Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

This Is Not A Post About My Cats, Even If It Seems That Way In The Beginning

We've had our white cat, Buttons, for almost two years now. She was an only cat until this January, when we went and adopted Benni from a shelter. We were worried about how they'd get along, but we needn't have--while Benni can still be skittish with us to this day, she and Buttons began an almost immediate love affair. Within a month they were curling up on the bed together, grooming each other incessantly, and so on. Sure, they hissed and fought, but you could always tell it was friendly, just two cats working out some excess energy.

Then, a few weeks ago, all that changed. I'm not sure why, though it did coincide with Buttons getting some kind of infection in her jaw and then having a big scrape near the place where the vet had done a quick needle biopsy to see if it was an infection or something else. In any case, the two of them are now very leery of one another. If Benni dares to jump up on the bed when Buttons is there, it turns almost immediately into a hissing fit, and not the friendly kind any more. Now, it's the kind with ears back, and the deep growling sound that never means anything good coming from a cat's throat. And so Benni mostly avoids Buttons, sleeping on the floor by the bed if Buttons is on the bed, or going outside when Buttons is inside, etc. I feel for her. Actually, I feel for both of them. There's obviously some deep hurting going on inside them, and I think they really miss each other, but don't know how to make it right again right now.

It occurred to me as I watched them eyeing one another suspiciously last night from what could only be considered their battle stations, that if you made one of these cats male and made them both human, this would be the story of the last few weeks in my marriage.

At my psychiatrist's office yesterday, I was treated to what can only be called a lecture about how I absolutely, positively, no doubt about it, have to get into marriage counseling with Baroy. I protested that we weren't anywhere near that bad off, and he countered that just because nobody's really considering divorce doesn't mean that you're not that bad off. He told me that he was only doing to do some very light tinkering with my meds, because until I deal with this, they're nothing but a bandaid over a gaping wound.

Gee, doc. Tell me how you really feel.

It was gratifying to some extent. I walked into his office and basically spewed anger and frustration for fifteen minutes after he asked me how I was. When I'd finished, and he'd asked me a few questions about Baroy, you could just see him starting to get angry. I swear that if Baroy had been in the room, this guy would have given him a complete talking to. And that's not this doctor's style at all. He is like old-time FM deejay, all velvety-voiced, oozing patience and empathy. I'd never seen this kind of spark in him before.

At the same time, I feel badly, because Baroy wasn't there to tell his side of the story, so I come off looking like this poor, poor put-upon, and he comes off looking like, well, like a jerk. And he's not a jerk. He has issues--don't we all?--but he's ultimately a good guy.

Still, my doc told me to tweak my meds a bit to get me past this annoying, totally devastating middle-of-the-night wake-up pattern I've gotten into, and then told me we weren't going to discuss any other med changes until I had a marriage counselor lined up and had talked Baroy--the Hater of All Things Psychological--into going with me.

This is a psychiatrist, remember. One of those guys who supposedly push pills with no regard for the person they're pushing them into. Either he is one of the good guys (and he is) or I'm in serious enough trouble (and I am) to get his attention and make him realize that drugs alone can't cure these sorts of life issues. Gulp.

It took me about 24 hours, but earlier today I did bring it up with Baroy, couching it in the fact that although he may not know the extent of it, because I hide it most of the time, he can't have missed getting at least a hint of how miserable I am lately, and that marriage counseling is what my psychiatrist thinks I need in order to start getting better, happier. I asked if he would go with me, and he said he would, though he made sure to let me know he wasn't happy about it. Fair enough. He then asked me if I was about to leave him or something, and I gave him the same line the psychiatrist gave me. Except I didn't attribute it, because I needed, right then, to sound strong and confident and reassuring to SOMEone about SOMEthing. And I did, I think, right up until the part where I started crying.

I don't talk a lot about my relationship, because I don't necessarily think it's fair to air that kind of stuff about someone else over such a broad arena as this. But I don't think it's unfair to recount the following exchange, which made my heart a lot lighter and my outlook about how we'll do in marriage counseling a whole lot sunnier. See, about ten minutes after we had that initial conversation, Baroy came outside and found me in my garden, taking out my anxiety on a patch of weeds, and he said, "I know exactly how unhappy you are. That's why I'm so unhappy. Because I can't make you happy."

And I replied, "I know how unhappy you are about not being able to make me happy. And I also know how unhappy I already am to start with. And yet here we are, the two of us, so unhappy, and this is the first conversation we've had about it, and I don't think either of us wants to take it any further than this. Don't you think that's a sign that we could use some help?"

To that, my husband simply nodded in agreement. And then I knew: This isn't going to be nearly as hard as I thought it might be. This might even be good.

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