This story is sort of tough to talk about. It’s also rather lengthy, and sad.
My ex (now roommate, soon to be not roommate) got a rabbit about two and a half years ago. I’m not really familiar with rabbit breeds, but this rabbit is really adorable - he’s all black/gray, long-haired, and has very big, fuzzy ears. He was apparently a tough breed to find, so we had to go find him from a breeder. This all happened before I moved to MN, before we split, and before we were even living together - she was still living at home with family.
After we moved to MN, as with most people who move in together, we learned new things about each other that the previous two years of dating hadn’t really exposed us to. For me, she learned that I have days where I’m intensely anti-social, anxious, or depressed, and that it’s pretty much all I can do to manage to respond to texts/IMs. For her, I learned that she is intensely messy.
I’m not the neatest person in the world - I have a tendency to “narrow in” on things, be they games, work projects, a book, a TV show, etc., and I can forget to take care of some real world things for a day or so when this happens. *glances meaningfully over at a pizza box with a few empty cans on top of it.
My roommate, however, isn’t just “not neat”, she’s actively messy and lazy - messy enough to the point it bugged me, and lazy enough to the point where it drove me batshit. We fought, tried to come to arrangements, and they’d work for a while, but she always ended up just backsliding and not doing things anymore.
One of the big things that I noticed she was very much not good about was the fact that she didn’t clean her rabbit’s cage as regularly as she really should, and was pretty lax about checking food and water. This bothered me an awful lot - I am very much an animal person, and have been my whole life. My mom bred exotic birds when I was growing up, and I’ve never -not- had one or more pets living with me that I was responsible for. The first gift I can ever remember getting was a huskey.
So I tried to fill in around the edges, checking on the rabbit, trying to make sure he was fed/watered, and getting into fights with her every so often about her needing to clean the cage. It worked for a while.
About four months before we moved to the apartment I’m currently living in, we were at a pet store buying food & cat supplies when she decided to wander around in the “small fuzzy adorable animal section” of the store, and fell absolutely in love with another rabbit she found there.
I like making the people I’m with happy (generally at the detriment of my own happiness and well-being, but that’s another post, probably). So, I guided her away and we walked around the pet store, and I tried to lay out as honestly and inoffensively as I could that she wasn’t taking care of her current rabbit very well, and that while she was free to do what she wanted and I couldn’t very well stop her from buying the rabbit, I’d help her pay for it if she could promise me she’d take care of both it and her current rabbit in the manner both animals deserved.
She promised profusely, and I’m not going to lie, but seeing her happy overrode the logical sensible parts in my head that probably should’ve tried to talk her out of buying the second rabbit.
It didn’t, because I am a pretty stupid dude sometimes when it comes to ladies.
Her good intentions lasted roughly two weeks, and then she was pretty much back to the previous issues, except now she was neglecting two animals, and I was feeling lied to yet again. I continued making sure they were being fed and watered, picked fights to get the cages cleaned up, and so things went.
We moved to the new apartment and had a spare bedroom, so we set the rabbits up in there to help curb any feline curiosity as we really didn’t have any high flat surfaces to keep them on. Status quo - me checking on them, her not checking on them, so on and so forth. About a month into our new apartment, my roommate went out of town for seven days to go to Disney World with her family. (Jealous, I’ve never been!).
Prior to her going out of town, I made her check on the rabbits and give them extra food, an extra water bottle, etc. Or, rather I should say, I told her that I expected her to do those things as a responsible pet owner, and she told me she would.
I spent most of the six days she was gone gaming and drinking - I’m not a big drinker, but I had some good times with friends staying up late and gaming/drinking with them. I was lazy about personal hygiene for a few days, watched porn, ate at all my favorite restaurants, and generally enjoyed a bit of “bachelor” time.
At least up until day 5 of her trip when I remembered that I hadn’t checked on the rabbits since she’d left, and that while she’d promised to do the things I’d asked (extra food/water), I’d never actually made sure she did it.
I opened the door to the room the rabbits were being kept in, and just sort of stood there for a moment before I sort of slowly slid down the doorframe until I was on my knees, trying my hardest not to completely break down as I looked at the rabbit cages.
Her original rabbit was fine, albeit low on water and out of food…but the newer rabbit was not fine.
I spent the next few hours as a complete and total emotional wreck. I called my mom asking how to explain to someone “Your pet died while I was responsible for it.” Finally, I made the call to the roommate. In retrospect, I probably should’ve waited until she came home, but I wasn’t at all sure on how she’d want the remains handled, and it wasn’t really the sort of thing I could just “wing” or alternatively ignore for a day or two.
She wasn’t happy, to say the least. She also was apparently very much not happy with the fact that I ruined the last two days of her trip to Disney World. Never once did she accept ownership of the fact that she hadn’t done what I’d said she needed to.
I handled taking the poor rabbit in to the vet and had them handle the remains, and then went home and spent the next two days in a much more subdued and less bachelor-hijinks mood. I cleaned up the apartment, did some cooking, went for a walk - pretty much everything except clean up the rabbit’s cage. Finally I couldn’t avoid it, so I went in and dealt with it, and I took her (original) rabbit out and held him for a while, and pretty much broke down again.
I drove up and picked her up from the airport, and we drove home mostly in silence. I couldn’t help but feel a rather large distance had suddenly settled in between us. We got dinner, got her unpacked, and then went to bed, and after about ten minutes of laying there with her laying pretty much on the opposite side of the mattress, I tried talking to her.
She burst into tears and started sobbing about how horrible of a person she was.
I don’t really do well with other people being said - I try to fix it, even when I can’t.
So I did something that I really shouldn’t have done - I tried to minimize and own the blame for the fact that her rabbit had died. I told her that I’d been too lazy to check on it sooner because I was vegging out playing video games, that it wasn’t her fault, that she wasn’t a bad person.
This went on for a while, except now it turned into me being the upset one, and her slowly turning stony and silent.
I asked her if she was okay.
She said she thought we needed to take a break.
Fast forward to a week later, and she ended things officially.
Yeah. She broke up with me largely due to the fact that I’d convinced her that I was a lazy, horrible person who’d killed her rabbit.
Obviously the relationship had problems beyond that - and I’ve written about those in the past. But this? This was the actual catalyst for the breakup - me lying to her to make her feel better so she wouldn’t blame herself, and her believing that lie.
She still doesn’t really take care of her rabbit. I still go in and check on it, just because I don’t want it even remotely on my conscience that an animal suffered or died when I could’ve done something to fix it.
I wrote all of this because today I woke up to a text message from her asking if I could get out the rabbit cage that had been unused the past 8 months or so, because apparently new boyfriend is buying her a rabbit.
I tried asking her if she thought that was a good idea, and she told me that I could go fuck myself for trying to make her feel bad. She’s apparently moving the new rabbit she’s getting today along with her current rabbit over to her new boyfriend’s apartment so she can take better care of them.
I guess I’m not really holding my breath. I wonder if new boyfriend cares enough about animals to make sure they aren’t going to die when she inevitably neglects them again. I wonder if someday she’ll get it through her head that no, she really was the reason the other one died, and that it wasn’t my fault. I wish I could make myself believe that it was entirely 100% not my fault, too, because I knew how lazy she was, and I should’ve checked on them sooner - even though it wasn’t and shouldn’t have been my responsibility at all.
I don’t really have a good, conclusive way to end this post, other than to say I’m really pissed off and hurt. I realize that I can (and do) some pretty stupid things for women when I’m in relationships, and these are things I’m working through with counselors - but seriously, fuck this shit.