Learning to Receive Love

Shibumi in Carrier

Our biggest worry when we took in three abandoned kittens was that they would never be interested in or even be truly able to connect with people, that they would always be wary, aloof and untouchable.

For the past 11 days we’ve seen them move forward so much. (Follow their daily progress on  Chronicles of the Triplets) Slowly they moved out of their hiding spot beneath the piano. Warily they began to eat, stretch out and even sleep with us near by. Shannon, Justin and I spent as much time in the Kitten Zone as we could. We got down on the floor with them. We threw paper balls. We doled out treats. If we reached out our hands, they bolted.

We learned, instead, to sit close by, to sidle up inch by inch and be patient. (I can barely describe how badly we all want to reach down and pick up these little boos and hold them to our hearts!) The more we spent time with the kittens, the more we became aware of their signals. If there was any tension at all in their body, any wariness in their eyes, we moved away.

In the past few days something started to change. For me, it started with Scout.

2015-07-12 Scout

Scout has been the most terrified of the kittens. It took days for him to even look at me. And now when he does, it’s looks like this – full of soul and… something.  It’s as though he is longing for something but has no way to ask for it.

It isn’t food because, trust me, they’ve all learned how to ask for that.

I’ve spent hours sitting quietly next to Scout. I’ve counted it a success every time he hasn’t moved away. Then, the other day, he surprised me by shifting and coming in a little closer. I was amazed when next he reached out his paw towards me. I gently moved in just a little bit. He put his head forward. Emboldened, I gently stroked his paw, just once, twice, and then, heart full to bursting, I let the moment go.
JRS 2015-07-11 Shibumi near Stove

Soon Shibumi showed signs of a similar longing. As I sat with Scout and Escher, she trotted over and curled up near me too and started to purr. Gently, I reached out and touched her side. She startled and then came back and looked at me. I tried again. One stroke. Two. She moved away and returned. This time I tried petting her head, gently rubbing around her ears, and she sat there as though on a precipice of longing, on one side the familiar, on the other side love.

That’s when Escher became curious as well.

Escher on Purple Pillow

His desire was clear, as was the fact that he didn’t know what he was longing for, how to ask for it or how to receive it. I reached out gently. He pulled away. I tried again, approaching from a different angle. He stayed very, very still. I rubbed his head and up around his ears and watched. It was like he didn’t quite understand what was happening but he couldn’t walk away.

It was in that moment that I started to understand is that we are literally teaching the kittens how to receive love. The desire is there but they have no experience with it at all. They have never been touched kindly, never stroked until they fell asleep, never picked up with love or kissed on the nose.

And though love is a wonderful gift, for the kittens, just as it has been (and may still be) for many of us, learning to receive love and affection is tremendously uncomfortable while being magically magnetic.

Love is vulnerable. It’s a risk. A risk we need to keep on taking if we want to feel loved and at home.

The Triplets Together
photo by Shannon

Taking in three abandoned kittens came as quite a surprise – as does three vet visits, three sets of vaccines and three spay/neuter surgeries! So we’re getting creative and relaunching the Sparkles e-course in support of these much-loved rescues! We’ve even made the registration fee adjustable in case you want to add a little extra to their care package. We know they’d appreciate it.

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7 comments

    • Jamie says:

      LOL, that gives me a great sense of hope, Lisa! I am so looking forward to snuggle hug sessions! Yay you for being so good with Johnjon!

  1. Nicole says:

    Beautifully written and wonderful observations Jamie. Once you’ve gained their trust fully, I have no doubt they’ll return your love. It took me around 4 months for Phantom to let me touch him and about 6 months for Shadow. Now Phantom, who was definitely born wild, loves his belly being rubbed. As soon as I touch his belly he flops down and goes into some sort of hypnotic state. He’ll allow me to rub his belly for as long as I want. Shadow also loves his belly being rubbed, but he does stay still for long times. Once you’ve found their sweet spot, they’ll soften. :) You’re doing a fabulous job at rescuing them and I love reading your journey.

    • Jamie says:

      Thank you so much, Nicole!! It really helps me to gain perspective when you share your journey too. I’m truly hopeful about where we’re headed. These kittens are an amazing blessing. I’m so glad to share the journey.

  2. My cat Mimi does not like to be picked up (ever). She chooses to approach me mainly when I am seated and she settles next to my leg and loves me to stroke her chin, ears, tummy flanks and tail in not particular order. She allows me to comb her fur for brief periods. She is very vocal about her food and will jump on the bed at 4 am if she is dissatified with what she finds. I worry because I appear to be the only human she likes. I have lived with her for 8 years.

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