Well, yeah! But OUCH!

In recent weeks, A and I have had a recurring conversation.  I’m not sure exactly what he’s trying to get out of saying so, but essentially what he says is: “My relationship with you is different than my relationship with my wife.  If my relationship with her ended, I would be devastated, but if you and I broke up, life would go on without much trouble.  I would be sad, and think it was too bad, but it wouldn’t be the same kind of pain as the ending of my relationship with my wife.”

Every time we’ve had this conversation, I have two responses:  1.  “Well, yeah!” and 2.  “Ouch!”

It hurts to hear someone tell you that you are not as important as other people, no matter how obvious it is that it should be that way.  It’s like my brain and my heart are arguing about the way I should think and feel, respectively.  They are at odds with each other for the appropriate reaction, so I have both.

Beyond that, the fact that he’s said a version of this a few times in the last few weeks suggests to me that there is something more behind his words. Part of me thinks it’s a justification that he doesn’t love me.  Or possibly him trying to compartmentalize the love he does have for me and the love he has for his wife and justifying the hierarchy in his brain.  Or maybe it’s him trying to subtly make the point that he doesn’t love me and that he won’t ever actually love me.  And part of me wonders why the fuck he doesn’t love me, but when I get into that line of thinking, it takes me to this place where I think about things and decisions I’m not ready to face, so let’s not go there.   

Maybe I’m off base.  He may not actually be trying to say something deliberately.  He may actually be obtuse enough to think that that is just conversation.  I think there is a message I’m not getting. The man is careful with words.

Among the other things he said was something about the duration of our relationship. Something along the lines of “My relationship with my wife will go on forever, years and years, but my relationship with you won’t.  It’ll end, maybe a year from now, it’s not meant to last as long.”  When I replied, I said I “didn’t think of it that way, my commitment isn’t any different because we can’t escalate’.  He backtracked a bit and said “Or it could be 20 years, who knows, but it’ll never be the same as my marriage.”

There are so many things that go through my mind when I think about these conversations.  It alternates between feeling unimportant and hurt by this to attempting to understand why he thinks the way he does about me and recognizing that it’s just part of his process in dealing with his feelings within our relationship and understanding where I fit in the context of the rest of his life. It’s not this horrible hurt or offense or anything, it’s mostly just trying to understand him, and as much as he likes to pretend he’s easy to understand, he’s not.

I recognize that splitting up a marriage, with years of history, children, grandchildren, a mortgage, debt and the rest of a shared history is harder than breaking up with a girlfriend who you share a hot sex life and a couple selfies with.  I recognize the permanence and meaning of a 20+ year relationship and how that is so substantial.  How sharing a life and a bed and sadness and happiness and being bored together and conquering adversity together is always going to be more substantial than the relationship with the girl you visit most Fridays to exchange great pillow talk and fuck.  I get that there is a tolerance of problems in a committed marriage that there isn’t going to be in a relationship with a girlfriend.  

What I also get is that I’m fun.  I’m the escape from reality.  I’m the safe place, the place of calm, the person who offers catharsis and support.  I’m unfailingly supportive, because my only concern in any of his stresses is him – I have only met a handful of his friends and none of his family and because of that,  my priority, when we are together and when we interact,  is supporting him and meeting the needs he wants filled by me.  There is no compromise in this. Within our relationship, there is just us.  There are no children, responsibilities, debts, assets, or stresses.  There is only us and what we choose to make of it. I also know that I’m the partner who is always willing to have sex as opposed to the one who makes excuses and takes it for granted.  I am a girlfriend, not a wife.

I don’t pretend to understand how he thinks about all this.  I know that he’s committed to our relationship, he makes a priority of me, and we have a fabulous time together. I’m not in a place where I need to change anything. I’m happy with where we are. But my brain doesn’t let me stop thinking about things that bother me emotionally even when I know intellectually that I don’t need to be concerned about them.  When I write a post like this, I worry about what his reaction will be at my bluntness, but in the interest of being authentic, and true to myself, I write as if he isn’t a member of my “audience”. 

I had never considered my commitments to my partners different than my commitment in my marriage.  Not that I thought from the beginning that they were equivalent to F, because that was never the case, because we had kids, 14 years together, and were completely committed to each other.  I never thought of dating someone for anything other than a committed relationship.  I have always acknowledged that each relationship has its own intrinsic limits and insisted that each relationship evolve in a way free from expectations.  I never considered that there was a guaranteed end to a relationship.  I see zero reason why I can’t be a girlfriend who is not a nesting partner but who is a girlfriend for the rest of my partner’s life. I don’t enter my relationships thinking that they are temporary.  Maybe I’m naive?  Maybe I’m too committed?  I just don’t think of my partners as disposable or unimportant and I don’t want to be thought of as disposable or unimportant.  Is it not possible to have a long-term or even lifetime committed relationship as the girlfriend of a married man?  And why doesn’t that married man love me yet?

 

***Sorry A, I got raw and honest and decided to put it out there tonight. You don’t have to respond. It’s me processing. I love you. ***

All the feelings

I’m deep in processing things that have happened over the last week. I should be working on some prep work for my full-time job, or perhaps some extracurricular work for my casual job, but I’m finding myself highly unmotivated on the work front.  I’ve worked a lot more days in my second job than I have in a long time in this last week. Four day shifts, that are 12.5 hours each.  Of course, instead of adulting and going home and sleeping in between, I did something every night.  Day one I spent the night at L’s, Day 2 I went for drinks with coworkers who also found themselves single this summer, and day 3 I went out with my new metamour, L’s other partner and we ended up at an event for our local poly group.  I got about four hours of sleep a night and although yesterday was Saturday, I crashed at 7:30 and got out of bed at 9 a.m. I feel like a new person today.

This week was full of feelings on my part.  Not bad ones, not good ones, but just feelings that I don’t really like to deal with.  The twisty bits are often indicative of a problem inside me.  Not a problem caused by others, but one that deals with me not processing something properly or being too reactive about something. It means I’ve had to turn inward a bit lately and think about what my feelings mean, what I really want, and where I want to go.  

The first was the twisty bits with A.  I had thought it was me feeling a little unimportant and unvalued because of some jokes he was making about our relationship and what it means to him.  When I spoke to him about it, he assured me he was committed to me and explained again that for him it was less about the words and more about the actions, again.  I say again, because we’ve had this talk, and when I think it through, every time, I’m reminded that, yes, he does make me a priority in his busy life.  We have our weekly dates and steal away for drinks or lunch when we can.  It’s pretty great.  So, I was thinking I’d got over the hurdle, when I was in the shower one day and realized that while I was not entirely unjustified in the feelings of being devalued, there was a pattern with me.  That is that every time we fall our of our usual routine, or see each other less or there is a period of time coming up where we will be apart for a long time, I have an attack of feelings.  

Having thought about this a little more, it actually makes a lot of sense.  If he’s showing me that he values me through his actions, through making me a priority and spending time with me, then when he isn’t there, my subconscious reaction is to feel less valued. Of course, understanding this is good, but it’s not enough to just understand it.  He’s shown me over and over and over that I’m important to him, and there’s really nothing healthy that can come out of my doubts.  

So what do we do?  

Fuck if I know!  But I think that in the periods of absence, I need just a little more of the things that aren’t being in the same room where we can touch each other.  Checking in and chatting, good mornings and good nights, those things.  Part of it is that where we used to chat all day long, now it’s a quip here and there and the only real substance comes when we are together in person.  Add to that the fact that his wife is a little sensitive to him texting with me when he’s with her, where she didn’t before, and the next thing I know, we’re hardly in contact. What this means is a bit of anxiety about him going away for a few weeks and not being able to talk to him.  I think I just need to deal with it, with the hope that since we can’t fill up on time together before he goes, we can fill up again when he returns.

The other feelings had to do with L.  He was home but didn’t answer the door when I was stopping by at his house to pick up a few things I left there on Thursday night.  He knew when I was coming, and didn’t pay attention to the time because he was hanging out with his other partner.  I felt pretty damn unimportant. After waiting 20 minutes, I headed home to my parents to sleep. I was quite pissed about travelling about an hour out of my way to not actually get the stuff I needed, which included my nipple ring that had fallen out and I was worried about how quickly it would grow in.  In the end, I just made it clear that I was unimpressed and that it was bad form on his part.  I explained myself, he apologized, and everything is OK.  But what I realized in all of that is that I like him a bit more than I thought.  I was trying to control things and like every other time I do that, my heart has other ideas.  I’m not in love with him, but I care deeply about him, so when he didn’t answer the door, I was more hurt than I normally would be, had it been a friend or acquaintance.  There’s not much to do with this information other than acknowledge that it exists, but sometimes that’s the best way to process and understand all the feelings.  

I’m going to miss A terribly when we are apart for three weeks.  I’m going to spend some of that time with L.  But I’m looking forward to September, a regular schedule, and some normal again.  With my men a part of all of it.  

Disappearing stress

I was reminded today, by A, that I haven’t published anything in awhile.  It made me laugh, because yesterday I dumped some twisty bits on him and I’m pretty sure he came here hoping he would get more insight before he responded.  We laughed and joked and he tried to change the conversation, but in the end, we got through the twisty bits quite uneventfully, and ended up talking about all the other things.  

The last 3 days have been kind of amazing on so many different levels.   I truly don’t know where to start.  So I’ll start with A.  We had a great date on Friday.  Friday seems to have become *our* day, and I pretty much always reserve it for him.  I’m post-surgery recovering and can’t have sex, so we spent a much longer than normal time on the couch chatting, and I was several beers in before he arrived, so I was in a mood for fun.  For the first time ever, I jokingly tied him up and went to work having said fun. I figured that someone should have an orgasm in my house, since it’s been way too tame here lately.  Alas, I played way too much, but given the length of that blow job, I’d say he at least had fun.  Tying him up was totally not my thing though.  I like the responses when he grabs my head or moderates my speed or any touch, and taking away his hands just made it less connected. Fortunately, he just untied one arm and fixed that in short order and the night was saved.  Add to that the fact that I got a lot of other attention and I’d say it was a fantastic and much-needed night.  Twisty bits aside, I needed the connection, and I suspect he did too.

Saturday, I met the other girl L is dating, and we totally hit it off.  I’m eight years older than L, and she is six years younger.  We’ve been chatting pretty much continuously, and she is very much a 26 year old version of me.  He clearly has a type.  It’s funny.  Of course, L’s mind is blown that we both get along so well, but he takes it in stride.  After that, I went to roller derby again.  One of my very good friend’s husband wanted to talk about polyamory and emotions and how to deal with everything, and so I invited him along.  It was wicked awesome.  We had such a fantastic conversation, really enjoyed the match, and everything about it was great.  

Last week, I was chatting with D’s wife about her tubal ligation and asking about recovery time and limitations (mostly in sex, because, let’s be reasonable, I’m kind of needy when it comes to this – so says A, anyway), and I gave her a heads up that I’d be at derby because the time before was so awkward (in a hilarious way though).  When I had surgery, she wished me luck and I sent her a picture of my feet in these super fun hospital styrofoam slippers:

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She joked that she didn’t get anything like that for her surgery and I joked that I’d steal some for her, and asked her her foot size.  So, while I was waiting to go into surgery, I stole a pair, shoved it in my purse, and brought it to derby.  When she arrived, she spotted me, as far away as possible from where they sit, and texted to say she saw me.  I said I had something for her and to come see me when she could.  There was more joking and awesomeness back and forth that made me giggle.  She came across at half-time, and as my friend’s husband went out for a smoke, I see D walk by and he gives me a wave and smile and I smile back, and she says “Oh, D doesn’t want to interrupt your date.”, and I laughed and explained that it wasn’t a date and referred them to a group we are all part of to catch up on who he was and then chatted.  When D came back, he came over, said he didn’t want to interrupt my date, and I stood up and gave him a hug and explained that it wasn’t a date.  He bought me a beer and the three of us chatted, mostly about how my divorce is going and my new tattoo, but it was good.  It was so normal.  So at the end of half-time, they left to go back to their seats, and I said “Enjoy your long walk, I intentionally picked seats as far away as possible to mitigate the awkward”.  D’s response:  “Next time come sit with us”.  So I laugh and say “Does this mean the awkward is over?” and he says “Yes”, and his wife laughs and says “You two are so fucking weird!” and that’s how it ended.  I sent him a text to say I was glad the awkward was over and apologized for my anger and hurt and the passive aggressive way I dealt with my heartbreak, but didn’t get a response, but for me, it was the ultimate closure.  I just feel so damn good about it.

Oh, and her slippers fit:

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That night, I went to my good friends’ house.  They moved less than a block away, and they are derby refs, so we continued the night there. There’s not much to say other than it was a lot of fun. I was in prime drunken form and probably embarrassed myself, but it was great.  As seems to be the theme with them, there was some cuddling and love and tons of joking and laughter. It was amazing.  Honestly, Saturday was probably the most perfect day I’ve had in a long time.  A left so early in the morning after we fell asleep cuddling, I met L’s other lady, I had a great chat with my friend’s husband, I chatted and hugged and shed the awkward with D, and had a great, super fun non-adulting night with friends who accept me for exactly who I am.

Sunday, I had a Lego date with my 3-year-old, my eldest two came back from my parents’ and we had a cuddling movie night.  Then L came over, we chatted, and cuddled, and started a movie, and he decided to go home because he was tired, and the goodnight kiss ended up in more work on my blow job skills.  😉  (My main joke right now is that since I can’t have sex, I’m going to work on perfecting my blowjob skills and successfully deep throating.) It was just full of connection and awesome.  I like what I have with L.  He’s so sweet.  I describe him as the “cute new guy” to everyone.  He’s just lovely.  Kind, and funny, and strong, and accepting, and enthusiastic.  He’s a good match for me and my relationship with him is a good complement to my relationship with A.  A, I refer to as “sexy grandpa”, because that is exactly what he is.    

I’m back on OKC, on Friday, I eliminated the other 2 guys I was dating from contention for legitimate but rather boring reasons. They are both nice guys.  I’d have a great time with both of them.  But neither can give me what I need, so I needed to walk away.  Of course, this means that I’m talking to more men than I can keep track of, but it’s pretty great.  I have a date on Wednesday, and should have one or more others coming up.  A is going out of town next weekend, so I’m going out with L’s other girl on Friday, which should be fun.  

The biggest and most amazing thing is that F and I are in a good place again.  We had a great meeting with our lawyers today, and we are at the point of drafting a separation agreement.  I got basically everything I wanted and I think he’s happy too.  So much stress just disappeared from my life.

Now, if only I could have sex.  Because damn, 6 weeks is a long time.

 

Six long weeks

Smack dab in the feelings. That’s where I landed tonight.

A friend invited me to her birthday party in the first week of August today.  She specifically invited A with me, which is kind of awesome.  I invited him along.  Sure enough, he’s gone that weekend. Then he’s away for 2 weeks starting the weekend after.  And I’m gone the weekend he gets back.  So we just lost every weekend in August. Every. Single. Weekend.  I’m having surgery on Wednesday. I’m getting a tubal ligation and uterine ablation. As a now “single” woman, I need to be in control of my fertility, and this is the best way. Of course I’m safe about my sex.  Condoms are an investment I make in bulk. Sexual health is important to me.  But most definitely, my uterus is closed for inhabitation, and I won’t be leaving control of such a situation up to the men I’m having sex with or a piece of latex.

But the thing is, I’m going to lose a couple weeks of recovery time to this procedure, possibly more. The recovery time can be anywhere from one to six weeks.  So, we’ve also lost the last couple of weeks in July.  It may be as distant as September the next time we can have sex.  This makes me sad. I guess it will depend on my pain and how well I heal, and the ridiculous schedule the men in my life have.  I had absolutely incredible sex with L on Friday afternoon and what was going to be mind-blowing sex with A that was interrupted with real life on Friday evening, and then he spent the night for the first time in our entire relationship and it was amazing and I wish I could have enjoyed it properly, but he had to leave early in the morning, and biology decided to fuck with me and be a giant pain in the ass this morning, and my period arrived three days early, when I was really hoping to use those three days to bank all the sex I could before I had surgery.  So, now sex is off the table for the foreseeable future, A and I probably won’t be able to have sex for two to six weeks or so, and L and I won’t have sex for at least two to 4 weeks.  Maybe one of the other three men I’m dating/interested in may move in there, but the reality is that this girl who needs a little more attention won’t get the sexual attention she needs.  Chances are, regardless of need for sexual attention, the men in my life won’t be available.


I wrote this several days ago.  Yesterday, I had my tubal ligation and endometrial ablation.  I had a bit of hope when the nurse told me it would be only a couple of weeks until I could have sex, but the obstetrician burst that bubble just before I went into surgery and told me it would be 4-6 weeks.  The endometrial ablation basically destroys all the cells in the lining of my uterus, and so no penetration with anything is allowed for 4-6 weeks due to the risk of infection.  So, it’s going to be the end of August before I get to have sex.  I know what it’s like to need IV antibiotics because of a major infection, that’s not something I want to repeat, so I shouldn’t complain. It’s totally worth it.  But damn if it isn’t going to be hard. I should have had this procedure when I was still married to F and didn’t care if I had sex for months at a time.  Well, I’m sure I’ll live through it, and it’s not like I have to be a nun during that time.  I’ll find ways to enjoy myself and the men in my life.

Among the funnier things yesterday was my mom coming to pick me up from the hospital and asking me how I was feeling and me answering “I’m stoned”, and us both laughing about the fact that we never expected me to supply that answer voluntarily when she was picking me up.  The anesthesiologist I had was the same woman who gave me my epidural with baby #3.  Somehow, we ended up having a conversation about misogyny in academia and in her chosen profession, congratulations about separations, and everything in between.  In general, the whole thing was fun and interesting and relatively painless, thanks to some Tylenol 3’s and my parents who spoiled me rotten, and exceptionally good medical staff.  

Today, I’m feeling a little bit tender and swollen. I stole away for a lunch with A, which was, by far, the highlight of my day.  The man gives the best hugs and the after lunch hug has sustained me for the rest of the day.

I’m back with my munchkins now, having convinced F that he should put them to sleep to give me a little extra time to recover, since I’m not supposed to lift anything and I have a toddler who loves to be carried everywhere.  I got a lovely welcome from #2 and tomorrow will be full of cuddles and relaxation, while my new nanny gets acquainted with the kids.  It should be good.

Whole

I crossed the couch and unintentionally started a relationship with A just over 6 months ago.  Back then, if someone had said I would be separated, D and I wouldn’t be together anymore, and I’d be in love with A and dating actively, I would have told them they were smoking some awesome drugs.  But that is my reality.  Six months, A and I have been together.  He’s never said he loves me, although I think he likes me and the time we have together a bit more than a little.  Do I care that he knows I love him, and he’s never said it?  Not even a little.  I’m happy with what we have, including him and his reluctance to talk about feelings.

I saw my person for the first time in a couple weeks.  I updated her on the goings on in my life and it took 45 minutes to just give the brief explanation because my life is weird, and awesome, and so very fucking full. I realized again, just how much support I have in my life.  I’m so lucky.

Among the things that happened this week is that I found my first cheating asshole!  I’m very clear with every man that messages me on OKC that I am polyamorous, I’m not interested in casual sex, I’m not anyone’s unicorn, and if there is a wife or significant other in the picture, that person needs to be 100% in the know before I even consider dating someone.  Well, I went out with a guy.  Had an amazing kiss in my parking lot (did I mention that I had 3 first kisses in that parking lot in the last week?  Well, I did)  The next day, I got a text from his wife telling me that he was breaking all their rules and that he was lying to me and to her. So. Not. Cool. So, I obviously walked the fuck away from that without looking back.

I’ve been staying at my parents when F is parenting in our house and this week I had a great talk with my step-dad. This guy is the most amazing father figure. He’s been there for me, for my sister, and for my kids more than any other male figure has been.  He told me he was proud of me. That he was happy that I finally realized what was going on between F and I and that I stepped away from the dysfunction.  He was supportive and awesome and loving and amazing and totally dad-like.  It was so refreshing.  It was one of those dad conversations that won’t happen again for years, but I feel better, and anchored, because of it.

I got the second part of my tattoo done.  It didn’t escape me that the flower bud that represents my second  miscarriage was what was the most painful!  But damn is it amazing!!!  I’m so happy with it.

The other day, F and I had our second collaborative meeting with our lawyers.  It went so well that we actually got up and hugged each other part of the way through.  It was incredible actually, to be laughing and joking and having fun while discussing divorce proceedings.  Things seem to be working out as far as that goes.  We’re actually getting along reasonably well and the kids are doing well too.  We told them that we are separated last week, and they reacted as well as can be expected.  They actually seem to be doing quite well with it all and only time will tell how quickly they adjust.

So much is going so well for me right now.  I realized that I’m actually truly, unequivocally happy.  Content in my life, my strength, my independence.  Loving my kids and my jobs and my boyfriend and dating new and interesting people.  For the first time in a year, I don’t feel stressed or sad or angry.  I just am.  I’m in control of as much of my life as I can be, have accepted the parts of life I cannot change, and am moving forward with intention, joy, love, and independence.  I am whole again.

Protection

This last week has been pretty great.  I’ve had a few pretty excellent first dates and a fantastic late date with L.  A and I have spent more time together than we have in months as his wife is out of town so he was a little more available than he has been.  It’s nice to see him recharged.  He’s been burning the candle at both ends for months and the last few days he’s been more relaxed than I’ve seen him since February.  It’s pretty great to see.

I’m going to forego talking about the three great first dates (that all ended with a first kiss in the same parking lot, which cracks me up) and the one really not great one I had last week and talk about a realization I made yesterday while having dinner with A.  Somehow the topic of X came up, probably because I’ve been chatting with him quite a bit recently.  I talked about how I still have a thing for him, but we’re skirting around the issue of our intense magnetic attraction.  As the words came out of my mouth, I realized that skirting around the issue is intentional on my part. That by keeping him at arm’s length, I’m protecting myself.  Protecting my heart.  

This got me to thinking about the new men I’m dating.  How I feel about them.  I remember the all-encompassing feeling of New Relationship Energy (NRE) that I felt when I was dating X and when I started dating D. I remember the excitement when I got a text and the anticipation of the next date and the overwhelming pleasure of each touch, be it holding hands or kissing or more.  I remember how I couldn’t get them out of my mind and I loved every bit of that sensation.  I realized that I don’t have this intense, overwhelming NRE with the new guys.  It’s not like I can turn it on or off, but I think that part of the reason I am not overwhelmed by NRE is just protection.  I’m protecting myself, my heart, from taking the risk inherent in dating someone new.  

I’m not sure how I feel about this.  With X, it’s an active choice.  I can’t take the risk of dating him and falling so madly in love with him again.  The wound caused by our romantic relationship ending is so recently healed and that memory is enough for me to to not want to relive it, but keep him at a distance where I can be in control of my emotions and protect my heart.  With the other men though, it’s probably more of an unconscious choice.  I think that I am naturally protective of my heart just now because of the fresh scar that D left on my heart (the one that is superficially healed but requires some time to heal beneath the surface and still has some lingering pain associated with it) and that’s translating into a lack of NRE.  Don’t get me wrong, I like these men, I want to spend time with them, they are all pretty incredible and I’m very attracted to them, but I’m not all consumed by NRE for any of them.  

This realization takes me on two different emotional paths.  The first is happiness that I can protect my heart and still embrace new relationships.  That I’m a bit more in control than I was last fall when I fell so completely in love first with X, then with D. The second is a bit of sadness in knowing that I’m not putting myself all in, wondering if it’s because the part of me that feels that intense emotion broke along with my heart or if it’s just because I haven’t met the right person.   Along with this is the mourning of the loss of that wonderful emotion and wondering if I’ll ever have that intense fun and excitement of falling in love, and being so certain in that love, again.  

I think more than anything, it shocked me that I suddenly, mid-sentence, realized that I was protecting myself. That I’d put up barriers that I was previously unaware I could erect.  That I had donned an armour built on heartbreak and hurt and disappointment.  That somewhere, in all that has happened, I shed a little bit of my optimism and positivity and freedom for a little bit of safety.  The broken heart is like a terrorist preventing me from enjoying everything I should in life due to fear.  The threat of hurt is not paralyzing, but a very real, recently experienced source of fear.  Right now, it’s protective, but I need to be cognizant of when the protection becomes limiting.  

Ephiphany

Today was the most amazing day.  I had an enormous epiphany that was the final puzzle piece on processing the end of my relationship with D and that gave me so much perspective about what has been going on with F.  I’m in such an amazing place and it’s really impossible to explain how happy this epiphany has truly made me.

First, I’m going to share a conversation that happened between F and I today.  The time has come to tell our kids about our separation.  We’ve been waiting until school is done because our oldest has a lot of separation anxiety when big changes occur.  I really didn’t want to tell her that her entire world was changing and then send her off to school.  This Thursday being the last day of school means that it’s time.  So I messaged F to try to set up a time for us to break the news to them together.  This is how it went (I’m pink; F’s blue):

This is the last week of school.  I would like to tell #1 (and the other kids) about us separating.  This is something I think we should do together.  How would you feel about doing it after school on Thursday before you go to your first night shift?

Tell me how you see this looking? I was planning on spending some time packing for camping.  How much time do you think we need? Do you think you’d be able to come back at 4pm, and we could do it then? Any thoughts on how to present it to them?

I can definitely come back at 4. I think we should sit the kids down and just tell them that mommy and daddy still love each other, but we aren’t going to be married to each other anymore, and that we are going to live in separate houses.  We should tell them that we were fighting all the time as they know, and we get along better when we don’t live together.  I think we should tell them that we still both love them and we are all still family even though mommy and daddy aren’t a couple and that mommy and daddy are still working as a team to be their parents.  We should tell them that they will still see both of us lots and that it’s OK to love us both and it’s OK to miss one of us and miss when we all lived together.  I expect #1 will react very badly, and have a lot of questions.  

To add to that, #1 was asking me last night if I like W, and asking me if I think you love her or me more, etc.  She knows something is up.  I told her that my feelings about W don’t matter because you chose her and it’s not my decision.  She tried to argue that you chose me first and that means I’m more important and I basically deflected the situation.  Be prepared that she’s going to need your reassurance that this decision was both of ours, not that you left for W.  I absolutely will not ever tell the kids that you chose her over me. I promise you that.

Just to clarify there, I did not choose W over you. She actually has nothing to do with this. You asked for a separation. But I agree that this is not something they need to know.

Are you sure you want to do this when you’re going to have them by yourself for several days?

I think #1 already understands. She’s a smart kid. Of course they’re going to react against new partner(s), and want us back together, that’s natural.  I think we need to try and minimise the conflict between us that occurs in front of them.

Me asking for a separation is mutually exclusive from you choosing W over me.  It doesn’t matter though, you made your choice and that influenced my choice. It’s OK, I’m not blaming her, I blame us.

I do absolutely want to do this when I’m going to have them alone for several days. #1 will need the extra time with me to talk to me and be close to me so I can help her process. I do not want to wait until just before you take them for the weekend or just before she goes on her trip.  And honestly, I don’t like having to avoid answering #1’s questions.

I tried a few times to write a response to your comments about, “choosing W over [you]”. This isn’t what happened — but I can understand how you may feel this way, given we haven’t had any real conversation about the causes of the separation. On one hand, I feel like the time we spent together means I owe you explanations of what happened, and that you deserve to hear my perspective.  But on the other, I think you’re not ready to listen, and it will only cause more anger and conflict. So I’m going to leave it there.

I think telling them on Thursday puts me in a difficult situation, in that they (especially #1), will have a lot of questions that I won’t be able to answer until Saturday, when we’re off camping. But I’m not seeing a lot of great alternatives.  Telling her just before going on her trip would be a nightmare, and I agree that doing it on almost no sleep before going camping is also a bad idea.

I also don’t like avoiding answering questions, I’m glad it will be out in the open, although I suspect they have worked much out themselves in their clever little heads. I am worried about how this is going to affect them, but remain far more worried about how us remaining together would have affected them. At least we know how we’re going to screw them up now.  Everyone screws up their kids somehow, this will be our way.

I want to say that I’m not angry at you for this.  We are not a good combination together, and became (or maybe always have been?) toxic. That doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, any more than it makes me a bad person. It just means the combination of us doesn’t work. I wish you happiness in the future, and hope that you can find someone who meets your needs better than I could. I hope that you’re doing ok.

No matter what,  your perspective and my perspective are going to be different.  You have a dialogue, I have mine. Somewhere in the middle is the truth.  If you want to tell me what you think happened, I will be happy to hear it.  But as you said, it’s not necessary.  I hope to one day be friends again, because it will be good for the kids, and honestly, most of the time, I like you.  I think that you choosing to have W in your life will complicate our friendship, but that is the choice you have made.  For what it’s worth, I’m glad you are happy with her, even if I don’t like her and I’m concerned about the influence she will have over our kids in the future.

Honestly, I may have been the one to ask for the official separation, but you left our marriage a long time before I did.  I was just the one to pull the trigger, but we were both done.  I dislike that you keep saying “You asked for this”.  I didn’t ask for this, but I did choose it, because it was the right decision, and I suspect you wouldn’t have chosen yourself.  I think that when I look back at our relationship, there is a theme that presents itself. I don’t like to say toxic, because it wasn’t all bad. There were some really great times.  The last six months were awful.  I thought at one point that that awful was new, but realized that it wasn’t new, it was just more frequent.  When I thought back through our 14 years together, I realized that the dysfunction had always been there, it just took the addition of 3 new people in our lives to expose those cracks in our foundation.  When we didn’t acknowledge those cracks or even try to repair them, it crumbled. It crumbled in a horrible awful way because we were both too stubborn to acknowledge our roles and work together or pull the plug sooner.  Stepping off that roller coaster was the best thing I could do for myself, for you, and for our kids.  It was the best thing for our marriage to end it.  You and I both know that.  There are times when you and I chat now that I remember why I married you.  I’m glad I have that back, because it had been nearly a year since I felt that way. It helps remind me that I do want to parent with you because you are a good dad.  I think as things settle down, we will get better.  There will be challenges that we haven’t faced before, but in the end, I believe we will do what is best for the kids always.  

As for me, there will never be some”one” for me.  I am polyamorous – acknowledging that and embracing it was life changing in the most amazing way.  What it means for my future, I don’t know, but I’m really really really happy knowing who I am and living the life I was meant to.  It doesn’t make it easy, lord knows I’ve suffered a lot in the last six months, but it is worth it to me.

As for the conversation with the kids, the reality is that we are not going to both be with the kids for them to ask us questions together. That’s the very basic fact of what we are telling them.  It will take them time to process. If #1 needs to talk to you, I can call you and you can talk to her. It will be OK.  But this isn’t screwing up the kids.  Screwing up the kids was what we did from November to March.

I wouldn’t focus so much on W. It will be a minor miracle if that relationship survives our separation. Also, you really don’t know the first thing about her — you never got to know her.

I think we will be able to be friends and make this work amicably. We’re obviously going to have disagreements, but I think it’s important to both of us to maintain a strong parenting relationship moving forwards for the sake of the kids.

I think sometimes that the children helped keep us together.  Suddenly we had these amazing little people that we were in love with, and we saw that love reflected in each other. I also feel I have some responsibility for not having the self esteem to leave the relationship earlier –  but, at the same time, I’m glad we had the four amazing kids that we had.

I’m glad that finding polyamory has made you happy. I also think that kids are very resilient, and will deal with this.

I’m not focused on W at all, apart from the instigation, rumours, and general defamation of my character that she likes to partake in, both to my face and to others who will listen, I couldn’t actually care less about her.  I just don’t want her to hurt the kids.  My separation is with you, and I work very hard to focus on what you and I need to do to work together, but it’s also obvious that a third person is influencing things. I’m fortunate to have partners who don’t get involved.

I, too, am glad that we have the kids we did, the frequent pregnancies and crazy changes we experienced certainly inhibited us from really seeing what our relationship was.  We looked at events instead of happiness as a whole.  I, too, acknowledge my responsibility for not leaving you earlier.  I think that the fact that I wasn’t living authentically meant that I settled for something that didn’t make me happy for a long time.  I truly thought we were good when I proposed polyamory last August.  I didn’t doubt my love for you.  I’m sorry that I hurt you along the way and that it took me until now to know myself.  But how amazing is it that we both know that we weren’t happy and can pursue what we really want in life?  With the best kids in the world to join the adventure?

Thursday at 4 it is.

“But how amazing is it that we both know that we weren’t happy and can pursue what we really want in life?  With the best kids in the world to join the adventure?”

I like that sentiment.

The journey we take together is apart.  That’s OK!

I have no idea what that means, but good luck!

Hahaha. I got too philosophical!  

I meant that we have had a life’s journey together that brought us to this point, and now we are on parallel journeys to create the life we want, still together because of our wonderful kids, but apart.  

It made sense in my head.

I like this conversation. Thank you.

Me too. You’re welcome.

There is so much awesome in this conversation. From both of us presenting our feelings and listening and accepting the other’s perspective, to the acknowledgement from both of us that we are doing the right thing by separating, to the discussion of how to have a difficult conversation with the four people we love most in the world, to the support and encouragement from each of us to the other with regards to creating the lives we want.  

The second thing I want to write about is a conversation I had with a coworker today.  He has chosen to leave his wife in the last few weeks.  On paper, they have a great marriage.  There really isn’t an obvious reason he’s not happy that an outside observer could identify, but he’s not happy.  He doesn’t find his relationship fulfilling and wants something different.  He’s been trying to explain this to his wife and she doesn’t understand it.  Of course, she is trying to understand and is making her own conclusions about why he’s doing what he’s doing. She’s concluded that he’s depressed and that is the reason he blames their relationship for his unhappiness.  It’s such a natural thing for a person to do – to try to understand something because it’s hard to accept without understanding, and to make up a reason that makes sense to them.  In fact, I did that exact thing, actively, as part of my process of mourning the loss of my relationship with D and less consciously as part of my processing the dysfunction in my relationship with F.  I sat in my office, listened to his story, and said: “It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, as long as you are making the decisions that make you happy.”  

As those words came out of my mouth, I had my epiphany.  I realized that what I was saying applied to D too.  It doesn’t matter what I think or feel or even why he did it.  It doesn’t matter that the decision he made for himself hurt me deeply.  He made a decision for himself because he decided it was what he needed to do to be happy.  While I was more heartbroken than I’ve ever been before, the love I had for him allows me to be very happy for him now that I understand that he knows himself well enough to make decisions for his own happiness.  

As I sat thinking about this revelation, I realized that it also applies to F.  We have walked a path together and at the fork in the road, we chose different paths.  Those paths are now parallel, because we always need to be near to our children, but they are our own individual paths to walk that we each get to choose for ourselves.  We get to make our own decisions about what makes us happy, who we bring along on our journeys, and how we get there.  

This epiphany meant that I suddenly felt very happy for D.  I suddenly felt very happy for F.  Even more, I felt very happy for myself.  We are all making decisions that make us happy and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.