I am writing my story. Not here – not right now. But on my own and in my own time. It is the project I choose to do in association with the Author Awakening Adventure.

As part of the coursework, we choose an angel to watch and guide us as we travel the long, lonely path of writing a substantial piece of work, and that angel was initially my grandmother, but has morphed into my mother, grandmother and sister. They are so intrinsically linked to each other and to my personal story of growing and developing mental health issues. But I also now see them as cleansed of mortal imperfections and ready to inspire and forgive. I feel very comfortable and at peace with having them as my angels.

I also need a bodyguard – a mental protection from the inner critic. I have talked about my powerful, noisy inner critic before. That voice is my mother and I farewelled her voice then brought forth the child Simone – a little girl who instinctively knew how to look after everyone but was not allowed to care for herself. I don’t think that little girl is my bodyguard though – she has neither the wisdom nor the experience to protect.

I believe my bodyguard is Coco. He is a cat. A beautiful, loving, devoted cat who considers himself human. He is intelligent and devoted and loyal. He loves without condition and demonstrates self-care without an ounce of regret or indecision.

When I was at my lowest ebb, locked away from society for a month while rest and recuperation were pressed upon me, he missed me. And on those few occasions when I was let out for a few hours he would lay his head upon me, or curl up in my lap, letting the warmth of his body seep through my weary bones, and the gentle purr of his living motor nurture my broken spirit. He is my guardian in a way no mere human could ever be. He cannot physically protect me – although he does demonstrate a decent set of claws and teeth if a careless mouse crosses his path – but I am blessed to have never required physical protection. Coco is a soothing balm when my soul is tortured and a grounding force when my spirit is breaking apart. He is protector, bodyguard and healer.

I have never felt protected – emotionally or psychologically – by anybody. If someone heaps criticism upon me – justified or not – I pretty much expect the crowd around me to jump on the bandwagon and join in – a “Let’s all hate on Simone” party. That’s how it’s been all my life. Criticism is what I expect, and criticism is what I get.

But Coco? He’s doesn’t criticise. Like most animals, he instinctively knows when comfort is needed and seeks out the warmth of my arms to burrow his cold little nose until we are warm together. Golden eyes guard me from the ever present critic residing inside, grounding me back in reality and reminding me, this too shall pass and you’ll be okay. My bodyguard is a burmese cat…

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