Meet Gilligan. I ran into this fine feline for the first time in our neighborhood
hardware store. This store is not a Lowes or Home Depot. It’s the old-fashioned
kind of hardware store that I remember from when I was a kid. It has the owner’s
last name painted on the front window.
Now back to Gilligan the cat. The first time I saw him he was calmly sitting on
the floor in sort of a fluffy cat ball, smack dab in the middle of things like:
the bustling people looking for items to begin their spring gardening, little kids
reviewing the candy selection at the register and now me looking at him in amazement
and with curiosity.
Although things were a buzz around him, he wasn’t disrupted by the store stimulus
at all. On this Saturday morning, he just enjoyed his sliver of sunshine and his
spot on the warm hardwood floor.
A nice gentleman who worked there asked if I needed help finding anything as I stood
looking at Gilligan. I said, “Oh I’m doing okay, but I just have to say how amazed
I am that your cat is so mellow in this environment.” “Oh, it took some time, when
Gilligan first came here he feared everything.” I said, “He’s come a long way.”
The gentleman replied, “Yes he has come a long way and he’s popular, too. Some people
just come in to see him!”
Once I paid for my small stack of paper lawn bags, I left the store, still pondering
the cat. On my short drive home I thought…That cat is such a great living example
of exposure therapy working. Over time, Gilligan became desensitized to the stimulus
around him! I am certain it was little step by little step, little exposure after
little exposure. Eventually his anxiety faded and a Zen-like cat appeared. It was
at that moment, that I knew I would be sharing Gilligan with you in this newsletter.
A week later, I wanted to get a picture of Gilligan, just where I had first seen
him, in the middle of everything; but he wasn’t there. The store clerk said, “Can
I help you?” I didn’t hesitate, I was on a mission. “Where’s Gilligan? I went on
to say that I would like to take a picture of him for a little story I am writing.”
Turns out he was chilling under the loud register, next to the crinkly plastic bags.
Key Learning: Exposure Response Prevention is such an important piece of attaining
peace. However, it’s not done all at once. It is done little by little, little victory
by little victory.
Thanks for being on this journey with me.