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Are You a . . .


. . . with apologies to those owned by cats or dogs who don't share my sense of humour . . .


Are you a "Cat" or "Dog" person? Human beings like to categorize or pigeon hole people, things, and ideas - perhaps it makes it easier for us to keep track. Given the adoption of pets as substitute children or spouses, the phrases "cat person" and "dog person" seem to be in frequent usage. I am not talking about those cute photos showing a person next to a dog to which the person bears a strong resemblance. My reference is on a more emotional than physical level.

There are jokes about cats - that they have "staff;" that they are cool, aloof, and independent; and that they tolerate, rather than enjoy (much less need) human contact. Dogs, on the other hand, are said to be forgiving to a fault; loyal, caring and loving; and that they need to be part of a "family" or pack to be happy and healthy.

We probably all have met people we can categorize as "cat" or "dog" people, not on the basis of the pets they have, but on the characteristics they exhibit. People who are available only when they have a need you can serve; friends who take more than they give; others who seem always on the edges, observing without being drawn into human interactions: "cat people." "Dog people" call to see how you did with that big job assignment, health issue, or personal challenge; listen attentively; provide comfort; and forgive the slights and outbursts that sometimes mar even the best friendships and families.

I personally have been "owned" by a succession of dogs (mostly West Highland White Terriers, which should give you an idea of my personality), and always thought of my self as a "dog person" - not just because those were the pets I favored, but because I thought of myself (whom I now know to be a submissive) as thoughtful of others, constantly trying to make the lives of others better, and always seeking to avoid conflict and discord. What I have learned over the past month or so is that my idea about myself was wrong - I was not a "dog person;" I was not a "cat person" either. I was a "cat litter box person"!

If you do not understand what I mean by that, please allow me to explain. We all know that a cat litter box is, at best, full of sand or little pellets designed to soak up urine and absorb the nasty smells of waste products (and, since lots of cats eat lots of fishy products that stink pretty highly when they come out of the container in the first place, the possibility for noxious odors is nearly incomprehensible in scope).

At my best, my "cat litter box" personality did just that - it absorbed the nastiness around me, taking care of the messes that are inherent in personal relationships. The ability to make these bad things disappear convinced me that I was making things better for others and for myself. In fact, I was disguising problems others needed to confront and resolve themselves. I also was taking into myself a lot of nastiness that I did not need and could not handle. After all, the kitty litter doesn't process the waste it absorbs - it just clumps up until the clumps are removed and new litter is put into the container.

By the time I found submissive service, the litter box of my life was full of, you should pardon the expression, piss and shit. My personal relationships, but for a very few loyal friends, were hurtful, demanding, and painful. I constantly told myself that I could be happy by making other people happy, without realizing that I could not give to others what I could not get for myself. Even when I realized that my motivation to help other people was to keep alive the good feeling that evoked in me, rather than to actually assist others, I had difficulty taking the next step in dealing with the emotional issues that were like hardened clumps of waste, buried at the bottom of the litter box of my life.

With the tireless help of the Dominant I now serve, the accumulated and occulting waste products clumped up and cluttering up my life - the experience and the memory of hurt, anger, and pain from childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood -- have been cleaned out of my life. As a submissive, I likely always will keep a tray of litter handy to absorb the hurts of friends and family, to cover up the disappointments and hurts that are a part of every life, and to neutralize the odors of fear, pain, and anger that come to all of us (after all, it is MY litter box, so I now know that I should use it for my own messes, as well as those of others).

The difference now is that my entire life is not one sandy pile of waste, growing ever larger and more noxious. Yes, there are losses, pains, and disappointments to rise above and survive - but I no longer feel the need to disguise, sanitize, and bury them, letting them occupy space in my life that instead are used to store energy, happiness, and self-confidence. I expect that I will be sifting through the litter for some time to come - after all, a lot of nasty stuff has accumulated during my 50+ years of life - but the process itself is healing, and the end result is a life that smells as sweet as anyone could wish.

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