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#431366 - 04/15/13 09:19 PM Charlie
BraveFalcon Offline
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MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/25/13
Posts: 1147
Loc: The ATL

I was six years old when Charlie came into my life. I don't remember the first time I saw her but I remember how she endeared herself to me and the rest of my family. We didn't know who she belonged to, but whenever we opened the door, she would just run inside, seeming to say she belonged to us. I loved her immediately. When we couldn't find her owner and my parents said we could keep her, I was overjoyed. I named her Charlie.

I suppose it should be obvious at this point that Charlie wasn't a person. No, she was a little calico cat. I liked the name Charlie, so that's what I named her, even though she was a girl. I didn't care. To be honest with you, we had also had a gerbil and a couple of fish at one point whom had been named Charlie as well. That was thanks to me. Not sure why I was such a stickler for the name.

When we first adopted Charlie, the vet determined her to be not more than a year old. She was basically still just a kitten and an extremely affectionate one at that.

Over the years, Charlie and I grew together. She was my best friend. She always knew when I was crying and when I did she would come running to me. Every single time. I've never seen such empathy in a cat but she was filled with it. When she heard me crying, she'd come. She'd get in my lap and rub herself against me, gently purring. She knew I was in pain and she knew she was comforting me. I could hold her close, bury my face in her and make her fur wet with my tears. She didn't mind. Through all of the pain, hurt, shame and confusion of my childhood, she was always there for me. She didn't judge me and I didn't have to be ashamed in front of her. For so may years, she was my rock.

In April of 1994, I was 19 years old and only a few months into therapy. I had only begun to explore the pain of the CSA in my childhood, as well as all the other trauma that I had kept bottled inside for so long. Not to mention all of the bullying, rejection and torment I had suffered at the hands of my peers. All of it. That was when Charlie fell ill. The vet said it was feline Leukemia.

In that month, Charlie slowly got weaker and weaker. Then, one evening, I found her lying on the floor, limp and barley breathing. I remember scooping up her limp, almost lifeless body and just holding her and sobbing. She was leaving me at the worst possible time and I couldn't bear it. By the next morning, she was gone. Part of me had died with her.

At the next session with my T, I didn't talk about CSA, abuse, bullies or the past at all. Only about Charlie and my memories of her and the pain of loosing her. I sat on his sofa and just cried into my hands. It's all I can do not to cry now as I write this.

This is Charlie. This is the little cat that was my rock for so many years. She will always be a part of me and in some way will always be with me....

(Pic removed. PM me if you want to see it.)

Oh, and that's me on the left and my brother on the right. (Yeah, the kid on the left and the kid in my avatar are both me. My hair got darker and curlier as I got older.)


Edited by BraveFalcon (02/28/14 05:17 AM)

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#431372 - 04/15/13 09:50 PM Re: Charlie [Re: BraveFalcon]
traveler Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 3522
Loc: somewhere in Africa
now you went and made me cry again!
those old photos always get to me.

i get it.
i had at dog at the worst time in my boyhood.
she got sick and had to be put down.
i think the grieving i did for her was the only real emotion i expressed for several years.
it probly included grief for a LOT more than just her loss.

maybe you too?
sorry, BF!

Lee
_________________________
As my life goes on I believe somehow something's changed
Something deep inside...
I've been searchin so long to find an answer
Now I know my life has meaning
Now I see myself as I am, feeling very free...
When my tears have come to an end I will understand
What I left behind: a part of me. Chicago


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#431378 - 04/15/13 11:01 PM Re: Charlie [Re: BraveFalcon]
dumont Offline


Registered: 03/28/13
Posts: 34
Loc: No where
Oh Bravefalcon,
You are so lucky to have loved and to have been loved so well.
I am so jealous of that.
i hope one day there will be a charlie in my life; four or two footed.
sigh,
dumont
P.S. I can't stop crying now, not a sad cry but the happy kind of cry

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#431381 - 04/16/13 12:12 AM Re: Charlie [Re: BraveFalcon]
ThisMan Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/22/13
Posts: 767
Loc: upper south
Ken- I didn't cry this time. I sobbed. What a beautifully sad story of love. Our family lab of 13 years died two days after the spouse did. Your story touched me deeply. Thanks, mister man. I love the photo.

...btw... in November, when the 55 b'day came and I removed the negative friendships, cleaned the cluttered closets and started T working toward healing... I also adopted a young cat from the shelter. Man, what a gift she is.

b


Edited by ThisMan (04/16/13 12:13 AM)
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#431573 - 04/17/13 02:35 PM Re: Charlie [Re: BraveFalcon]
JoziSA Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/05/12
Posts: 144
Loc: Johannesburg, South Africa
Bravefalcon

I really loved reading your story about Charlie, so often on this forum we hear about the victim, survivor and thriver. We dont often hear about those unsung hero's in our lives, who someway made our experiences bearable. Charlie is one of those MS hero's, not a human but feline.

Thank you Charlie, for the support and love you have given to one of our own.
_________________________
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South African MALE SURVIVORS of Sexual Abuse
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If your mind can perceive it and your heart can believe it, YOU can achieve it.

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#431605 - 04/17/13 09:51 PM Re: Charlie [Re: BraveFalcon]
Chase Eric Offline
Moderator
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 1493
My eyes just welled up reading this beautiful remembrance. I had a tortoise shell calico named Checkers who was just like Charlie - she could sense when I was sad and would come right up to me. Later when I met my partner, she adopted both of us. If one of us was sick, she'd sleep with him and stand vigil until he was better. We nicknamed her Nurse Checkers. She was my most loyal friend - there were no conditions to her love and affection. She never cheated on me or manipulated me or put me aside for something better - she was just always there with all her soul. A true gift of heaven.

Perhaps I can share a thought in this beautiful thread by BraveFalcon - that at least here in the US, it seems society does not allow us to grieve for our pets as we would grieve for family members. But when my best friend's cat died a few years back, he told me that he found it strange that he couldn't tell what hurt more - losing his cat of 18 years or losing his own father a few months before that.

I lost that friend - to suicide. And I lost my father. And I lost Checkers. And of the three, I still cannot say any was less painful than the other. Paul Simon's lyrics say it best for me: "Losing love is like a window in your heart. And everybody sees you're blown apart - everybody feels the wind blow."

I'm really glad that you, BraveFalcon, have introduced this thread. It gives us permission to love and grieve where perhaps others would not understand. If that sounds familiar, perhaps it is because it is not much different than sharing the secrets we had to keep as children - because we feared no one would understand or even wanted to hear them.

And perhaps Checkers will find Charlie and they'll romp together, patiently waiting for us when we finally reach the end of our own trails.
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#431694 - 04/18/13 08:49 PM Re: Charlie [Re: BraveFalcon]
lapchinj Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/07/11
Posts: 1250
Loc: New York
Hey Brave

I had an opposite story than you. I had a parakeet that used to eat out of my mouth and my mother said that was disgusting and to her/him back in the cage.

The dogs were mostly poodles because they were given haircuts and were status symbols for my mother. When I would play with any of them I was told either to leave the dog alone or not make him/her wild. Also if the poodle came back from the "hairdresser" I wasn't allowed to play with "it" because my mother "spent a fortune on her perm". So all those dogs were used as a tease for me that I couldn't play with them. It's like leaving a container of ice cream on the counter and my mother saying I can't have any (which did also).

When I went into the USAF my parents bought an Alaskan Malamute. A beautiful, beautiful dog with so much life in her. I came back on leave for a week and I would play with that dog. I was finally able to fight and have some pleasure with her. Her paws were tremendous so I knew she was going to be big. I came back on another leave about 6 months later and the dog was like 70 lbs, huge and still growing. Now I had a real friend that alway loved to run into the snow drifts and come out some place else.

I had called home after that and I spoke with my mother and she told me that she "got rid of the dog" because i wasn't home to take care of "it". So she gave the "it" away. So I asked then why did you even buy me the dog and then give "it" away? She told me that I wasn't there to take care of "it" so she gave "it" away. So I told her that she knew I couldn't take care of the dog because they don't allow pets in the barracks, because the USAF was not a social club and we were in a war at the time. Well the bitch told me that it was my fault, blah, blah, blah. I stopped going home on leave and stopped calling simply because I was treated like the dogs. So pets were used against me and I was never allowed to fall in love with any of them.

I don't remember any of the dogs names. It was always "walk the dog", so I guess they were all called "dog" or "it".

You were very lucky to have such an affectionate pet, and I know Eric did also, that you relate to and spend your time. Those memories are a treasure that you will carry around the rest of your life.

Peace, Rainbows, Love & Healing
Jeff
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Stick around, It will get better....

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#431703 - 04/18/13 10:41 PM Re: Charlie [Re: Chase Eric]
BraveFalcon Offline
Greeter
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/25/13
Posts: 1147
Loc: The ATL
Hi guys. Thanks so much for all your awesome replies. I had been meaing to post about Charlie for a while now and I'm glad I finally did. This was a very special and important post for me personally because it helped me to focus on something from my childhood that was not negative but postive and beautiful. I know the ending was sad but it was not sad in a tragic, unexpected way. More just in an inevitable way. Unless we are very old, we bring our pets into our lives knowing we will most likely out-live them. It's just that Charlie was so special. Sorry that I made anybody cry.

Originally Posted By: traveler

i think the grieving i did for her was the only real emotion i expressed for several years.
it probly included grief for a LOT more than just her loss.

maybe you too?


For sure. Although, at the time, pain, grief and sorrow was by far my primary emotion and I felt it for so many different reasons. It was almost impossible at times to tell what I was feeling the most sorrow and grief over. It all ran together like a series of small estuaries flowing into one wide and long river. Even now it's hard to look back and say what it was that hurt the most at any given time.

Originally Posted By: dumont
Oh Bravefalcon,
You are so lucky to have loved and to have been loved so well.
I am so jealous of that.
i hope one day there will be a charlie in my life; four or two footed.
sigh,
dumont
P.S. I can't stop crying now, not a sad cry but the happy kind of cry


Hello Dumont. I'm sorry if you feel like no one, human or animal, has ever given you this kind of unconditional love. You are still young and you will find this type of love someday, I promise. Although, unconditional love from a pet is much easier to come by and unconditional love from a human is certainly more complicated. Still, if you want it, you will find it. It may take a while, but you will find it, I swear you wil. Don't give up on that, ever.

Originally Posted By: ThisMan
Ken- I didn't cry this time. I sobbed. What a beautifully sad story of love. Our family lab of 13 years died two days after the spouse did. Your story touched me deeply. Thanks, mister man. I love the photo.


Hi Thisman. I am so deeply sorry to hear about your wife and your dog passing so close to one another. That is so horrible I can't even imagine it. To have lived through something like that and come out the other side tells me that you're an incredibly strong person.

Originally Posted By: ThisMan
...btw... in November, when the 55 b'day came and I removed the negative friendships, cleaned the cluttered closets and started T working toward healing... I also adopted a young cat from the shelter. Man, what a gift she is.


Aren't they though? Since Charlie came into my life I've almost always had at least one cat around. There have been a few dogs to. Most people say they are either cat people or dog people and I can honestly say I'm both. It's just that cats have an extra special place in my heart, thanks to Charlie.

As a side note, I will say that as an indepentant adult, I have only ever owned a cat. As an affirmed bachelor who works a lot and isn't home much, cats are just easier to own. They are lower maintainence pets than dogs and as such are the perfect pet for a virtual hermit like me. In fact, for me to own a dog wouldn't be fair to the dog.

Originally Posted By: JoziSA

I really loved reading your story about Charlie, so often on this forum we hear about the victim, survivor and thriver. We dont often hear about those unsung hero's in our lives, who someway made our experiences bearable. Charlie is one of those MS hero's, not a human but feline.


Hi Jozisa. Yes, Charlie was a hero, even if she didn't know it. She was a hero because she was there for a hurting little boy when he felt like no one else was.

Originally Posted By: Chase Eric
My eyes just welled up reading this beautiful remembrance. I had a tortoise shell calico named Checkers who was just like Charlie - she could sense when I was sad and would come right up to me.


Thank you, Eric. If you had a cat like Charlie, you were a lucky guy. In my experience, calicos tend to be the most affectionate, friendly and personalbe cats. When I was in my early 20s, my parents took in another calico and named her CJ, for Charlie Junior. She looked almost just like Charlie! Next to Charlie, she was the friendliest, most afectionate cat I've ever seen.

Sadly, CJ disappeared one day and no one ever saw her again. My best hope is that she wandered to far from the house and was taken in by a great family with a bunch of wonderful kids who just loved her to pieces every single day. My worst fear, I don't even want to say it but..... a coyote. Sadly, coyoties take down a lot of small pets in these parts.

Originally Posted By: Chase Eric

And perhaps Checkers will find Charlie and they'll romp together, patiently waiting for us when we finally reach the end of our own trails.


Yes, perhaps. And wherever they are romping together there is a great, big bowl of tuna that never spoils and never runs out. LOL! grin

Take care guys. Thanks for being there for me. Peace,

Ken

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#431705 - 04/18/13 11:04 PM Re: Charlie [Re: lapchinj]
BraveFalcon Offline
Greeter
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/25/13
Posts: 1147
Loc: The ATL
Originally Posted By: lapchinj

I don't remember any of the dogs names. It was always "walk the dog", so I guess they were all called "dog" or "it".


Hi Lapchinj. Man, I'm so sorry to hear about how your mom treated you and those dogs. People who use dogs as status symbols, treating them like they are merely expensive china dolls that live and breathe, piss me off! How dare she tell a little boy he can't play with the household dogs! Dogs are meant to be played with! Dogs are meant to run, and play, and have fun, and tumble around on the ground with little boys! THAT'S WHAT THEY'RE FOR!!!! Not to be dolled up and paraded around like some hoity-toity trophy with fur! GRRRRRRRRRR!!!! mad

Alaskan Malamutes are beautiful dogs, BTW. Sadly, I have a dog story not unsimilar to yours. When I was about 10, we adopted a German Shepard named Lady. I LOVED Lady! She was a great dog. She loved people and was even as gentle as she could be with my Charlie. Charlie even used to rub up against Lady sometimes. (There is nothing cuter than when kitties and doggies snuggle together!) grin

The only problem with Lady was, she was mean to smaller dogs and would sometimes attack them. It didn't make any sense. When it came to people or cats, she was as gentle as a kitten. Something about smaller dogs set her off though. Afraid she would kill someone else's dog and we would be sued, my parents gave her away.

For some reason, my parents waited until we were on vacation in Florida to tell me they had given her away and I didn't even get to say goodbye to her. I was 14 that summer. I had traveled to Florida with my mother and siblings and my father met us down there two days later. When he got there, he told us. I was devastated. Now that I'm older, I understand why they had to give her away but I'm still angry about how they handled it. I guess they didn't want my siblings and I to make a big emotional scene when the other family came to get her. Oh well. frown Take care. Peace,

Ken

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#431716 - 04/18/13 11:44 PM Re: Charlie [Re: BraveFalcon]
lapchinj Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/07/11
Posts: 1250
Loc: New York
Hey Ken,

The one thing that strikes me so much from all the posts here is that everyones pets had names. When I was told to walk the dog it wasn't go take Lassie for a walk it was take the dog for a walk. Or put that bird back in it's cage. There was never a name to any of the animals, just "it" or "the dog" or the "bird". So till today I have no recollection of any names for the pets we had. I remember some names but I'm not sure that those names were our pet's names or belonged to one of our neighbor's pets.

When I was younger than 10 I know we had a collie. I don't remember the name and I don't remember ever playing with him/her. I do remember that on Saturdays or Sundays I had to go with a big shovel and a small gardening shovel and pick up all the shit in the back yard. That's all what I remember about that dog.

There is a cat that lives outside my house behind a porch where he has a little indentation in the ground with leaves in it and he would sleep there at nights. It's protected on 3 sides from the wind and there is pa part of the roof that overhangs that space so there is no snow or rain. When I come out to go to work he would get up and run away. He would come back at night though. So I had some old dishtowels that were used in the house as rags and I just threw them down near his little shelter and he uses them. That really makes me happy. I have a pet that I'm protecting but again I have no name for him. I guess he goes to the beach in the summer but returns in the winter and he seems very healthy also. I do leave the covers off the garbage pails just in case he needs something to eat.

Peace, Rainbows, Love & Healing
<3 XOXO
Jeff
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