Delicate ~ An Anatomy of a Relationship

Update: Facebook has an uncanny ability to stir up memories without warning. Apparently a year has gone by since I last posted pictures on FB from my last days working at a certain rehab in Bensalem, PA.

While this post has been sitting in the private archives for almost a year, I am resurrecting it now ( in time for Easter, ha!) to let it see the light of day. I understand from this vantage point how much my time spent in that setting (with a selection of incredibly influential  human Be – ings) continues to shape my present moments so profoundly.

Many readers responded so well to this material and I appreciate all the support, then and now.


Caution: this is a loooong entry, so read at your own risk! However, if you really want to know me better and on another level, keep reading.

Okay, here goes nothing. I am fueled by smoked gouda and Merlot, ready to bare my soul. However, this post will not stay up here for long. I typically do not write this kind of material online. But inspired by the likes of my pal Dayna, whose blog I so admire, I figure, why the hell not? She writes so openly about her intimate experiences and through her vulnerability, I learn so much. So maybe something good will come of this. Plus I need to do this for myself. I need to purge the thoughts out of my self and onto “paper.”

After a night of cathartic crying, I decided I needed to write about this man I know. Yesterday I had brought home a bottle of Merlot and was relishing a peaceful evening with a restful sleep as my reward. Would you believe me if I told you the corkscrew broke in the cork and I could not open the bottle? This really happened and seems like a perfect representation of the past few weeks. Not getting what you want, even when it is staring you in the face. Today I bought a new corkscrew and another bottle of wine. So I go on to live another day encased in this material world , wondering what the hell is happening to myself and this beloved planet. Transiting Mars conjunct Pluto is in my 12th house of the hidden and unconscious. While this is new territory for me, as an empath I tend to pick up emotions from far and wide, along with my own. I am not handling it very well at all. Not lately, anyway.

It has been a good while since I felt something real for a man, that I figure it would be smart to jot it all down before it fades away. It certainly took me long enough to recognize what was going on. But I do understand why that is the case. More and more I see life as we know it as fated. All we can control is our reactions.

I could blame it on the Bensalem mojo that goes back all the way to 1982. When I was 21, I moved from New Jersey to Philly to complete my senior year of college and move in with a friend and her roommate. I needed a part-time job to help with expenses and found one as a residential advisor for IDD clients,  all the way in Bensalem. People who knew Pennsylvania well asked me why on Earth was I planning on driving all the way from West Phila to Bensalem for a part-time job? What was I thinking? I told them I had to take this job. I felt it in my bones, but there was no rational explanation.  I was willing to drive this distance, god knows why. Stubborn as I am, I took the job. The residence was located in a small housing development called Winding Brook. This gig was boring and not really worth the trouble. But within a few days I was dating the man who lived upstairs. We were not exactly coworkers, but operated in different programs on separate  floors of a two story house.  His pictures from his recent trip to India made a huge impression. The job did not last long, but since he lived upstairs ( he ran the program upstairs) I continued to trek up to Bensalem regularly to be with him. I drove by a rehab facility on the way to his house/my former work. It had an interesting name and I could only see the sign from the road. I was intrigued and so curious about this place. Little did I know I would be working there over 30 years later!

While my boyfriend and I eventually broke up, it was worth the drive. He was very special to me and we would move in and out of each others’ lives over the decades. The connections to Bensalem would continue to grow. A good friend of mine from graduate school would on his own initiative , get a job in the same program where my ex once lived. I remember calling him there and talking with a former coworker on the phone.

Then a few years later I met a man while working for the City. We both lived in Phila at the time. He took me to lunch and we got to know one another better. It turns out he used to live in Bensalem on that very same cul-de-sac. It also turned out that he worked with one of my clients from that program. For me that sealed the deal and I knew we would become involved. And we did.

He was, so far, the great love of my life.

Bensalem was beautiful then, and I had dreams of moving to Bucks county.  There was so much land and wide open spaces. There was promise. So one could say that Bensalem had its hold on me for a time.  But I moved on. So did the men I met from that cul-de-sac.

Back in September I applied to several jobs as an outpatient therapist. A few were by an organization that runs the aforementioned rehab. One day I received a call and saw the organization’s name on my caller ID. To my surprise, it was not about any of the jobs that I applied to. It was for a job as a rehab counselor in Bensalem. I asked the woman on the other end why she was calling. She said she saw my resume and thought I might be interested. This made no sense, since I had little experience with inpatient rehab and it was rather far way. But I took the interview and got the job. I took the job because it was that place in Bensalem, just a few blocks away from Winding Brook.

I then devoted the next few months of my life to little else. The commute was brutal, but I was committed. I wanted to work in addictions and felt called to do this work. I fell in love with the work and the place.  Initially I thought it was the best job I ever held. My impressions did not last, but my affection for my clients did. And then there was this man I met.

My office was located in ” the dungeon” with three other therapists. Everyone else was housed upstairs. My office was number 13! At first I did not like this arrangement, but later I came to appreciate it. I began to know a man whose office was right across the hall. He was certainly not my type and I wasn’t thinking about romance anyway.

What is my type you ask? Tall, wiry, confident, mysterious, charming and elusive. Sometimes he would be a “bad boy’ and he definitely played by his own rules. He was passionate, intense, and not so great with commitment.  The astro profile typically would be Sag or Cap rising, a fixed moon sign, and lots of fire and water in the chart. Along with the fire/water emphasis was a heavy dose of Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. I liked to play with cosmic “fire” and often got burned beyond recognition emotionally. No wonder I decided to quit the game of love.

So let me tell you about this guy: He seemed very familiar to me, but in an unfamiliar way. I knew his voice , from somewhere. He has a lovely voice. He is really smart, sweet, and kind. He is soft-spoken but very talkative. He is gentle, chivalrous, even-tempered, and generous. He is not conventionally handsome, but has lovely blue eyes. He is very curious about life and everything in it. He really cares about people and is well liked. He works very hard and his clients really appreciate him. He is rather traditional, but is open to new ideas and experiences.

We have many shared experiences and traits. He is left- handed, has natal mercury retrograde and an INFP profile ( mine is INFJ). He grew up in NJ, once lived in my current neighborhood, went to college with my sister ( a few years apart), and went to the same graduate program as me ( a few years apart). We also worked as therapists at the same office at an outpatient MH center ( but not at the same time.) I would imagine there are more overlaps, yet to be discovered. He was my confidant. He became my best friend at work. We would talk for hours about so many things. Eventually I noticed that whenever our group of coworkers were gathered, he was seated next to me. Christmas parties, lunches at the cafeteria, group pizza outings, group photos. He was always by my side. It took me awhile to notice what was developing. After all, he was my coworker and I was attempting to acclimate myself to a demanding new job where the expectations were very high and the learning curve was substantial.

Eventually I became aware that my behavior changed when he was around and that others were making comments about us. Then one day at a conference we spent the entire day together and I felt a vibe, if you will. I felt his energy field and I was surprised by my reaction. Again, he was not my type and I certainly would not get involved with someone whose office was right across the hall from mine.

But then the bad news came.  The scene has changed and the stakes are high. Massive layoffs were announced and most of the therapists lost their jobs. I intuitively knew something was off for weeks, but did not have the details. I was about to lose a job that I adored, where I was growing by leaps and bounds, and I was also about to lose my best friend.

The game had changed.

So he helped me pack up my office and take the boxes to my car. We had each other’s phone number and promised to stay in touch. I was a hot mess. As I drove away, the song Brave played on the radio. I drove by Winding Brook on the way home, to say goodbye.

We did talk on the phone and a few weeks later we all reassembled for a group dinner. His birthday was being celebrated, along with that of another former dungeon resident. He has been at the job for years and I was the newbie. He was quickly rehired and was able to remain full-time, due to the strong working relationships he had cultivated. While he was a guest of honor, he did not sit with the main clique. Instead he sat with me. I know he liked me as more than a friend by the things he would say and how he would say them. On the day that we were given the news about the layoffs, I made a comment at the meeting, asking my colleagues why they were silent and never complained about all the problems with upper management. Per usual, no one said a word. Then he exclaimed to this large group of people ” Linda, you are so awesome! ” I was a bit embarrassed, but also pleased. He saw me as the best version of myself. He often told me how much he admires my directness and ability to say the right thing at the right time. He always had a ready ear and was extremely compassionate. But it was the way he smiled at me that mattered most.

So I cried on the long drive home from the restaurant. Was I missing my job, my coworkers, Bensalem, or him? Bensalem broke my heart twice before, after-all. I was stunned by the depths of my emotions. I still am processing this traumatic loss.

The phone calls have seemed to stop and I feel abandoned. One the day we were let go, I told him he was my best friend and that I would miss him. I was oh so proud of myself for being in the moment.  He said he felt the same. Yet, so much was still unspoken. He still has the job, and I am back on my couch, doing my best to move forward.

I clearly can see why I don’t do relationships anymore. The emotions are so messy. I rather fix someone’s mess than look at my own. I am safer in the theoretical realm, where I can feel confident and well-adjusted. I do not want to jump when the phone rings, waiting to hear from him. I do not want to chase anyone or anything. Disappointment is painful.  Feeling vulnerable sucks, even when one is firmly engaged on the spiritual path.

I have this feeling that our connection is over and I am using this time to re-calibrate. It will be easier to separate now, instead of saying things I will later regret. One could suggest, be patient, it has only been a couple of weeks. I am not certain of anything. But I do not like what this entanglement has done to me. My heart aches and I abhor this feeling.

And I miss him.

I chose to put Delicate in the title because I caught a new Taylor Swift video tonight by that name. The lyrics seemed to echo many of my sentiments. Taylor has Saturn conjunct mine at 13 degrees Capricorn. She is approaching her first Saturn return as I approach my second. Her music really resonates with me and I look to her to help assess my emotional weather. I am taking a play from her book by writing about a man as a form of self-expression. Great minds think alike!

I could go on and write more about this, but my wine glass is close to empty and it has been a couple of hours. Even I am tired of this story now. Yet, it is so funny how a stranger can become so important so quickly and without warning. But I so suck at this and wish I was better equipped.

I welcome plenty of comments. If you think you would be better off sharing offline, please shoot me an email. I understand. Contact me before I lose my nerve and make this post private 🙂  Thanks for listening.

images courtesy of, public domain