Touching What (I Thought) Was Gone

By Cassie M. 07/04/18

In the last 36 hours I’ve been to five meetings, sat three times in meditation and sobbed on a friend’s couch. But I'm OK.

woman reflecting

Love, in my experience, has meant seismic emotional shifts and condemnation, turning even "what do you want for dinner" into a combat zone.

I was in a rage-fueled, co-dependent relationship with my ex-husband from ages 31 to 45. I didn’t know it then, I just thought he was controlling. This is a progressive disease.

I left him at 45, three years ago, and six months later got sober. I heeded AA's suggestions super seriously, not dating for 2.5 years, partly due to not wanting to inflict my instability & blues onto another person, but largely due to self-protection.  

Because I was terrified. I couldn’t imagine opening up to another man, fooling around sober – vulnerability was a liability. I thought my hunger to connect, to feel, was gone. And that was OK. So I waited. And waited.

And then I met Gabe. Online dating. Who knew? Suddenly, it seemed possible to separate falling in like from feeling beholden.

He was 11 years older than me, a warm widower who still held tight to his wife, even after six years. Their union, apparently, was the stuff dreams were made of, a complete 180 from my own. She had passed suddenly, and aside from one brief liaison, which he deemed "untenable," he led a monk-like existence until me. Until me.

He didn’t kiss me until our sixth date, but when he did I awoke. My hands mysteriously floated to his face and we giggled together. He introduced me to his friends on date four, we sang Joni Mitchell while eating ravioli and watermelon in bed, and slept with our noses touching.

When we hugged, we’d hold on and sway.

I was freed.

As we ended our four-month relationship yesterday, he thanked me for "touching something he thought was gone" – We did that for each other this spring and summer, but, still, he drank from his wife’s coffee mug, her travel diary on the bedside table.

Because he had spent decades and raised a child with her, and just a few months with me, I understood our relationship was in its infancy, and was willing to view it as a sort of "practice" – A chance to relearn intimacy and communication, one day at a time, as opposed to labeling and binding each other. And it was lovely, for a time.  

And then, as things often go, I wanted more. I no longer could wait in line behind his departed wife, daughter, mother, patients, and friends, and I told him so.  

He conceded I deserved more than he could offer "at this point," and thanked me for "touching something inside him he thought was gone" – We agreed we did that for each other, as I crumbled.

I believe that loss is cumulative, so I’m not only crying over my four sweet months with Gabe, I am grieving my marriage, and all the other wreckage I’ve created over four-plus decades of life.

In the last 36 hours I’ve been to five meetings, sat three times in meditation, sweat through three hours of yoga, and sobbed on a friend’s couch.  

But here’s the thing – I’m OK.  I’m better than OK. Because I know now that I CAN open myself and be vulnerable, I CAN value a man who treats me well, and with the support of our beautiful program, I can gracefully end a relationship with dignity. I can grieve and grow, and then I can get back up again.

"Thank you for your generosity, kindness, and for touching something inside me I thought was gone. I think we were both able to do that for each other. I wish you all good things.”

Following a two-decade career in marketing and event production, Cassie M. has pivoted and become a Kid's Yoga & Mindfulness Educator. She enjoys using yoga and mindfulness to empower children mentally, physically, and spiritually, simultaneous to pursuing a career in writing -- a life-long dream. 

Cassie holds a BA in Journalism & Mass Media from Rutgers University, and a 95-hour Little Flower Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Training Certificate. She resides in Brooklyn, New York with her precious dog-daughter, Princess Sookie-Love.  

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