Today it was brought to my attention that I may have a problem. This problem has been with me for years, lying dormant in the recesses of my mind and only activating itself during crucial analytical moments. In retrospect I can clearly see it, as I do at this exact moment in time, yet when push comes to shove and as interactions are occurring I cannot see it.
My problem is Pessimism.
Skyler’s cat, GreyPaw, recently went missing. As long as she has been a member of our family, she has been an indoor/outdoor cat. She would go out every day, sometimes night, yet would always be back at the door wanting inside usually within 12 hours. This time she disappeared for 19 days. I didn’t initially worry because the weather was decent, not too far below freezing, and we had put digital poster out on websites designed for lost pet notifications.
As time crawled along, as we got a couple of responses to the posters that didn’t pan out, as the weather dipped to negative temps and began DUMPING snow on us I started to lose hope. Skyler began regularly asking us where GreyPaw was. We took a couple of rides around Tomah at night, with flashlights, as Skyler yelled for his cat from the rear passenger seat.
A week went by and I told Skyler she would be back, she was just out stretching her wild legs.
The details of our impending move solidified shortly thereafter and I started to prep myself to tell Skyler that she was probably gone for good (realistically, dead was my suspicion). By this point Skyler had already cried multiple times for his kitty.
This morning AJ and I discussed selling the cat tree we bought over the holiday to our neighbor, then getting rid of the litter boxes. We were ready to tell Skyler that his cat was probably not coming back. It was not going to be easy or pretty.
Then AJ got a call from our landlord after I had gone to work this morning, letting her know that GreyPaw was on the front porch waiting to come in. She had lost a bit of weight but was otherwise in great shape. Now here’s where the pessimism really slapped me in the face:
I realized that that I had been telling myself for about two weeks now that she was dead, either frozen in the harsh cold or victim to a vehicle/predator. Nowhere in the thought process did I seem to have room for the possibility of her waltzing back into our lives. That may not seem too big a deal on the surface but the more I think about it the more I have to wonder what other interactions this penchant may be influencing. It is a hard thing to pay specific notice to an underlying function of the brain yet I believe if I start trying to notice that insidious aspect of my personality in action I can shed that altogether, leading to a happier outlook in general as well as a more encouraging parenting style.
Have you ever noticed pessimism in action in your life? How do you intervene on yourself?