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We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.


Hurt and patterns. And a cat.

First is always the experience itself …

On Saturday I saw a cat get hit by a car and die. Awful. Horrible.

I was walking home from hanging out with friends. Not really paying attention to anything. And it happened so quickly — and so agonizingly slowly — that I don’t entirely trust myself to get all the details right.

Just the pumpkin-colored cat dashing away and the dark minivan that didn’t stop. The cat on its back in the road bleeding from the neck, arms and legs shuddering.

What seemed like terror and suffering and agony and confusion. Whether mine or the cat’s or both. A couple of minutes. And then it was dead. The sun was shining.

That’s what I know.

That and also that I just completely fell apart.

So we have the facts … or some of them …

There was a cat. There was a minivan. The minivan hit the cat. The cat died. I was bawling.

We were not alone. The minivan didn’t stop. Other cars did stop. A woman came out of her house and crossed the street. She lifted the cat out of the road and laid it under a tree.

A man who had stopped his car came running toward me. He asked me if it was my cat. I shook my head. I couldn’t stop crying.

He asked me if I had been the one who hit the cat. I shook my head. I couldn’t stop crying.

He shook his head.

The woman hugged me and said something about how death is part of life and at least we were there to witness the cat’s life. And I was still crying.

That’s what I remember of what happened.

And then we have the interpretations and the stories …

“I’ve never been this sad.”

“That was the most gorgeous cat I’ve ever seen.”

“What the hell is wrong with you? You witnessed a freaking terrorist attack when you lived in Tel Aviv. Good grief. There were bodies — human beings — spread out on the ground and blood everywhere, right across the street from your work and you didn’t cry then. Stop crying right this second.”

“Ohmygod. They think I killed a cat.”

“Only in Portland would some total stranger give you a hug. I love Portland.”

“Only in Portland would some total stranger say some woo-woo nonsense to make you feel better. I hate Portland.”

“You shouldn’t be so sensitive. It’s a cat. Stuff dies. Get over it.”

“Stupid asshat people with minivans. Cruel evil people and their ridiculous minivans. Gas-guzzling, inefficient ugly minivans. What kind of horrible person would kill a cat and not even stop? Someone with a minivan, that’s who.”

“That cat probably belongs to a family. They probably have a kid. That kid is going to be devastated.”

“It’s weird how these moments come where you’re having this weird deep spiritual understanding that is so powerful and visceral on the one hand and so fleeting and stupid-sounding on the other.”

“Life — LIFE — is a big freaking deal. It’s beautiful and then it’s gone. But if I try to describe this to someone in words, it will sound totally inane and obvious and trite.”

“Oh, it hurts so much. I can’t bear it.”

“You really need to calm down. You’re making a scene. PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER!”

And then the patterns and criticism… and the noticing of the patterns and the criticism

“I’m noticing that when it happened I really wanted to just turn around and walk away and pretend it never happened.”

“I’m noticing that I feel so much sadness knowing that I couldn’t do anything for this cat.”

“I’m noticing guilt and criticism. The idea that I shouldn’t be upset. Or that I shouldn’t be crying. Or that I shouldn’t be so sensitive.”

“This wanting to change my nature or this being in resistance to what I’m actually feeling is very familiar, but I haven’t felt it in quite a while. Progress, baby.”

“I’m going into judgment and hate with the minivan people because that’s what’s comfortable and easy for me. But isn’t it also possible that I don’t know the whole story? Or: Are there other possible stories that aren’t my story?”

“Pain. Sadness. Anger. Fear. Need. Compassion. This is the progression of my emotional state. I’m just watching it move and shift.”

And then we have the love …

“Oh, sweetie. I’m so so sorry. What do you need right now?”

“Understanding? Comfort? Support? Okay, I can try to give you those things. I can at least ask for those things.”

“You’re allowed to be as sad as you want or need to be. It’s temporary. It’s just what you’re feeling right now, which is fine.”

“You can’t possibly know what this is about or what you’re processing. So if you want to fall apart completely, go for it. It’s okay. You’re entitled. It doesn’t say anything bad about you. Really.”

“Even though you’re feeling a lot of hurt and anger — and feeling frustrated and annoyed that you’re not over it yet — that’s where you are right now. You don’t have to solve it. You don’t have to pull yourself out of it right this second.”

“What would be the most helpful, useful thing for you right now? Because I think you should do that, honey.”

And then we have this post …

Hurting. Loving. Noticing. Processing. Releasing.

I don’t really have anything to add.

Just wanted to share some of the process … thanks for being here.

24 Responses to Hurt and patterns. And a cat.

  1. Hugs to you. I am sad for the cat and you and all involved. Thank you for sharing with us. I care very much.

    Wendi Kelly-Life’s Little Inspirationss last blog post..Bouncing Back

  2. James | Dancing Geek
    Twitter: dancing_geek

    You’ve reminded me of a different situation where, for different reasons, I had a very similar reaction.

    The weirdest part about the memory was how part of me felt so good. Don’t get me wrong I was bawling my head of with gut wrenching sobs and in real pain, but the little part of my head that watches and observes was pleased for me. It was supportive, and caring, but had that wise-old-granny feel of a mild non-reprimanding “See, it’s better to let the feelings out, maybe next time you won’t wait so long.”

    Just reading your post shot me right back there.

    With love,


    James | Dancing Geeks last blog post..Should I bother voting if I don’t like any of the options?

  3. sniff, my heart just broke – i am so sorry…

  4. Karen JL
    Twitter: KarenJL

    I would have reacted the exact same way. I did just reading about it. You’ve reminded me to pay attention to the thoughts that come up in my over-sensitive moments and how to talk to them.

    Hugs from another animal lover.

    Karen JLs last blog post..Some Non-Hell Week Links

  5. Jen Hofmann says:

    I came apart at the seams two weekends ago to the point that was asking what the point of it all was, anyway. I was beyond attachment and it frightened me a little bit what could follow.

    Now I see how you danced with it all – in the moment and later on. Witnessing. I think there’s a lot to that – and to reaching out. It’s a good reminder for me.

    Hugging you from 60 miles away.

    – Jen

  6. Lisa
    Twitter: lisafirke

    Oh, Havi. No wonder you were upset. So sudden and so violent. And you were the primary witness.

    I’ve been the woman crying over the cat. Only my cat was a whole family of baby partridges, following their mother across a road at night. I was a passenger in the car that flattened them.

    I’ve also been the woman giving the hug. We were driving along once when ahead of us all we could see was a line of dust crossing the road. A car coming the other way had drifted into the median and then just rolled all the way across the entire highway, directly in front of the car directly in front of us.

    A lot of us stopped. The driver was okay, if upside down. The woman who had been driving the car in front of us was hysterical. She had just been *thinking* about the grassy median with its deep bow and how easy it would be to roll your car if you drifted over. She was the primary witness and she felt like she’d somehow, magically, cause the accident to happen. I gave her a hug and held her a long time.

    Lisas last blog post..Growing Pains

  7. Megan M. says:

    Something really similar happened to me a few years ago. It was like an awful nightmare, really haunting and scary. And it kept at me for awhile, but eventually I felt okay again.

    I am really connected to animals in my life (even though sometimes I forget, because right now the animals I’m connected to live with my parents and I don’t have any at my place) and when I come across something like this it puts me into a really particular place, like I am accessing something really big and clear and full of some kind of meaning. But it’s so upsetting when it happens, so it’s hard to really be aware of it at the time.

    Thank you for sharing your process. And I am sending a ton of good vibes to you.

  8. Kyeli says:

    I may overstep my bounds, and please let me know if so, but I offer many comforting hugs to you. Also, we can talk via chat or email or skype or phone if you need an ear.

    *more hugs*

  9. Nath says:

    *blows nose noisily*

    *huge hugs for Havi, little duck-proportionate hugs for Selma*

  10. chris zydel
    Twitter: wildheartqueen

    Oh Sweetie,

    The thing that I am really learning to love about you is how much you are just one big heart! ( I mean, I know that you are other things too, like really, really smart and funny and wise and wacky and seemingly pretty completely irreverent).

    But what struck me about this post was how much you loved the cat, and the woman who hugged you and the guy that didn’t and (attempts to love) the minivan driver and yourself and just the whole LIFE deal. All of it. The outer experience of the accident itself and the inner experience of your own thoughts and feelings and just how sad and sweet and amazing it is just to be able to be alive. And how it really does make the intolerable slightly more tolerable if we can attempt to hold it all with such exquisite tenderness and consciousness and compassion.

    Thanks again for a beautiful post!!


  11. Melissa says:


    I wanted to cry just reading this!!!

    I used to have an orange kittie….

    “OMG some little kid is going to be devistated” is the first thing I always think.

    I also feel really weird about things getting hit by cars because I was hit by a car as a kid. I don’t wish it on anyone.
    (sorry my comment is so scattered, I think that’s how something like this makes me feel)

    Melissas last blog post..Anger (graphic)

  12. Justin says:

    Watched this happen to a bird once not five feet from me. Two birds were fighting over something and only one saw the car in time. Stays with me to this day.

    Thanks for sharing, Havi.

    Justins last blog post..Joy is a Choice

  13. steph says:

    Aside from being upset (tears!) about the cat’s sudden death and the person not stopping (there’s no way they didn’t know), I am astounded by what I just read, that whole thought process. At first I thought, why are you rationalizing? What’s there to think? It was a horrible thing to witness and it’s so right that you are upset and grieve. Just let it happen.

    But then I got to the end and thought, hey, maybe I too go through processes like this and I’m simply not conscious of them. Or maybe I don’t go through processes like this when they would help and it would do me good to become conscious of them or to put them in practice.

    I often apologize for crying or grieving or getting upset, and it’s because I feel terrible that someone is having to deal with me at that time. Yet at the same time, I think, it’s all part of the process, and what could possibly be wrong with crying or being upset over such things? It shows compassion or vulnerability or sensitivity, empathy or sympathy, kindness or an acute awareness of life and death. Or all of those things at once. I think all those things are good.

    You’re an amazing person, Havi. So aware. Thanks for sharing how to release.

    stephs last blog post..Push Forward or Move Ahead?

  14. Shit, that was just after we had lunch and then you came to my workshop later?? Shit, shit, shit.

    I’m sorry you had to see that – so immensely wonderful how you wrote about your process. How inspiring and moment by moment real!

  15. karenv says:

    Thank you for your post, Havi. I’m finding the older I get, the less I can deal with suffering of any kind, particularly in animals. I’m sure I would have reacted the same way you did. That being said, I doubt very much I would’ve been able to articulate all the feelings and emotions the way you did. So, thank you. I think I’m wiser to “process” now.

  16. michelle
    Twitter: lovewastingtime

    Dearest Havi,

    Thank you so much for sharing your process and the possibility of transforming the ways of the mind. Such a raw, honest experience – it’s so helpful to watch the unfolding of another way…

    Big hug, sister.


  17. shelli says:

    Came via the ever fabulous Juggling Frogs. She commented on my twitter post, whereby I saw a man leaving a vet’s office with a leash, and tears. I lost it for him, having been there myself.

    there are no words, and I say a million Baruch Ha’Shems that I can at least feel. Even though it sucks.

    Thanks for sharing.

  18. GirlPie
    Twitter: TheGirlPie

    Man! You’re a wonderful writer, a generous teacher.

  19. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi

    Wow, you GUYS!

    You’re all so sweet. You have no idea how much I appreciate all the comfort and niceness you’ve sent my way.

    Seems like so many of us have these “sensitive flower” moments and have seen so much pain of our own or other people’s. It’s so great to have the company. Thanks for that.

  20. Karen Quatromoni says:

    I saw a woman drive into a goose at a slow speed and its legs must have come off and it flopped to the side of the road and its companion was dazed (another goose). I went through all the same thoughts…

    what was wrong with this woman…to maybe she thought the goose would fly away like other birds and she didn’t know they are slow…or maybe she didn’t see it…she did stop…and make a cell phone call…and then I hoped they came to rescue it…and/or put it to sleep…and I couldn’t stop crying…and then I wondered if I was overly sensitive…or if something was wrong with me for thinking about the image all day long…or if it is because I have pet birds myself…but your post really helped…I guess I just have to process all the thoughts and feelings…

  21. Jennifer says:

    I know this is nearly a year later, but I just had pretty much the same experience today, and it (the experience and the emotions) have been consuming me today…
    For some reason I googled whether or not the cat felt much pain (because I want someone to tell me that it didn’t) and I found this post.
    I am so sad right now, not to mention 30 weeks pregnant which equals more sadness……
    I just can’t stop thinking about it, and I will be haunted by this day for a long time.
    I did what I could, which wasn’t much, but I did find a pet cemetery to take the cat and cremate it for free…and I stayed with him/her when she passed, instead of being like the other car who didn’t even hit a brake light. :(
    It sucks sometimes to care so much, but I would rather be burdened with too much sensitivity and respect for all life than be some asshole who only cares about themselves and material things…
    On a good note, my son and I DID save a small turtle that was trying to cross a busy street a couple weeks before this. It would have surely been killed…and it made me feel great to watch that little guy swim away in the lake we found for it. :)

  22. Karen says:

    Jennifer, I’m sorry this happened to you. I hit someones’s cat on a rural highway a few years ago. I hit it dead on but it somehow ran away! I spent 2 hours looking for it or its owner, going door to door, but no one knew anything about it. It was a horrible, horrible experience and, as a result, I have zero tolerance for people who keep their animals free, outdoors. Just wait until *they* hit an animal and they’ll see how it feels.

    Maybe “your” cat didn’t suffer very much; maybe it was in shock. I believe that kitty knew you were there for its last moments and that’s important. You did the best you could–that’s all you can do. The pain will lessen and, at some point, there will probably be something positive that comes out of it for you. I know I’ve made a difference for a couple of cats friends of mine used to leave outside. :-)

  23. Ania Grandbois
    Twitter: AniaGrandbois

    Hugs & pebbles; I know it’s years later but I had a situation that didn’t happen to me this year that is similar. One of my own precious 3 cats, only occasionally allowed outside for a short time, liked to roam more than the other two and didn’t come home one morning, or later, or the next day.

    Finally my fear made me take steps, make calls, put up a craigslist post, etc. I did what I could for a couple hours then went for a walk to calm myself; when I got home the lovely woman at the town’s animal control unit had left me a message to call her back. Poor Spot suffered a similar fate as the pumpkin cat.

    Thank [everything one might ever thank] that I didn’t find him!

    She didn’t have a lot of info but said she heard something on the police scanner or something about a collar on the cat that was distinctive and I had described to her in my first call – she wasn’t sure because the cops had called [the victim] a black female cat because his collar had pink & orange flowers on it, but of course, such a collar is infinitely cute on a male black cat too and made me smile – she did give me the name of someone at public works who had, um, cleaned up the street.

    So I called him, I don’t recall his name now. He was such a sweet man. The poor guy, he told me he thought that Spot probably didn’t feel much pain, and when I tried to get more info he hesitantly said something about his head being pretty badly hit. I tried to confirm about the collar and he didn’t remember seeing a collar. So I tried to think it wasn’t Spot but it really was. The sweet man, in a manner not unlike my own beloved father, who had difficulty with me expressing emotion or his feeling any at all, got choked up for a while and said he buried Spot in his backyard, and basically hung up on me when I ended up crying too hard to answer again.

    I had asked him where, and it was on a busy street a block away that was so remote from my yard that I usually forgot it was there. I must have walked over looking for the place Spot died 3 times without seeing it, and finally gave up and just walked down for a coffee, and BAM! Out of the corner of my eye I found the collar on the street next to a discoloration. Ugh. I brought it home for a mini-shrine. It was always hard to walk by there after that, and now I moved again last month so I won’t.

    Sorry for the long post. I lost my voice a couple years ago after briefly finding it for the first time. It seems to be finally coming back – Yay! ;-)

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