Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Meet the Critter Lady

Hi Folks!

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you're enjoying sunny spring weather and lots of blooming flowers.

It finally occurred to me - over a year after I began to blog - to tell you a little about myself. I've been so keen to tell you about my critter adventures that I forgot to tell you about the Critter Lady! So here goes, and if you have any questions, please feel free to put them in a comment at the end of this blog.

I'm forty-six years old. Slender build with hazel eyes. My hair is brown, but it comes from a bottle, nowadays! Wrinkles are starting to take hold - road maps, I think, to a life that wasn't always easy or pleasant. I'm a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I spent a number of years being an alcoholic, making bad choices and getting involved with the worst possible men. It was a deeply miserable existence.

After almost twenty years of therapy, I'm finally getting myself together. It's been a long, hard road. Sanity can be elusive, I've learned, unless you're really dedicated to finding and hanging on to it. In spite of all the therapy, I don't generally play well with others. I turned the ringer of my phone off several years ago, now. I screen my calls: there just aren't that many people I feel like talking to, and I resent the intrusion of an incessantly ringing phone. I like my quiet. I'm happiest tending the landscaping in my yard, volunteering at the horse barn, or visiting with the ducks at McKinnon's Pond.

It was precisely because of the abuse in my childhood that I became involved with animals. Critters, I find, are easy on the psyche, and on the soul. If you treat them well, they will love you unconditionally - which is more than I can say for some members of my family. When I was a child, love was predicated on keeping secrets. Maintaining the status quo was far more important than telling the truth, and certainly more important than rescuing me from the hell that was created by the sick bastard who robbed me of my childhood. In more ways than I can articulate, animals have helped me heal every bit as much as conventional therapy.

It should come as no surprise, then, that I grieve far more deeply for animals I've lost than for people. I've spent much more time missing Pretty Boy Duck than I have any of my grandparents. I've been thrown into protracted depressive episodes when beloved cats died. I've gone to great lengths to honor their memories - from having necklace charms made that held some of their ashes, to smuggling one cat's ashes into Great Britain and scattering them at a Royal park. To me, animals are family, while humans are hurtful and not to be trusted.

Because of my trust issues and loner tendencies, it was an enormous stroke of luck that I met boyfriend John. Unflagging in his patience, he gives me room to work at who I want to be in our relationship. His terrific sense of humor makes hard times easier, and his IQ is a match for my own. In many ways, he is the yin to my yang, and his laid-back personality helps to calm the ever-present noise in my head. It's a huge bonus that he's an animal-lover, too!

What do I do for a living? Critters! I spend my days looking after the ducks at McKinnon's Pond, fussing over my own five cats, rescuing injured animals as they come along, and writing about all of it. I came into some money a while back, which buys me time to work on my sanity - as well as take care of critters - without the hassle of a day job. I used to work, but as I said at the beginning of this blog, I don't generally play well with others.

So that's me in a nutshell. I live alone on a beautifully-landscaped half acre of property. That will change one day when I move in with John. He's got room for a duck pond and a horse barn, and he's already been warned that there will be livestock in his future! For now, I continue to work on me. Sanity, sobriety, integrity, compassion, decency - these things, I've found, are the best revenge.

To others who have suffered as I have, I say this: don't just exist. Live fully! Savor each day that you're able to get out of bed and stand on your own two feet. Take time to smell the lilacs when they bloom. Throw snowballs. Laugh out loud. Learn to trust yourself. Give yourself the gift of unconditional love, be it cat, rabbit, mouse, bird, horse, dog or duck. Stop waiting for the mythical "someday" and live your life now, in the present tense. It's not easy, but it is do-able. I can tell you from personal experience that a life well-lived is much better medicine than Prozac. Go for it!

That's all for now, folks. Until next time, please be kind to all the critters - and yourselves.