Confessions of a cat mom

I’ve been a cat lover for as long as I can remember, and I’ve discovered how amazing life with (at least) one cat could be since I was a child. I am and I will always be fascinated by the way they walk, their tiny paws, their ears, and their expressivity.

But living with cats has also taught me a lot of things, some of them pretty unexpected, and their companionship proved itself to be making a difference countless times already. So here it is, the list of the most important things I’ve learned from my cats so far.

  • You’re an individual.

The first thing I’ve ever learned about cats was that they’re not something, they are someone. Someone with clear preferences when it comes to sleep, food, play, and affection. Someone with affinities (or lack of) when it comes to other people or pets. Each cat I’ve ever met had her own individuality and did its best to show you that it won’t allow you to treat her inappropriately.

  • There’s no shame in having boundaries.

Every cat I know has limits, and some very clearly marked ones. She won’t accept your attention anytime you want to, just because you want to cuddle at that very moment. A cat needs her private space and time, and won’t let you cross those limits. This is how I’ve learned to stay aware of other’s limitations while trying my best to accept mine.

  • Stay honest.

Yes, a cat has a strong personality, enjoys a good life, and loves to be respected. But it does all these things naturally, without pretending. A cat won’t pretend to be anything that it’s not. They are only being themselves, regardless of our wishes or opinions.

  • Relaxation must be part of the daily routine.

As I was saying, a cat loves having a good life. And a good life means, from the feline point of view, a routine mixing playtime, sunbathing, walkarounds, and some good naps. Cats will live slowly, with grace and no hurry, finding something worth exploring even in the most ordinary places, and this is by far one of the most important things I have learned from them: that, no matter what, there has to be a little time for relaxing. That time goes by regardless if you’re worrying or choosing to take your mind off that thing that nags you and relax for a while.

  • Empathy is a shortcut that never gets old.

You can do a lot of things to a cat, but hiding your real feelings from it isn’t one of them. Cats simply know when something is going on with their human companion, even if you feel sick, have pains or you’re just having a bad day. They know and they act like it. A cat will come to you on your bad days and will just jump into your lap, stare at you until you cuddle them. And then, they purr, and things happen. It was in my darkest times when my feline friends have given me the most efficient help: they just stood with me until the pain faded away. Patiently, they have been there day after day, months in a row.

Because cats are, more than any other animals, capable of empathy. They understand the value of privacy, but they also understand that bad days are not meant to be transited by oneself. And only in times of mental struggle we, their humans, understand the value of the unconditional love that we’re constantly receiving from them.

I have long ago lost count of the moments when I’ve looked at my cats sitting peacefully by my side and asked myself What if I just take everything easier? before getting the courage needed to try again one more time.

These are some of the most important things my gracious friends taught me, and some of the things I will be the most grateful for. But for the rest of the little things that fill up the days and make them prettier, I will remain a cat mom, knowing that love can be unconditional, but never the trust.

Love, our shared battlefield

Lately, I’ve been spending more time than usual thinking about something that has always been very important to me: love. I’ve always thought that a healthy relationship can do more for a person than any personal development workshop it could possibly attend, but what does it even mean a healthy relationship anymore?

And, as always, I have started to apply my oldest method, which involves, as a first step, discovering what a healthy and loving relationship is not. And that’s a seriously long list.

First of all, a healthy relationship is not controlling.

Yes, a good partner will care about you, will ask you about your day, and will want to know about you, but s/he will do it naturally. You won’t feel interrogated or pressed. And, no, Where did you went dressed up like that?, Why are you coming home this late? or Who was calling you earlier? are not signs that your partner cares about you. They are, instead, signs of controlling behavior, and should not be ignored in the first place, or you will witness them escalating slowly but surely, as time flies.

A healthy relationship helps you grow.

And this is so important, I can’t even stress it out enough. If your partner tries to convince you to give up on your dreams or your long-time planned path for us, that’s not gonna work. A relationship where one has to sacrifice its desire for growth and evolution because the other doesn’t want more than s/he already has is a failure from beginning to an end. A good friend of mine gave up on a long time relationship because her partner disapproved of her career plans. I didn’t really understand that immediately, but  I did a few years later when I’ve been put in front of the same choice: do I want that relationship, or I want to accomplish my dreams? I’ve ended up by choosing myself, and I still would, if I would be put in front of that choice again. Because a partner which is, indeed, a good fit, won’t make you make decisions that could throw you into an inner war. For a good partner, your inner peace is just as important as its own, and your evolution is not a threat. If s/he pressures you into giving up on your education or change your career pretexting that it is for the future good of the relationship, run.

A healthy relationship won’t make you feel unworthy.

Yes, being criticized is an important part of human interactions, regardless of their kind. Somehow, you have to pay some extra attention to how your partner’s negative feedback makes you feel. If it makes you feel unworthy, not good enough or a disappointment, if it makes your self-doubt explode, there is a big chance that your relationship is a toxic one.

Toxic relationships are lasting just because one of the partners know how to constantly make the other feel guilty and ashamed.

An unhealthy relationship will always let you feel that all the fault is yours, for whatever rough corners that relationship might have. It is always you to blame, never the partner. And this is where the drama starts, as it teaches you that those are the kind of behaviors that you deserve. Needless to say, that’s one of the most obvious signs that a person has a toxic history to battle.

It won’t happen fast.

Even if this might sound counterintuitive, truth is that most of the toxic relationships have a common trait: they happen all of a sudden. You two get to know each other out of nowhere, online or maybe from some social event, that’s less important, you overshare, tend to be inseparable and, after less than a month, the first I love you is said, too. Does it sound familiar? If yes, then I’m sorry, but you have, also, a toxic past behind.

Love, true, healthy love, is rather built than found. It implies knowing each other, making sure that you share the same core values, and being friends. Yes, friends. Because when the lust is over, that’s when the actual relationship starts. And it can either be a healthy, long-time standing one if the partners took care of also befriending each other in the meantime or a living hell if there was one of those stories where the aggressor and the victim have found each other.

If there’s a truth behind all this, that is the fact that a toxic relationship is extremely hard to escape from. Even if one manages to cut ties with the toxic partner, there will remain something, usually known as the narcissistic wound to be dealt with. This usually involves low self-esteem, depression, fear of creating intimate connections with other people, and, depending on the length of the toxic relationship and the forms of the abuse experienced, might also include symptoms of PTSD. This is why, after getting out of a toxic relationship, some people tend to fall again for a partner with the same behavioral pattern as their former abuser: because, without professional help, one rarely manages to overcome all these issues on its own. And without a complete recovery, the relapse is just a matter of time.

Because, and that is something it took me a long while to see, all our relationships, and our romantic ones especially, are the reflection of one thing: the relationship we have with ourselves.

Only by improving our self-image, by understanding our inner worth and the fact that it is independent of our human interactions, we will learn to put and respect some boundaries without guilt. Of course, our toxic partners play their parts as well, but they wouldn’t get to become our partners in the first place if we weren’t toxic for ourselves. If we would be understanding and supportive when it comes to us just the way we are with our best friends. If we would keep learning and exploring, even with the risk of seeming ridiculous. If we wouldn’t just assume that we have everything figured out already. If we wouldn’t put so much unnecessary pressure on ourselves, on a daily basis.

Because, at the end of the day, any person who will ever meet you will learn how to treat you from yourself. What you allow and what you don’t, what you care about, and what are you only pretending to care about. You will teach them which are your limits, your self-worth and you will show, by the way, you treat and talk about yourself, what you’re expecting and accepting from others. So what if you’d wake up one morning and, while sipping your coffee and listening to your favorite music, would decide to actually act as positive and firmly as you talk on the Internet feed?

And to anyone out there reading this article, if you find yourself in a toxic relationship, please, PLEASE, RUN AWAY! SEEK HELP! Talk to anyone you trust about your problems, and accept any type of help you are offered. It will hurt, but you owe it to yourself to escape. You are worth living a beautiful, fulfilling life, so run as fast as you can of anyone trying to convince you that you’re not. The man that tries to make you live a life dominated by fear, guilt, and shame doesn’t love you. He won’t change. But you have to, so be brave, be bold enough, and leave. You’re gonna thank yourself later for doing so.


dimineața soarele
mă mângâie și mă alintă,
doar-doar mă trezesc.
cu pietre-n el și-i strig
că nu azi. altădată
o să ies la joacă dis-de-dimineață,
doare prea mult să fiu trează.

prin lume pe vârfuri,
vârfurile mele fac cunoștință cu ea
într-un mod aproape sfios.
o ating
cu mirare, emoție și frică,
și-i spun, cu fiecare atingere
te rog, nu mă răni iar, hai
să ne jucăm frumos de data asta măcar…
și lumea râde, de parcă aș gâdila-o

vârfurile degetelor mele
învață povești neștiute
de pe scoarțele copacilor,
de pe apa cea rece
de ploaie, în timp
ce ochii înghit nemăsurat totul.
ei nu știu ce e aia cenzură…

nici nu mai știu când te-am întâlnit,
aveai vocea calmă, și
eu aveam
mare nevoie de un om-călăuză,
care să nu
mă lase să mă pierd de mine.

trasat limitele, așa
cum tragi niște linii cu cretă
colorată pe asfaltul încins,
și mi-ai spus fără cuvinte
de aici până aici, iar eu
am înțeles atunci că-s limite
ca o curte, nu ca o închisoare,
o curte
în care dacă te joci, nu se întâmplă nimic rău,
și amândoi știm
că eu nu-mi permit să sar gardul.

merg pe drumul meu,
cu acel ceva ce-mi bate-n piept
și care mă face
să mă uit după ulii pe cer
și să fac piruete pe pământ,
în ritmul unei muzici care
are sens doar atâta timp
cât o leg de-o poveste, cal
de povară uitat în pădurea de idei.

merg și tot merg, și ceva
urlă în mine, glas de nepătruns
care-mi strigă cât poate el
că degetele mele caută piele
de om pe care s-o atingă,
că picioarele
mi-au obosit de atâta mers, trebuie doar
să stau locului. să respir și să mă uit
la stele. iar eu
continui, totuși, să merg,

scutur a refuz din cap. catâr.
îi spun
că nu, nu sunt pregătită pentru asta,
nu încă, dar
țipă strident, sugrumat, din străfunduri.
nu vrei decât să fii iubită, într-acolo tot mergi
doar că ai uitat drumul. recunoaște-ți!
îmi strigă, iar eu
continui să merg drumul meu
despre care nu știu unde mă va duce,
drumul din curtea cu gard frumos, trasat
cu vorbe puține, ca liniile cretei pe asfalt.
o fi fost vară atunci când s-a întâmplat?

nu știu, mă simt
o altfel de Alice, de frumoasă
într-o pădure vie. am săpat tunele în curte
și am căutat un alt fel de wonderland,
dar acum caut doar o potecă
să mă aducă înapoi
acasă. înapoi mie însămi.

am un animal în loc de suflet,
și adevărul e că sufletul meu…
e un urs.
un urs în hibernare-mi bate
în piept, și tot el
mă ține de mână când am
zile de copil speriat și rătăcit,
care vrea să găsească cu orice chip
drumul spre un înapoi ce nu mai există, da.
sufletul meu e un urs,
un urs
care are nevoie de alții, nu poate
trăi singur. așa
a ajuns să strângă în jurul lui alți urși,
ce nu știu, dar simt
că vor să se întoarcă la ce nu mai este,
și pe care îi arde zilnic pe dinăuntru.

înainte de orice, am fost urs,
și azi știu că hibernarea e temporară.
mai lasă-mi, soare, o ultimă seară
și o să ies la joacă atunci când vârfurile
degetelor o să mă doară,
și o să vezi un urs făcând balet pe vârfuri,
și râzând de el însuși.
mai lasă-mi o noapte cu stelele ei,
să-mi îngrop magia la loc sigur,
și o să vezi că tot ce port cu mine
e zațul rămas după ce
praful de stele s-a scurs.
tu o să mă mângâi și eu o să-ți zâmbesc,
aducându-mi aminte că sunt încă greu
de distrus.

pentru că la final de zi,
rămân femeia urs, cu o poveste de spus
pregătită s-o zic atunci când durerea
din degetele ce au atins atâtea s-a stins.
mormăitul ursului de sub stern refuză
să spună că a fost învins,
indiferent cât de lungă a fost hibernarea
și pe câte cărări drumul i s-a întins.
mai lasă-mi o zi, soare, ascultă marea
și când o să fiu cu totul gata o să îmi
simți în raze, în frunze, în plante chemarea