Kill your kitty

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“Miss Julia, if there’s one thing that I’m sure of after this meeting, it’s that I really wouldn’t like to be your enemy.”

“I’m actually a very kind person in private life.”

“I believe you, but I wouldn’t take my chances. You’re a very strong and determined person. It’s better to be your friend or not to know you at all.”

That’s how a lawyer from one of the biggest corporations said goodbye to me, after a meeting where we finished a conflict that went on for a couple of months. First they didn’t want to pay us. Then they wanted to sue us. And then they wanted to sue us and not pay us. And all of it because we didn’t do research the proper way.

My company – IZMAŁKOWA – was only 3 years old back then. I was completely scared when a lawyer interrupted the presentation and said that the research had been carried out outrageously wrong. I checked every single recording, every report, every researcher and every informer (person participating in the research). At that time I hadn’t known yet that what “wrong results” mean in the linguage of lawyers and managers:

“With results like these I’ll lose my job, my boss will lose his job and maybe the whole department will lose their jobs. Those results do not make us happy so the whole research is wrong and shouldn’tbe seen by anybody.”

That was our first gigantic research. If they hadn’t paid us, that would’ve been the end. An end with a huge negative balance. I was terrified. I didn’t sleep for 2 months, I didn’t eat and I bit all my nails off. Finally, my fiancé at the time introduced me to his aunt – a lawyer.

“Julia, are you sure that this research was done right?” Ania asked.


“Would you subject it to evaluation of experts so they could say whether it is so?”


“If you were to do it once again, could you do it any better?”


“Are you sure?”


“Ok, let’s fight then. And do something with your knees, you’re shaking too much. Stop it, it creates an unpleasant atmosphere.”

“I’m just scared.”

“Julia, we’re going to work according to my rules. Rule number one – if you know you’re right, you can’t be scared. You need to save energy for fighting and finding arguments, not chattering your teeth and shaking your knees. If you’re scared, you have doubts. And if you have doubts, you’re weakened and you don’t think sharp. The enemy, is like a dog – they sense weakness from a mile away and then they attack hard. That’s why we don’t put ourselves voluntarily at a worse position – we are not afraid. It’s us who are right, no them, so let’s just get prepared and we’ll win. Are we clear?”

It took about a dozen hours of thinking the issues over, but finally all parts of my body regained stability. My lawyer did everything for me that my company does for our clients – she showed me the reality from a different perspective. A perspective that allowed me to see and understand what was going on and therefore to know what I could do.


When a month later, after that final meeting, we walked out of one of the Mordor’s (unofficial name for the Warsaw’s corporate district) buildings, I couldn’t believe that three months earlier I was so scared and that things ended up so great (except for a couple of new grey hairs).

“Thank you a lot, Ania!”

“I’d love to say you’re welcome, but to be honest I don’t feel like I contributed a lot. You were like a tank. I didn’t say anything more than “good morning” and “goodbye”. You backed out only in one in thirteen points and we agreed earlier that the first six were the most important”.

“Six points were the path of least resistance. But if you said we were right and I knew we were, then why the hell would I back out? I’m a good student – I applied the rule number one to the limit – I had no fear and the whole energy I used for fighting.”

“You know, Julia, I think that today I understood why you have such problems with my nephew. Or with men in general. When I looked at you today, fighting that lawyer, I was full of admiration. No fear. No submission. You were confident, proud, unyielding, well-prepared and to the point. Calmly and steadily, like a tank, you fought for your opinion, your rights and your team. You were a true tiger. It wasn’t the Julia I know from family meetings. That Julia is completely different when she’s together with Antoni – she’s kind, loveable, yielding and fixated on him.

You know what your problem in relationships is? When a man meets you you’re a tiger and when you start being with him you become a kitty, soft domesticated imitation of wild cat.”

“But everyone says that a relationship consists of constant compromises…”

“Compromises have nothing to do with abandoning your own self. You love my nephew, but you change next to him. The lawyer who wanted to sue you and your company couldn’t even get a word across when you were making your point. You squeezed him more than we ever planned, but with Antoni you are… like a pussy, pardon my French. He insults you sometimes, threatens you and blackmails you… and yet do nothing but try to mitigate the conflicts. 18 years ago I was exactly like my nephew. I had a wonderful first husband. He was a handsome and wise man. And he was like you. I was really bad at quarrelling back then and it always ended up with me saying “go back to your parents if you don’t like the way it is!” He endured all of this for a long time, until one day he did exactly what I dared him to do. He went to his parents and he stayed with them. I wanted him back. But it was too late then. It was me who chased him off to his parents with all that twaddle of mine. So, dear Julia, considering that you like rules so much, here’s rule number 2: don’t say anything you don’t plan on putting into practice or what’s not what you really think. Because if you keep saying something again and again for a long time, it’s going to happen for real.. You have to watch what you’re saying.”

Our friends often keep telling us the same things for years. Me, I often heard that in relationships I’m mellow to the point of nausea. And unbecomingly pliable. So resigned to someone else being right that it was unpleasant to watch. That horrible situation with that lawyer, where the only hope of winning required of me to become a dauntless and resolute businesswoman and Joan of Arc, made me realize that I’m a pussy if I allow anyone to talk to me the way I don’t like. I guess that on that day when IZMAŁKOWA won so did my inner tiger. The kitty disguise was burnt to ashes.

I came back home deflated like a punctured balloon. And then my man, Ania’s nephew, started fighting about more unimportant things – that I weren’t someplace, that I didn’t call, that I didn’t go somewhere, that I didn’t write… That I’m always, or never, doing something. And why I don’t do things. Why I don’t to go to a match with him and on the next day to a dinner at his mom’s place.

“Because I don’t want to, because I’m tired and because I need a moment for myself!”

What came next was a monologue on how I do nothing but work and rest after work…

“Maybe you’ll be better off finding a guy who’s like you. One that wouldn’t grumble and wouldn’t complain.”

If you keep saying something again and again for a long time, it’s going to happen for real – I recalled Ania’s words.

“Antoni, you’re right. I’ll be better off finding a new guy. Who is more like me. And less like you”

That’s how I killed my kitty. In white gloves. In such a way that there was nothing left to fight against, nothing left to ask about. No blame left to be put on me.

No kitty. No blame. No relationship.

Sometimes we get what we ask for. What we demand. What we joke about. But sometimes someone might treat it seriously. Sometimes one might meet someone who’s going to tell them: don’t be such a pussy. Sometimes you can’t do anything else but hear, listen, admit that they’re right and walk away.

My tiger was endangered species, on the verge of extinction. And that’s how a lawyer helped me save my company and kill the kitty. Now the tiger reigns supreme – because just like big dogs don’t bark – big cats don’t take bullshit. Kill the kitty. Be who you really are. No bullshit. The tiger is alive!

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