“Year of the Rat” is a 3-part blog series. To read part one, click here.
It had come out of hiding for food, stayed out too long, and decided to make a run back to its entry point (the opening on the side of the dishwasher) while I was making grits.
See, the thing about rats:
I DON’T DO THEM.
(Don’t do their nieces and nephews– i.e. mice– either.)
So… when I saw the damn thing, I lost it. Literally hyper-ventilated while standing on the bed. I trembled as I watched my daughters speak lightly about the situation and keep a leveled head; meanwhile, I shook with fear.
My husband knew he had temporarily lost me. And boy, had he lost me. No lie, a sista was gone.
Keith looked at me in my state of utter fear– grabbing clothes and crying– knowing I had mentally checked out of our home. A home that we were working so hard to pay mortgage on. Our abode of fond memories had, in my mind, become tainted… two days before Christmas.
Our family took up residence at my parents’ until things were brought back to code.
We learned that rats were very common; and had various ways of coming into homes and establishing patterns.
Our imposter was, ironically, a wood rat.
The thing about this rat… it was clever and, dare I say, loved bread. 😣
The thing about this rat… it had a way of driving us (me) insane… from scratching non-stop at the wood in the wall space where it hid, to coming out periodically unbeknownst to us and leaving “signs”.
The thing about this rat, as long as I didn’t see it, I still had a sense of control over my living space… over my life. Even though there was evidence and I could hear it scratching the wood, I still felt in control of the situation…. The moment I saw it, it gained control over me.
The thing about this rat! ….It nearly ruined Christmas, the holiday season, and was determined to ruin my whole-entire life.
I remember when I called my parents and told them I saw the rat and we were on our way over “for the night”.
Dad, knowing his baby girl, was like, “Now, don’t let it run you out your house, Cloonie…”
Little did Daddy know, I was mentally out of that house! That house was scorched earth to me! And I had already begun to imagine life in a new home that existed in my mind– that wasn’t even logical in obtaining at this point in time…
Unlike my husband… who was diligent every day in getting the rat out so we could continue life in a home that we were building and investing in earnestly together.
It took some work and an honest look at myself. I even had to stop and reflect on some of the off-putting things I was speaking/doing to avoid the rat…to avoid home.
The new year came and I really started thinking symbolically about 2020 being a rat year. I considered my lack of courage. I did a vision board. And I started changing some mind-things…
Anxiety is a trickster.
Anxiety had me convinced that the only way to cope with the morning report from Keith that the rat “had not taken the bait yet” was to add champagne to my orange juice and sulk.
Anxiety had me convinced that the rodent was my husband’s issue (and low-key, my daddy’s 🤔) and not a shared issue.
While I have great empathy for anyone who deals with an anxious and worried spirit, the toll it can take on a spouse or family is real.
Fear can easily make you run from things you’ve been absolutely blessed with… a dwelling, a job, school, a relationship, a promotion or relocation opportunity… it can even force you to run away from the season you’re in too soon before the growth happens!
It can force you to start manipulating situations and ordering people to do things so that you can remain content in your anxious/fearful state… so that your only choice in that moment is to stay scared.
But guess what? This year, fear has no choice. Fear has to go! Anxiety has to go!
So that we can live!
Will Smith once said,
“The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice.”
In my imagination, I had given the thing I feared most capabilities it didn’t even have. I could see the rat coming around the corner, walking down the hall, on a mission to kill me.
In our imaginations, people are trying to attack us, cheat on us, hate on us… we see and hear things that aren’t even there. In our imaginations, people and things are magnified.
The more I reflected on my affair with fear, the more I understood my rat traits… the more I realized that the real issue was within me.
I remember late one night, at my parent’s house, Keith came into the bedroom, laid down, and in an exasperated voice said, “We caught it. It’s dead.”
It had been two weeks since I saw the rat. Two weeks of living in my fear state. And now, it was finally time to go home…
Thank you for going on this journey with me. For the third and final installment of “Year of the Rat”, check back here on TheWriteAddiction next Sunday. ❤
Clinnesha is a writer, wife, mom, meta-artist, and social entrepreneur who feels most accountable to southern, black citizen-artists, elders, children, and families. Her work is at the intersection of arts, culture, innovation, and community.