The problem with Cat Food

6 Jan

This weekend he leaves.

The past few weeks have been filled with the slow file and purge of his stuff, garbage bags filled with the crap I begged him to toss for years, piles of things in boxes he wishes to keep, memories for me to flip through, to find my own, to take my records, to read again letters from friends on the occasion of our marriage.

Him, packed into 20 or so boxes and bins, stacked drums and equipment. My former husband, in piles.

My heart coughs, my eyes fill unbidden and my breath becomes hot and laboured. How did I get here? How will I move on, the empty space in my house matched, in degrees in my chest?


It strikes me, asking to borrow a few bucks for cat food since I forgot to get the BIG bag for the little gluttons, that it’s not as it was. Before, I would have said “We need cat food-grab some?” via text, shuttling between work and home, thoughts muddled with the should do’s and what to make for dinner.

Now it’s-canΒ I borrow? Can you help?, the requests you make of a friend, unwillingly in need, detached, no longer a pair or a team but two people. Certainly two people who want to help, who want the other to succeed and feed the cats. But two completely separate people, revolving in their own worlds.

I find myself blinded, clipped almost by these small thing, the loss of that small shoulder to rely on, the devotion of the tiny pieces of a marriage, the non worry afforded by a partner, the relief of knowing there’s two of you responsible for the detritus of adulthood-children, houses, dental work. The reality of those boxes is that no matter how friendly and helpful we are, as friends, I am ultimately at odds and alone with this, my life.

It hurts in its sad way, the loss of this, of the pairing, of the safety and security. Not because I don’t think I can do it, but because I prefer the sharing, not just the problem of cat food, but the life shared, the house, the future shared. And it’s odd, imagining no one behind me, just being there, even in the cold way as it’s been for so long.

Alone with children, with my own flighty, ofttimes fragile self. It’s terrifying. The thought-this is all the money I have, the two dollars I scammed from my father for coffee and didn’t use-this is what I have.

I haven’t been that completely untethered since I was a teenager. I don’t mind it for myself-but with children, it fills me with a cold hollowness, a fear I don’t recognize, or rather, I do too closely. The intimate knowledge that you are never far from everything going terribly wrong.


It’s not that dramatic. I still have access to all the tools and credit I personally did before. But now, it’s all on me, this house, or at least it feels that way. Now, it impacts more on my own than it ever did couple wise. I feel that last kick in the arse into adulthood, a sad kick, yet a necessary one.

Packed in a box it wasn’t, but from one it comes.


13 Responses to “The problem with Cat Food”

  1. Hannah January 6, 2010 at 12:07 pm #

    Nothing I can say. Of course it hurts. Of course it’s frightening. I can feel the added burden and responsibility on your shoulders, and I know you’d like to feel like sometimes you could lay them down.

    I won’t offer platitudes. That won’t help. But know that I am here, and I’m listening, and I get you.

    Also, cats eat too much. πŸ˜‰

  2. Mad January 6, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

    Having been raised by a single mom, I get this. Big time.

    • thordora January 7, 2010 at 9:46 am #

      Yeah. Freaks me out. Swallowing panic a lot lately, since it’s, mostly, irrational, and all I can do is plan around it.

  3. Titanium January 6, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    Having been a single mom, I hear you loud and clear. Take it one bit at a time, figure out who/where your safety net is and take care of yourself really, really well.

    The healthier you are, the better able you are to care for the girls in every way. Little stuff like that elusive thing…. sleep? πŸ™‚



  4. Jett January 6, 2010 at 1:29 pm #


    That one time the roof leaked and the water literally poured in through a light fixture? I might have completely snapped in two if it had happened when I was a single mom.

    I am sorry for the grief that being thusly untethered can bring, and am wishing you all sorts of wells as you work your way through it.

  5. Marcy January 6, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

    If you fed the kids to the cats, would that resolve anything?

  6. Mogo January 7, 2010 at 12:49 am #

    i think feeding the cats to the kids is more the way to go πŸ˜›

    • thordora January 7, 2010 at 9:45 am #

      Tempting. Or feeding the kitten to whatever prowls in the woods. πŸ˜›

  7. Vicki January 7, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    To say I get you is an understatement. The simplicity of having another person there to do those types of things is something you take for granted when you are the only one who can make the grocery store runs, etc.

    It’s all a matter of planning. I now have to plan everything. Trips to the store are planned days in advance because they throw the dinner schedule off and so I have to plan to get something quick from town the days I have to drag the babies out in the cold to go to the store with me. It’s a pain but it’s doable.

  8. magpie January 7, 2010 at 10:58 pm #

    thinking good thoughts for you…

  9. Laskigal January 8, 2010 at 2:07 am #

    A whole new reality . . . you captured it brilliantly.

    I’ve seen it, felt it, albeit from a totally different perspective.

    Not a time for petty sentiments, so I’ll just say–inhale . . . exhale. Repeat.

  10. bromac January 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    Thinking of you as the weekend approaches. Stay strong and love the girls, you’ll survive.

  11. Kelly January 25, 2010 at 2:06 pm #

    Even if it was cold and lonely in the marriage, suddenly realizing, like you said, that it’s just YOU, is terrifying. The knowing that you weren’t in it alone was comforting somehow. Being alone with the kids… it’s hard, it’s scary. I don’t know what else to say, other than I get it. I’m there too.

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