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Can We Find Understanding with Our Ex?

By Maggie Marangione September 10, 2023 Family

For a brief moment, I heard the universe vibrate when I thought a man was a God; I had never experienced soul-moving love before. I was 33.

I’m older now, and I have experienced love since, but not in a way where I felt the cosmos crack open. I’m still not sure if it was the best or worst moment of my life, but I do know it was something spirit shattering and karmic. Sort of like climbing Mount Everest and dying in the process. I couldn’t stop myself despite the risks.


That August day I drove up the mountain to his house to meet him, I was filled with trepidation. We were living similar lives at 3000 feet elevation, but on different parts of the Blue Ridge. I owned my farm and worked. Yet, both of us had been living alone, and we had been searching for a heart of gold. So, when I found an educated man that read Mother Earth News, I was in!

Because the road to his cabin had been washed out and a large creek ran across it, I was forced to park and shimmy across a down log, thinking, How cool! I was greeted by a neighbor family in front of his cabin.

His looks were otherworldly – high cheek bones, almond shaped eyes, long wavy brown hair. He was tall, slim and beautiful, like Elrond in Lord of the Rings. Chalkboards lined the inside of his house where he had elaborate drawings, astrological charts, and quotes from philosophers and Jimmy Hendrix. Many years later, when the movie A Beautiful Mind came out, I gasped and sobbed in affirmation of crazy.


We laid in his bed listening to his goats, the bells around their necks jingling like fairy chimes. A bear was wrestling with the cherry tree by his bedroom window, and we were young, fine and he was the only home I thought I ever needed before I learned the only home I needed was me. For a moment, I walked in the sun so in love with someone.

As the months went by and my belly swelled and our first child was born, I walked in a cyclone of his rages. This tempest had moments of calm, peace and space, when we would ride our horse bareback in the woods with Judy Blue Eyes as our soundtrack.

If he had been well, I would have had 10 kids, but he wasn’t well. My soundtrack turned to Pearl Jam and I couldn’t, for the life of me, ever win back his love that had been captured in amber, like a wasp, in my memory. But I scrambled for his love, always falling short, not knowing how I had been cast out of heaven and trying to get back to him. His dislike for me was clear, evident and constant.

Even when he was shackled in the psychiatric unit or perhaps worse, appearing before the judge for trying to kill me, I still sobbed like a child.

How Do I Process This?

My relatives still refer to him as America’s guest because of his entitlement. Now, 30 years later, I look at him, mostly in confusion, for he bears no physical resemblance to the man I met because age isn’t kind to the narcissistic and unmedicated. My heart no longer skips a beat because that vibrational love I felt with him now reverberates all around me.

For one earth shattering moment when I fell in love, I thought divine oneness was connected to another human, and I got dazzled by enchantment and relief from existential loneliness. At that time, I was unmarried and living a life of a mountain woman, very alone, sometimes for weeks, when we still had long winters in the mountains.

Perhaps we used each other. He needed a place to live, kicked out of his farm for not paying the rent, and I didn’t want to succumb to the pressure of my entire Italian family to quit my lifestyle and work as a lawyer in N.Y.

As my father said, “I believe your National Geographic experiment has come to a close. It’s time to go to law school and enter the firm.” I sobbed, not wanting to leave my mountain but not wanting to die alone and without teeth and then the universe threw me a bone, him, so I could stay in the country, but at a dear price.


I know what I experienced with him in those early moments was so powerful I can still remember it viscerally. He didn’t experience the same. He was a grifter – plain and simple, and I hold my own responsibility, the most significant one was being naïve. I too am culpable.

Almost four decades later, I learned how that supernova brilliance of heaven cannot be fulfilled by any person. Ask a divorce lawyer. But I do know what the poets speak of too, and in the Indian Summer days of September, when I first met him, I remember, and I can see the turning leaves, the warmth of the sun on my young skin and the smell of the second bloom of honeysuckle in the air… but I understand much more now.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

How would you label your current relationship with your ex(es)? Did you know (or feel) ahead of time that your relationship will end? Do you regret taking the plunge?

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Teresita Abad

My current relationship with my ex is very quiet because since the day I left him, then years today, I have never communicated with him. He tried to look for me but he has not found me. When I started having a relationship with him, I had this thinking that our relationship would end. I just got blinded by my love for him. I did not regret taking the plunge because I had also some good years with him and I learned from that relationship.


Soul stirring writing which reminds, I am sure, so many of us of what has gone before and the never, never ending path to healing.


Beautifully written and capturing a similar journey that I am living. After 41 years to the same man, and having four of his children, I finally decided he was not the same prince I had dreamed about. He lied, cheated and took advantage of my simpleton attitude towards life. All he cared about was himself; however, having said that, I still care about him and wish him well. Why? I think it will take time for me to “unlearn” his is narcissistic hold on me and discover who I am really am. I am “becoming” a stronger person and standing on my own two feet:). All the best to you! You are not alone!!


Wow Sara I could have written your comment even down to 41years 💪


What a beautifully written and insightful article. It is very hard to even grasp, much less come to terms and accept when a man you deeply loved turns out to be different from who you thought he was . Thank you for this.

The Author

Margaret S. Marangione is a Professor of writing at the University of Virginia and Blue Ridge Community College. Her novel, Across the Blue Ridge Mountains, has been submitted for the Pen Faulkner award. Additionally, her short stories, essays and poetry have been published in Appalachian Journal, The Upper New Review, Lumina Journal, Enchanted Living and Sagewoman magazine.

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