In today’s blog, co-owner Melissa dishes about divorce, debt, life and love…and the common thread in it all: her boxer, Meg.
Few divorces are a surprise. Between the years of “working on it” and the couples counseling, the reality of a marriage ending really isn’t all that surprising when it finally crumbles to pieces. Even when you’re the one leaving, it still hurts…
When I made the decision to leave my spouse in 2009, I had one beautiful little boxer named Meg. On the day I moved out, I grabbed some clothes, my computer and Meg. She cuddled up on my lap for the entire ride away from our personal hell and I knew right then and there that she was going to be the one little piece of my “old life” that I never wanted to let go of.
I didn’t think my ex would fight for custody of Meg….mostly because he often left her in her crate for hours on end while sitting on the couch watching the television. If she was let out, she was tied to a runner in the back yard by herself. For hours, she was left to her own devices until I got home from the long and stressful hours of my job at the time. I was clearly her caretaker and we both knew it. In fact, once I was home in the evenings, she became the little heartbeat at my feet and I was convinced her fur was made of velcro because she followed me everywhere. Naturally, I didn’t think twice about scooping her up and take her along when I moved out.
Our marriage dissolved quickly, mostly due to my desire to treat it like removing a band-aid, but also because we had very few assets between the two of us. But when it came time to negotiate allocations of debt and property, I quickly learned that Meg was a bargaining source for my ex spouse. And, like any “mother,” my flight or fight response engaged and I began to fight for custody of her. The most tenacious parts of me, that for so long refused to even put up a fight, quickly emerged.
In the end, I accepted a larger amount of debt and gave up assets just to keep Meg. Some would argue that it was poor decision for my financial well-being, but I have never regretted it. Leaving Meg behind meant not only abandoning my best (and sometimes only) companion, but also leaving her in a home where I was highly concerned about her safety and well-being. If saving her from that life meant I took on another $5K in debt, then it had to be.
In the months that followed, I was a swirled up mess of sadness, fear, relief, anxiety, anger, confusion and happiness. It was my decision to leave and a decision I do not regret for a single second. But my world felt upside down and right side up at the same time. Often, I would lay on the couch staring into space for hours. But guess who was always at my feet: my beautiful little Meggers. She rode the emotional roller coaster with me and comforted me in times of sadness, celebrated in times of joy, and like me, took each new step with caution and fear.
I was recently reminded of my fight for Meg when I finally paid off the last of my divorce debt. I felt proud that in 3 short years, I was able to wipe away more debt than I’m often willing to admit. It feels good to be one step closer to putting my ex spouse in the category of “Somebody That I Used to Know.” Most of all, I’m happy that my decision to fight for Meg was reinforced through only short terms pains of financial struggles.
Meg also took the big step of letting a new person into her heart with me. From where I stand today, I cannot imagine my world without Zach and I know she feels the same (mostly because she divides her velcro time between the two of us, erring on the side of Zach when she can’t quite make up her mind). But in the early months, Meg was a bit unsure of him. She didn’t trust men in general and fully expected Zach to leave her in her crate and lonely for hours on end. But slowly, she started to come around. The more Zach shared his love, the more she started to love him back.
We’ve both hurt Zach a few times, but each time, he comes back to us with a hug and open arms. Because of him, we’ve both learned a lot about the beauty of love, forgiveness and the simplicity of happiness. But mostly, we’ve learned that loving and trusting someone enough to share your life doesn’t have to hurt.
Lately Meg has been gimping the house (instead of her usual days of running full-bore for every ball, fly and shadow that enters her world) and she can no longer climb the stairs to the loft. By the end of the day, she’s exhausted, tired and sore. As I watch Zach lift her in to bed at night, I get a knot in my throat when she gives him a little lick on the chin. I’ve always viewed that as her way of saying thank you and love you, which are more and more precious as her days are numbered.
Since Meg is my first pet, the coming months and inevitable decisions about her care are unfamiliar territory for me. I expect an irrational number of tears, drifting thoughts at work (mostly because they’ve already started) and being worried that I’m making the wrong decisions. However, the one thought that comforts me is that for the last 3 years, she has been in a happy household and has felt the love of both of her owners. It feels miniscule compared to her years of unwavering loyalty and companionship but perhaps that was simply her place in my life.