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Projecting Betrayal

By Swan

mage is a sketch of a cat sleeping on a chair. The background of the image is beige.

I’m fascinated by animals. They are such intriguing beings, but I never really had much proximity to them. My family had fish, everyone else had cats and dogs. Now, living by myself, I had been pondering on whether it was time to get a pet, especially with loneliness and depression following me in my shadow.

While writing articles, I’d been sent to the ER for a variety of reasons; things were not going my way. That was until a friend told me about a cat named Mittens: an elderly, declawed cat who was getting bullied by the cat she lives with.

It quickly went from she’s cute to I want to open my heart to her.

Following an odd sequence of events, I found myself staring at her in her carrier wondering what I was supposed to do now.

I left her in my bathroom with water, food, and her litter box. I was so scared of disturbing her, I visited my family next door to use the bathroom. I recorded every time she emerged from her preferred hiding spots and even caught her stalking around at night.

I wanted to make her happy; I took care of her better than I took care of myself. But then I noticed things that made me wonder if she was okay.

The visit to the vet was to make sure I wasn’t missing anything important. I didn’t think much of it until I woke up the day of and spent two hours wrangling a cat that did not want to be put in the carrier. It took the combined efforts of my mother and I to do it.

Like I did at the beginning, I peeked into the carrier and my heart just seemed to cry out. I saw pain and anguish.

I saw loneliness.

I saw betrayal.

I am clearly projecting. I walked to the vet late and spent most of the trip trying not to throw up with anxiety, or cry because of my own wounded heart. I felt, and still do feel, that I’ve done something horrible.

Which I know is untrue.

I am projecting my own trauma onto Mittens. Emotions that had been pushed down with school, the pandemic, and my job. I thought about it and saw the emotions like one sees constellations. I could see history and pain in all of them.

I never thought owning a pet would make me think about these things.

I love Mittens, but I know she’s probably unhappy with me. She’ll probably forgive me after some treats and grooming.

There are bigger things in my mind, but at least I’m not alone anymore.


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