I had registered the yelling of the cats long before I actually woke up.
An incessant, high-pitched sound of three cats, all gathered on my balcony. I do not own any cats.
After an especially distressed sound I found myself walking downstairs on autopilot.
I slammed open the door to the cat assembly, all terrified of a fox a few metres away from me.
With my arrival, two of the cats darted away, and the fox jumped one of them, biting its leg.
From the looks of things, nobody was seriously hurt.
The neighbourhood cat that I had been feeding for months named Cato stayed with me,
legs between his legs, hair on his back still raised.
The fox came back few times, only to dart away when it saw me.
Cato came to me knowing I would scare the fox
and save them from a dangerous situation.
But had I?
Even when I had interrupted a standoff, I started feeling guilty for startling the fox.
It is very rare for foxes to attack cats, usually its the other way around!
But I was worried about the cat that got bit, surely that could have been avoided if I hadn’t arrived?
Surely there is something in this scenario which I can blame myself for?
I had made my mind up before I had known the outcome or even the situation:
I was guilty.
Clearly, this goes far beyond just this one incident.
Because of my guilt, I stayed on the balcony for hours, protecting my cat friend.
Because of my guilt, I hang out with people I don’t actually like just because they asked.
Because of my guilt, I can only stand up for myself in my head where there’s no chance of hurting anyone but me.
Not only do I have chronic guilt feelings,
but also deep martydom.
It’s like my chronic guilt is Cato, waking me up, sticking around, meowing until it gets my attention.
The fox is my martydom, it makes me run away and hide, bite my friends and shy away from all who mean well.
I’m newly aware of my guilt, so I see it everywhere.
I lay out food for it every day, waiting for it to come by.
Only to shush it away when it does.