Tuesday, October 1, 2013

So, Why Am I So Sad?

     One my first ever experiences with ambiguous loss was in the summer of 2009. I had just graduated high school, started a new and better paying job, and was gearing up for my first semester of college. I was in a wonderful place, and then I lost my cat. I had adopted Sugar, my lynx point Siamese kitten, a few months before from the MSPCA at the age of six weeks. She was so tiny when I brought her home that she had to wear a bell so that I could find her when she went under my bed or other furniture. She used to curl up and sleep right in the nook of my neck and every morning at precisely 6:28 (my alarm went of at 6:30) she would wake me up with a gentle paw at my face. 

    One day I received a call from my mother saying that I needed to come get Sugar. I was confused at first, "What do you mean get?" Apparently another family member of mine found a flea on her and was demanding that she be removed from the house. Now, Sugar is an indoor cat and if she did have a flea on her it was most likely just one, and most likely brought in from outside. I explained this and tried offering everything I could from a flea collar to trying Advantix. My family member could not be reasoned with and threatened to "let her out" if I didn't come get her. I went to the house and put her into her carrier. Then I immediately purchased flea medication, applied it, and went to my boyfriend's house to wait for things to cool off. 

     Things did not cool off. When I called back a few hours later to ask if I could bring her back, now that she had been medicated, I was told, "No. You have to figure out something else.". My grandmother was an option, they said. I could bring Sugar there and that way I could visit her. The shelter was another option. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, and I was hysterical. I didn't understand why I was being forced to get rid of my cat, who I had been raising for several months. I feel so blessed for what happened next. My boyfriend stepped up to the plate and said we were going to bring her to his (parent's) house. He explained to his mother what was happening and she agreed to let Sugar stay with them. My boyfriend's family already had two cats, one whom we adopted the same time as Sugar. In a state of slight shock I let her out of the crate to walk and smell around my boyfriend's house. I agreed to pay for 1/3 of the cat food, litter, medicine, ect. 

      I did not go home for five days. I was very upset throughout this whole time, often breaking down and crying. I could not help but feel I was losing her. She was my baby, who I had taken care of since she was literally a baby. No longer would be home waiting for me when I arrived. No longer would she prance into the kitchen when she heard me getting her food ready. I received a lot of sympathy from my boyfriend, but not many other people. I still got to see her almost every day so in the eyes of my friends, what was the big deal? One "friend" even had the audacity to say to me, "Hey, this is better right? You get all the cuddle without having to clean up the crap." My friend was right, but caring for a pet is not just about cuddling. Animal people, you get it. I myself began to think, "I still have her. I still get to see her at least once a week. When we move out I will see her and take care of her everyday. So, why am I so sad?" I understand now that I was experiencing an ambiguous loss. Because I did not know how to deal with this ambiguous loss my sadness was dragged out for months. 

     Due to financial difficulty my boyfriend and I were not able to move out that summer like we anticipated. We were not able to move out until this past New Year, 2013. Sugar lived with my boyfriend's family for just under four years. During this time I did get to see her and care for her and she was always "mine" but I didn't really feel like she was mine. When we moved out in January I felt joyous upon our "re-union". I didn't realize at the time what I was experiencing. Having been able to put some kind of name on it has really helped me to come to terms with my feelings during that period of my life.

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