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  • Writer's pictureBillie Proffitt

Rex, King of Mardi Gras

Updated: Mar 9, 2020

I am writing from the floor of my bedroom this morning… my nearly 8-year-old, tried and true (emotionally representative) laptop is propped up on an ottoman at the foot of my bed. These “ottomen” (is that the correct plural? Like Priai?) once contained sofa-sleeping spare blankets and pillows for both unexpected and planned houseguests alike, but these (exceedingly messy) days they now house my workout clothes since I have no space for overnight visitors anymore.

That’s the basis of this: the immense mess I am living in. Can anyone else relate?

I have been really struggling across my life in general the past number of years - a slow and painful slide downhill to what one of my best friends and I now reference as our “rock-bottoms”… buy hey! If our rock-bottoms still include whiskeys and wines at The Four Seasons bar, then we need to seriously put our shit into perspective. That’s what a little bunny rabbit, whom I have named Rex, King of Mardi Gras, has done for me.

I am sitting on the floor as described above, in my precious white yoga clothes, after having scooted Army-crawl style across the dusty, spider-webby, black lab hairy, just plain dirt-under-my-bed chasing him around, playing and laughing, because I am finally, somehow, (thank the lord baby jesus) embracing the mess my life has become.

Yesterday I was in tears… In my prayers it became so clear to be how goddamn scared, of everything I have become. Have you ever been in this headspace? You don’t even notice it, but truly you’re just frozen. I mean every, single, tiny-non-issue, doesn’t (but no, I’ll say) shouldn’t-even-make-a-difference-98%-of-the-time decision I have been struggling to make has been in sheer terror: the fear oscillates between past terrors, current terrors and future terrors, but every last one of them is overwhelming! Debilitating!! I have been frozen in indecision, wasting my precious time, energy, effort, positivity, and still other precious elements of life which carry much value, in decision fatigue. Trying to pep-talk myself out of the mini-depressions (or maybe more realistically, one, big overall depression… but I’m too upbeat for that opinion). I exhaust myself and I’m sure everyone around me.

I have’t told much of anyone I’ve had this little pet for weeks now - haven’t posted any photos (even as he is so damn cute), most particularly because I don’t want my parents to know I got him. Why am I so scared of what they’ll think? That what, they’ll say I’m a bad bunny owner because my lifestyle isn’t pet friendly? My high school best friend talked me into him for his low maintenance, and I agreed under the pretense “that I could always take him back” - and I tried to! Oh yes, Ma’am, I did. But I couldn’t in that moment because the woman I had immensely dealt with (going back three different times before committing to getting him) had a day off and her staff refused to take him back without her, and I had to get to a meeting in the city. So I decided I would bring him home to West Hollywood for a few days and then after speaking to her, bring him all the way back to Ojai. And so here I have been back and forth, back and forth… Can I be a bunny owner?

No. Yes. No. Yes. Maybe. Yes. No.

Oh, I’ll just decide later. I can take him back another day, or maybe if I just get him a harness I’ll keep him, or maybe I’ll take him back, or maybe I’ll keep him for a little while longer - let’s see how he does in the car. No, I hate his cage - there’s no space in my room, no space in my life! But I can make space… He doesn’t like me! Oh, he’s cuddling with me, maybe he likes me… He’s bitten me too many times, he has to go! Oh goodness, when he cuddles up next to me I want to organize my life to include him… ECTERA. OMG, this is what it’s like in my head - can you relate?

So two mornings ago I woke up and he had peed in his water-catch bowl. I cleaned it up like, hmmm, I hope he doesn’t feel sick, but then when I woke up to the same situation yesterday it became: “That’s it, he’s miserable here, that’s why he’s peeing in his water bowl! I have to take him back for the good of my life and for the good of his.” So I cleaned it up and altered my day trying to sort my schedule out of when I could drive up to take him back. Allllll that run around, all that energy reorganizing my plans that could have been spent on other, more positive, more productive things. I didn’t see it at the time, but I had allowed the 2 1/2 minutes of cleaning up baby bunny pee snowball into a couple hours of indecisive, unpaid, stress-inducing, emotional work. So I decided to pray on it.

I received a text with a book excerpt about “anxious attachment” - the tendencies associated with Attachment Theory… saying we can re-write our psychological and therefore emotional narrative. Then I pulled the Mother Mary card, reminding me “to open my heart and realize what a blessing I am to this world”. It hit me like a ton of bricks, I am a blessing to this world?! Me?! Me. Yes, me. She’s talking to me… Oh my goodness, how had I forgotten this truth? This bottom-line reality that we are all born with? So I looked at Rex, King of Carnivale, through these eyes. Maybe he is a nervous wreck, biting and scratching me, not because he doesn’t like me, but because he is 100% unfiltered picking up on my nervous, indecisive, I-am-absolutely-terrified-of-my-life energy... We get what we give, Baby.

I have been projecting my own Anxious Attachment onto this sweet little creature - but here is a massive blessing, a blatant and visceral chance to re-write my narrative. I can heal myself if I work through building this relationship, instead of indecisively running away from the opportunity. I have been so scared to commit to ANYTHING, because I look down the barrel of all the bad things that could happen, and I completely lose sight of all the good things that could happen too. I don’t trust myself anymore at all, not with choosing which outfit to sweat in this morning, so let alone with a pet’s life. Six called off engagements, two abortions, so many residential addresses that I’ve lost count… I’ve become so embarrassed of how my life’s journey appears to others. But why?

From this perspective in prayer I can see that just because these choices didn’t go the way I had intended them to, means they’re all inexcusably “bad”, because life isn’t just “good” or “bad”… it is so, so very in the middle. Never black or white, but so very grey. No decision I make will ever be perfect, regardless of how much time and effort I put into making it. I’ve become so obsessed with the fear and saving myself extra work in the future that will potentially come because of decisions that I’m making now, that I’ve become paralyzed. My unprecedented concern for the extra laundry I’d have to do for the stains that might come from Army crawling under my bed in white yoga clothes, that if I eat on my sofa I might spill and have to spend time cleaning it up and that I’ll judge myself every time I see a stain for that childish spill, that I can’t have a bunny because he might pee on my rugs and anything else, that I can’t date anyone until my home is less cluttered, more organized, until I don’t have a roommate, until I’m in better shape, until I’m not emotionally eating, until I’ve healed from all the past intimate relationships, until I’m, - until I’m - until I’m - AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! Stop it, Billie. Or as my practical Mom would say, “Get a grip.”

Nothing is ever perfect: we have very little control, and life happens anyway, or maybe, life happens so easily because we have no control... only that enigmatic thing called life does.

So what if I stain my white yoga ensemble - it won’t last forever even if I never Army crawl under my bed. So what if there are stains on my couch - the furniture won’t last forever, even if I never spill coffee while laughing too hard with a friend. So what if Rex pees on whatever I own - these physical things won’t last forever even if I take the bunny back and miss this opportunity to grow, both in myself and in a relationship with this sweet little thing that much more blatantly has little to no control over his existence. (I might explode though if I admit that the control I have over my life is just just a wee bit more than Rex has, so I won’t remind any of us that fact right now…)

So what if my place is a mess - maybe my mess is what makes me so unique, and therefore so beautiful. The world marches on regardless of my self-criticism, so why not let go and enjoy the messy march more?

I’ve decided to commit to Rex, King of Mardi Gras. To tell others about him, namely my folks, and to work through life’s little annoyances with more perspective. If this is my rock-bottom, then I had better get my head out of my ass to be more grateful for all my immense blessings, to be confident in who I am, how I’ve gotten here, where I’m going, and mainly, to be more conscious of who I choose to share my journey with.

There are only twenty-four hours in a day, and however many years left in my life: I owe it to myself - and therefore of course to god - to enjoy every last one of them, all the baby bunny pee and cleanup time included.

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