The other night my cat jumped from my bed onto the top of my armoire. It stands a couple feet taller than me. I can’t even begin to figure out how she did that (now, if you hate cats and cat stories, hang with me…I have a good point at the end). The next day I was telling my husband about this; how cute she was just perched up there, sleeping and monitoring her little “kingdom” like the Lion King. He asked me, “So how did she get down?” I told him that of course she couldn’t figure it out and I eventually had to lift her down. He said, “That’s funny, seeing as cats are notorious for getting stuck in trees and unable to get down.” You know, like in movies and in books where someone calls the fire department to get a kitten out of the tree for a frantic grandma/child? I’m not making any judgment statements, but just think about it—isn’t that always the scene? Apparently cats are really adept at getting themselves into dangerous situations but not so much when it comes to getting themselves out. Getting “unstuck”. For that, they need outside help.
Me too. I can effortlessly “tree” myself. I can find myself in questionable or overwhelming circumstances that I got myself into all on my own with very little thought or planning and am powerless to reverse. Or worse yet, like a cat chasing a squirrel, I can run myself up a tree of obsessive or negative thinking and have no idea how to go back from where I came. Sometimes I arrived at these places because I wasn’t paying attention to what matters to me. I was going along without a game plan and without boundaries. I wasn’t keeping first things first and all that good stuff. A lot of the time, like with most cats who get trapped in trees, it’s a result of fear, especially when it has to do with what’s going on in my head. I go places in my head that “it’s not safe to go alone.” Ya, Fear is a big one.
For a cat, and for me, there is only one solution to getting “unstuck”: We gotta get some help from someone else. Sometimes it is enough for me to ask God. I pray, beg, bargain and plead (like a Cubs Fan in the bottom of the 9th—game 7) for Him to save me: “Save me from my circumstances or help me survive them. Calm my brain and relieve my obsessive thinking. Help slow my thoughts and bring me back to sanity. Bring me back to realistic thinking, not fatalistic thinking.”
God definitely has to be involved in the rescue plan. But more often than not, and this is the part I am really bad at, I need another human being. This is why people have sponsors and counselors and mentors and wise friends around them. But there is only one design flaw to that plan of action: YOU have to make the call.
Most people will not just happen along the street where you have been stranded in the tree for hours/days/weeks/months/years. You have to reach out and let someone know you need assistance. It’s embarrassing to be stuck in a tree. So it makes it pretty hard to make the “ask”.
But I know I am at great risk of being trapped for a very long time and possibly hurting myself further if I refuse to admit I need help and reach out to someone else. It’s hard because it makes me vulnerable. I don’t want to appear weak or incapable of taking care of myself. But those are just ways that my giant Ego prevents me from getting well. In order to come back to earth and not live my life huddled in the crevice of a tree (which, in case it hasn’t dawned on you just yet, seems a bit more humiliating that asking for help), requires the loving words and listening ears of someone other than me. And I have to say, it’s much less of a spectacle to ask someone who loves me to assist in the getting “unstuck” process than having to call for the Fire Truck.