My Partner Loves Her Sick Cat More Than Her Family

I deeply love and am committed to my partner. I love her, love being with her, and love our relationship. I want to be a great partner in a healthy, loving way. We’ve been through a few tough situations- a kid in the hospital, work stuff, etc and she and I usually work through it really well.

This is a tough one. Her cat is sick and has been sick for so long that it doesn’t go in the litter box. It also bites – her mom, her sister, our kiddo.

I was all about patiently addressing this issue, but unfortunately months later, medicine and changing litter was just not the answer.

I’m a sensitive woman and I love cats. But the biting… I’m not okay with that. So, after it bit our kid we had several talks. The options suck. We put the cat down, or the unlikely scenario that we find an adopter. Or the kids and I move out and we maintain separate households until the cat dies. I’m willing to do those first two things, but I’m not willing to go on with the biting, pooping and not doing anything to address it.

My partner is not ready to let go, in her heart. Mentally she gets it, but this is so hard for her “because if we weren’t here she wouldn’t have to make this choice” – that is a hard thing for me to swallow.

I feel like a total asshole in this situation and then I’m like no you’re not an asshole.Am I an asshole? What is the etiquette on this? She takes a long time to make decisions. I think we need a faster time frame, or am I being a pushy bitch? It’s been 2 weeks since the bite. This could go on for months.

Sincerely,
Trying Not To Get Bit

Dear Trying Not To Get Bit,

Before I offer my opinion, I will give you some background on me so you know where I’m coming from: I LOVE cats. Love love love love them. I drop everything to coo at them at friend’s houses; I lost my own to advanced old age four years ago and I still cry over them sometimes. Before they died, they had such massive catbox issues that I bleached the basement floor nearly daily for close to a year. I picked up poo all over the place and sprayed Atmosklear in every corner. My partner and I gave them IV fluids, which is a pretty Crazy Cat Lady. I bought them ridiculously expensive prescription cat food. I am nuts for cats. I love their furry weird standoffish pushy hilarious mysterious slightly-mean-at-times little faces. I FUCKING LOVE CATS.

So, that cat cred established: You are not the asshole. SHE is the asshole. She is being a giant, horrible, selfish, and passive-aggressive, manipulative ASSHOLE.

If this were a dog, even a small one, it would have been euthanized. Animal bites — especially cat bites — can be horribly septic. I do not understand why people don’t take cat bites seriously when a septic bite could actually kill a person. This is dangerous to your children.

(And to you, and to her, and to her sister and to her mom, I might add.)

What I want to tell you is: move out and don’t go back! Because every time something like this comes up, she’s going to say horribly cruel and shitty things like: “If you all weren’t here I wouldn’t have to make this choice.” Wow.That is a truly truly horribly shitty assholeish bad BAD partner thing to say.You know what else she wouldn’t have if you all weren’t there? Your companionship. Your love. Your help with the rent, I’m guessing. All of the joyful things that you bring to her life, she wouldn’t have, either. But gosh she’d not have to think about whether she is willing to face what’s going on with her cat!

I find it very telling that you are both ignoring the simplest solution — one that many people with aging, ill, or dangerous pets do – keeping the cat in an enclosed area with food, litter, and periodic access to your partner’s snuggles. A place like a laundry room or basement you can hose off the floor and keep the door closed so that the children can stay away. Even a large-ish closet would do the trick.

If you do not live in a very small apartment in which something like this would be impossible, and this idea hasn’t come up at all, what she’s REALLY doing is valuing her cat’s complete and total freedom of movement over your children’s safety.

Which is why I’m suggesting the moving out option instead of the shutting the cat in the basement option. Because WHAT THE FUCK, LADY?Seriously. Let her see how delightful it is to be free from your oppressive presence that forces her to be a responsible adult in dealing with her pet.

It’s hard to lose pets. I get it. It’s hard to see them becoming terribly ill. This does not give her license to treat the people around her like they are disposable.

This letter originally appeared at bitterempire.com on February 26, 2015.

How Do I Make New Friends?

I’m rebuilding my social life after some hard times that included changes in where and with whom I spent time.  So far so good, though I’m still shaky and shy on the inside a lot. But I’m taking steps and seeing good initial results. Now I want to find places to hang out with other genderqueer and/or kinky folks for conversations and laughs and deep talks and probably tea.  How do I find more of my ilk?  And how do I keep from chickening out? Because I can be such a great big chicken sometimes.

Signed,
Only Confident on the Outside

Dear Only Confident on the Outside,

I’m going to tell you a secret. I’m only confident on the outside, too!

I’m of the ‘fake it ’till you make it’ philosophy, which works great except for when it doesn’t. And for me, at least, when it doesn’t is the moment it’s time for me to leave the house and go meet new people. So I’m going to suggest some online ways to do this and some tricks for IRL House Leaving Damnit.

Do you have a profile on FetLife? If not, you should definitely make one. I would also highly recommend you create yourself an account at Meetup, as there are tons of discussion groups and get-togethers for genderqueer, trans*, and non-binary folks in cities all over the US.

I’m guessing, though, that what you might really need is more of a pep talk rather than information on where to find likeminded people.

I can’t tell you what to do, so I’ll tell you what I do when I’m going somewhere that I am sort of anxious about: I promise myself that I only have to stay for 10 minutes. Just 10 minutes.

Nearly every time I go out to do something and I think I’m too tired or too chicken or too nervous, I just tell myself sternly: 10 minutes.

There has been ONE get-together that I honored this for myself. Most of the time I find myself in conversation with someone and it goes swimmingly and I am well past the 10 minute mark. But if you tell yourself that you will only be anxious and insecure and awful for 10 minutes (and you know you’ll follow through if it’s really not for you), you might find it easier to get out of the house.

Good luck! And good for you for branching out and seeking new friends after having a hard time. I think sometimes we put extra pressure on ourselves in these situations, like THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR MY RECOVERY or EVERY PARTY IS A MOMENTOUS OPPORTUNITY I MIGHT MISS.

But I think if you think of it — truly think of it — as just a cup of tea and some conversation, and you give yourself a bit of a way out if you need it to gather your strength for the Leaving of the House, new friendships and connections can sneak up on you.

This letter originally appear at bitterempire.com on February 17, 2015.

How Does Someone Refuse Unhelpful ‘Help’?

I’m going blindo. I have night blindness and some peripheral vision loss, but I’m nowhere near legally blind and don’t need a cane yet. It basically means I take a little longer to get around, especially in the dark, since I have to scan back and forth to get the whole picture (if that makes any sense). 

The problem is, well-meaning friends and family who know about my condition like to take things into their own hands and help, which means trying to steer me around obstacles and stuff without asking. The thing is, I do just fine on my own, and most of the time I’ll see or feel an obstacle before it become an issue (although, again, it does take a little longer). I don’t know how to address this with them, because I know they really do mean well and want to help, but 1) I really can get around on my own with a little patience and 2) they’re basically taking away my independence and it’s pissing me off.

So far I’ve just been thanking them because I appreciate the good intentions and don’t know what else to say. So what can I say, without hurting their feelings or insulting them?

Thanks,
Blindo-in-Training

Dear Blindo-in-Training,

Does it matter that they are hurting your feelings and insulting you?

I’m voting for FUCK YES.

I think you are experiencing a double-whammy here: you are a woman, and you are becoming disabled. (Readers, some of this letter was edited; I know she’s a woman.)

As women, we are trained to care far more about hurting and insulting others than taking care of our own selves when we are hurt and insulted.And as disabled people, especially ones like you and me who become disabled later in life, we’re still dealing with our own issues around this such as feeling increasingly helpless and suddenly being treated like (even more) second-class citizens. Asking for help sucks, and accepting help sucks, and when people just hand it over or grab us without being asked, even if we didn’t need it/they are actively hurting us, we still feel some societal pressure to be nice about it. And even to pretend to be grateful. Even when they are being helpISH instead of helpFUL.

But you are perpetuating this by thanking them! Don’t do it anymore. Don’t don’t don’t, no matter how much you want to. When you thank someone, they think they did a good thing. No no no no no stop.

I am so glad that you appreciate their good intentions. I have gotten to the point where I want to tell people to stuff their good intentions where the sun don’t shine. But since you do, I’m giving you this script:

“I truly appreciate your good intentions, and I don’t want to hurt your feelings. But you need to let me do this so I can feel like a real live independent adult. Instead of help, please offer me patience.”

And then FIRMLY, but with a warm smile, remove their hand from your arm, and STICK TO YOUR GUNS.

After you’ve delivered this speech, you can hold up your hand and say: “No help! Patience!” and then the next few times, just: “Patience!” or, if you must: “Patience, please!”

And smile. Smile smile smile smile until your face feels like it will fall off. This will really cut the sting, and will give you the strength you need to say the hard thing that you really have to say.

I know this isn’t easy. I’ve been there myself. But each time you do it, it gets easier and easier. I promise.

This letter originally appeared at bitterempire.com on February 10, 2015.