At the grief and loss workshop one of the exercises was to create a reflection of a loss we had in our life. Like everyone I’ve experienced loss of family, friends, and pets, but the only thing I could think of to create was a torn out collage of an orange cat. Now many of you know I have a particular fancy for orange cats starting from when I bought my orange and white tabby when I was 11 years old.
So I’m missing my cats, is what your probably thinking. Well yes I do miss them in a sense but that was not the message my little collage was giving. Why am I telling you this, well I guess the reflection was surprising for me. I know most of you come to this blog to read about my adventures in Africa and with the Peace Corps in hopes that I ate something weird, participated in a bizarre traditional ritual, or singled handedly eradicated HIV. Well the Peace Corps experience is much more then eating worms and talking about safe sex. It’s teaching me way more about myself then I ever thought it would.
So back to the cat reflection, it actually represents my 11-year-old self. At 11 I was desperate to be passionate about something. I thought 11 was much too old to be passionless so I decided to take up liking cats. I bought a cat and became obsessed. Embarrassingly, talk about cats all the time, obsessed. I would share stories about my cat’s daily doings everyday during my 6th grade share-and-tell moment. I didn’t care what people thought of me or my intense passion for felines. However, as soon as 7th grade hit I realized my passion was socially unacceptable and I quickly shut it down, unfortunately closing down most of myself that was ever genuine. I’ve been struggling to find my 11-year-old self ever since.
However there is more to the story. I was 11 years old the very first time I ever traveled abroad. My parents blessed me with the opportunity to travel to the UK. I remember my mom asking if I wanted to go and no questions asked I said yes. I was fearless at eleven. If that opportunity has come to me at twelve I may not have taken it, I may have never gotten the “travel bug,” I wouldn’t be here in Peace Corps.
So as you can tell the Grief and loss workshop has opened up another path on my road to self-discovery. I am finally figuring out just who I am, and it turns out I’ve been hiding the better part of myself for a long time. Yep the Bethany you are all going to get when I come home is not going to be who you last saw… she is going to be better.