missing, forever

missing cat head

I made this poster in reference to this one, but the events it describes are entirely true. My cat’s head was never found. That night, I think I lost a part of me too, though I didn’t realise it at the time: the part that trusted and expected people who said they loved me not to hurt me intentionally.

What made me realise how this all fitted together was a chain status update game that went around on Facebook a few weeks ago. My answers to the questions went like this:

Age I was given: 17 (I balked because it was a very heavy year for me, but here goes…)
Where I lived: Waterfall, a village in KZN a little north of the Comrades Marathon route, through the sugarcane fields (which are now Tuscan townships).
What I did: Wrote matric with the help of regular immunoglobulin injections and reflexology to stave off the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/M.E.that I’d been severely ill with since 14 when I’d contracted Glandular Fever. Spent a lot of my study time taping songs off the radio. Went to Turkey on short term Rotary Exchange after finishing school.
Who had my heart: My cat, Jorgy, who had been my constant companion throughout my illness. He was killed while I was in Turkey. I’d broken up with my first boyfriend during matric trials – I couldn’t handle his obsessive, controlling demands for attention. He turned stalker on me, hanging around outside my house, phoning all the time, sending letters threatening suicide, warning me that I would be sorry if “I left him” and went to Turkey. A day or two before I got back, my family found the headless body of our beloved Jorgensen Fassbinder Kittyman Von Streichen Hashimoto Lighoré at the bottom of the garden, tossed over the fence. I wish I was making this up.

Age I am now: 34
Where I live: Oranjezicht, Cape Town
What I do: I excel at giving too much of a shit.
Who has my heart: My heart is a hot potato.
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The shadow of this manifested down the years in relationships with a string of men who were deliberately unkind and dismissive to me too often; with me always holding on too long because I mistakenly identified their cruelty or disloyalty as evidence of their love for me in spite of what they judged to be my shortcomings. At the darkest junctures over those years, I actually believed that I might deserve the humiliation, the punishment; that I should be grateful anyone humoured me. If they weren’t critical or manipulative enough, if I didn’t have cause to be outraged by their mistreatment, to defend myself against their accusations, to demand consideration, recognition… then it didn’t feel like they could really care (how twisted is that?).

The men I fell most deeply for were never truly available or fully present, would leave me because they cared more about someone else, or were running for their own damaged reasons. I guess I only felt safe from being smothered when they had one foot outside the door, though I yearned with all my heart to be held unconditionally, the way I held them.

This delusion is broken and I am free of its bonds.