Happy to Help

Maybe I do tend to put myself last, but is it that big a deal?

Lisa Dexter

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A black and white cat sitting and looking tobthenright.
My angelic cat. Photo by author.

Our cat Hailey is the sweetest kitty ever. Unfortunately, she has been a little barfy lately. She’s been to the vet, and we’ve changed her food, but she still has her moments, as cats do. Hailey’s also decided the best play time is when we’re all asleep. Helpfully, I’m a super-light sleeper, and she clings to me like lint on a cheap sweater.

An unfortunate routine

The past couple of weeks, Hailey’s followed a similar overnight pattern. First, she’ll wake me up to sit on my neck. Once I’m awake, she’ll sleep on me for a while while I stare at her and then go for a snack. Her rushing through her snack to get back to me usually prompts the barfing, so I’ll stop by the kitchen to encourage her to eat slowly, open the blinds on the slider to distract her, crack a window, and settle in on the recliner. Ten minutes later, I end up stroking her back and trying to tamp down her enthusiasm, so she skips decorating the rug. Then she decides to go in the bathroom and perform a meowing opera, mainly for the stunning echo, and I need to coax her back over to me so she doesn’t wake up anyone else. The show usually lasts from 2:00 am until about 5:25 am when Hailey wanders down to the basement to scope out her litter box. Then, I realize I need to get up by 5:45 am to get in a couple of hours of work before my daughter wakes up, so I surrender and start my day.

Before I know it, my work is done, and the cat is snoozing on my lap. I need to use the bathroom, but I can’t get up because the cat waits on my lap each morning to get her tummy rubbed by my husband — once you’ve done something two days in a row, it’s a routine (cat’s rules). I’m starting to think my husband might have a point about my needing to put myself first once in a while. Regardless, I’ll be at it again tomorrow, along with 10 other things that make me seem like some pitiful martyr, though I honestly don’t see myself that way.

But why?

At least some of my need to care for others, even at the own expense of my own needs, comes from the deep-seated guilt I feel for others having to take care of me. It’s the “chronic illness” thing. Sometimes I can’t do something for myself or the family because my…

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Lisa Dexter

I am a freelance writer from the Chicago area. I have one awesome child, one sweet husband, one clingy cat, and one website: www.thinkingwhiletyping.com.