I’ve been thinking of one of my cats lately.
Yeah, I know. What does this have to do with dating? Give me a moment: this will all make sense.
My wife’s cat Fleurlin passed away this October. He was the sweetest and gentlest orange tabby you could imagine; he literally could not hurt a fly. All he wanted in this world was to be loved. Except, he was terrified of everything. He was perpetually convinced that everybody was angry at him and was about to yell at him, so if you would so much as twitch wrong, he would leap up and run for fear that he’d done something horribly wrong. When we integrated our feline households, it took Fleurlin a while to warm up to me. But even when he did, he was incredibly timid. He would want to cuddle, but because he was so afraid I was going to get angry at him, he would do it in the most tentative ways. He would slowly try to creep into my lap when I was playing games on the Xbox and my hands were otherwise occupied, or come up and lie down next to me on the couch and slowly, shyly lean over until he was just barely touching me. And if I happened to cough or even just shift my legs a little, he would run for the hills.
But what always impressed me about him was that for all his timidity, he was the bravest cat I’d ever known. He might have been terrified of everything up to and including his own shadow… but as soon as he’d calm down from his latest panic attack, he’d come back and try again. No matter how frightened he might be, he would never give up on his hopes to be allowed to snuggle quietly.
As cheesy as I freely admit this sounds, watching Fleurlin refusing to let his fears hold him back from his goals was a reminder of all the times I’d had to deal with fear and anxiety, and what it took to overcome them.