Possible Womxn 13/12 Cassie – Widow, Mom To 3

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I bet you were all surprised when I announced that the last babe was not me, but in fact, was Cassie. I couldn’t think of a stronger, more resilient, brave, powerful, and magical womxn to end this project on other than Cassie. When I heard her story, I felt like the earth shook. I couldn’t image being in the actual presence of someone who had been through so much. So much heartbreak, so much pain, so much trauma. When I heard her story, I knew she needed to be a part of this project. We came into each other’s lives just months before I was scheduled to wrap up the Impossible Boudoir Project. After hearing her story, I knew she needed to end this project. I knew her story, her trauma, would resonate with many other womxn out there who have gone through some of the same things Cassie has. I knew her magic and her power would shine a light and hope to others out there. To show people, to show womxn, that a beautiful life can be possible after tragedy. Beautiful things, beautiful moments and beautiful people will still come into your life and change it for the better. Cassie has an army of supporters and love and she deserves nothing less; her kids deserve nothing less. I cannot think of anything better to say about this womxn other than she is one magical warrior.

Her story involves death, suicide and a traumatic pregnancy. I just want to forewarn anyone who continues to read that there are some triggering parts in this blog that might be too much for people to read, or relive in their own personal case. Continue at your own caution and your own pace. This is why it has taken me over 2 months to write this blog. I needed to be in the right headspace to tell Cassie’s story and do it justice and also write in a way that was honoring her and the people she has lost.

We’re about to go on one emotional journey, but it’s a story worth reading. This is Cassie’s life, her reality, her pain and also her joy. Proceed with caution if you need to and also remember to hold tight to the ones you love.

I would also like to dedicate this blog to Cassie’s husband, Sol. He was a great husband and a great father from all the things I have heard from Cassie. I want to respect Sol and his legacy as a husband, a human and a father as I write about part of his life even though he is not here. Sol, thank you for leaving your family with such a wonderful home and fond memories and thank you for allowing me to share part of your story and your wife’s story here today. I respect and honor you, even though I never got the chance to meet you. Thank you for allowing me to do this.

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“I feel more empowered and sexier than I did on my wedding day.” – Cassie

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My first question to all the ladies post session, how do you feel? Cassie gave me one of the most thoughtful responses ever. She has quite a large following on IG, because she’s magic and plants are magic, and she wanted to make sure that before doing this session, before she was a part of this project, that she was choosing that right type of imagery that she wanted to present to the world. She, like many of us out there who do boudoir sessions and post these photos, is sometimes worried about just feeding into the male gaze. During her session Cassie never once thought that she was contributing to that whatsoever. She never stopped and thought, “Is this too sexy and will someone be looking at me not in an empowering way? Or am I just helping to perpetuate and feed into this narrative?” The thought never crossed her mind. (YAY- this is what it’s all about, being you and feeling free to be your sexy self. For those of you wondering, yes, womxn think of this stuff all the time, not even when we post sexy photos of ourselves. It’s what we wear out in  public, how we present ourselves, everything.)

“I want to be able to stand behind what I choose to do.” – Cassie

“I feel like I just gave my daughter this huge example of, I’m thirty-eight, I’m a Mom, it’s ten in the morning on a Tuesday, I’m going to rock hardly anything because I have a body and it’s gonna die, so let’s just use it.” -Cassie

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Growing up Cassie was taught that her body was her own. In a somewhat religious household, like many of us out there, her family never put any real emphasis on her body. They never said anything bad about her body, but they also never said anything positive either. Today Cassie not only tells her own daughter that she is beautiful, but also that she is a friggin awesome person, which she is. Met her, she’s a damn gem, just like her Mom.

“Who you are is an amazing person and you also look so cute today.” – Cassie

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Cassie remembers her parents, especially her Mom as always being on a diet. She herself has dieted in the past too because that’s what she was taught for the longest time and shown from her parents as the right thing to do. Never mind your genetics and just the simple fact that some people are just shaped and built differently. The same two people can go on the same diet and get completely different results. I think a lot of people in the past lost sight of that fact that being the size 2-6 is the only way to look and be considered or deemed as healthy. Someone who is 4’11 and someone who is 6’5 are going to look a lot different in their bodies because we are all built in our own unique way.

“I grew up in a body shaming culture. I was born in the 80’s and the 90’s were all heroin sheek and all about being wafer thin.” -Cassie

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“He was fed a lot of toxicity growing up in the 80’s and 90’s and being taught how a womxn’s body should look and be used for.”-Cassie (Cassie talking about her husband Sol)

Cassie thinks back on how the relationship with her body was with her husband, Sol. She said there were times where he made her feel like the most beautiful womxn in the world and times where he made her feel inadequate and not good enough. To his own credit, Cassie says, she also felt the same way about her own body. Being a womxn, outside of the average beauty standard Cassie has already felt not good enough.

“Now that Sol isn’t here, I’ve had a lot of womxn, womxn ‘xn’, show up for me more than I ever had when I had a husband.” – Cassie

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The womxn that have showed up for Cassie since the death of her husband Sol, have completely empowered and changed Cassie. One of the first womxn Cassie has met on IG who helped changed her perspective on herself and her body told this to Cassie that has stuck with her. “Sexy is a state of mind.” Hearing this after Cassie had just lost her husband, just had a baby and just turned thirty-five, was at first, a little weird, but then understood the power in that phrase. You’re hot, if you don’t believe it, no one will. Sexy is a state of MIND! Today this is what gets Cassie through her days. She says to herself, ‘Sexy is a state of mind’ at least once a day. Cassie had been with her husband from the age of 18-34 and relates her dating life to being a 36 year old womxn trying to date for the first time. This phrase is also what has given her the confidence with men and putting herself out there again after the loss of her husband.

“I’m fucking hot in my sweatpants and you’re lucky to be able to see me today at the Grocery Outlet.” -Cassie

Cassie met her husband Sol in college and they got married when they were in college. He was all she has known for her entire adult life. Cassie tells me that when she met, she knew Sol was different. Looking back on it now and their first moments together as a couple and as husband and wife before the house and before the kids, Cassie knew that Sol had suffered from PTSD. Cassie explains that there was a multitude of things that contributed to Sol’s PTSD. One main one being a traumatic brain injury when he was younger resulting in cerebral palsy. He had this his entire life and his personal experiences with having cerebral palsy had also greatly contributed to his own trauma. Cassie goes on to say that when she was young and naive and fist married to Sol, she just assumed that these things he was going through, could be mended and repaired by seeing things a little differently. Looking back on it now, she knew she was young and still learning so much about life and others and knew that how she thought then was very naive and myopic. (We are ALL, CONSTANTLY, learning)

“The things that I didn’t understand about his inherent struggles, he also didn’t understand about my inherent struggles.” -Cassie

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“It was a lot of mis-firing about not feeling fully seen. I couldn’t fully see him and he couldn’t fully see me and I think that that is probably how I can best describe how I think a lot of people operate in this world. It’s a lack of empathy.” -Cassie

We can’t just look at someone who is homeless and say, well go get a job and find a place to live. It’s not that simple. Cassie thought that if Sol was to be able to come to terms with his disability and accept it, it would be a way for him to overcome some of his PTSD. Which, those of us who have experienced PTSD, along with Cassie, know that you never fully can overcome it. You can make life a little easier, but that pain, that trauma, still lives and breathes inside your entire body, every day until the day that you die. I want to say that until I myself  had experienced my own form of PTSD after losing my best friend to cancer, I had no idea what it was like to hold onto trauma like that and I fault no one out there for not knowing what thats like until something tragic happens to you. I was in Cassie’s same shoes at that age, 18-19, thinking that we can all just move past things if we tried hard enough. If we tried hard enough, maybe we can rewrite the pain we have gone through, maybe we can get to a place where that pain no longer exists. To a certain extent I still think of that to be somewhat true. We can move past things little by little if we try our damn best everyday just to feel a little better. But erasing trauma, pain, the past and PTSD completely and fully, that will never happen. Our bodies hold onto that pain forever. For those who understand can empathize with that fact that it will never go away. It will always be there, but things can start to feel like normal again and living with the trauma can and will get easier and easier.

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“We loved each other, we found each other, we got married, had kids, bought this house.” – Cassie

Cassie and Sol moved into, as they would call, the worst house on the block. All of their neighbors thought and suggested that they just tear it down and start from scratch. The whole entire house was old and falling apart and many thought a complete redo would have been the way to go. It took Sol six and a half years to get the house looking from what it was to what it is now, which is complete magic. (it’s one of the most warm and inviting homes I have ever stepped foot into) It went from the house that everyone thought should be teared down, to the cutest house in the neighborhood. This was Sols legacy. He put so much love into this home and left Cassie and their kids with a huge piece of him.

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“Gosh, If I’m fucking up that bad, I want to be better.” – Cassie

Cassie thought for the longest time that she had something to do with Sol’s mental health. Looking back on things today, she has always known that he has struggled to some degree with mental health. Mental health looks very different for a lot of people, but those who struggle with extreme depression, really struggle. They could be around all the people they love so much in this world, their kids, their wife, family, and still feel like they are sinking in their own ship. We look at people in this world like Robin Williams, Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, Kurt Corbin and think, they had it all. They had what seemed like a wonderful life – some leading lives that people only dream about. Some had families, children and spouses that they loved and cherished and yet here they were, there they were. Mental health is something that is still not touched on as much as it needs to be. It’s one of the deadliest diseases out there and you can be living the one of a kind life with people who love you and sometimes that’s not enough and the only way to escape your pain is through death.

“Mental health isn’t given the attention that it needs.” – Cassie

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“He must have been struggling so bad.” – Cassie

When Sol was towards the end of his life things were seemingly looking up for him and Cassie and their family. The house was almost fully remodeled, the two kids were both about to go into elementary school and Cassie thought there was some light at the end of the tunnel after having two young children, while remodeling their home, while also working from home herself being self-employed. Things were starting to look up, the rough patches were nearing their end. Sol was in therapy at this time while also seeing all other kinds of doctors that he could. Chiropractic, naturopathic, psychologist, everything. All their extra cash flow was going to Sol and his doctor visits and Cassie was willing to do whatever he needed to do to help with his mental health.

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Cut to life just happening. Cassie was on an IUD and thought/warned to not have any more children. They had two somewhat older kids, finally going into elementary school, their house was almost completely remodeled and they thought they were moving into the next stage of life, which included not having any more children. Cassie says that during her pregnancy Sol was very up and down and barley acknowledged the pregnancy. He did however come up with the name for their third child, Bodhi.

Cassie felt like she had to carry the weight, literally and metaphorically, of this pregnancy all on her own. “He had too much on his plate around this time.” – Cassie She just wanted him to really focus on himself and to get himself better so he could be okay for later, once their third child was born.

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This pregnancy was a WILD ride for Cassie. After having two pretty normal pregnancies, this one took the cake of bizarreness. She was told multiple times that this pregnancy wouldn’t come to fruition. They told her she was miscarrying, told that there was no heartbeat, told her that the genetic tests were all inconclusive and so on. Her doctor actually looked at her one day and said, “Science just isn’t applying to you.” Because while all of this was happening, there was still very much so, a little baby in there.

“My doctor said, “I’m not telling you to worry, I’m just saying that all these numbers are not matching up to what we’re seeing. We see a heartbeat, but we don’t have the hormone numbers that would indicate that to be the truth.” – Cassie