How My Cat Dress Saved My Life

I read the Cat Pants Saved My Life piece a month or so ago during a really dark period in my life. My life was so together: I was teaching middle school and high school English, I was about to get married to the love of my life, and planning our getaway wedding in New York City during Christmas. It was going to be magical. Until he decided one morning that he didn’t want to be married. Until he decided one morning that he didn’t want to be with me at all.

The day before my fiancé turned my life upside down and inside out, I was at Target browsing the clearance rack. I came across a white dress covered in cats. I hesitated, went to a different section of the store, but went back to just try the dress on. I questioned whether or not I should get it, but then I thought, “Why is this even a question? It’s a cat dress, hell yeah I need this dress!” I promptly purchased the dress not knowing the doors that this dress was going to open for me. That day I knew something was wrong with my fiancé, but I never saw what was coming. That night he told me that he “needed some time” and then broke up with me almost a week later, while I was wearing my cat dress.

He strung me along for almost a week, even when I asked him to not do that. I thought I commanded a little bit more respect than that. I never saw this coming. We were engaged, had our wedding booked, shared a checking account, cell bill, apartment, and car notes. He loved me one week, but didn’t the next. I got the perfunctory answer of “It’s me, not you,” but no other real answers. I had been left at the altar with very little explanation, and nonrefundable, nontransferable tickets to New York City during Christmas. I was numb, devastated, angry, confused, and hurt.

I never saw this coming because I had never been happier. I was so deeply in love. We were great together, we laughed and had fun. He supported me fully whenever I changed my mind about my career. I had decided before we broke up that I wanted to be a comedy writer and he so fully accepted it and supported it. I never thought he had any qualms about it. I was blindsided. I always wanted my life to be like the movies, just not the bad ones.

I was upset and told him I would compromise my writing career for him. I knew deep down he wouldn’t let me. I was pathetic and pretty much begged him to take me back. I had hit rock bottom, but one day I was in a dressing room trying on jeans and saw my reflection. The girl looking back at me was not who I wanted to be. I was dangerously skinny, haggard looking, unkempt, weak and letting someone else determine my happiness. I sat down on that dressing room bench in my underwear and typed up a long text to him. I told him I deserved someone better, someone who was excited to be with me. I realized I had suppressed all of my eccentricities to have some semblance of a “traditional” relationship. Just a week before I was willing to sacrifice my dreams in order to make him happy, which I had been doing the past 8 years. I went home and ironed my cat dress so that I could wear it to work the next day. I was going to wear that dress and rock the shit out of it.

My relationship did change me. I wanted to travel. I wanted to meet new people. I wanted to write and do comedy all over the world. I got comfortable and became a homebody. Some weekends I wouldn’t even go outside my apartment. I had settled. And I think we both knew it. I had put all of my quirky clothes and traits in a box, literally and figuratively, in my closet because I saw it as a sign that I was immature and that was why he didn’t want to be with me. I kept thinking about how he had broken up with me while I was wearing my cat dress and kept running it as a joke in my life, commenting on the sad humor that made up my life. But looking back now, I see that dress as a sign of something else. My cat dress was so much more than a great deal at Target. More than a sign of me being a weirdo English teacher who looks like she’s 12. It was about me figuring out who I was. How can I make someone else happy when I don’t know what makes me happy?

I don’t have it all figured out, but I do know what currently makes me happy: cat dresses, being a cheer coach, joking around making my colleagues laugh out loud, strengthening my relationships with people who I know will always be there for me in my time of need, and my crazy 5 minute ideas.

One day I’ll find someone who will love me in that cat dress. Who will pack up a backpack and move to a city 500 miles away. Who will come to my stand up sets and think, “Yep. That’s my girl. And she’s funny as shit in her cat dress.”

Ashley Moser is a full time middle school and high school English teacher and part time comedian. She’s an all things comedy and crazy graphic t-shirt enthusiast who loves to write and keep it real. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.

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