Ask a cat is an advice column featured in the Alaska Landmine. Have a question for the Cat? Email email@example.com or click here to submit via a form (anonymous) to get the answers to any of life’s problems.
I’m a happy guy. I’m always able to stay occupied, and generally very content. Sure, I’ve suffered from crippling anxiety and brutal depression, but I’ve been doing really well – better than I have in many years. No joke, now my friends call me “super mellow” or “the kumbaya guy.” I really am chill and happy. My question is: how do I help my new girlfriend see what other people see instead of her trauma-informed interpretation of me? She’s endured some really traumatic things from men in her past. It makes sense that would color her experience.
I am getting worn out by having to fight to convince her that I’m happy (or was, before this conversation happened for the 300th time). How do I get through to her that sometimes I’m just quiet and contemplative and not like a horrible guy from her past? My sister will be in town next week and I’m hoping all of us interacting together will help my girlfriend really see me and understand me a little more. I care about her and won’t give up easily (probably long after I should.)
Cat is very interested in how you ended your inquiry. So, let’s start there by asking yourself what part of you has chosen in the past to stay “long after” you should. To be clear, Cat is not suggesting anything rash such as immediately leaving your relationship. All humans have experiences that shape them, unfortunately some are more traumatic than others. You have revealed that you have also experienced hardship in the form of anxiety and depression, and thankfully are in a more peaceful place. Cat also encourages you to examine: is this relationship detrimental to the strides you have made in your mental health in the recent past?
While it is your responsibility to be a loving and thoughtful partner, it is not your burden to make up for the poor behavior of past men. That being said, Cat would like to acknowledge that they are only getting your side of the story here, and it’s possible there are other factors contributing. Maybe the impending visit with your sister will give you the opportunity to seek her perspective on your interactions. Please know that it is relatively “normal” for someone to have increased anxiety in the context of a healthy relationship if what they have known in the past is traumatic relationships. The best you can do is be clear, kind, and compassionate. You may need to set clear boundaries as to the frequency of such conversations as they do not always sound productive and seem to be to your detriment.
In the end she will trust you, or she won’t. We aren’t all so lucky as to have nine lives, if this relationship isn’t bringing more joy than pain to yours, it may be time to move on.
One of our neighbors in the city has become a close friend over the years. But he has always let his cats roam the neighborhood, killing wildlife and consistently pooping in our yard (usually while glaring at me). They are lovely cats and even let people scoop them up and pet them while they’re out and about, but they kill everything they can reach. Clearly they’re very self-actualized, but to the detriment of our local wildlife. Our neighbor has acknowledged that it’s “not great, but what can I do?” Is this something we just have to live with, or can Cat suggest a path toward less bird-murder?
Actual credentialed journalist (retired)
Most cats find themselves very high on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, so Cat isn’t surprised that your feline friends find themselves thoroughly enjoying the neighborhood. Cat is, however, concerned about safety and therefore must suggest that outdoor time for any cat be moderated. Additionally, as delicious as they are, I am concerned for the health of our local bird population. I’m no vegetarian, but I do try to avoid migratory songbirds for lunch.
The bottom line here is that you’re going to have to have another chat with your neighbors. It is a sad reality that outdoor cats are less healthy and don’t live as long as indoor cats (or cats that have supervised outdoor time.) Maybe when your neighbor/close friend shrugs and says “what can I do?” you can suggest they build a catio. There are pre-fab options online, or they are fairly simply structures to DIY. Presumably your neighbor would be happier knowing their cat’s outdoor time is safe (for both the cat and the local birds.)
If neighbor declines to monitor outdoor time, there isn’t much you can do. You could complain to animal control, but this will be both to the detriment of the cat and your relationship with your neighbor. Cat encourages you not to give up and to be persistent in your communication that not only are you concerned about the health of your bird population (and your garden being made into a litter box,) but that you genuinely care about the health and wellbeing of the cat.
Why does it seem like the only reward for being good at your job is that everyone else around you gets to be lazy and I just get to do more work?
Congrats, you have taught all your coworkers that you are willing to do more work and apply more effort for no additional pay, praise, kibble, or scritches. Cat does not approve of this type of work ethic at all. Cat is sorry to be so harsh, but truly this seems to be a conundrum of your own design.
For the sake of fairness, let’s step back for a moment and examine your specifics. Ask yourself, is this work that I care about? Is this a company I can grow within? Do I have good relationships with my coworkers? After you have done some self-reflection, only then can your question be addressed with any meaning. If you are simply “paying your dues” as an entry level employee and you intend to work your way up the cat tree at this company, then purrhaps a little over-achieving is in your best interest.
Your peers may lean on you and you may be taking on more tasks, but if higher-ups are taking notice, this will ultimately benefit you. If you are working a meaningless job simply to take home an inadequate paycheck and you could be compensated in a similar manner for a job that requires less effort, then the answer is probably to move on. Thinking that tasks are above your paygrade is a mindset only for a job with no opportunity for growth, or for a company you have no belief/interest in.
If you choose to stay at your current job, start stepping back to the basics of your duties incrementally. This will make the transition less noticeable and dramatic. Try your hand at delegating by asking for help with tasks. Presumably you have some sort of manager, if things do not improve with your own effort, don’t hesitate to ask for guidance leveling the workload.
This week Cat asks the collective: What are you doing in life that comes from a place of scarcity? Assuming you humans only have one tiny life to live on this big giant planet amongst your billions of peers, Cat assures you there is enough joy and abundance to go around. 🐾