Monthly Archives :

April 2019

Mr. Handsome Hates Me

150 150 lovelight

Is there not something deliciously poetic about being a single woman in a strange city, tasked to care for a cat named Mr. Handsome, and he’s totally not that into me? Well, this is my life, people.

Talk about the “hairy eyeball.” Mr. Handsome is glaring at me from across the room.

As faithful readers know, I’ve been traveling the world for about the last four years. One way that I do that is by trading free housing in exchange for caring for a household’s cat or dog. Not counting the cute and perpetually grumpy-looking Figero, my friend Tara’s cat, my first real catsitting experience for strange cats came in New Mexico. There were three cats, two fish, a dozen bird feeders, two ponds and plenty of plants to water. As I wrote in an earlier blog, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace by performing this service. 

I like caring for cats, and dogs on occasion. All the dogs that I cared for were pretty cool. Chula and I would take long walks by the Rio Diamante, where we witnessed the aftermath of a murder. And Noodle the labradoodle was, officially, the cutest doggie in all of Chiang Mai.

I say all this to paint a picture that I am a good catsitter and not a scary, mean person. I do not abuse really any sentient being. I’m even vegetarian! But tell all that to Mr. Handsome.

When I first talked to the homeowner about three weeks before I flew from Melbourne to Tokyo, I saw Mr. Handsome via Skype. He was a fluffy, long-haired lover with brown and black streaks. He was walking all over the owner, getting comfortable in his lap and cuddling. I was so excited, imaging the cuddles and purrs coming my way. I was telling my friends about my months in Tokyo with Mr. Handsome. There was another kitty, too, but I didn’t see her in the video so I figured she would be sleeping and minding her own business, as some cats do.

I arrive after my 10-hour flight and 2-hour train ride, exhausted, of course. Koshka, the other cat, is shy, but Mr. Handsome is waiting for food. He didn’t let me pet him. 

“Would you like to feed him?” the owner asked.

So, I take a packet of wet food and start to put it in Mr. Handsome’s bowl. He hisses at me. I go to sleep.

Thankfully, I have one furry friend! She’s really sweet!

The next day, the owner was taking care of whatever business he had to wrap up while I basically chilled around the house and did a little work. Koshka introduced herself, and Mr. Handsome kept his distance. When I tried to engage him to pet him, he hissed again.

Convinced Mr. Handsome would come around, the owner took off to his trip to America. I realized the apartment needed a really good cleaning, so I went to work. Mr. Handsome was on the owner’s bed, which was about to be my bed for the next two months. I started to remove the sheet gently. He hissed at me. I swept the floors. Hiss. Give him food. Hiss.

One day Mr. Handsome didn’t hiss at me. But I was also wandering around the city, basking in the fact that the cherry blossoms stayed on the trees long enough for me and everyone else to enjoy them. The whole city was caught up in the act known as hanami, or the custom of taking in the transient splendor of flowers. I wasn’t going to let Mr. Handsome kill my buzz.

Toyko is beautiful in the spring!

But he sure tried. Over the last two weeks, he’s done a lot of hissing, as well as yowling extremely loudly all the time. He especially likes to yowl whenever I lie down for a nap or take my daily bath. The bath, by the way, is operated with one push button. It fills up and heats it to the perfect temperature, and then it plays a little tune to let you know that it’s all ready for you to relax. He also enjoys yelling around 5:30 a.m. This morning, I think he was performing a tap dance in the litter box. 

When he’s not doing all of this, he’s usually found somewhere within a 2.5 meter radius, glaring at me. 

Early on, I did trick him with Reiki. He was sitting on the bed, miserable, and I started to give him Reiki. He started relaxing. I continued to give him healing energy, and he actually started purring. Then I took a chance and reached out to pet him. He let me. Then, before I could push my luck, I left. After that, it was as if Mr. Handsome was mad that he had betrayed his plan to hate me and double-downed on the anger.

Look, I get it. He really, really loves his owner. They’re best buddies. I’m sure Mr. Handsome has made up a story about how I planned this whole thing to get rid of the owner so I could waltz in here, clean up the old bachelor pad and take baths whenever I very well pleased. Nevermind that I feed him daily and clean his litterbox. Forget about the fact that Koshka seems to think I’m OK. She has a cute habit of running up to my lap and actually throwing her paws around my neck. It’s adorable. 

I have to admit, I also call him Mr. Asshole sometimes, like when he wakes me before dawn for no reason.

Back to Mr. Grumpy, er, I mean Mr. Handsome. He’s totally creating his own misery, of course. He’s missing out on all kinds of petting and purring and grooming. I can see this. It’s just another example of being around a being who is trying to take out their misery on you. It has nothing to do with me. 

It makes me think, of course, about so many people in the world who cause their own unhappiness. It’s so easy to make up stories in your head that cause you suffering. It’s hard enough to get people who do this every day see it. Imagine trying to help a cat. You cannot. I’m just giving him a wide berth.

But isn’t it hilarious that out of all the cats I’ve cared for over the past four years – Figero, Chicha, Nikki, Charlotte, Dilma, Trixie, Bob, Liz, what’shisname in Taiwan, Muds, Koshka and Mr. Handsome – the one named Mr. Handsome hates me? Like, he’s JUST NOT THAT INTO ME! I get it. We don’t have to go out. I just thought, you know, it could work. He is pretty cute. Ugh, I feel like he’s just another in the long line of males that I’ve attracted into my life that I shouldn’t have!

Earlier today, as I was fixing my matcha green tea, I made eye contact with the glaring Mr. Handsome.

“My charm is just not working on you, is it,” I said. His eyes simply narrowed.

 And I’ve been keeping a pretty low profile, since I’m in the middle of the longest fast so far. (I completed a 14-day water fastnot quite a year ago, and I’ve been completing three- to five-day fasts for the last few months.) That means, really Koshka is my best friend in Japan. Mr. Handsome certainly isn’t.

Conscious Uncoupling

150 150 lovelight

Like the few others in the world who happened to be paying attention at the time, I heard of the phrase “Conscious Uncoupling” about five years ago, when actress Gwyneth Paltrow split with her husband. They made a joint statement to the media, didn’t make big fighting scenes and generally seemed to be OK with the reality that their 10-year marriage was over. As a woman who has had more than her fair share of adult relationships fizzle, I was amazed. I was envious. I decided the next time, if there were a next time, if I were to break up with someone I once loved, it would be in a way that was respectful to both of us.

Easier said than done.

Some times along my journey I am in a relationship and some times I am not. I still find love everywhere.

The concept is quite similar to one of the habits of highly successful people: Always go for a win-win. That is, there’s no reason for one person to be the winner and the other to be the loser in business or in a relationship. The key, of course, is self-awareness as a foundation. With conscious uncoupling, you are using each and every moment as a teaching opportunity to look within yourself to identify the past hurt that the situation is bringing up in you. You become thankful of the lessons the other person teaches you, and you forgive yourself and love yourself. This is also the essence of Radical Forgiveness, which is a worthy process for anyone hanging on to a bunch of old hurt.

Sure is a nice concept, isn’t it? Turns out, it takes two to uncouple, and it’s unimaginably difficult to have both parties be mindful all the time.

At least, that’s what I realized this week as I waited on the street, now for the third time in my life, for a girlfriend to pick me up on the side of the road, help me gather my meager belongings and let me sleep at her house for the night instead of being alone and homeless. All three times, the relationship was crashing down around me and abusive, mean words filled the air. When someone tells me to get out, I will.

Anyone who’s been through a breakup knows how ugly it can get. I’ve witnessed more than one punched wall. One ex got so mad that he slammed a glass-paned door, shattering it everywhere. Another ex called me more than 50 times in a day, begging me to take him back despite his compulsive lies, naked pictures of women and habit of constantly interrupting me. Yet another, I had to sue to try to retrieve thousands of dollars I lent him. I won in court, but I never saw the money. Instead, I heard all the horrible things he would say behind my back.

And why? Simply, it’s the old adage: “Hurt people hurt people.”At some point, we decide the best way to alleviate emotional pain that’s been locked deep down inside is to try to dump a little on someone else. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work. It usually makes things worse. Because I’ve had so much experience in this department (and years of work on myself to release my own stored-up hurt), when my last partner would lash out at me, I was able to not take it personally. I tried to create a safe space for him and clearly express how I felt when this would occur. I wouldn’t fight, and I would never say something I didn’t mean (Being impeccable with your words is one of the wonderful Four Agreements). He would apologize and eventually it would blow over – until the next time.

Eventually, too much love was lost. After weeks of thought, I decided to go. We talked really calmly about it, and he seemed to understand. I was so grateful – it was going to be my first successful conscious uncoupling! It didn’t have to be a disaster! It felt like a golden ticket to adulthood. He told me that I showed him a lot about himself, and I told him how blessed I felt to have been able to travel around Australia in the cute tiny home we built together.

As I was packing, I let myself feel my emotions. I would cry over my disappointment and over my doubt as to whether I deserved love, all those sad stories you tell yourself. My partner would be there and held me. In some ways, that also felt difficult. Because of all the times he tried to fight with me, I had lost trust in his love. But it was so nice to have someone to soothe me. He cried a couple times, too, and I held him. It was hard, but we were honest and authentic. 

In the days leading up to my flight out of the country, however, I started to notice he was acting oddly light and cheery. He would bop along to the music in the restaurant, acting like it was his favorite song but then not knowing who sang it. He wanted to buy me a massage, treat me to dinner, and told me that he wanted to drive to the airport with me and see me off. I looked at the calendar and realized that it had been about 10 days since he lashed out. He never went more than 10 days. (Read “The Power of Now” to understand this cycle.) I found myself getting sad and thoughtful. In the last months of the relationship, I found myself not talking much and instead just thinking. It was lonely. 

And that’s when it happened. He wanted to buy me a beer so he could tell me about all his latest big plans for his life. This was common, me listening politely as he tried to figure his life out. I wanted him to figure his life out. I really wanted to help. For some reason, I brought up the last time he lashed out at me. I think I wanted validation for my pain, maybe one more apology. Well, I didn’t get it. He dug his feet in, finally over it. He told me I had been overreacting to everything and wanted me gone immediately.

So, there I was, on the side of the road in the middle of Melbourne, unconsciously uncoupled. I had hoped for a hug goodbye and an ex that I could call a friend. But you can’t always get what you want. You get what you need– and I guess I needed a little more practice in patience, self-love, compassion and mindfulness.