Do I really want the mouse to die?

I was out of town for ten days and when I returned there was blatant evidence that a mouse had moved into my studio…droppings all around the computer, my thread drawer a tangled mess, and a quarter size hole chewed in my priceless wool rug (from Tierra Wools, New Mexico and woven by my cousin, Tracy Martinez.) As I had arrived home at midnight after eighteen hours of travel I went to bed.

She woke me up with her scrabbling shortly after this.

The battle was on.

But in the following week as I listened to my friends on social media give advice regarding the best way to get rid of her, I came to realize something important.

I didn’t want to kill her. Yes, I wanted her to stop ruining my things and yes, I didn’t want her feces around, but in reality I like mice. And I even like rats, as we had many pet rats over the years. The thought of those little whiskers, that wiggling nose, and the fact that even a mouse is a living creature distressed me.

This led me to think about how I can want one thing outwardly—be it social expectation, past experience, or moral values—while inwardly I actually want something quite different. The first thing that came to mind is the idea of being a strong, independent person.

Yes…I want to be able to take care of myself. In fact, it is probably my strongest value that EVERYONE is responsible for themselves…their emotions, their actions, their reactions. I believe that people should clean up their own messes, carry their own baggage, and step forward to lend a hand. I’m not saying there aren’t times when people don’t need help…and they should ask for it and we should all be willing to give it. I’m just saying there is no blaming others for where you are…well, not in most cases. There are exceptions to the rules. Nothing in this world is set in stone.

Anyway, outwardly I want to be a strong, independent person.

But inside? I want someone to take care of me. I want someone to anticipate my needs, go out of their way to make me happy, remember what my favorite color is, how I like my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (peanut butter on both pieces of bread, please) and make me feel loved.

I really, really didn’t want to kill the mouse. So I set live traps. Which didn’t work. Then I set more deadly traps, and went to bed each night dreading what I would find in the morning. Thinking about the soft fur frozen into a death mask haunted my dreams. I really did have a rodent dream! Someone from my past was there and my dog had a mouse in her mouth and he held up a beautiful weasel and said “It’s not a mouse doing the damage…it’s this weasel.” I woke up sweating, I was killing the wrong thing!

This story has a sad ending. The professional grade sticky trap got the rodent…which wasn’t a mouse (the dream was a  premonition after all.)….It was a young rat, his hair was silky and his nose was small and sweet and yes, I had my husband kill him. Of course, where there is one rat there are more…so we are currently finding holes and patching, stuffing steel wool and more. Obviously I am still feeling very bad for killing him because I’m writing about it. I have ordered more (bigger) live traps for the future, telling myself the reason the others didn’t work is that they were too small. In my mind I see his relatives captured and released in a beautiful meadow. Far from any wool rugs or thread drawers.

What do you show outwardly that is really a conflict with your secret, internal world?