And then there were two: Returning to the original cast

My ex-husband took Peezu, shattering my heart into a million pieces that are all piercing my innards with every breath I take.

Documenting my last moments of Peezu cuddles.

The other morning was the first morning that I awoke and didn’t have to rush out of bed to walk a dog. While it was nice to be able to wake up naturally and linger in bed for a while, it also felt so strange. I naturally felt anxiety about taking Peezu out, even though I knew she wasn’t even there for me to feel anxious about. I wonder how long this feeling of needing to care for a beast who isn’t even there will linger, like a phantom limb.

I do really miss the old animal gang. I miss having a crazy home full of wild beasts, I miss caring for them, and I even miss their stupid barks sometimes… only sometimes.

When I come home now I still expect to hear the pitter patter of little Peezu claws, as she wiggles excitedly down the hall towards me. I often brace myself to hear Jackson’s loud guard bark when my neighbor opens his creaky security gate.

the woogs and me

But the reality is that my old family is gone — the husband and two dogs — and now it’s just me and my cat. I call us “the original cast,” because before there was ever a husband or a dog, there was The Woogs and me.

I will now admit something that I feel guilty about… (lean in while I whisper it in your ear…)

It’s actually been pretty nice. Yeesh, am I worst person EVER, or what!?

But but but — I have a lot more freedom to enjoy my, well, freedom! I get to do and go where I want. I can stay out late without any anxiety (once the phantom dog syndrome is gone). Most importantly, as long as I ask my neighbor to check in on the cat, I can travel at the drop of a hat. Just as it was back when it was the original cast. Just as it was back when my life was also super-extremely awesome.

Being dog-less will take some getting used to. I’ll need to cry through the phantom dog pain whenever it comes up. And eventually I will have a dog of my own again. But for now, it’s just The Woogs and me, a girl and her cat, ready to take on this new, less hectic, less-barky, chapter in our lives together.

5 thoughts on “And then there were two: Returning to the original cast

  1. Catherine

    Girl, I feel this. While I’ve never had dogs, I know the ease of cat parenthood and being able to travel. Spending most weekends away now, my mom checks in on their food and they don’t care if I’m gone. 😉

  2. dootsiebug

    I grew up with a random cast of dogs, as many as four in my home at a time. Even with a yard for them to poop in, it was just always so much anxiety about letting the dogs out, making sure the dogs went–and I wasn’t even in charge of the early morning poops! I miss being with them, but I know the level of relief that comes with not having to worry about them all the time.

  3. Sarah Brewer

    I don’t think there’s any shame in this. Reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend, which is actually only one of a few similar conversations, regarding managing the child situation post divorce. Which, let’s face it, is basically the exact same thing. While my friend hated being away from her kids during their scheduled dad-time. It was actually the first “free” time she had for herself in YEARS and she loved it. She knows that pretty much every other weekend she can make plans with friends, get errands done without stress or even just veg out in front of the TV all day without having to actively “mother.” She also expressed guilt about feeling this way.

    I call it an overdue silver lining to a truly shitty situation.

  4. meganfinley Post author

    Oh man, I LOVE YOU ALL for replying and NOT confirming my worst fears. Thank you for being here for me, y’all!!!! :)

  5. Emer

    When my terminally ill kitty died, I’d been taking care of him for months on end and would spend hours each day cuddling and playing with him. After he died, I’d catch myself relaxing and think “Oh no! I’ve got to go check on Shadow!” and repeat about 50x each day for the next 2-3 months. It was more heartbreaking than anything (because I’d remember all over again that he’d died) but it does make you aware of how your pet parenting responsibilities impact ALL of your time. I never thought of this being a phantom kitty phenomenon but that is very apt. Best of luck to you getting back to your “new normal.” (Losing my dogs would break my heart).

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