Jill Loree

Our cat Psyche

About a year ago, my husband and I were walking by the lake a few blocks from our house. When along came a very sweet black cat we’d never seen before. Scott was quite surprised by how friendly he was, which is saying something. Because Scott, until that day, had a lot of hate for cats.

I bent down to pet this cat and then pulled my hand away when I encountered something very thick on the back of his head. It turns out, he is a long-hair cat, but his whole coat was one big solid mat.

Long story short, a neighbor took him to the SPCA a week later, and we adopted him. When we brought him home, he had been shaved from head to tail.

In the skin around his neck, there were little round circles with a dent in the middle. My son, who is a veterinarian, said that someone probably shot at him. That’s something people who hate cats are known to do.

That inch-thick mat of fur likely saved his life.

Where hate lives

It’s interesting to note that, before this, Scott had never had a cat. Ever. And yet he knew he hated them. In other words, Scott had hate, and he had decided to put his hate on cats.

It’s like this with hate. We typically think we hate someone or something. When in fact, if that thing or person disappeared, we’d still be left with our hate. And we’d find somewhere else to put it.

Social media has been brilliant at illuminating how much hate there is in this world. Many have even turned their hate toward social media. And yet, if it went away tomorrow, we would still be sitting with our bubbling inner cauldron of hate.

Why do we hate?

Hate is a very empowering feeling. It lights us up. The fact that it is so energized makes it very hard to just let go of our hate. For once it gets rolling, hate takes on a life of its own, complete with storylines and justifications and spiteful words.

But hate is never aligned with the truth of who we are. Since, at our core, we all shine the most beautiful rays of love. And we feel much, much better when love is what lights our fire.

So if our goal is to love, we must get to the bottom of our hate.

For starters, it may be helpful to realize that hate, anger and hostility are all covers for something else, something we really don’t want to feel: pain. Whereas our hate makes us feel powerful, pain feels like it will destroy us. And no one wants that.

This is the great illusion, believing that feeling pain will kill us. In fact, every child believes this is true. Which is why we all work so hard to cut off feelings of pain.

This starts at a young age when a parent—or whoever is in charge—says no to us. There is something we want, including getting our own way, and we are denied. Even if the guidance and boundary-setting we needed were given perfectly, we wouldn’t like it.

But let’s face it, parents aren’t always great in the way they handle discipline. Often their own history and cruel impulses get mixed in, and we end up feeling hurt. So what do we do to avoid feeling this?

We hate instead.

3 places we put hate

The first obvious place we put our hate is directly on our parents or guardians. After all, they are our first experience of an authority who says no to us. Maybe they were strict, harsh and heartless. Or maybe they attempted to raise us without limits, without boundaries, without discipline. This too creates turmoil in the soul and leads to demanding adults who throw around hate when they can’t have their way.

However it went for us, growing up had painful parts. We then go through life re-creating experiences that bring up our old unfelt hurts from childhood. The divine plan behind this is to help us heal. Because let’s face it, left to our own devices we would never heal our hate. If we could, we would run from our old pain forever.

The second place our hate lands is on anyone in authority. These are the people we have transferred our hate onto because they scratch at our buried feelings of pain. This includes teachers, customers, bosses, the police, and politicians.

And the thing they all have in common? They are human. Meaning, they aren’t perfect.

Sometimes far from it.

But as the Pathwork Guide teaches, no matter how wrong the other person is, if we are disturbed, there is something in us we are overlooking.

The third place we tend to put our hate is on God. For we overlay our unhappy perceptions of our parents—our first authority—onto God, who is the ultimate authority. But this God-image, as the Guide calls it, is not in truth. For while God may be many things, God is first and foremost, all about love.

Here’s something to try. Write down, as clearly and succinctly as you can, your perception of your parents—especially the one you had the most trouble with. Now see if that matches your perception of God.

Quite a coincidence, huh?

Transforming hate

The weather was still chilly here in Western New York when we brought Psyche home from the SPCA. He’d been on his own for about two months, according to the neighbor who had been feeding him, and was sort of in shock from it all.

We were too, especially Scott. So for several days, Scott sat with this cat in his lap, keeping Psyche’s shaved body warm and warming up himself to this affectionate little guy.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear about how much Scott loves this cat today. And clearly the feeling is mutual.

What doesn’t work is to plaster love on top of hate. The Guide calls this “building on deficit”. When we do this, whatever we build will have to eventually be deconstructed so we can rebuild on a firmer foundation.

No question, transforming our hate is a big job. Yet it’s the most valuable thing we ever can do—for ourselves, for our families, and ultimately, for the world.

Both God and cats would love for us to all look more deeply at our hate.

–Jill Loree

From Scott

This is true, I had put my hate on cats. In fact, way back in 2014, I made a list of everything I wanted in a woman for a partner. On the list was “no cats please”.

When we first came upon “our” cat in the wild, I was holding our dog’s leash and couldn’t see the situation for what it was. I was surprised that the cat wasn’t too put out by Bodhi, who was quite interested to see him. Clearly, though, this cat was in rough shape.

I didn’t want a cat, but I started to feel one coming. For several days, we searched for this cat so we could get it the vet care it badly needed. No luck. Friday evening Jill opened Facebook and at the top of her feed was a picture of this cat, now shaved, in a post from the SPCA. In the next county. She had never seen a post from them before.

When we brought Psyche home, I may have been more shocked than he was. But I saw the opportunity it offered. It was a chance to practice “parenting” again from a new place. How can I make this little guy feel welcome and at home? With consistent, gentle warmth and affection.

Jill gave me a tremendous gift in saying yes when I asked to spend a lot of time holding him the first week. It was hard to take in the cruelty that someone had put a declawed, matted cat on the side of the road in February to fend for itself.

During the weeks spent with Psyche in my lap, we mutually imprinted a connection with each other. I was saying to him, “Yes, you were abandoned. I know that was hard and scary. But you’re safe now. You’re not abandoned any longer. I’m here.”

And in this caregiving, a part of me slowly thawed that I had never connected with before. The adult part of me was also saying this to a very young part of me that I hadn’t been fully aware of: “Yes, you felt abandoned. It was hard and scary. But you’re safe now. You’re not abandoned any longer. I’m here.”

I was stunned at how much love and healing was streaming between me and Psyche. I looked at this cat and realized that this is what grace looks like.

It took a long time to see the truth: that I had hate in me and had somehow put it on cats. Jill had to repeat this many times for me to work it through.

There is so much hate streaming through the public realms now. If we want this to shift—and I do—then it’s up to each of us to take a deeper look inside. It’s worth it.

– Scott Wisler

The Gateway Prayer

Through the gateway of feeling your weakness lies your strength;
Through the gateway of feeling your pain lies your pleasure and joy;

Through the gateway of feeling your fear lies your security and safety;
Through the gateway of feeling your loneliness lies your capacity

to have fulfillment, love and companionship;

Through the gateway of feeling your hate lies your capacity to love;

Through the gateway of feeling your hopelessness lies true and justified hope;

Through the gateway of accepting the lacks of your childhood
lies your fulfillment now.

– Pathwork® Lecture #190

Read Q&As with Pathwork Guide on Hate, Anger and Hostility

Read more in Bones about our mistaken image of God (listen to podcast), and about how and why we recreate childhood hurts (listen to podcast).

Read more in Pearls about building on deficit (listen to podcast), and about our two rebellious reactions to authority (listen to podcast).

Listen to podcasts on YouTube

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