My Unraveling (And How My Cat Put Me Back Together)

todayDecember 12, 2022 14

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When I was growing up, I was known as the smart kid. The kid who got A’s in nearly every class. The kid who aced tests without studying. Sure, I’ve had my fair share of detentions for missed assignments, but I was always able to catch up before the end of the semester. I was like a crocheted blanket. Sure I had some skipped stitches and missteps, but overall, I was functional and I looked machine-made.  When I got to college, my blanket started getting worse. I was in a new environment that I had to learn to navigate. My first semester wasn’t bad. It was a C average, a more messily made blanket. Looking back on it, I realize it wasn’t the worst. At the time, though, I believed my quality was diminishing.  The next semester had a better outlook, but it was unfortunately interrupted by a little thing called a global pandemic. In terms of my blanket metaphor, COVID-19 was a stray cat grabbing my ball of yarn and walking into oncoming traffic. I had to drop my work and cut the thread before my entire blanket was pulled into the street and run over. Shifting to learning from home was a struggle for me, especially since I have ADHD. I would completely zone out in online lectures, and I struggled to get assignments in because everything was so different. The only kind of yarn that I had left was a super bulky yarn that was difficult to work with. I worked with the tools I had at my disposal and got by. Everything was fine until I moved into my first apartment the following semester. This is when the unraveling truly began. Since this was at the height of the pandemic, I was still online. That meant that I could enter the zoom calls for my classes and not pay attention to them. I was also incredibly messy, to the point where I was almost kicked out of my apartment for the mess I had created. When I got the letter from the company I was renting from, I had a breakdown. I had never been the cleanest person, but I never thought it was that bad. This was also around the time when I learned that I wasn’t going to pass any of my classes.  It was the lowest I had ever felt.  I called my mom and explained the situation to her. I thought she would be disappointed with the blanket I had become, but if she was disappointed, she never showed it. She, my dad, and my sister all came to Lincoln to help me clean my apartment. She also helped me get organized so my apartment would stay cleaner and easier to tidy up. My mom helped, but what made me want to be able to put myself back together was my six-month-old dark gray kitten named Salem. I got her when I moved into my first apartment. She was a tiny terror, but I loved her dearly. My mom had offered for me to move back home, but I would have to get rid of Salem.  The fear of losing this kitten that had become my best friend at a time when I felt alone was enough motivation for me to turn my life around. I started meeting with an ADHD coach, I actually listened to the lectures on Zoom, and I turned in assignments. Most of them were a little late, but being late was better than never turning them in at all, and I’m getting a lot better at it now. I’m actually a lot better with my classes in general. I’m okay with not getting straight A’s as long as I’m passing. At the time of writing this, Salem is now two-and-a-half years old, and while she now mostly spends her days attempting to unravel my crochet projects by eating the yarn, I know that my life would be empty without her. She helped me build myself back up by simply existing. I will never be able to tell her this, though. She would let the praise get to her head and take over the world.

Written by: Kay Badberg

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