This is a special and unusual reblog. Meet Rex – he’s a relatively new blogger and he’s on one helluva journey of self-discovery. His story is riveting, frank and engaging, seemingly without effort. He’s a naturally gifted writer and I’ve just adored following his journey. There’s a twist, but I’ll allow you to discover that. Read on if you dare….to enjoy the tale of Rex’s cougar!
A week ago I had a fascinating encounter with one of my neighbours.
Some background required. My wife and I moved into a standalone house in our little cul de sac about 7 years ago, after 5 years of isolated city apartment living. A year later, she fell sick with cancer. The disease was a slow descent into hell for both of us. Months of suffering and treatments followed by weeks of relative calm and reprieve.
In amongst all the hospital visits and trying to deal with the mundane, we made close friends with every one of our lovely neighbours. They baked. They sat with my wife and held her hand, they grocery shopped. They laughed and cried with us. We got drunk together. They became our second family.
They have kept me close over the past 4 years. Sometimes it has been overwhelming and almost embarrassing, so generous has been their genuine care. Over recent months I have begun to spread my wings a little as you have read in my blog posts, but I have not abandoned my cul de sac family.
An opportunity has arisen for me to give back. Two years ago, the neighbour at No 3, I’ll call her Naomi, lost her husband. We all gathered around as we always do, and our support has been ongoing for her. Naomi is reserved and quite introverted, preferring to stay independent. But rarely have I been allowed to walk past her driveway without an exchange and a hug.
So I was shocked the other evening when we stopped to talk and as I gave her a hug, she burst into tears. Initially, I held just her in the driveway. But I sensed this wasn’t just a short event and I walked her inside, sat beside her, and enfolded her in my arms. Not a word was exchanged. Somehow none was required. We sat there for I guess an hour as she sobbed and sobbed.
Eventually, she calmed. She told me that this was the first time she’d really let her emotions run free. We talked into the night, sharing our separate grief, and laughing and recalling many happy times as well.
At this point, I took a chance and as it was getting late, I shared a sliver of what I had been up to recently….hold on folks!!!…no, not THAT… just that I found massage and human touch very healing, Would she let me massage her neck and shoulders?
Expecting to be refused, I was surprised when she accepted gladly! I wondered if I’d done the right thing as it started the tears again, but gradually she was quiet. After a while we had a cuppa and with a promise to spend time together the next day I left her to head off to bed.
Somewhat stunned, I walked the few paces home and tried to sleep myself. But something strange had stirred inside me. There was an excitement. A feeling of deep connection with another human soul, and a freedom to explore more uncharted territory within and outside my personal bubble.
I’ve always had the feeling of being confined, like a river within two man-made banks of social convention and moral constriction. Safely and uneventfully, my life has meandered quietly and unobtrusively downstream towards its eventual arrival at the entrance to the great ocean, where we are all bound. And now, in the space of four months, the flow has expanded. The banks are no longer containing it. The river is cutting its own path downstream!
Naomi and I had a lovely lunch the following day and talked and talked. Tears flowed from both of us. To hold each other’s hands, hold eye contact and sense authenticity is a great blessing. I remember a wise person once said to me “it is more wonderful to be known than to know.”
She began to share her story with me. We so often assume we know someone because we live close by, chat occasionally and get social together. But we don’t.
As Teal Swan suggests, “we live behind the overlay of our lives. We don’t dare reveal the true self. If I tell you who I am, and you reject me that’s all I have and I’m bereft and gone.”
Well, Naomi began to peel back the layers one by one. Her marriage had been to a man who treated her very well; he was generous and kind, and a wonderful father. But, he had no interest in the sexual side of their relationship. She told me she could count on two hands the number of times they’d “engaged in intercourse” as she called it. My heart ached for her. Although my marriage hadn’t been perfect, it was certainly in another realm to hers.
In almost whispered, embarrassed tones she shared the emptiness she had endured, never daring to share this with even her own family and close friends. I fed her a glass or two of wine as we talked. It’s amazing, when we scratch beneath the surface, what hurts and bruises we all have and hide.
She and Les had often been to our place for meals but Les had always been averse to sharing our Jacuzzi. “Well… what about a soak in the hot tub Naomi?…wearing swimming costumes of course!” I asked. I normally don’t wear anything myself, and my yard is very private. She didn’t own ‘togs’ and so Naomi was happy to strip to her bra and knickers.
Another wine and I’m pretty sure that at one stage I heard gentle snoring in the dark from across the pool, although she assured me she was just very relaxed. The next stage was a massage. This was a beautiful thing to enjoy – caring for another vulnerable human being. I love touch. Feeling my energy flowing through my body into hers. I was aroused but I finished the massage and covered her with a warm towel.
I helped her off the table and into her robe. There was a peaceful silence between us, so relaxed and uninhibited. She told me she so enjoyed the massage. I was elated.
What a strange turn of events.