Friday, 4 February 2011

Learning to Trust

Trust. Such a tiny word, but such a huge concept, is it not? It comes in so many guises, on so many different levels. There's the basic sort, the sort that tells me that, just like yesterday and the day before and the day before, I'll still have a warm place to lie, and a dry place out of the wind to curl up in and sleep today. Then there's the practical type. I trust that when I shout, my human will provide me food or love, or basically whatever I desire. This one's a little iffy though. Is it trust or certainty? I ask because a lot of training went into her to make sure she obliges whenever I wish it, but then she could change her mind and not give me what I want, so I suppose there's elements of both.

Then comes the trust in the unknown. I trust my human to keep me safe in new situations, and she trusts me to keep her safe from any mousies or stupid dogfaces or any other strange animal that might crop up in these new situations. Last night, for example, although I was a little ascared of all the big noises and the loud trains and the new peoples, I managed to sleep most of the way down on the train cuz I trusted that my human wouldn't let any of them harm me. I knew she'd be on watch while I dozed. My trust wasn't misplaced.

Those types are fairly straightforward, or as straightforward as anything of this nature can be, but they don't take into account the other trust; the hardest type to give, but the most rewarding when it isn't misplaced. This I call the intimate trust. I don't really know how to define it other than the letting down of the last barriers that you hold between yourself and others. For example, when you want a mancat and he gets close enough to do what he needs to, you gotta trust him not to tear your neck open while he's scruffing you. I haven't got there with mancats yet. My trust is hard to earn.

However, I'm starting to get there when it comes to my relationship between me and the human. I've always liked peoples, but in a sort of guarded way. My human doesn't think anyone's ever been cruel to me, but nor does she think I've been handled and cuddled quite as much as I should have been, nor shown that very quiet, patient, unassuming kindness that is the first stepping stone in the long path towards obtaining intimate trust. I say this because, although I snuggle with peoples, I won't do it straight away with strangers. I'm wary of them. Sure, I'll let them pick me up, but I don't really fully relax, and I certainly don't give them head bumpies or anything like that. I'm getting better at this. The human has taught me over time that most peoples, in fact all of them who come to my house, only want to love me and do nice things like give me scritches or chin tickles. There's still a long way to go, but I now feel happy enough to purr if a people is nice and gentle and considerate when they put me on their lap.

But I digress. I was talking about intimacy with the human; not the crasse type, but intimacy of the soul. With her I will snuggle more readily than with anyone else. I don't mind admitting that I feel affection for her. I headbump her. I rub my face on her. I even groom her poor, hairless skin. I also show her my yummy tummy, but I've been quite guarded about doing it. I really love having it tickled, and will lie there for quite some time while she does it, but my paws are always at the ready to grab her if her hand worries me, and I'll often lift my head. True, I've never needed to grab her with anything close to claws, and my head does nuzzle right against her hand, but this latter usually succeeds in pushing her away from my tummy whilst letting me get a good look at what she's doing to make sure I'm in no danger. It's basically my friendly way of telling her I've had enough, that I'm not comfy with any more attention to the yummy tummy, but that I still love her. I tend not to use the claws on her much cuz I know that her eyes are too broke for her to see them coming, so it startles her when I use them.

She got to thinking about Anna the other day. One of her fondest memories is of Anna as a babycat before her personality changed. She used to lie on the human's knee with her tiny paws stretched right out over her head so that the human had full access to her tummy. I've never done it, although I do want to. Sometimes I twitch the front paws up there for a good stretch. It feels so nice with the combination of the stretch and her hands, but I just don't trust her enough to stay like that, or at least, I didn't.

I spoke about removing barriers, the last, most tender ones. Barriers don't just disappear. They drop slowly. Over the last few days, mine have been dropping. It started with the stretch, then I kept the paws up there for slightly longer. I found myself liking her hands running over my taught tummy. Actually, it feels glorious. She didn't pull or tug at me, she didn't do anything nasty. She just stayed nice and quiet and stroked me. I'd had enough pretty quickly and pulled my feet back down to protect myself, but she just carried on stroking, never breaking rhythm. It was soothing, comforting, safe. Tentatively, the paws went back up again. I kept them on her arm rather than having them all the way up, but she didn't push for me to give her more. She just worked with what she had.

This is the characteristic of my human that makes me trust her more each day. She never pushes. Sure, she tells me off if I use my claws and teeth, sure, she makes me let her brush my yummy tummy whether I want it or not, but never does she take me beyond my limits. She's always ready to give reassurance, to stop the activity that i'm struggling with to give me a cuddle and time to calm down again and realise everything's Ok, and it's this that makes the intimate trust grow and flower in me. When I came to her, I hated having her touch my eyes to clean them. I had really bad eyes. They weren't cleaned often enough and they hurt. With gentleness and patience, she taught me that pain doesn't come from her cleaning, and now I actually let her pick the crusties out with her fingers, and I purr all the while cuz I know that my eyes will feel cleaner once they're gone.

I have a thing about my head. I don't like peoples hands coming too near it unless they're slow, and I don't snuggle it down even against the human. Sure, I like it when she scratches the top, but I don't like to lay it on anything except a bed or my paws. The human has been working to show me that it's not frightening or bad if I lie my head on her, but I just couldn't get over the worry. Until this morning.

Today, just as she was getting dressed, I climbed up on the bed beside her and asked for a cuddle. She obliged of course. I started in my usual crouch, but soon flopped to my side where I curled up. Then I flipped to my back and, a little uncertainly, put my paws up a little bit, inviting her to touch the tummy. Surprisingly, when she did it, I still liked it. Her other hand lay beside me on the bed, and I got to thinking. Last night when I was worried, I trusted her. Could I do it today? Deciding to be brave, I rolled over very slowly. My feet were towards her now, and my paws were still up. She had an exposed view of the yummy tummy, and I was relaxed. As she carried on tickling, I very gingerly snuggled a bit closer. This brought my head in line with her hand. I had a problem. I wanted more tummy time, but if I laid my head on the flat bed, I'd have to move. Slowly, very slowly, I lowered it to rest on her hand, but kept my neck real tense so that I could spring it away again if something bad happened. But it didn't. In fact, nothing happened. her hand stayed where it was, and the tummy stroking continued.

I didn't stay like that for very long, but the human says that those few moments were the most precious of her day. I don't know if I'll repeat the exercise, but, like it or not, I'm learning to trust. I can't say that it's all that bad. All it seems to do is bring nice things. I feel closer to the human every day. It's special. It's a communion on a deeper level than either of us have ever experienced before. Putting your head in someone's hand doesn't sound like a big breakthrough, but for us, it's another few stepping stones on the path to true unity.


Hannah and Lucy said...

You are a lovely lady cat Tia and learning to trust your human a little more each day is good as it gives you both a chance to learn more about each other slowly.
Luv Hannah and Lucy xx xx

Kara said...

Oh Tia, your human is yummy. Has anyone else ever told you that?
In any case, I'm glad you're coming to trust her more. I can't honestly understand why this didn't happen sooner, but I guess I also don't know about your past and temperament, so perhaps there's a really good explanation. I've had a good life, and have been lucky to the extent that trust isn't too hard to come by for me. I've never been hurt and haven't really ever been neglected by a human...annoyed plenty of times, but nothing more. Gregg and his dad used to rub my tummy a lot when I was a kitten, so I've grown used to it, and as long as you aren't rough, I'll probably let you feel all my glorious belly fur. People play with me, but they seem to get the hint that I don't want anything ferocious, and if they don't, a little nip usually sorts them out. I bite only hard enough to let them know it's not fun anymore. In any event, what I'm saying is that I'm glad for you but don't know exactly how you feel, because trust has pretty much always been there for me. I hope it continues improving for you though; nothing is quite like being totally free and easy, take it from me.

Harry Spotter said...

Trust is important. Daisie is just starting to trust our mom nad dad. Stop by Fiona's blog and leave a comment, she is giving away a t-shirt with rhinestones,have a great weekend.

e.faeth.adopt. said...

trust is a wonderful thing. and a kittys head in ones safe hand is a beautiful moment : ] you two are doing great. you are a gorgeous kittycat !!

-Us4 Cats

Bryan said...

To me there is nothing as rewarding as earning a cats trust. Tia, your human will be so delighted once you learn to fully trust her. I know it can be hard sometimes but not all of us humans are so bad.