Friday, May 11, 2012

Biting off Whiskers is Bad

When I was a kid, I used to bite off my cat's whiskers.

I'm not sure why. I just remember having them sit in my lap, and much like you might chomp on your fingernails, the cat's whiskers were just at mouth-level to give a little trim. 

My brothers dubbed me Elmira. If you've ever seen Tiny Toons, you'll know this is no compliment. I didn't realize that my little whisker trims disabled one of the primary function of the whiskers: determining the width of an opening. Turns out that the whiskers are the approximate width of it's body and helps the cat gauge whether or not it will fit in an opening. I didn't realize that whiskers were sensitive... or purposeful. 

Sometimes I think I'm still like that little girl. No, not chewing off cat's whiskers... but just incredibly oblivious to the way my actions and words can have a disabling affect on those around me, to those closest to me. 

Not only is it unfortunate that we have the tendency to hurt those closest to us without even meaning to or even realizing it, it's unfortunate the way that people typically react to having their feelings hurt. Myself included. We're passive aggressive, or we're avoiders, or we stuff it all inside until it comes exploding out. Very rarely do we openly communicate with others about the wounds inflicted upon us. We don't want to be too sensitive, we think we can get over it, we don't want to stir something up unnecessarily. 

But the wounds remain. 
And without proper healing, long-term damage can be done. 

I actually think that sometimes I'm incapable of hurting others. When I was a little girl there's no way I ever dreamed that I was causing pain to those cats...there's no way I would have wanted to cause them pain (remember, I like cats). But, I was.

So maybe I think there's two important things to be aware of here.
  • We can hurt other people, even when we aren't meaning to.
  • We should be honest with people when we feel hurt by them. 

I can't change the past. I can't change the thousands of times someone has winced at my too emotionally driven, harsh words. I can't change the ways my looks, my actions, or my lack of action have caused pain. I wish that I could. 

But I can try to do better, to be better, to be aware... 

So maybe we should help each other out a bit. I don't always know what I do that hurts you. Will you tell me? Will you be honest with me? Will you open up? Will you help me get better? And I'll try and do the same for you. 

And may we both be willing to receive the other's hearts. May we not get defensive or justify ourselves. 

Pain is pain, regardless of if was intended or not. 

I stopped biting cat's whiskers once I found out the pain I caused them. 
I want to stop hurting you, too. 

Because I have to believe that change is possible... and so is true healing and forgiveness. 

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