As I approached my tween years, I remember visiting with my mother who was living in her own apartment after my parents’ divorce. As she stood on a chair to reach for something high up in her kitchen cabinets, she vaguely alluded to periods and all I remember her saying was to stay away from boys. I got my period at age 12 on a Sunday when I discovered spotting in my underwear in the basement bathroom after church services. I stuffed tissues in my underwear and later told my stepmother. She showed me how to wrap the blood soaked pads so that no one in our home, especially my father, would know. I only really knew about periods because my close cousin, two years my senior, had warned me about it. I suffered quietly through severe cramps and hid my period as well as I could until later in college when I realized I could take painkillers to ease the pain and the men I hung out with didn’t see them as a big deal.

Our family finally adopted a kitten about four months ago after years of pleas from my younger son, who helped name her Scarlet. We found her profile online and didn’t know much about her personality except a blurry picture and the listing which described her as a cool cat who would be listening to jazz if she were human. We were looking for a mellow cat and proceeded with the adoption process virtually.

It’s been six years since we last had a cat. Katie was the last of three cats, the other two males. We had to put her down unexpectedly when she started deteriorating quickly and we discovered she had kidney failure. She was suffering and in so much pain that we decided to let her go quickly. I’ve never really gotten through Katie’s death. I still cry readily every time I think about her. She was such a special cat who loved being around humans and purred every time you picked her up. She’d play fetch with you when you threw those tiny, colorful cloth mice by bringing it back in her mouth like a dog and dropping it at your feet. Even my stepmother, who hated cats, loved Katie and when I asked about it, she told me it was because Katie was different.

I wanted another Katie.

My mothers, suffering from their own mother wounds, had shown me that the feminine was about shame and hiding and keeping others from seeing us so that we would remain palatable.

When we brought Scarlet home, it took about a day or two for her to feel comfortable enough to be herself and then we started to see her true personality. We realized that she was described as “cool” not because she was mellow but because she was a loner and did her own thing. We’ve learned a lot about her in the past months. She lets you know when she wants affection and purrs loudly when she allows you to pet her on her terms. If you don’t, she’ll let you know and walk away. She doesn’t like being picked up, especially when she’s busy doing something, and is vocal and will bite at you if you defy her complaints. She likes to climb curtains and blinds to get to the cords even if you tie them high up. She loves to explore new spaces in the house and will find a way to get into closets and rooms even when we keep the doors closed. She gets a wild look in her eyes and when she does, she runs over and “tags” you on your leg and wants to be chased. Sometimes she sleeps in between our pillows all night and other times, she’ll sleep on her own. She tears up the toilet paper and rips the anti-scratching tape we’ve stuck all over our chairs off with her teeth.

She is nothing like Katie.

Someone recently told me they believed the animals that come into our lives are exactly who we need at the time. It made me think about Katie and when she was in my life. We adopted her after we had moved into something close to our dream house and I had checked off the list of all the things I thought I needed to be happy. It was a period of malaise and not recognizing how unhappy I was. She was a source of comfort, consistent love, and affection at a time when that was missing.

I’ve been calling Scarlet my feminine divine ever since we really got to know her. She is nothing like Katie, whom I still love dearly, but our family adores Scarlet exactly as she is. When I recently mentioned to my husband that I saw her as my feminine divine and shared what that person said about animals coming into our lives, he replied, “she’s your spirit animal” and I knew he was right. She represents the parts of me that want to connect to that wild that lives inside all of us―a wild that is free, driven by our own desires and untethered to others’ expectations.

My boys didn’t understand why I wouldn’t consider adopting a boy cat. I just knew it had to be a girl. My mothers, suffering from their own mother wounds, had shown me that the feminine was about shame and hiding and keeping others from seeing us so that we would remain palatable. But ever since I’ve awakened to my feminine divine, I’ve known this not to be true. Scarlet, whose name means red, is my spirit animal, a reminder of my feminine and she is a wild, full expression of self.

She is exactly who I need in my life right now.

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Image by Luis Wilker WilkerNet from Pixabay