Monday, October 28, 2013


"I hate goodbyes" Every time Dave and I would say goodbye for more than a day or so, we'd reenact this scene from Dumb and Dumber.

I'm in the disorienting world of goodbyes again as I navigate the end to the first real relationship I've attempted since Dave died. Fortunately I have the most amazing friends who have helped keep me afloat but the sadness is right there at the margins, waiting to take over if I stand still long enough. I'm beaten down and tired of goodbyes and of crying until my eyes are alarmingly swollen. I've become almost fascinated with the levels of redness and swelling my eyes have achieved in the last few days. I'm thinking of documenting it for a medical journal.

A friend is also facing the end of a relationship and we were talking about breakup basics: how to know you've tried hard enough and it's time to let go, how to know someone is "the one", previous embarrassing relationship mistakes. I found myself explaining how I knew Dave was TRUE partner material for me. I had so many stories of how I knew he was my one, that finally it dawned on me. If it is to happen again for me, I will recognize it when it comes. It will be obvious. It will not be hard to figure out. DUH.

Shortly after meeting him, my grandmother had a stroke and did not recover. I hadn't been especially close with her, but I called this brand new guy in my life and said "I'm not sure why I'm calling you, because I'm not even that sad, but my grandma just died". He hung up relatively quickly, and I thought maybe he just was too uncomfortable with emotion to handle it. A few minutes later, he was on my doorstep, out of breath, because he'd run to me, across campus, in the middle of the night just to be by my side. I didn't know how sad I was until his presence on my couch next to me allowed me to open up.

It was also how he turned to me for comfort that I noticed early on. I picked him up at his dorm one afternoon and he was running a temperature. Through the afternoon, his flu got worse and he let me baby him and allowed himself to be completely vulnerable with me. He was deeply grateful for my presence so I felt needed and wanted from the start.

It's THAT I want again one day. It's that knowing that I miss. Knowing he was there for me and would allow me in to be there for him too. It was his dedication to me and the way I felt at ease around him. I slept better and my grades improved when I met him.

Our relationship had its rough edges we continually worked on polishing and was not for a moment perfect, but it was a safe and welcoming place to always return to. I have to remember that I deserve to have that again and nothing short of that is worth my love.

I miss that guy of mine so much. There is a feeling of safety and home I haven't felt since he left this earth. I hope I can find that again one day and I hope it's possible to find it even if I don't find another partner. I don't want to depend on another to provide that feeling, but so far, without Dave, it hasn't returned. I'm not sure how long it'll take to have it again. I'm not sure if it's possible to have it without a partner. Biologically, maybe, having the best friend/life partner/soul-mate in my life, is what makes it possible to feel that way. I'm not sure. I wasn't afforded that feeling growing up so I'm not sure if I just lack it because of that and I can create it myself, or if this is just the natural urge to be partnered up. It's also hard to figure out if I'm just feeling left out of what society deems most important - making a family.

What I know is that I have a ton of love to give. The man who might earn that love again will be one lucky guy. I also know that apparently, I'm capable of risking love again. A fear I had right after Dave died was that I'd shut down my heart completely after what I'd been through. In some ways I've been protective of my heart, but mainly, I haven't shut down and become locked inside my fear of loss.
It may dictate some of my actions and MANY of my thoughts, but mostly, I fought those fears and opened up again.

This didn't end the way I'd hoped, but it ended the way I needed. I can't see far enough ahead to know why I needed this, but I suspect it was to teach me how to get what I want. No, not just how to get it but how to believe I deserve it. It happened to teach me not to be ashamed of my needs. That my needs are not too much for someone. They're just needs, like everyone has. It's teaching me that my baggage is fine. Everyone has it and I'm actively working on mine, preparing myself to be able to be present in a relationship, if that is to happen to me again. I have a feeling an older me will be very clear on all of that.

I had a dream a few nights ago that I was going to move into a new place and I was getting my first look at it. It was stunningly beautiful and seemed to be plucked right out of my imagination's idea of the home for me. It wasn't perfect but it was perfect for me. The view from the bedroom was the most beautiful view I've ever seen. I felt lucky, safe and so excited to know this place was mine. I kept feeling a "I get to have all of this?!" shock run through me.

When I woke up I could remember the dream in more detail than I usually can. It only took a few moments for me to work out the message of this one. The new home represents what I deserve, what I can hope for - blissful happiness again. It's out there somewhere and it's not just something some people have and I don't, it's mine to have, period, because I deserve it. I don't know why it's mine to have or why I deserve it. I had it before and it was taken from me, but it's still mine to have somehow, somewhere. I CAN desire it, hope for it and find myself worthy of it. I don't have to keep thinking that the great stuff only happens to everyone else. It can happen to me too.

It's infinitely easier (and much more sad) to give up hope for that kind of happiness. Not hoping for it, swearing it off forever, means that if by some crazy miracle it happened, I'd be happily surprised, and if it didn't, I'd have no hopes built up that would be shattered again. But I guess I'm kind of stubbornly hopeful and continue to hope even though it scares me so much and I half wish the hopes would quit whispering to me.

So, I'm saying goodbye and that hurts and I'm flooded with regret and shame and feelings of rejection, but I also know that I needed this. I needed to be reminded of what I can hope for.  There's no guarantee I'll find it, but that doesn't mean that I don't deserve the very best.

The blissful feeling I felt once when I was deeply loved. That. That's what I deserve.


  1. Cassie - This is beautifully written and such a good explanation of what this relationship has meant to you and has helped you become. It is so much easier to give up hope of being happy again. You also so aptly describe what I am going through myself right now. Scary to put myself out there but how do I grown/learn from where I am if I don't. I do believe you will find that "house" you experienced in your dream.

  2. Cassie, I could have written this post myself. You summed up everything I have been feeling for awhile now. I dated a good man for about 6 months until we starting hitting hurdles we couldn't overcome. We tried on and off to get back together over the last two months without much success. The goodbye is now permanent and I am very sad and very hurt. But I learned that I can love again and allow love back into my life. Like you, I may never find that "blissful" feeling again, but we all deserve it.

    Hang in there my friend!

  3. I admire that you were willing to risk loving again. I too, am on this new leg of my grief journey; forming a friendship with a man friend that has turned to a relationship; it is difficult at times because he is not like my husband, and of course not - why would he be? Nobody can be! I am not like his wife, why would I be? We talk openly and a lot about these things and most of the time find that we really aren't comparing as much as noticing differences. I sometimes struggle because what I had with my husband was so special and seemingly so unique, and this relationship not, yet....but then of course, why would it be? It's been 6 months that we've known each other instead of 32 years.......there is a lot of growth that takes place over those years! So, yes, we are confused some of the time, but we choose to keep walking. We've come to the table with our "bags" - some of them "big bags" stuffed with our issues; the more we get to know each other and spend time together in new situations, the more issues that come out - oh well, it's important for those things to come out now, in the light of a friendship with some romance relationship, rather than in the permanence of a marriage relationship. We will see. In the meantime, I'm having fun. Learning about him, learning about me and being cared for and interested in and yes, even laughing. I never thought I'd ever experience those things again. If you had told me when I was in active deep grief, I would have told you, that you were crazy. Time does not heal. But time does march on. Only the love of my husband inside of me keeps me moving forward toward life. Thanks!