Vigil for a Nameless Cat – Using my DBT Skills in The Real World

Please note: This post contains some potentially triggering imagery. Listen to your heart, mind, and spirit as to whether you can handle reading it. I’ll warn you when I am about to get to that part…

I’ve been hearing the word “Mastery” a lot from the doctor who runs the DBT groups that I attend twice a week, and although I started attending because I was coming out of crisis (and an intensive outpatient/partial hospitalization program), and really, I just wanted to be around other people and do the whole “misery loves company” thing…something recently switched, and I began applying myself like crazy (no pun intended).

I’ve been paying attention in class/group, participating, doing the homework, and really working hard to change my life and create a life worth living. And, it’s been working. I also notice that I am more aware and concerned about others in the group. I listened to their stories and issues in the beginning, but I was more self-absorbed. I am not judging myself for this. There is always cause, and it’s not good or bad. I’m just noticing that I now really listen to others in the group as they go around and share their struggles and successes of the week.  Rather than thinking about my own issues or what I could say to “sound smart,” I give people their space and pay attention to whether it’s really appropriate for me to chime in, and I try to do so humbly.

For the most part, things in my life are stable. They aren’t ideal, and they aren’t exactly as I would wish or hope, but there is no crisis, all my needs are met, and I feel confident in my progress and ability to make wise mind decisions – most of the time.

Please use self care in deciding whether to read on. Potentially triggering imagery follows. 

So, it was interesting to see how I would respond in a very emotionally challenging situation. I had that opportunity yesterday.  I was enjoying a beautiful day walking around downtown, visiting thrift stores, and having an iced tea in the sun.  I decided to go to another part of town that was pretty far, so I hopped in the car and was off looking for a parking space.  

I was ecstatic to see an open space, but when I began to pull up to it, I saw why no one had wanted to park there. On the sidewalk, half falling to the curb, was a deceased cat.  He had gone into rigormortis  – he had become stiff, his eyes completely wide open and staring ahead. I began to cry. I pulled my car over to the other side of the street and felt such sorrow in my heart for this beautiful, innocent being laying lifelessly, uncared for, unwatched over, totally disregarded.

I had an impulse to run into the thrift store and at least get a sheet to cover him up and give him dignity, but I felt a bit paralyzed. I was afraid to go closer. I wondered about his story. Was he someone’s pet? Did they know he was gone? Would a child find the cat in this condition and be frightened? I wondered if he was the neighborhood stray that everyone fed. Perhaps he was crossing the street and got struck by a car. Maybe they were nice enough to at least move him to the sidewalk. What was his story?

I wondered how, in broad daylight, on a fairly busy street near noon, this poor kitty’s carcass could be sitting there like that.

I thought maybe my eyes had deceived me. Maybe it was a toy. Against my better judgment, I looked again. He was real.

The image has been difficult to get out of my head.  I have two cats that I love more than life itself. I thought about them. It was very, very sad.

I realized that in order to regain my composure and be functional, I needed to bring my wise mind back on board asap.  I didn’t want to use the distraction skill. Somehow that felt disrespectful and inappropriate. I went through my DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) binder and decided to use skills from the Distress Tolerance section, including Meaning, Prayer, and Observing my Breath.

For the “Meaning” skill, I decided I would write this blog post in honor of the cat without a name. In fact, I named him “Moon,” because his little spirit brightly lights the sky among the stars. This blog post is a vigil to a kitty who, regardless of his story, was called away.  I am radically accepting that, while I don’t know what happened, everything has cause.  I also radically accept that his death is a part of life – albeit a part that doesn’t make me all that comfortable.

Let’s all take a moment for Moon.

Picture of a Cat that looks like Moon that I found here

In Memory of Moon (Photo Credit)

I cry as I wrap up this post, but I am so glad to feel my emotions and direct their energy in a positive way.

Thanks for reading. More soon.

Twitter: HealingFromBPD 

4 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Reading this over a year late but just wanted to send you a big, virtual hug. I know how you felt. I will be reading your blog more and more. We are on the same journey. Maybe later I won't post as Anonymous 🙂

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Reading this over a year late but just wanted to send you a big, virtual hug. I know how you felt. I will be reading your blog more and more. We are on the same journey. Maybe later I won't post as Anonymous 🙂


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