Self-Love Lessons from Fenix the Cat

“I want to love myself as much as Fenix loves himself. That’s my goal,” I stated firmly. You see, I was telling my master mind partner, Sharareh, “I think God loves me at least as much as I love my cat.” I was reasoning that if I, as imperfect and conditional as I am, can spoil a stray and feed him gourmet food and take him to the groomer at $50 a pop, then certainly God who is almighty, omnipotent and unconditional can take pretty good care of me if I just let Him. Shrareh said, “You have to love yourself as much as Fenix loves himself.”

Loving myself as much as Fenix loves himself has been my goal for the past 3 months. Fenix is a long-haired, Tabby Persian cat. He came to live with us in 2001, 2 days after our house caught on fire and we went to live in a hotel for 8 months.

When we came home to visit our belongings and pack needed items for our stay away from home, we saw this furry orange and white cat poking its head around corners and eventually working his way to live in a box on the porch. I had wanted a kitty for years but my husband insisted it would be disaster since we already had a dog. When I saw this scared, furry kitty on our porch, I couldn’t help but take it a can of tuna. Little did I know, two minutes later I had a friend for life. After a few bites of tuna, he darted in the front door and straight to the family room.

“We can’t have a cat now,” proclaimed my husband. I had to admit, this time he was right. So, I scooped up the kitty, walked him to the front door and set him on the porch. Before I could close the door, he whisked past my legs and straight into the family room again. With some pleading and guilt trips, I persuaded my husband to let us keep him. We named him Fenix because he’s “out of the fire”. The spelling was inspired by Felix the Cat.

So, off we went, Fenix, Hubby, me and Koya (a white Samoyed). We lived together in a condo loft for 8 months. When everything was prepared, we returned to a beautifully redesigned and brand-new home with all members of the family in tact.

Fenix was coming to live in our home for the first time so we kept a tight rein on him until he realized this is his new and permanent home. We’ve been back in the house almost 4 years now and if Fenix ever runs off, he’s usually very close by and begging to be let in the house within 15 minutes.

Last Saturday was different. We were gone from home most of the day and night and left an opening for the dog to get in and out while we were gone. When we came home, Fenix was nowhere to be found. Not this night or the night after or the night after that. Fenix was gone for 5 ½ days before he showed up on the porch again, ready to be let in.

So now that you know who Fenix is, I still haven’t told you about my goal to “love myself as much as Fenix loves himself.” You see, as a survivor of an abusive upbringing, I somehow got the idea that I was responsible for everything and that somehow if I controlled my behavior, I could control my environment and make people love me or treat me well. As a result, I guess you could say I became a control freak. Being a control freak is extremely exhausting and their aren’t really any good payoffs to it. In fact, it seems to me that the people who are happiest and most successful do a lot of letting go. They allow others to help them. They have fun. They work in teams. They believe that they are “worth it.” In many ways, I think that’s the majority of what sets success and failure apart. Well, I want success and happiness so I decided to take a lesson from my cat.

Fenix is a perfect example of letting go and receiving. When he wants love, he jumps on my lap, when he doesn’t, he bites me and runs away. When he’s hungry, he eats, when he’s thirsty he drinks. Never once does he have to sit and wonder where his next meal will come from. He boldly showed up on our porch one day, decided he was home and refused to leave. We caved into his wishes and went on to not only feed and groom him but give him and extremely loving environment to live in daily. When I worry about life and not having enough, I look at Fenix. Sometimes I even stretch or take a nap.

When Fenix ran off, right in the middle of this whole lesson, I had to wonder…how does all of this fit in the plan? I love Fenix, he loves me, why is he gone? Well, here’s what I realized today. Fenix was not only bold enough to come proclaiming his princehood once. He actually has the nerve to take off, do his own thing for five days, come back with no explanation and march right in like he’s the owner. He never once had to wonder “Do you think they’ll let me back in? Do you think they still love me?” I can tell you, he didn’t waste one second planning his alibi or practicing his excuses.

Just when I thought I loved myself as much as Fenix loves himself, I realized I had to kick it up another notch and let go of the past. Just like I don’t “hold it against” Fenix for leaving and “breaking my heart” for 5 days, I know that when I truly love and forgive myself, I find people and situations that accept me as I am and who can love me even when I make mistakes. I also know that when I accept myself, I’m 10 times more accepting of others and their “faults.”

What Fenix taught me is that I need to let myself off the hook for being less than perfect in the past and to realize that love conquers all. I know that at any moment I can choose to let go of the past and experience the peace of now, rather than the turmoil of the past or future, and I learned it from a long-haired Persian cat named Fenix.