Livid

If the title doesn’t give it away, this entire blog post is written from a place of intense and deep anger and hurt.  It is not my usual level-headed self-reflective post.  Sometimes, writing out the anger gets it out of my heart. This is one such time.

The last few days were a plethora of awfulness.  Between the heartbreak hitting this weekend and not being able to get some connection I craved to calm my poor soul, the nasty cold virus that exerted its dominance over my body, F not responding to a crucial deadline in our separation proceedings, and all the O stupidness yesterday, I’m a little overwhelmed, to the point of being kind of numb.  Well, there was one highlight in the last days – drinks with A yesterday, just laughing and joking and catching up and being us.  That and the amazing hug that ended the date.  That man can hug like no other.

Last night I spent in a full out rage. I was livid.  I’m not sure livid is even strong enough to describe how I felt – I totally used an online thesaurus for this:  I was enraged!  I was furious!  I was corybantic with rage!  I was so annoyed with the excuses and the stupidity that came through in O’s last messages to me. For an educated, intelligent guy, he was a seriously stupid individual yesterday.  I got ridiculously angry, really fast. I was hitting hard and fast, and he was grabbing on to every excuse he could just so he could look himself in the mirror.  Among the stupider things he sent:

“…if you are happier now that we are apart, we shouldn’t be together. If you are happier when we are together, then we should be together.

The choice is yours.

Both ex and other partner have given me some important perspective this weekend. I love you. I am here for you if you choose to be with me but I will not beg.”

Excellent. I love a thinly veiled ultimatum.  I’m sorry, but last time I checked, he violated a very clearly established boundary (see below) and my right to consent.  A threat in the form of “I’m not going to beg” aka “I’m not going to wait around forever” isn’t going to fucking cut it less than two weeks after you fucked up our entire god damned relationship.  It certainly isn’t appropriate.  It’s smacks of my 4-year-old saying “I’m not going to be your friend anymore!”  Although she may have a better grasp of cause and effect.  

“Please don’t post our private FB conversations on your blog without my permission. Other partner is pissed at you on my behalf for doing that.”

I have to say that I responded to this very badly.  Why the FUCK should I care what another partner, someone whose opinions are filtered through O’s perceptions, thinks?  Why would I not post a conversation with me on my blog?  I do. It gives clarity. It eliminates my interpretation.  Sure, I asked before when they were his self-reflections.  When I actually cared about hurting his feelings. But when you crush me completely by breaking my trust and destroying the entire foundation of our relationship with one decision, I don’t care so much.  And his communications serve to demonstrate what a clueless fuck he was immediately following fucking another girl in the same bed as me WITHOUT MY CONSENT, just hours after I clearly said I WASN’T READY TO SHARE HIM IN THE SAME ROOM AS ANOTHER WOMAN.

So, I asked him why he cared so much about what I posted on the blog all of a sudden.

“I could care less (sic) about the blog, to be honest. Other partner just pointed out a bit of a double-standard. …ex asked me what I was getting from our relationship and I honestly couldn’t give her an answer. I realized it was all on what I could do for you. Other partner pointed out that you are so clear on your boundaries but didn’t communicate them well to me. Repeatedly saying they were clear does not make them clear. She also wonders if you are working out some very deep hurt from the past on me now…..Ex thinks I need a break from you for my own good.”

Let’s dissect this one, shall we?

A double standard?  Ha. The irony of asking me to respect an arbitrary boundary, when you say you don’t actually care about what is written, when you completely violated a very clearly established and very well communicated boundary.  Bitter humour to swallow there.

Let’s jump to the part about how well I communicated a boundary: I didn’t just say it as clear.  They were all clear.  My exact words were: “I am getting closer to the point where I could share you in the same room with another person, but I’m not there yet.  My body still does this ***mine!!!!*** thing when we are together, and I’m not yet able to handle seeing you with another person.”  I really don’t know how that can get any fucking clearer.  I said this just before we went to the pub night.  Within five hours, he was fucking someone in bed next to me (just in case you forgot, without my consent).  Not to mention the fact that someone who has never met me is telling someone who didn’t listen to my clearly communicated boundary that I didn’t communicate well. Huh.  It’s like she wasn’t even fucking there and doesn’t know what went on.

Couldn’t give an answer about what you got out of the relationship?  It was based on what he could do for me.  Really?  Really?  Fucking really?  Anything he did for me was voluntary.  We talked about how bad I was at asking for what I needed. At being vulnerable.  I hardly asked anything. Ever. The reason? Because of shit like this.  There’s just so much martyrdom in this statement that I can’t.  It’s so fucking stupid.  Fuck.  Good thing he wasn’t getting anything out of it, because there won’t be getting anything back, that’s for fucking sure.

But the cherry on top of the icing that’s on top of the cake: “processing a deep hurt from the past on me now…”  Yes, absolutely.  That deep hurt from my past goes way back to 11 days ago.  WHEN HE VIOLATED A CLEARLY COMMUNICATED BOUNDARY AND DISREGARDED MY RIGHT TO CONSENT.  He fucked a girl in the same bed as I was naked in.  Then he continued when I was obviously upset by it.  Then he justified it by saying I wasn’t into joining.  And he finally owned it, after I broke up with him, and now he is looking for any and every excuse to blame me to help him feel better about how badly he fucked up.  

The whole thread yesterday was best summarized by L and his girlfriend: “this is some pretty base ‘cheerleader syndrome’. They’re helping him through the breakup, which is good. But they’re doing it by putting him on a pedestal and giving him the idea that he should probably be forgiven for one error since he’s otherwise a great guy. They’re also managing to somewhat make you the villain and him the victim here.  By attacking your blog and ‘being pissed at you on his behalf’, they’re telling him he’s the good guy. By getting O to see a relationship where he was just helping you all the time and getting nothing back, you’re the bad guy.
When he comes back and says you should be together if you were happy.  And that he thought you were long term and the one and all that. No. Not ok.”

Yeah. All that.  No passive aggressive guilt trips for this girl, thank you.

Then I got an email from his ex-wife, asking for me to remove things he and I had written about her and her actions in their marriage breakdown. It was cloaked in passive aggressive manipulative bullshit and it was a huge invasion of my personal privacy as it came to my personal email, not my blog contact email.  This means he gave it to her.  With that last violation of my trust and personal space, I had to block him completely from my life.  Up until yesterday morning, I thought that maybe one day we could try again….but he and his cheerleaders have shown me that is a mountain I’m not interested in climbing, not the least because they are also on it.   I’m glad he has support. It’s too bad those people have to attack the victim to give it.

Advertisements

Disgusted

This morning, I woke up heartbroken and hurting still.  Luckily for me, O decided to message me with a thinly veiled ultimatum about how if I was happier to be with him I should be with him and how if I was happier now, I shouldn’t. What followed was a lot of “my ex-wife thinks X” and “my other partner thinks Y” to justify asking me to ask his permission to use our communications on my blog.  Respecting boundaries that he established was the name of that game and it would be appropriate if the irony wasn’t so bitter to swallow.  It made me angry.  Really fucking angry.  Instead of owning his shit, he was holding on to random things he thought I did wrong, minor slights really.  I guess it’s easier to mourn the loss of a relationship when you don’t have to admit it was all your fault.  Fortunately, anger is so much easier to process than heartbreak.

So, I asked him to just remember the relationship for what it was and leave it there.  I got a rather sweet, if slightly passive aggressive and guilt-trippy, response and left it there.

Then I got an email from his EX-WIFE.  About my blog. Not to my blog email, but to my PERSONAL FUCKING EMAIL.  She introduced herself.  Stated that she didn’t give me permission to publish stuff about her marriage breakdown.  (I use letters instead of names specifically for the anonymity of everyone involved.)  She figures someone with “average internet sleuthing skills” could figure out who is involved.  Oh, and she used the guilt trip about her child or a friend of her child’s finding out.

So I responded to her not to contact me again. And I messaged O about how I was done. And then I blocked them both on gmail, and O on every other platform we are connected on.  

I’ve been asked to censor my blog to protect people who aren’t even identified.  I have 70 followers, it’s not like many people read this blog.  I feel threatened and violated and am disgusted by the blatant attempt at manipulation.

Ugh. This is all so messy.  Talk about a bullet dodged.  

Freedom and love: G gives me perspective

Life is still incredibly amazing. I’ve made so many good decisions for myself in recent months, and my happiness is the reward for each individual success.  Tonight, G came over for dinner.  She is so great at communication that she came over a few weeks ago to ask for a little more time and connection with me.  Instead of doing things, she needed to connect – have substantial conversations and just be with me.  There are few things in this world that I appreciate more than people I love who communicate well, and this is true in this case also.  It’s so easy to give the people you love what they need when they ask you for exactly what that thing is.  Well, this evening was full of connection.  We cuddled and chatted and had supper and just laughed and talked and, well, were.  We just were.

So much happened in my life in the last week that there was a lot to catch her up on. With O, who has taken my life by storm and with A, who has been a bit of a storm of his own this week.  Talking about her world and its developments and a healthy dose of sex talk and sex toy conversations. It was wonderful!

Among the things that came up was how she never asks for help from others.  That several of the people in life are rarely aware that she is struggling until she fills them in later after she’s done processing. That is so familiar to me.  In fact, it sort of hit home when she said that, because she was the only person for months who knew that I was still hurting about D. That when I saw him it was like getting hit in the chest with a bazooka (no, this has not actually happened to me, it’s what I imagine getting hit in the chest with a bazooka would feel like).  I mentioned that to her and we talked through a few points to do with him.

Specifically, I realized that while I had been honest with myself when I saw him about still loving him, I had only been honest with G about what I was still feeling.  Even then I wasn’t completely clear with her.  Then a few things happened.  It was pointed out to me in conversation with someone who has never said a bad thing about D before that he is a total asshole.  I immediately proceeded to defend him and was stopped.  Simply put, he said: “Anyone who did to you what he did, in the way he did it, is an asshole.  There’s nothing to discuss there.”  This truth hit me hard.  It also happened only a few days after I had drunk texted D.  Now, my drunk text wasn’t particularly bad.  I wasn’t proclaiming everlasting love or pining for him.  I was just thinking about him and reached out.  I was drunk, so it wasn’t the most coherent ending, and the next morning, I apologized, said my train of thought clearly derailed and exploded, and explained that I wanted nothing from him but would like to be friends.  It was kind, apologetic, and I was a little vulnerable in it all.  He never responded.  

It’s funny to me that this seemingly small, insignificant event, one that I laughed off nearly immediately, was the final nail in the coffin of my affection for D.  In the end, I realized how little compassion and understanding he truly feels for others.  I realized how selfish and uncommunicative he was.  How he didn’t respect me enough to just say “hey, no thanks” to an offer of meeting for lunch.  

I was explaining all this to G today, and I said: “I could forgive him for dumping me the way he did.”  For not communicating when I had questions or offering an explanation or honouring what we shared.  But when he showed so little compassion for me when I asked directly for a response, I couldn’t hide behind the excuse that it was a one time thing.  All that time I spent thinking he was true to himself and did what he felt he needed to do to be happy meant I didn’t realize that he actually is just an uncompassionate, selfish, broken person.  This isn’t easy for me to write.  I write it, and despite months of  being apart, my go-to is to defend him. To focus on those amazing times before he broke up with me.  To forget that he hurt me worse than any man ever has.  

But G said several somethings tonight that hit me right where I needed to be smacked.  The first thing she said was that she couldn’t believe I could forgive him, because she hadn’t.  She said she is still every bit as angry at him as she was on day one because the way he acted was inappropriate and he hurt someone she loved.  She said she is pretty sure it was my divorce that was too much for him, which was too bad.  I said that the unfortunate part is that if he had just hung out and waited it out, only a couple months later, I was, by far, the best version of me I had ever been.  I pointed out that the people who waded through that dark time with me were now the people who were receiving the best version of me they possibly could.  That I am the best me in every part of my life now.  That people like A stuck it out and supported me and were everything I needed them to be.  He was exactly what I needed him to be on so many nights where I was done with everything in my world and I needed him to make me forget it all.  I remember saying to him that I needed to not talk about my hurt or anger, that I needed him to overwhelm me with sensation and make me forget anything and everything but what was going on in the moment.  I remember saying a version of that for weeks (months?) in a row.  I know that he never once failed to do so.  He helped me forget.  He helped me numb myself.  He helped me heal.  He helped me become the me I am now.  Not because he supported me (which he did) or that he put up with my crazy (which he did), but because he LET me hurt and be and process and ask for what I needed and take charge and just held on for the ride. He didn’t demand anything of me and never tried to save me and he was exactly what I needed him to be because he let me be the strong independent person I am and the weak person who needed to heal at the same time.

What she said, that hit me like a ton of bricks straight to the head, was: “Did it occur to you that what you got was the best version of D, and that he wasn’t good enough for you?”  Wait!!! What???  The idea that the best version of him wasn’t the wonderful times, but the man who broke up with me via email with no reason and then cut off all communication with me wasn’t what I was expecting, but when it hit, it hit hard and stuck there.  She’s absolutely right.  

As my best friend, soul sister, and a person I love unconditionally, G has my heart in her hands. She knows me well, she loves me deeply, and she isn’t scared to verbalize the hard truths.  Today, she said something that threw me for a loop.  She said that the people in my world who love me and attach to me thrive off my love of life, my energy, and my enthusiasm. That when I am down, or going through a dark period, like this summer after D dumped me, and I had to process all the hurt of the previous six months,  they can’t feed off my energy, and it’s hard for them. Some people, who want and can give that love and energy back to me when I’m not able to give myself, stick by me, support me, and love me.  Others, who just want to take, well, they leave, killing off a bit of that part of me that gives.  Fortunately, that giving part of me regenerates once I evict those people from my heart.  I’ve just completed that regeneration.  It’s amazingly liberating.  When I talked to A about this the other day, he made the point that I’m finally at that point where I can love in a way that isn’t limited due to hurt.  That I’m free again.  I think my NRE with O is a true expression of that new-found freedom and space in my heart, freed by my finally letting go of D. Freedom and love: basic human rights, at least in my world.

A poly year

A year ago, I went to bed, happy and fulfilled in my life, at least I thought.  I had a crazy dream that night.  A dream about X that was anything but platonic. That dream prompted me to message X when I got to work the next morning.  And the rest is history, as they say.  He introduced me to polyamory, and changed my entire life.

I’ve been poly for a year.  I’ve never been so certain about a decision in my life.  I am polyamorous.  I have had the most amazing year.  I fell in love with X and felt the intensity of our connection and loved him so completely.  Then it ended.  I met A, and we had the weirdest first date ever, with our bizarre coincidences and crazy connection.  We friend-zoned and were both happy to do so.  I met B, who was a romantic interest in my life for a short time, but has been a steadfast friend as I navigate my divorce and my dating life.  Then I started dating D.  I fell so madly in love with him, in the most intense and amazing way possible.  I had months of a near perfect relationship with him. It ended, in an absolutely awful way, but it doesn’t change how amazing the relationship was.  In the meantime, I unintentionally started the incredible relationship I have with A.  We embarked on an adventure exploring BDSM together.  We supported each other through some pretty shitty times.  We turned to each other when the rest of the world was railing against us.  We just became who we are together as a couple, while being who we are as individuals.  We figured out what worked for us.  I met L.  We are still working on creating what we want in our relationship together.  Committed and cooperative and happy and moving forward together.  

My marriage disintegrated.  It was awful and conflict-filled and I held on too long. Then I stood up, hopped off the roller coaster, advocated for myself, and moved forward.  We are working together to co-parent the most amazing four kids in the world.  We have moved forward as adults and our separation is negotiated.  I hope that moving forward we’ll work together instead of apart.

I dated.  I had coffee dates and dinner dates and drink dates and lunch dates and breakfast dates, and I had first kisses that rocked my world and second dates that ended in disappointment.  I had horrible dates and hopeful dates and disappointing dates and a wife messaging me to tell me I had a liar date.  

Outside of the poly part of me, I had three grandparents die.  My dad was diagnosed with cancer.  My sister cut me out of her life in a hail of fire.  I lost friends, met new friends, and connected more strongly with others.

I told many people about being polyamorous.  All but my sister reacted positively.  Nearly all embraced me and my chosen lifestyle completely, asking relevant questions and supporting my choice.  Most importantly, my mom supports me and my kids support me.  I have told so many people now that I’m almost “out”.  Not yet.  But one day, I will be.  In particular, I came out to G and to my person at work.  I made the strongest connections with two women who will always have my back.  They are better than having a sister.

I loved.  I loved men like I’ve never loved before.  My relationship with D only need serve as an example.  I’ve never loved someone who wasn’t blood so unconditionally.  My love for A is unique too.  It’s the first time I’ve submitted to a man worthy of my submission.  He’s earned a special respect and love from me. That’s something bigger than I can explain in words.  The fact that he doesn’t really ‘get it’ makes it even more important and a little funny too.  These loves taught me about the type of love I should have.  The type of love I want and the type of love I deserve and the type of love that I shouldn’t accept.  Through loving these men and the understanding of what it meant, I loved myself again.  I chose to stop sacrificing my happiness.  I expected more. I demanded more.  I became more.  I became a better woman, a better mom, a better partner, a better person.  I stood up for myself.  I supported the people I love.  I became who I’ve always wanted to be.  

I cried.  I hurt.  I raged.  I cried some more.  I have never felt so broken.  I have never felt so confused, hurt, rejected, unloved.  I cried as I shed my old me and the new me became.

Today, a year later, I’m happy. Truly, completely, thoroughly, uncomplicatedly happy.  My life is full of everything I could possibly want.  The most amazing kids, parents who love and support me, friends who accept me unconditionally, partners who accept me for who I am, two fulfilling, challenging, and stimulating jobs, and so much of everything I could ever need.

Happiness came in a form I never expected, because I had a dream.

What, Why, and how I feel about it.

I have so many posts floating around in my head, but there’s one in particular that I think I have to write, largely because I don’t want to write it.  I’m not sure that makes sense, but here I go.  In a conversation with a friend who is new to polyamory a few days ago, I realized something about myself, and I need to work out if I can communicate it and process it.

We talked about how she’s transitioning from the world of being a swinger to the world of polyamory. The men she is interested have been swingers and the two she is interested in are both interested in seeing her exclusively, or as the exclusive other partner that isn’t her husband, anyway.  That part is really not important, but she was talking about how she is completely overcome with NRE for one of the guys but doesn’t feel as strongly for the other one, but he is sweet, kind, generous, fun and she is attracted to him and would like to date him too because of these comforting characteristics. (This really smacks of the difference in the way I felt about D and the way I feel about L).   

We were talking about the “exclusivity” thing and she asked me how I would deal with things if one of my partners had asked that of me when I was still married and I immediately said it wouldn’t be an option I would consider.  She said, “what if D had asked you?”, because she knew how overcome with NRE I was for him for our whole relationship.  She knew how deeply in love with him I was.  My response was the same: “I wouldn’t even consider it, but part of what I loved, appreciated, and respected most about D was that he would never have asked something like that of me.”

Then she said something about how completely I loved him and I said that the truth, as hard as it is to admit it, is that if he contacted me tomorrow and asked to date me again, I would say yes in a heartbeat.  It wouldn’t even be something I’d have to think about.  

For the last few days, I’ve been mulling this revelation over.  Part of it is how it “looks”; how people would react if I admitted it aloud; what they would think.  The other part is me analyzing the why of all things; trying to understand why I feel the way I do, despite my ability to look objectively at the way things ended.  The final part is trying to decide if it’s OK that I feel this way.

I’m not generally prone to caring about what other people think, but there’s something that triggers me when I think about how someone would feel about the fact that I would be willing to take D back after the intensity of the heartbreak.  In particular, the way the people who care about me most would feel. If they would feel less important or less loved because of my willingness to forgive D.  If they would be disappointed to hear that I feel that way.  If they would be concerned that I still have feelings and am pining after D.  I would argue that I’m not.  I think about him often, but it’s not with wanting or sadness, it’s just factual – I’m cognizant of what a great relationship it was and the memories I have are good ones, and if I’m completely honest, I just really miss him.  

That being said, I saw this article a couple weeks ago that resonated with me.  In fact, that seems to be a theme lately, articles that resonate so strongly with me that it feels like I was hit with a brick to the head.  This excerpt from this article, in particular, triggers the most powerful response from me every time I read it:

“…here’s another thing they won’t tell you about finding the love of your life: not ending up with them doesn’t disqualify their significance.

Some people can love you more in a year than others could love you in fifty. Some people can teach you more within a single day than others could teach you over the entire course of a lifetime.

Some people come into our lives only for a particular period of time, but make an impact that no one else can ever quite match or replace.

And who are we to call those people anything but the loves of our lives?

Who are we to downplay their significance, to rewrite their memories, to alter the ways in which they changed us for the better, simply because our paths diverged? Who are we to decide that we desperately need to replace them – to find a bigger, better, stronger, more passionate love that we can hold onto for a lifetime?

Maybe we just ought to be grateful that we got to meet these people at all.

That we got to love them. That we got to learn from them. That we got to have our lives expand and flourish as a result of having known them.

Meeting and letting go of the love of your life doesn’t have to be your life’s single greatest tragedy.

If you let it, it can be your greatest blessing.”

What this article did was make me realize that it was OK to no longer be with the great love of my life, while still thinking of him as my great love.  This really falls into the second thing I’ve been mulling over – the “why”.  I think that the reason I’d take him back is because he’s the great love of my life.  I’ve never been that completely in love with someone.  So much so that I was completely blindsided by our break up.  That makes it sound like I wasn’t aware of obvious problems, but the thing was, there were none.  I’ve been over it every possible way and there wasn’t a single thing that could have indicated to me that there were issues.  He’s that person I most loved in my life, and so for that reason, if he asked for me back, I would take him back immediately.  It’s in my nature to forgive, but that’s at odds with the fact that  I do not usually give people a second chance when they have hurt me.  Forgetting isn’t my nature.  In this, I’m different.  I wish I could understand the why of that. I guess love is just that strong an intrinsic motivator and remembering the incredible experience that dating D was is far more important than colouring it with negativity and rewriting history. 

Finally, I’m still trying to decide how I feel about the fact that I’d take D back.  I feel like I’ve done a damn good job of moving on from that heartbreak.  I’ve cried and processed and let go of my anger, hurt, and resentment.  I’ve hugged him, chatted with him, and didn’t feel anything but the same type of happiness I’d feel with seeing a good friend I hadn’t seen in awhile.  There was no hurt, sadness, anger, or even love that made itself known.  I wish I could be a person who could say “but he didn’t value me, so I hate him and never want to see him again”, because that anger would bring me so much comfort.  Anger is a great substitute when the truth makes us feel weak.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t hold on to that resentment.   Once I realized that he, as someone I loved, was making a decision so he could be happy, I had to let go of all that and just understand and accept.  

So how do I feel right now?  I feel like this is still a new situation for me. I’ve never left a relationship still thinking the person I was with was an excellent human being, the best kind of person.  Or thinking that everything about the relationship, except for its ending, was incredible.  So, I guess I feel weird.  Like this is uncharted territory and I don’t know how to proceed in navigating the emotions I’m feeling.  

And why did I write this?  Because it’s part of my process. It’s part of being honest with myself, knowing my own boundaries, understanding my strengths and my weaknesses.  Apparently my strength is forgiveness and my weakness is D.

Truthfully, I wouldn’t change anything.

Because, “If I let it, it can be my biggest blessing.”

 

 

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.