This is my cat Molly. I adopted her from an animal shelter and have done my very best to take good care of her and make her happy. A few minutes ago I added a little water to her wet cat food and microwaved it for a few seconds to make it slightly warm because the food has been in my fridge. Yes, I am a crazy cat lady!
Unlike the last cat who lived with me, who wanted to cuddle up with me whenever I sat down and made it clear that she adored me, Molly is not affectionate. She wants me to scratch her ears and run a red laser light over the carpet that she can chase, but rarely responds to my ongoing–hope is eternal–efforts to elicit a little affection from her.
Someone said that the reason women are usually the ones who live with cats is that women are wired to be willing to do a great deal of work and go to an awful lot of trouble for creatures who almost never do anything nice for us in return. Babies and men, for example. And cats.
My last cat was so marvelous, such a loving friend, that I hoped for the same from Molly. I do love her and will continue to try to make her happy, but I no longer expect her to be an affectionate kitty. That’s not who she is.
Before I came out as transgender, I spent my life having people pressuring me to be someone they wanted me to be: a masculine son, a masculine brother, a “normal” husband, a strong father, a guy friend.
They projected their needs onto me. I spent decades trying as hard as I possibly could to be the person they wanted and to meet their needs. I was terrible at it, but I tried.
And it was killing me. Constantly having to pretend to be someone you are not will make you crazy. Eventually you reach the point where you want to die rather than keep up the pretense.
Yesterday I learned that someone who has on the surface been supportive of my transition ever since I came out is furious at me for being myself. The person that they thought I was filled an powerful emotional need they had.
The furious person is someone I care about, worry about, but I can’t be what they want.
That isn’t who I am. It never was.
This discovery makes me wonder how many people who knew my now-dead brother–so to speak–and have made supportive noises and been superficially friendly are quietly resentful of me–his sister, so to speak–who suddenly appeared in their world a few years ago.
Do they see me as some strange woman who came along and murdered someone they needed? Do they wish I would go away and let them cleanly mourn their loss and move on?
I am beginning to think that, yes, some of them do.