Who wants to end up with 12 cats in their old age?
I call this particular scenario the 12 Cat Syndrome.
Every time you go through a break-up or stay in a not-so-great relationship, the mind-numbing fear of growing old alone and ending up with 12 cats (or whatever number you apply) freaks you out!
The possibility of your older years being devoid of humans and reflecting loneliness, desperation or some horrible specter can lead you to doing everything you can think of to not be alone.
It makes for a small world.
You can’t do what you truly want deep inside.
You might end up alone. Risk equals possible aloneness. So you stay put, enduring a dysfunctional situation, based on what if there’s no one else?
This same philosophy applies to promises you made to yourself as a child, “I’m not going to be like my mom, or dad.” Only to have you scratching your head some years later, as you see your parents’ reflection in the mirror.
When you fear something, you usually end up making it a truth in your life.
Let’s say, mom and dad divorced…
As a single mom, your mother struggled on her own and your dad remarried four times. Neither looked too appealing, yet here you are divorced and in one unfulfilling relationship after another, continuously running from the fear of ending up like either parent and creating it at the same time.
Fear makes you feel desperate to fix what isn’t broken, because of the lack of trusting life will eventually work out in a satisfying way. Ending up with 12 cats comes from believing life will not serve up any better opportunity to save you from such a fate. Heck, if your parents never had real love and happiness, in your mind, it could reflect your future!
It sets the stage for settling, for staying stuck with someone who is a mismatch, but better than being alone.
This stems from an old belief, whether it was your parents as the not-so-hot role models, or you were abandoned physically or emotionally. It can leave you wanting what you believe is impossible and fearing what you most do not want to happen.
How do you contribute to the 12 Cat Syndrome?
Look at where you disconnect from others on purpose, or set up relationships where there’s no emotional intimacy…a deeper bond. Perhaps you fantasize what it could grow to be, because the current reality is painful and you don’t want to leave it, because thoughts of the future alone are even scarier?
I’ve heard from several clients, who keep hoping their partner will wake up, or for those who are single, that some perfect partner shows up in their living room (thus saving them from the 12 cat fate).
In ignoring your reality, for the hope your relationship status will change, you may be longing for the rest of your life.
Like any fear, the more you resist, the more it persists.
You can talk about it, think about it or mull it over with others, but somehow nothing changes. Until you accept your reality and the truth of who you are, your fears will be running the show and you’ll stay stuck.
What to do?
- Accept being alone, especially when your focus is on other people filling you up or making you acceptable.
- Stop fighting against the 12 Cat Syndrome, surrender to it.
- Make choices based on expansion; what you really want; stop choosing from fear and lack.
- Get out of the what ifs and into the so what!
- Love your life as it is.
- Get deep into knowing who you are and act from that place.
- Take a risk with action that will change your perception.
- On animals—instead of a harbinger for spinsterhood, it’s been proven they de-stress and lighten your life.
One other thing, take emotionally meaningful action, which is counter-intuitive to your over-arching negative belief. Fill your subconscious with it and form a new belief.
It’s time to get comfortable feeling good.
Author: Tracy Crossley
Editor: Travis May