The journey of 1000 miles starts with one thought: “What if I stumble, fall, and can’t get up?” Threats to mortality invite that sort of anxiety. That’s what happened the morning I came to believe that I should take precautions not to fall into my cat’s litter box. Before my bathroom mirror, fresh sutures a few inches from my collarbone, I slowly looked down and remembered the litter box tucked under the counter. I stood wide-eyed considering the threat it presented to my new – albeit temporary – vulnerability. What to do?!
I’ve had a cat – one cat or another – for over 30 years. I have NEVER fallen INTO a litter box. I can’t fathom logistically how it could happen. If an intruder came in and cornered me in my bathroom, and my only chance of escape was wedging his chest into the litter box, I would need Ocean’s 11 planning to make it happen. It’s not wide enough for a chest. You could pretty much do planks over the litter box, and you’d still be fine.
Still, at that moment two months ago (at the time of this writing), the fear was real. It’s been awhile since I felt as if “anxious” was the word to describe my constant state. I left that behind long ago, and was taken aback when it revisited. So when I spoke with my oncologist and she asked if I had any questions, my question was, “Does this anxiety get better?” I wasn’t as concerned about whether the progression of treatments would wear me down physically. I just needed to know I’d be myself mentally again. And fortunately, she gave an emphatic, “Yes!”
That has been true. Now, two months later, I see the litter box for what it is. But time doesn’t have to pass for us to challenge our own irrational thoughts. Asking the questions, speaking concerns out loud, and getting support from our team – whether medical providers, family, or friends – is what does it. Challenging our irrational thoughts reduces them to what they are…just thoughts. Let them pass and get back to real living.