So, I listen almost exclusively to KLOVE on the radio. It's a contemporary Christian radio station with no outside commercials. While I don't easily get offended by another person, I do have strong feelings about some of the messages portrayed in modern music and basically, prefer not to listen to it. I go as far as asking if it's okay if we turn the radio off and talk, or put on another station, when I'm in the company of others. I can truly feel the difference the music makes in my mind, my attitude, and my actions. Okay. Soapbox done.
Now, there's a new song my Josh Wilson out called I Refuse. It's about refusing to sit around while others do what God has asked you to do yourself. The song's alright, but it did get me thinking... what am I doing right now to help others? Yeah, I help out with the kids at church once a month, but is that really all I can manage to do? I know, I'm in partial. I know, I can't work for the time being. I know, I panic at loud noises and crowds... but still, mustn't there be something I can do?
And, as always, my former place of employment comes back to mind. Those cats need me. I can do things with those cats that no one else can. I can pet the unpettable, talk down the panicked, and love the unloveable. I haven't seen my cats since my last day of work on October 7th. Given that at one point I was having panic attacks at the sheer thought of the place, I wondered if I would ever go back.
So, enter tonight, when I came home from partial and wasn't ready to settle in for the night yet. I mean, 22 hours in a small space is a lot to ask of anyone, let alone antsy, antsy me. I ran through the usuals and came up with nothing. I called Mom... still nothing. Then I thought, hm, I could... maybe I could go back. Just for an hour, just ONE cat if I want to. No pressure at all.
Before I thought too long, I hopped in the car (which provides a stressful 45-minute ride to the shelter during which to build anxiety). My chest was throbbing by the time I got there. I went in and signed it and went into the "heaven room," or Cat Free Roam 1. Why heaven? Because there are 10 friendly cats, and you go in, and you're just surrounded by them. Tonight, someone was hissy/swatty at some other cats (I said, "Boy, Sylvia, you're not a cat person, are you?" so it wasn't so peaceful, but usually it's sheer bliss.
It was at that point I saw my former coworker, D (of the famous D and J pair, previously described somewhere in my bevy of posts). D was happy to see me but maintained professional appearances... asked how I was, but not why I'd left or where I'd been. We kept our conversation strictly to kitties and new and old favorites.
Then, just as I was leaving, I saw my buddy J. Oh, I've missed J. She is truly something else. She's in her 60s, has one tooth, and wears her hair in a bun on top of her head. She's an incredible worker and has been with the company something like 20 years. She practically ran up to me and hugged me, had tears in her eyes, and was clearly worried. She asked where I'd been, what had happened. You see, while I cut things off appropriately with my boss, to my coworkers, I just... vanished. Gone. I'm sure they wondered why. I told J that I'd been hospitalized several times, and she said, "The psych stuff? That panicking?" And I told her yes, that that, among other things, had been giving me a lot of trouble. She didn't push.
I asked J how she was, what was new around the shelter. She said that they're down to 2 to a shift (should be 3, really need 4 to function well). That would be almost like torture. No one will take the job for so little pay, because it's so much work. I told J that while no time soon would I be coming back to work, per se, I would love to come back on Sundays and help them out for a couple of hours. This would have me doing laundry, filling Kongs, and doing dishes. No direct animal care. But I love animals, right? Well, yes, but I can handle 250 animals in succession, go go go. I panic. When I do cats, I only get out one, then another, then maybe one more, and then I go home. I can't do the cat after cat after cat that feeding and cleaning entails.
So, moral of the story is this: I conquered one of my biggest fears with no extra medication. It was all me. Two of my favorite cats are still there, poor babies, and they definitely knew who I was. It was good to see old kitty and human friends.
Is this what getting better feels like?