Lately Bugs has been especially affectionate. He’s developed a strict routine where, once in the morning and just before lights out at night, he comes and makes biscuits on me.
It’s always the same. First he sits near the bed and speaks. I put down what I’m doing and answer. He speaks again. I lie down on my left side, with my left arm extended. Not the right arm. The right arm doesn’t work. It’s got to be the left.
Bugs then hops up, climbs on and over me, arrives at the left bicep, and begins.
He makes biscuits with great intensity. He purrs constantly. A bead of moisture gathers on his nose, drips off, is replaced by another. And another. And so on.
This lasts about ten minutes and then he’s off, usually abruptly and without any reason I can tell. A bird calls, Barney moves in the other room, no reason at all. Sometimes, though, he turns sideways, collapses into my chest, and falls asleep. I like that especially.
So this morning, at one point while this biscuit-making was going on, I actually lost my sense of myself as separate from Bugs. I merged into his soft furriness, his focus, his intensity.
It was a most wonderful feeling.
I began thinking – yes, of course thinking came back, way before I wanted it to but there you go – I thought if only I had had Bugs when I was a child. If only I had had a chance to luxuriate in this profoundly pleasurable way, with just one beautiful being expressing connection and affection, without judgment or reason or justification or explanation, just doing it. The harshness of my childhood, the barrenness, the frustration, the fury, all this would have been eased, ameliorated. I would have known that life can also be lovely, immensely pleasurable, profoundly consoling.
Psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk writes of how traumatized people can heal their disrupted sleep and digestive patterns, hyperarousal, pain and anxiety, depression and illness, by connecting with support and with the opportunity to ease stress-flooding. To reset physiological functioning not by talk, but by bringing comfort and well-being to the body so ragged by trauma.
Well — there’s still time.
Where there’s life, there can be healing.