I’m never expecting it.
I sometimes anticipate it – as in, I will say the words out loud, that it could happen, but every year I follow those words with “but I don’t think so. I seem fine now.”
It’s hard to reconcile mourning something that you know wouldn’t be right for you anymore, even if it were here.
There was a time in my life where Tony was the ideal partner for who I was in that moment. It was the love of the ages – but it was also the type of love that doesn’t leave any room for growth. In order to love him the way I thought he needed to be loved, I had to erase myself completely. That wasn’t his fault, by the way. He didn’t ask me to do that. He didn’t need to.
We were two codependent peas in a pod. We both needed the validation of unconditional love to have any love for ourselves at all.
I know that now. I know, for example, that if I were to meet him today – the version of me that exists right now would not pursue a relationship with him. The things that drew to me to him when I was 20 are the same things that would push me away from him at 40.
I’ve made my peace with that.
But I’m still shocked when mid-January rolls around and I’m calling my mom, choking out words through my sobs. “What’s wrong?” she asks.
All I have to say is, “It’s hitting me today.”
It was today. We are seven days from the fifth anniversary of my widowhood and it hit me hard today.
Thankfully, the louder voices in my head are the ones who say “Of course it’s okay to feel sad about this.” They speak with authority when the other voices say things like, “But why are you crying? You’re happier now. You wouldn’t go back in time 20 years to relive that relationship if you had a time machine and some stock data. Why is this even coming up right now?”
That last question is the one that I do spend some time internalizing. My late mother-in-law spent every January, July, and September in a funk because of how it related to the deaths of her husband and sons. Even after sixty years, she’d get solemn and closed off near the anniversary of her husband’s heart attack. It prepared me for the experience when it started happening to me.
Still feels like there’s something more to it, and I think I’ve figured it out.
Three months after Tony passed away, I started to come out of my shell a little and returned to my roots in the kink scene after a ten year hiatus. I met some kinky friends who invited me out to some of the local dungeons. The second of these dungeons that I went to was Threshold. It was a party just after Halloween and a group of strangers and I started making s’mores on the fire pit in the patio out of Halloween candy and graham crackers.
It was the first (and subsequently only) LA dungeon that made me feel completely safe and at home. This place reconnected with a spark of something that felt truly right for the first time.
I went to every party, even the mid-week one with no more than a dozen attendees. I stayed until closing and volunteered to clean the kitchen. I went to their munches. I promoted them to all my friends as the greatest place to get your kink on. Threshold provided me a space to be my most authentic self and feel loved and accepted.
I had a blast! At that time in my life, finding Threshold was the perfect fit for me. Sound familiar?
Gradually it stopped feeling like the “right fit” for me around two and a half to three years ago. My appearances started becoming less frequent – sometimes because of scheduling, but more often because it just stopped feeling like “home” after a while for various reasons. I’d even passed on attending the fun “open house” type events they hosted a few times a year, usually opting to stay home and watch TV instead. It’s likely very little changed with Threshold – what changed was me.
So, when it was announced this week that Threshold has been shut down indefinitely after fifteen years by the Fire Department for zoning violations, my initial reaction was a little conflicted. The news was shocking, but the emotions felt distant, like the way talking about my late husband feels for 11 months out of the year.
Then I started reading many posts in my feed written by other members who still attend with regularity. As they describe Threshold’s effect on them, our community, and the losses they are feeling over its unexpected closure, I had a single thought:
I didn’t realize the last time I went, was the last time I’ll ever go.
And I remember that the last time we were going to go, I decided I didn’t feel like it at the last minute and thought there’d be a next time.
Then, out of nowhere, I started remembering how it felt during that time when finding this community and that club felt like the most truly authentic experiences of my life. I remembered some of my greatest moments there – my first scene with my partner. Our first kiss. That feeling of accomplishment when people raved about the food spread I’d spend all day preparing for one party a month.
It reminds me of what that club meant to me for a time, and reminds me to mourn the passing of what once was, even if it isn’t something I needed anymore.
I mean, that is essentially how it feels when I get that mid-January pit in my stomach.
Of course it’s okay for me to be sad about this.