Sensitive child vs insensitive teacher

I recently came across a letter that my 5th grade teacher wrote to my mother.  I was stunned by the force of negativity lying inside.  In it she wrote how there were severe gaps in my knowledge and how my answers in class were extremely bizarre, incomprehensible and irrelevant to the topic at hand.  She then expressed how I never seemed to remember whatever it was she taught the day before.  Then, while lamenting her “concern” for my intellectual deficiencies, she explained that she was trying to help me but didn’t sound too hopeful for a positive outcome.

My experience of this teacher had been terrible.  She was stern, cold, and lacking in empathy for the children in front of her, using her power on earth to discourage rather than encourage a child with a mind capable of critical thinking.  She failed to nurture a sense of uniqueness and therefore discouraged any sense of the value of a positive self-image.    Rereading this diatribe from her brought up so many emotions from that time in my life.  What struck me more than anything was how strongly I had internalized the belief that I was stupid, incapable, worthless, insignificant, and most of all a loser.

When one is a child, and adults are telling you who and how you should be, the wheels are set in motion of feeling immense pressure that has no way of being put in perspective. This incident, among many, culminated in such powerful feelings of self-loathing that it inevitably formed how I operated and navigated the world in front of me.

All these years later, as an adult in my mid-thirties, I still question my own value.  I think of myself as a very self-aware person who lives and breathes honesty and authenticity about my life; however, it’s incredible how being a sensitive empath who feels the emotional pain of others when confronted with it can send me back to being that scared, wounded child who had no control over how I was being treated.  If I knew then what I know now I would have stood up to this teacher who cruelly, but probably unintentionally, had no clue how her words would be absorbed by a ten year old kid just trying to survive and make it into adolescence with as much ease as possible.

We’re all hurt as we walk along on our journey, and even though time doesn’t stop for us, we must stop for it.  Really realizing that whatever I spurned in this woman had little to do with me, and more to do with her, is understandable, yet, the hurt becomes lodged in the psyche until hopefully, one day, it ceases to have the same powerful effect it once had.







“My Cats” by Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski is my favorite poet.  I love Charles Bukowski.  Charles Bukowski loved cats.  He wrote many poems about cats; there is even a book of his collected poems about cats.  His poem “My Cats” is about what I believe and what I have been studying.  Cats are my teachers.

Bukowski On Cats Book Cover



Bukowski with ginger


My Cats

I know. I know.
they are limited, have different
needs and

but I watch and learn from them.
I like the little they know,
which is so

they complain but never
they walk with a surprising dignity.
they sleep with a direct simplicity that
humans just can’t

their eyes are more
beautiful than our eyes.
and they can sleep 20 hours
a day
hesitation or

when I am feeling
all I have to do is
watch my cats
and my

I study these

they are my

– Charles Bukowski






Bubby’s Choice

It was time to adopt a cat.   It had been a few months since my cat Moish passed and Archie was lonesome.  I went on the Humane Society’s website, something I did begrudgingly as I get so upset seeing so many homeless creatures, and quickly stopped when I saw the most beautiful face imaginable.  She was perfect, a senior cat who was waiting for a good home.  I made an appointment to meet her.  The drive to the shelter took about 45 minutes.    The woman in charge asked me a lot of questions and said that Bubby couldn’t be adopted yet because she needed to have surgery; she had never been spayed.  She also told me that Bubby didn’t want to live with other cats; my home really wasn’t suitable.  I left feeling dejected, thinking I would never see this cat again.  I was upset, but hoped she wouldn’t remain on my mind (or in the shelter) for long.

A few days later I got a call telling me that the surgery went well, but the veterinarian said she had never seen a cat with such a propensity for obesity.  I was again strongly discouraged by the shelter director, reasoning Bubby would greedily eat all of the food set out for two cats.  I was resigned; this really wasn’t meant to be.

About a month later I was at home, in a bad mood, having one of those days where unhappiness reigns supreme.  In an effort to cheer myself up I decided to drag myself out of bed and drive to the local outpost of the Humane Society in our town, a little boutique shelter called Purradise.  I walked in and who’s right there?  Bubby!!  She had been transferred just a couple of days before!  I wanted to know why.  The director explained that people come in to adopt kittens; senior cats are not as desired.  Bubby had been at the main shelter for a month and it was thought that she might fare better in a new setting.  The director said she would love for Bubby to be adopted by me.  Since I wasn’t expecting this turn of events, I still wasn’t convinced.  There was another cat there, a male, who I had my eye on.  He was staring at me with such a soulful gaze I decided he might be the one.  When he was removed from his “condo” to hang with me, he ran away quickly, wanting nothing to do with me whatsoever. The director kept telling me how wonderful Bubby was, and that I should really just take her.

I went back home to think about it, not wanting to succumb to any pressure right then and there.  An hour later I made my decision…. I was going to bring Bubby home.  And the rest is history.  She was waiting for me to return, and when I didn’t, she made the long trip to make sure she would see me again.  I am grateful to my angel for orchestrating this remarkable turn of events.