they are safe, and I am safe. I had to remind myself that much like my kittens, they were no longer in danger and neither was I. This would help my body relax so that I could focus on the task at hand…the task of creating a plan toward wellness.
In all of the not knowing that comes with the healing journey, it helps to focus on what we do know in the present moment. The physiological reaction our body has, related to past trauma, happens because our body has not caught up to the truth that the trauma is over.
Stay in the knowing while you work on the path to healing. Knowing you are safe from the trauma of the past. Knowing you are here now, in the present, even if the future is still yet unclear.