People cause me a great deal of anxiety. It’s the truth and there is no disputing this. I’m old enough to know and accept this fact about myself. I am not one for confrontations, but I wont back down if I’m confronted. I apologize when I need to. I don’t hurt people on purpose. I try to be helpful when people need help. I always…always believe what people say until proven otherwise. I always think the best of people and give them the benefit of the doubt. I always assume the best in people and, sometimes, I’m not disappointed. But for the most part, people confuse me. They say something that, in my head, I have to figure out is true or not. If it’s not, why did they lie? What is their motive? See? This causes anxiety for me. The past several months, due to a death in our family, I’ve been forced to deal with all kinds of people. I was unprepared for the chaos, pain and anxiety that followed and continues to torment me. I’ve never been one to let many people in my personal, life, just a few here and there…ones that I trust and I know have my back. Those are the people I cling to right now. They are helpful, understanding, supportive and just plain wonderful. I don’t know if they think I’m odd or weird, but they accept me for who I am. These special people seem to understand what pets seem to know instinctively. I’m just me and they just know that. No questions, no demand for me to change who I am and no pressure to “buck up”. My relationship with animals began when I was very young and I’ve always been more comfortable interacting with animals than with people. People confuse me. Animals do not. Dogs, especially, are honest, direct and you know exactly where you stand with them. People, I have found, are not as forthcoming or honest. In recent days, my anxiety and stress level is at the highest point that I can remember in my experience on this earth. Several factors have come into play at just the right time and, seem to be pushing me as far as I can be pushed…and continue to push. I felt I was at a loss on how to cope. I couldn’t hide with my animals, I had to face what was happening. I felt completely lost, even with my husband trying to guide me through this mess of a human experience. I still feel that way, but this morning, as I was trying to drink some coffee while sitting on my bed, I looked at my cats. 2 of the 3 housecats, Polly and Itty, were laying on my down comforter. It looked like they had just nestled right into a sweet spot and the comforter was, well…comforting them. Polly was asleep and Itty had curled up against me. Both of them were purring, for what seemed to me, no good reason. No one was touching them or petting them. They were just laying there purring. I began to wonder why. How can one be so content just to “be”? I watched them for about 15 minutes, intently. I began to wish I had the capacity to just melt into a down comforter and dispel the anxiety that is tormenting my brain right now. Somehow, cats have it figured out. I sat with them for some time, until I began to feel my anxiety subside and was able to get out from under the covers. I knelt down next to my bed, rested my head, and put a hand on each cat, just to feel their warmth and their breathing. They both began to purr. Comforting. I don’t know if Polly and Itty know that I’m struggling with people right now. I don’t know if these two little fuzzy creatures understand anxiety and stress, but they do understand that I need them. While people will continue to confuse me and cause anxiety, my interactions with animals will be something I can count on to be true and honest. As I write this, Itty is watching me intently. I’m not sure why. Is he looking for signs of my distress or is he trying to tell me something? His breathing is rythmic and hypnotic. If I focus hard enough, everything kind of melts away into the background, if only for a moment, and I feel some relief. I believe that everything happens for a reason, even if we don’t know what that reason is or see it right away. There’s a reason. There’s a lesson to be learned. I don’t know what the reason is for the distress in my life right now, but I do know that my cats wont let me down. Neither will my dog, for that matter. Last night I had to walk. It’s how I deal with stress and anxiety. I have to walk…and walk and walk and walk. It was chilly last night and I went to the beach. My husband was with me, but my dog is the one who led the way. I followed where she led and she took me for a long, long walk on the beach. The cold air helped my hot cheeks cool off. The waves soothed my brain. The ice and the snow reminded me of better winters. I just followed my dog and she took me where I needed to go. The cold never invaded me and my wet feet didn’t bother me. My husband’s hand in mine was of great comfort and felt like my only attachment to the world outside my head. We would stop, once in a while, to watch the waves crash against the ice that is building up on the shore. Hazel would stop too and just wait until we were ready to walk some more. How do animals know? How do they sense distress in people? How do they know what to do to provide comfort? It’s amazing that they have the capacity to just comfort with their presence and never ask for anything in return. Not once has my dog said, “Ok, you feel better, give me a cookie now”. My cats have never said “Stop watching me and go scoop my box.” They have never asked for anything in return for their comfort, not even a thank you. As much as I wish more people had the capacity to love others the way animals do, I understand that people are people…with all of their faults, character flaws and weirdness. I also understand that I am a person, with faults, character flaws and weirdness, however my animals don’t care. While I don’t foresee an end to this torment I’m going through right now, I know it will end. It always does. I will lean on my husband as well as my animals for the comfort I need to get through this ridiculously difficult time. As depressing as this blog entry may sound to you, the reader, don’t despair about me. If you have a pet, just take a moment to appreciate the love that pet gives to you. Touch her fur and appreciate the warmth. Look into her eyes and see compassion. Talk to her and see how she listens. Watch your cat completely relax and give in to sleep as it over takes her. We can learn from our pets, if we just pay attention.