Spoiled Children of Divorce


Household Pets
February 11, 2008, 5:50 pm
Filed under: Household Pets | Tags:

Watching Ellen Degeneres bawling her head off on her TV show over a puppy she gave away recently shows how she balanced out the insecurities of being in a family where  “Unconditional Love” is a transient and ephemeral concept.  Children of D know that bonds between people are not permanent and that family members are replaceable.

The whole issue around Household Pets is a big one for Children of D.  Most  lose our pets at the time of the divorce due to change of housing, and overwhelmed parents who are “being practical”,  and due to money problems. I lived next door to a single Mother, though, who “cured” her son of his Neo-Nazi phase by insisting on keeping a whole menagerie in the apartment. The animals were covered with fleas and scabies and the Mother and Son were still pretty dysfunctional people to live next door to, but the son had gotten over his Neo-Nazi phase. So, I think pets can really calm a kid down and keep his heart open while everything else is going wrong.

My step-sister’s Dog went back to the Humane Society and she and her brother were sent to exclusive private boarding schools so they would be shielded from the first year of the Divorce. They were miserable at the schools and when they came back they bitched even more about their poverty. They were Army Brats who had traveled most of their childhoods so this uprootedness wasn’t partarly odd for them. But when they came back their Mother had upgraded their living environment to my family’s old neighborhood. Losing a dog in favor of a better zipcode is not a bad trade-off. They hadn’t had the Dog for very long anyway. I’m sure the SPCA has astonishing statistics about how many of their drop-offs are due to Divorce.

My Brother & I went through a completely different story.  We lost our pets as well but the loss was considered exceptional because we had lived a stable life. We had two cats and a dog.  The dog, a standard Poodle had been in the family  since I was a toddler and was really old.  By the time that my Father walked out he could barely stand, so my Mother on a binge called the Veterinarian to take the Dog in to put down. Driving drunk wasn’t a problem for her but she knew that being seen that drunk in front of the vet was embarrassing. My brother had just been given his license so he and I took the dog to the Vet’s office. It was the only time I had ever seen the Dog go to the Vet’s without completely trembling either because he was in so much discomfort or because my Mother wasn’t there, who knows. When we got home my Mother screamed her head off for days saying that I had no feelings and knew nothing of her pain, lots of talk like that. My Brother, whose lack of accurate memory skills is actually a blessing, still insists to this day that he went alone to the vets, that the burden was completely on him. There tends to be a lot of misplaced heroism in Families of D. Haven’t read much about birth order. I do remember the same distortion of facts coming from my step-sister who was the eldest in her family.  The arrogance of being oldest plus all the stifled rage really can do a number on bending of reality.

The cats lasted for about another half year. We sold the house and moved into a motel for a couple of months while waiting for a condominium to be built. The cats didn’t deal well with the transitions. My Mother’s cat was a Manx.  That’s a cat without a tail and a constantly unwiped behind. I had a wild feral cat that constantly ran away. Once we moved into the Condominium my Mother took both away to the Humane Society during the day while I was at School. She didn’t tell me until I asked at Dinner where my cat was. I knew he would be gassed because he wouldn’t be able to stand the cage. I’m sure my Mother went on another binge, drunk and screaming at me for a week for complaining about her behavior.

I’ve had one pet as an adult. I inherited a Burmese cat my Mother got from the Humane Society and developed a completely obsessive, maniacal love for it. After one unfortunate event in my life I sort of went nuts constantly worrying that something was going to happen to this cat.

Is there a DSM # for this? I’m sure it could be tucked below the one for Traumatized Children of Divorce:

DSM VII, Rev., 2045 A.D. (pertinent addition):

–Children of D., Traumatized: 666.666.666

–Irrationally fearful something will happen to the Household Pet: 666.666.666.01

–Obsessive Ark Building for Flooding due to Global Warming:  666.666.666.02


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