I hurt a cat when I was little and the cat had to be put down. I have carried around this weight of shame and guilt all my life. I love cats and I loved the cat I hurt. My love killed the cat so I learnt that my love hurts others, that I am bad and that I was responsible for all the bad.
My father used to like to tell the cat story. The story of how I used to jump on the cat’s back until it’s back broke. That he was embarrassed to take it to the RSPCA. That the cat had to be put down. He would tell this story with his loud mouth wide open and his bellowing laughter filling the room of relatives who sat around lapping it all up. My mother, as usual, a wall of impenetrable silence, never to protect or speak up for me!
I would sit in the corner, silent, small and shrivelled, listening to the story of how I killed the cat. It was a story to amuse. It was story to silence all other stories. Like a dark grey blanket, it was used to muffle a little girl. The little girl he was secretly abusing; his own child, using her for his own pleasure.
It has taken me a long, long time to be able to have some perspective and distance on this and it was something I talked about with my counsellor yesterday. I was five years old and I loved my cat and maybe all I was doing was acting out what was being done to me. It was a role play. I loved the cat and I acted out the ‘love’ I knew. A ‘love’ that doesn’t listen to the other, that is rough and aggressive and violates and silences and leaves the other powerless and helpless. Or maybe I was just playing obliviously and unmindfully.
I can’t say that I understand it all nor do I remember all the details. Only that I need to finally forgive myself. It was not my intention to hurt the cat and I was a five year old girl being sexually abused by her own father at the time it happened. He was the cruel bully not me!
My counsellor suggested that I may have learnt from this that my love hurts, tarnishes, and even damages others and that my touch may be harmful metaphorically. That my father’s story has stuck and become so deeply entrenched that I carry this suitcase of shame around with me always. I want to put it down finally and writing about it here is one way that I am able to put the baggage down and see it for what it is! It’s been a heavy burden to lug around!
Children act out and model what they see and it so common for children who are being sexually abused to become bullies themselves or to masturbate excessively and even to act out what is being done to them with other children. It is the environment that they are exposed to that is evil, not the child. If you are carrying around any misplaced shame, I hope that you are able to get some perspective and put your baggage down too and mother the little girl or boy inside that feels so bad. Your inner child needs protection and love!