There is a new member of our household and, this time, it is most certainly a girl! She is a gorgeous 3 month-old, long-haired, gray with tan rescue kitty. Her name is Remi!
Some fun details for you are as follows! The outdoor kitty that adopted us was named Missy and was expecting kittens in early December. Actually, we believed this was so. After the first vet visit, Missy became Miso and there are no baby kittens expected from this male cat body!
So when our newest addition arrived at the house, I decided to keep the names musical. If there was a Miso, there would naturally be a Remi! (think solfege syllables, wink, wink!)
She was rescued from a rural field and protects herself by keeping a healthy distance from humans. I have spent many moments, stretched out across the bedroom floor, peering under our king-sized bed, at this feline poised with a steady gaze from the center of the bed, just out of arms reach.
Slowly, over time, she began to not run away, but watch. Next, I would be able to inch my body like a snake, with my arm outstretched towards her, and she would allow me to touch the side of her face, stroking her long fur.
Eventually, there were times when she would allow me to stroke her body. I learned that I could pick her up when she would begin to purr, rolling over to reveal her belly.
As we begin our 4th week of learning how to navigate this new relationship, she runs and plays with the other cats, Toby and Miso. She runs up to each of them, turning her petite body towards the older cat in an offer to rub noses, or any other body part. When she doesn’t get the response and attention she wants, she will repeat the body request, adding a nose nudge, or even a paw swipe.
As for me, she has her priorities in order! Touch from me is allowed if food in involved and if I am on her level, not coming from a place higher than her.
Boundaries, Consent, Trust
Remi’s trust of human contact and touch is directly linked to her “consent” to be touched! It has been up to me to listen and learn her “yes and no.” Her body language when she rolls over and begins to purr is her “yes” and her hissing, scratching and hiding is a “no!” Her tense body when I pull her to my chest is an indication that she is unsure. Her melting body when I pull her in is a sign that she is feeling safer than before.
In Remi’s world, each time I push against what she has indicated is safe, I actually break down the trust she has with me. Then I must go back and slow down, finding that place of resonance with my reaching and her allowing, my desire to cuddle and her need for safety.
For human relating, trust is built when a person feels safe and able to rely on another. One of the big differences between us and the cats, is that we have a spoken language. We can actually say what feels safe or not, make requests or say no.
So much of the time, I hear from people who share that they have trouble accessing this spoken language. Either it is not a practiced skill, or people are trying so earnestly to not hurt the feelings of someone else. In the process, we hurt ourselves.
In my work, I help people learn how to tune into their own bodies and begin to sense and know what feels safe. When a person can identify this for themselves, it becomes easier to communicate to others. It is very confusing and even conflicting when a person’s spoken language says one thing and their body indicates something different. There is a part of consent and trust with others, which only works if you have your own landscape of trust in your own self.
Another important part of the consent is to learn that you can always change your mind. Actually, being able to feel and know when your body changes and says no, and having the ability to use spoken language to match your own energy is key.
These boundaries are meant to be agreements with self and others. Boundaries are also meant to grow and be negotiated as we change.
In a much larger picture, I believe that when these skills are mastered by both men and women, we will find the deepest healing in our relationships with each other. Moving from the polarity of #metoo or #itwasme to a place of personal somatic knowing and gaining the power to speak and create boundaries and consent is a powerful frontier on our horizon.
Meanwhile, I listen and feel, respond consistently with my new feline friend, Remi. I am enjoying the pace that she is setting with me, showing me where I rush and learn not to assume that because it was ok to pick her up yesterday, that it is ok to do the same today.
There is much wisdom of life in our animal friends.
#purrfect #intimacy #touch #relationships #boundaries #trust #consent