Walking on the inside

On Wednesday, A and I had a spontaneous evening where we reconnected.  I worked late and was a bit of a mess and asked him to come pick me up so I could collect a hug.  We ended up going for drinks.  It was amazing. So full of laughter and some deep conversation too.  To say that my life has experienced an ongoing state of upheaval and stress the last few weeks would probably be an accurate statement.  A is a stabilizing force in my life.  He grounds me.  He knows me well, so that means he can say the things that make me laugh, intentionally get a rise out of me, and calm me in a way very few people can.  

Our relationship is atypical.  After so many of my partners have had a hard time with it, I’ve spent some time thinking about why they don’t get it.  It makes perfect sense to me (and to A). So, atypical compared to other poly relationships?  I don’t know.  The fact is, we have great boundaries.  There’s not much about our relationship dynamic that we haven’t discussed and actively decided on together. We get each other.  He understands my life.  That dates are different when the kids are home than when they aren’t.  That I have a full-time job and a second job too.  That I’m going through a divorce and sometimes I’m going to go on crazy rants about the frustration of negotiations.  That I’m going to date others and I’ll tell him about it, but otherwise, he doesn’t have much say.  He actually really appreciates my other partners and has never uttered a jealous or judgemental word about any of them. He has supported me through recovering from heartbreak several times.  He has been my partner in so many new experiences.  From shooting guns, getting in a collision, visiting a new distillery, bondage, pain, orgasm control, group sex, and everything in between, we’ve been a team.  I think what people don’t realize is that we are really good friends.  We talk about nearly everything.  I value his opinion and he values mine.  Nearly every date begins with a couple hours of talking and reconnecting. So much of our attraction to each other is intellectual. I’ve never thought for a second that I was being judged or anything but loved and accepted when we talk.  I know he feels comfortable confiding in me and I’m his place of calm too.  I am the type who volunteers information. You never wonder where you stand with me.  A, he requires some prodding, but I’m the type to ask all the questions that pop into my mind, and he generally answers, if somewhat reluctantly.

It’s less often now that I am surprised by something A says or does.  Over drinks, were talking about how A, as a bit of a chameleon, scores differently on the Meyers-Briggs tests every time he takes one.  He can take the same test and get three different scores.  Having never taken a Meyers-Briggs test before, I suggested that I take one and he read me the questions.  It was so fun!  He guessed what my answer would be before I answered and for the most part, he was bang on.  Things like “Your life is always tidy and organized” – ***Strongly Disagree*** and “You are completely comfortable talking in front of a big group of people – ***Strongly Agree*** were pretty straightforward and obvious.  There weren’t many that were a shock about me, which is not surprising, because I’m rather transparent.  When he took the quiz, I was shocked by some of the more introverted tendencies that he had, but more in a “Oh right, you’re actually an introvert who pretends to be an extrovert” kind of way.  Part of the reason these things surprise me is that we almost always spend our time together one-on-one (sometimes literally! Har-har-har!), but also that I know that we are now close enough that I get a real version of A, without the walls that he maintains as part of his public and business persona. What surprised me most is how well he knows me.  Not so much that the information is there, but that he paid attention! 😉

When I was a teenager, I heard this story about how in the days prior to modern plumbing, men walked on the outside of a sidewalk and women on the inside so that when a chamber pot was dumped from the second floor balcony, the women wouldn’t be hit.  This also served the purpose of preventing women from getting hit by water or other grossness from the street when carriages passed.  

While I am a strong, independent, fiercely feminist woman, I love chivalry.  Over the year and three months I’ve known A, he has been chivalrous in his understated way.  He has passed many tests he didn’t know he was participating in.  The first was on our first date, when I reached for my purse to pay my share and he immediately put a stop to it and told me “On the first date, the man pays, put that away”.  The second time was when we went shooting a year ago as part of my “40 before 40” list, and when we walked out to his truck, he walked me to the passenger side and opened my door.  I remember commenting on it and giving him a kiss.  That night, we were in a collision with a moose.  When D came to pick us up, he immediately got in the back seat and let me climb in the front, completely respecting my love for D.  That was the third time.  

There have been hundreds more open truck doors. There have been drinks he’s poured for me and rides he’s given me.  There have been hugs he’s gone out of his way to give when he knows I need one.  I’ve made a lot of requests that he has fulfilled without complaint.  He’s listened to me, he’s held me, he’s hurt me in exactly the way I need, and he’s loved me despite the hot mess I sometimes am.  He has been what I need, nearly always.

We were walking away from the bar we were at, and I threaded my arm through his elbow as I tend to do and we reached for each other’s hands.  Then he stopped and said: “Get on the other side.” I said “Why?” and he said: “Because men walk on the outside, and women on the inside.”

I was flabbergasted (I love this word).  It’s been at least 24 years since I first heard the story of chivalry and where men and women should walk on the sidewalk.  I teach my children this lesson. First that adults should be on the outside and second that a man should be on the outside for my daughters.  My son will get this lesson when he’s old enough that him running into traffic isn’t my primary concern. I even talked to my girls about this in front of F, and he didn’t note it.  I have silently tested and judged everyone I’ve dated over the many years I have known about sidewalk placement while walking using this metric.  No one has ever said anything. Then A does this: He passes a test he didn’t know existed.

I mentioned earlier that we have a pretty great and detailed understanding of where we are in our relationship.  We know what we mean to each other and we are both happy with the parameters we’ve set.  We mean a lot to each other.  I have said for months, as a term of endearment (and a bit of an acknowledgement that we are where we are in our relationship and it’s not going to change), that he is an ***adequate*** boyfriend.  I joke that he has to be careful, if he is too good to me, he will be upgraded from adequate to satisfactory, and I’ll end up having unrealistic expectations of him.  

Truthfully, my expectations haven’t changed, but I love him that much more because he passed the uncommunicated test. Dating a true gentleman is amazing.   

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When the heartbreak hits

I spent this weekend alone.  A few hours ago, I picked up my kids, and now I’m processing all the things that I allowed myself to feel this weekend.  I’ve reached the point where the heartbreak is overwhelmingly painful.  I’ve got a lump in my throat, a tightness in my chest, and a knot in my stomach.  I feel physical pain at the loss of what I had with O.

On Friday night, I went to Robbie Burns night.  This is the same Robbie Burns night event that A goaded me into going to last year, the day after we broke my bed.  The same night that ended up being such an amazing night with both A and D, when I ended up at D’s house while his amazing wife volunteered to sleep on the couch.  O was supposed to be my date this year.  I asked a few friends to pinch hit for him after I broke up with him and finally managed to get one of my friends who I’ve known for 23 years to accompany me.  She was a delightful date and fit in well, having met A and his wife and D and his wife before.  Yes, D and his wife were there too. It was the first time I saw him since the ridiculous drunk texting incident, which I now think was hysterically funny, and am rather thankful it happened, as it was the key step in me finally getting over him.  I’m not saying I don’t still love him, because I do.  But I absolutely wouldn’t take him back if he begged me.  I am in love with the man I dated then, not the man I know him to be now.

I had a great time at Robbie Burns. I enjoyed the scotch; I enjoyed the company; I enjoyed the food.  I didn’t particularly miss O’s presence and other than saying that my friend was pinch hitting for a boyfriend I just broke up with, he didn’t come up.  It was the first time I had spent a whole night out in public with A and his wife.  A isn’t big into public displays of affection, and that is also true with his wife.  I got a kiss when we got into his truck and a kiss after his mom left, yes, that’s right, his MOM!  The thing is, he was out at a function with his wife and his girlfriend.  His girlfriend that only half the people there knew about.  So he was a husband, but not a boyfriend that night.  It was weird, not hard, or upsetting, but weird, to see them in their husband and wife roles.  To see them casually touch each other in the way couples do.  Hands on knees, a rub of the arm, a hand on the shoulder.  To be a part of that night but apart from someone I love.

I cuddled A in the back seat on the way home.  It was nice. It filled me with comfort.  I am in need of reconnection, however, to be the focus of his attention without the rest of his life there.

After A and his wife dropped my friend and I off at home, I crawled into bed.  I slept for 14 hours.  For the first time in months, I slept until I couldn’t sleep anymore.  I woke up with a cold and the deep sadness of heartbreak that overwhelmed me completely.  I am constantly on the move and busy and rushing from thing to thing. I took Saturday for myself to do nothing. I don’t remember the last time I did nothing for a day, but it was definitely at least 10 years ago.  I watched five movies.  I didn’t move off the couch.  But most importantly, I cried.  I cried until my entire face was swollen and my eyes felt like sandpaper. I cried that deep guttural cry that consumed my body and made me struggle to breathe.  It was the ugliest ugly cry of my life, made worse by the hoarse throat and grainy cough.

It was cathartic, in a way.  I guess I knew it was coming. I told A the day after all the awful happened that it would be about a week and a half until the *real* pain hit.  When I’d cry and the heartbreak would hit. Well, it hit.  Heartbreak like I’ve never felt before. I thought the heartbreak after D was the limit of the pain I could experience and it turns out that I was wrong. I long for the hurt I felt last May.

In typical *me* style, instead of asking for what I needed (remember how bad I am at being vulnerable), I tried to entice A to my house with dirty pics and promises of hot sex, and the exhausted man who is too busy for his own good chose sleep over me.  I’m sure if I had told him where I actually was emotionally, that I needed someone to wrap their arms around me and make me feel taken care of, he would have actually been here.  He probably thought I needed too much of him.

The fact is, I am in a constant state of emotional pain turned physical because it’s so real and all-encompassing.  I alternate between the desire to shut down emotionally and be strong and independent and I “don’t need anyone” and the need to have someone I love and trust hold me, keep me safe, and make me feel protected.

There is this crazy knowledge inside of me that I chose this.  I chose the the “rip-the-bandaid-off” approach to ending my relationship with O and the immense pain that comes with it, over the long, slow destruction that would have occurred if I had elected to try to move on.  That I chose to feel this overwhelming hurt over many small hurts.

I have an army of people who love me who are waiting to support me in anyway they can. This includes S, who has been amazing, patient, kind, supportive, and altogether very sexy about the whole thing.  A, who has helped me forget by taking me away so I’m only aware of him and what he’s doing to me, but also with his frequent check-ins and understanding as I tell him how much I hurt, and his desire to be here for me, even when he can’t be.  To D’s wife, who was so loving and supportive.  To A’s wife, who sent me love yesterday, knowing I needed it.  To my mom, who reminded me of my value when I was feeling so very broken.  To so many others who love me because I’m me.

I am broken.  I am hurting.  I am overwhelmed.  Tomorrow, I’ll see A.  He will hug me and for the moment that he holds me, all my pain will disappear.  I will feel his arms around me. My breath will slow.  I’ll smell him. And I will let go.

There is something amazing about going through heartbreak while in love with someone else.  To be deeply in love with someone and mourning the loss of deep love with someone else at the same time.  While I hurt, I recognize the love I have.  I will heal.  While I heal, I have so many people who love me to help me get there.

Strong

I have been surrounded by so much love and understanding in the last month. It’s truly amazing to me that I have so many people who love me, support me, rage for me, feel sad for me, and are just there for me.  My tribe.

The good thing about having this type of family is that I can be feeling any emotion, but I never feel alone.  I know there is always someone there who has my back and better yet, those same someones know and understand when I need time away and alone.  They check in but don’t smother.  They send love but don’t demand it in return. These are my people.

I’ve been getting a lot of messages from friends sending me love.  Among the many amazing things they say, are: “You are so strong.”  “You are the strongest person I know.”  “I can’t believe how strong you are.”  “Your strength amazes me.”

I like being strong.  It was an intricate part of my self-identity for a long time.  Strong, independent, opinionated, resourceful….etc, etc.  But always “strong”.  Here’s the thing.  Much of my strength came from not being able to turn towards others for support.  For doing things alone.  Starting in my teenage years with a highly dysfunctional father and an alcoholic step-mother, until they kicked me out of home and I was living “independently” in my last year of high school.  I had support of my mom, but I was resistant to her helping me.  I got myself in a lot of scrapes.  Then I moved to finish my degree and did my PhD and lived and worked independently.  Then I met and eventually married F.  In our relationship, I was emotional support for him, but he wasn’t support for me.  I looked the other way in many situations and got past (or blatantly ignored) some pretty abusive behaviours.  I was “strong” because I had to be.  It was me dealing with things alone and not asking for the help I needed, probably suffering more than necessary because I didn’t have the support system that everyone needs and couldn’t ask for help.

Being strong is idolized. My friends mean it as a compliment. It is a compliment. I’m just not sure that my old version of being strong was a good one.  I think I had to be.  But also, what it created was the inability to ask for help when I needed it. Or even recognize when I needed help.  I had this self-reflective epiphany months ago with O’s help.  I realized I was bad at asking for what I needed in favour of filling other’s needs, because when he asked me what I needed, I would deflect with a question or trying to choose what would make him happiest.  It was a huge realization of a major personality flaw.  I wasn’t just strong, I was trying to be my own fortress. The thing is, I can’t do that. No one can.  We need others. I have four kids to think about, and when I’m trying to manage everything on my own, it doesn’t help them.  It means I’m focused inwards when I need to be there for them.  So, going it alone, because I’m strong and don’t *need* help, isn’t the healthy thing to do.

The thing is, I’m in a situation now where I have a plethora of people who want to support me. They want to be there for me. They want me to ask them for help and support.  This is why, when I asked S to first postpone a date and then cancel a date so I could process, she said ‘yes’ without hesitation. This is why I could ask A for what I needed in way of distraction from my emotional state, and he provided it in the most amazing way possible (Seriously, subspace for 2 hours solid and at least 8 orgasms.  Amazing!) This is why I have friends checking on me and asking if they can do anything and just telling me they are thinking of me.  

Vulnerability is hard for me.  Asking for help and support is vulnerable, even with people we know who care.  Being vulnerable has been a thing of weakness for me for so long, since F exploited my vulnerability to make my issues about him.  But in this case, being “weak” is actually being so strong.  The strong realize that they are not stand alone fortresses, and ask for help from the foundation that holds them up.  

My tribe. My people. My support. My loves. My foundation.  

Fish hooks

The other day was an amazing day for me.  I had worked three night shifts in a row and on my day off in between switching to day shifts, I managed to connect and spend quality time with my three favourite people.  First, in the morning, A came over and interrupted my sleep with some very hot awake time.  I fell back asleep in his arms and he tucked me in and left.  When I woke up for the day, G came over, and we had the most amazing lunch, not for the food but the conversation.  We laughed so hard we cried, we talked about feelings and twisty bits, and had a healthy dose of sex talk too.  Then in the evening, O came over.  He played the piano while I did some obligatory domestic diva-type activities and my house was filled with beautiful music that shows his passion for expression.  Then we had a very fun bedroom session and fell asleep in each other’s arms. It was bliss.

This perfect day of connection was something I needed to just completely top up my buckets. They are full to overflowing and I’m so happy with my life.  I talked to G about all the unpacking I’m doing about my relationship with F and the abuses hidden behind the manipulation and passive aggressiveness.  I told her how it feels like several layers of bandaids have been removed one after the other, leaving me raw and uncomfortable as I try to heal.  I told her about the lump in my throat and the pressure in my chest.  Of course, because that girl completely gets me, she understood exactly what I meant.  She told me that her sister came up with the most beautiful analogy when dealing with abuse.  Here’s my take on it.

Imagine that every time something emotionally hurtful happens to you, a fish hook is speared through your heart.  That fish hook remains there, a festering wound that hurts at a low level.  When you begin to unpack and deal with hurt, an essential part of the process is removing that fish hook. This is not a painless procedure, because the barbs of the fishhook are pointing in the direction you have to pull.  So this means that before you can heal, you have to cause yourself pain.  Removing the fish hook is the hard part, it’s the real work.  It’s dealing with it.  Getting rid of it through processing.  But once it’s out, you can heal and move forward.  If you are good at processing hurt, you remove a fish hook immediately, that means the pain of the event (fish hook going in) and the processing after (fish hook going out) is part of one larger event that occurs immediately before healing begins.  Unpacking years of baggage means removing multiple fish hooks, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes serially. You may be left with a scar, and sometimes that scar has to be reopened to heal properly, but once it’s healed, it doesn’t hurt anymore, it’s just part of who you are. But what it means is there is a lot of pain to become the healed, happy, healthy person you want to be.  When we don’t deal with our hurt, work through our abuse, and work to grow, those fish hooks leave open wounds that  continue to fester, causing us chronic pain, instead of the acute pain that precedes healing.

 

Yep. Fish hooks.   

 

My mind was blown.

 

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

O occasionally has some challenging feelings to deal with in regards to my relationship with A. Some time ago, we talked about how part of his reality is that I am totally in love with both A and O, and O is only in love with me.  It got me thinking about the things I love about my men.  A and O are very different, but my love for them isn’t. That gets me thinking about how and why I love each of them. Of course, the way I love is rather complete, the way I express it is the only thing that changes. This is applicable to my love of my partners as well as my children and my friends.  

I love O for so many reasons, I find it hard to articulate. I love him deeply, completely, and I plan to do so forever. He’s stormed into my life and turned it upside down and I love it, no matter how off balance I feel so much of the time, because I never expected this type of love or this type of relationship.  Truthfully, I didn’t know a man like O could exist. He frequently tells me I am the stuff of his fantasies and I can only respond that I didn’t even know to imagine someone like him. The fact is, it’s just RIGHT.  When we are together, we are alone and the rest of the world stops.  We connect on emotional, physical, and intellectual levels.  We are both PhD level educated, in very different fields – I’m in a STEM discipline, he is in fine arts.  It means we complement each other in the most interesting way.  I know nothing about his discipline and he knows nothing about mine, but when we talk, we know the process, we know the significance, we just understand each other.  The details aren’t important, because the understanding is there.  Physically our relationship is mind-blowing. I anticipate our next date with the enthusiasm of a 16-year-old boy!  He has oral skills that cause me to crack lame jokes about how fine arts students must develop different tongue muscles when they practice all the different accents and has his room mate complaining about warning him when I’m over so she doesn’t go into the garage under his bedroom.  He is open to experimenting, exploring, and widening our horizons.  He comes up with rather detailed and interesting itineraries for our nights and always delivers. He holds me in a way that makes me feel like the most valuable thing in the world.  He kisses me like there is nothing else in the world but him and me. I have an incredibly hard time not touching him whenever we are together.  We are magnets, attracted so strongly to each other.  He tells me I’m beautiful and sexy and desirable and all these things I’ve not ever heard and believed at the same time.  Emotionally, well, he drags out my vulnerable side.  He makes it easy to ask for what I need.  He just anticipates the things I need and does them.  He gets me gifts for no reason, and even more, writes me poems and just sends me notes of love. He holds me tight and tells me he loves me.  He appreciates my cooking, he arranges transport of a free antique piano to my home and then plays beautiful music on it while my kids play around him, and he hangs out with my kids so I can go to a kindergarten Christmas party. Honestly, I love him because he just is perfect for me.

I love A deeply and completely.  Intellectually, he challenges everything I know.  I’m an academic and he’s a business owner.  I learn so much from him about the way a business runs, about networking, accounting, negotiating, social interactions, and being successful in business.  I learn about his passions, his insecurities, and his strengths and the other strengths he has and the other ones of top of that. He’s amazing in his ability to hide his introvert side, his need for alone time, his love and concern for his family and friends, and just be able to do what he needs to do for his business and the support of his employees and also for his family and loved ones.  He is inspiring and he is interesting beyond measure. I am in awe of him and his ability to cope, thrive, and push past so many challenges and so much stress. Physically,the thought of our time together turns me on and I spend a great deal of time anticipating our next date. He does things for me that no one ever has.  He hurts me in a way that makes me gush.  He kisses me in a way that makes me lose myself in him.  He hugs me in a way that tells me he needs me as much as I need him and makes me feel protected and cherished.  He looks at me in a way that tells me how much he cares about me.  He always fulfills my desires, through the hurt he causes my body, the control he exerts on my movements, and the many many many more orgasms I have than he ever has himself.  Emotionally, I have certainty with A: I know he loves me; he knows I love him.  We know we want to be together and that we value each other immensely.  When we are together, it is just us.  We talk about our outside worlds, the details of his life and mine: our kids and partners and jobs and friends, but when we are together, we are TOGETHER.  We laugh and snuggle and chat about things that matter, and just connect.  Then when we have sex, I enter into subspace and am his toy who submits to his will and I get so much out of what he does to me and what doing it to me does for him. Afterwards, he holds me and makes me feel loved, protected, and valued.  

I have never loved one person as completely as I love each of them individually.  My life and my heart are exploding with love for two amazing men.  I know how lucky I am to have them and I’m incredibly grateful for the happiness and fulfillment that they have added to my already wonderful life.  

Inadequately explaining my hurts

My heart is breaking and repairing and breaking and repairing again.   This seemingly never ending cycle hurts.  It’s left me feeling raw and vulnerable and weak.  This is not something I’m used to, and it’s rather hard to cope with, truthfully.  I think that now, over six months after I asked F for a separation, I’m starting to tease out some of the baggage I have that he saddled me with that I’ve been carrying, starting fourteen years ago and adding to the load frequently for years.  I’m realizing that behaviours I thought were normal, or minor, when looked at in isolation, were just that, but that as I look back at the cumulative history of those interactions, what I went through was a thorough and devastating form of emotional abuse.

Why is this coming out now?  Because of O.

I’m going to start at the small things that amount to abuse on a larger, rather systematic scale and then add to how I started to determine this was actually abuse and how it’s all O’s fault.  I say that tongue in cheek, I realize how amazing it is that he’s helped me peel off so many layers of bandaids in such a short time.

 I remember before we were married, F getting so angry with me that he kicked a 4L milk jug in our front hallway and it exploded against the wall.  I remember him refusing to clean it up, leaving it for me as he stormed out of the house, I remember seeing the drips of the hasty job I did for weeks.  I remember another fight around that time where I locked myself in our bathroom, and he punch a hole in the door trying to break it down.  He was yelling at me to open the door and I refused, and he asked me why and I said “Because I’m scared of you right now.” and he laughed and said it was silly that I was scared, asking why I would be.  I responded with “What response did you think you would get when you started banging on the door?”  In his defense, he calmed down in that moment and said “You’re right, I’m sorry.” There was the ongoing issues with sex. Where if I said “no”, it became a fight.  If I wanted sex, it became a game.  It became about him and his needs and all about him cumming.  I like hard sex, and whenever I asked for it harder, he would complain that I “just wanted it over”, when the reality was it was the only time I really enjoyed sex with him.  If I made a mistake in front of our friends, he would make a joke about it and intentionally embarrass me.  He would throw me under the bus in excuses all the time to his parents, my parents, everyone.  Whenever I came to him and said that something he did or said hurt my feelings, he would make it like it was my fault, or that I was being too sensitive.  He would frequently say I was being controlling, too strong, too opinionated, unreasonable, and stubborn.  I suspect I sometimes was.  Other times though, I most certainly was not, and it was his way of getting my back up so that I would get upset and he would “win”.  It was his method of taking control of the situation.  Often times, these discussions would end in me crying, my feelings hurt, confused that I came to him with what I thought was a valid concern and wondering if I was, in fact, too sensitive/demanding/controlling/etc.  When this happened, he would say things like: “Oh god, you’re not crying again are you?”  or “Right, cry, because you can’t get what you want.” or if I was crying in bed and he heard me when he was sleeping or trying to sleep, “If  you’re going to cry like that, can you go somewhere else and do it so I can sleep?” For our entire marriage, I did all the household shopping.  There were constant complaints about the food I prepared.  The “junk” I bought.  The cost of everything.  When I made family meals, which was all the time, I would announce that supper was ready, the kids would come running, and F would head to the bathroom.  The five of us were often finished dinner when he finally arrived, and I had just taken care of all the kids alone.  Often I would start cleaning up while he was eating and playing on his phone or reading a book and yelling at the kids for being kids.  When he was done, he rarely did dishes.  He rarely did laundry.  He rarely helped around the house.  In fact, until just before I asked him for a divorce, he never really independently decided to do anything that needed to be done around the house, from grocery shopping, to housework, to mowing the lawn, to laundry, to preparing something for the children’s week, to registering kids for programs, to preparing school lunches, to giving kids baths, to everything, really. I read a post recently about this emotional labour that we do as women, and I acknowledge that much of this was of my causing – I just did these things, the organizing, emotional labour, family management, and household management automatically – he never HAD to help.  When I asked for help, he attacked – I was being demanding, controlling, wanted to dictate what he did with his time, and naggy.  Throughout our marriage, I would establish boundaries, and F was always pushing them.  He was constantly breaking through those boundaries and I was constantly bending them for his benefit.  So much so, that at the end, when he started pushing my boundaries so blatantly that it was impossible to miss, and some of my things were getting destroyed as a result, I continued to excuse his behaviour as abnormal or uncharacteristic, but when I truthfully looked back, I realized that his behaviour hadn’t changed, but the frequency of it had.

In all of this, I was convinced I was the one with the problem. I was too controlling. My expectations were too high.  I wasn’t communicating my feelings well.  I was broken by my childhood, so I wasn’t able to be the wife I should be.  It never occurred to me that maybe the problem wasn’t entirely me.  I’m realizing more and more that much of the problem was him.  I’m being very careful to not blame things on him that aren’t his fault, but restrict it to those things that are, while acknowledging and accepting blame for my part in things.  I’m not saying I’m blameless, I’m saying that I recognize that many things I thought were normal were actually abusive, and O has helped me realize a lot of these.

How?  Well, by simply being him.  When we had our first major discussion, when he expressed concern about my relationship with A and I got upset with him, instead of blaming me, or even arguing with me, he met me with a list of coherent thoughts he wanted to work through together.  The first part was just some basic understandings that we had based on our relationship structure. The second was clarification questions. The third was a talk about how we responded to our text dialogue and what it meant.  In all of it, we held hands, had our legs wrapped around each others’, and not an angry or accusatory word was spoken.  It wasn’t heated, it was loving, and there was no blame.  Trigger the first time I realized I was responding to O as if F was on the other side of the conversation, and I expected hidden meaning where there was none.  I expected a motive where there was only desire for understanding.  I was too hard on him because of the hurt someone else caused me.

Then, one night I was at his house.  I’ve had a lot of work stress in recent weeks, and I haven’t been at my best.  We played for a while, and I had a very fulfilling time, but he didn’t “finish”.  He asked me what I wanted.  What I truly wanted.  He presented it as: 1) keep playing and have a super hot, fun time; or 2) cuddle in and fall asleep holding each other.  I knew I wanted option two.  I was exhausted. I was emotionally done for a variety of reasons.  I needed to sleep and be held and feel safe and loved.  He had to drag that answer out of me.  I was ready to give up what I truly wanted to satisfy him, because I was so used to the guilt and manipulation that I received with F.  I wasn’t giving him a straight answer and he asked me why.  So I told him the truth.  This resulted in a short chat about how he was perfectly happy holding me while we slept and that there was no place he’d rather be and sex had nothing to do with it.  I cried a little that night, even though he didn’t know it, because I didn’t know that doing what I needed for myself could come without guilt.

A couple weeks ago, F was at his worst.  He was arguing with me about preschool Christmas concert tickets, and treated #3 horribly, manipulatively, abusively, and I lost it.  It brought up so much hurt. So much history.  So much of so much.  O came over that night. We sat on the couch, drank wine, and I talked about my life. About how I felt like layers and layers of bandaids were getting ripped off and my heart was hurting and all the reasons why. O listened. He held me.  I cried and he told me he appreciated my vulnerability.  I told him about my relationship with F and it took most of the night.  I was so raw and hurting and incapable of anything more emotionally so we crawled into bed and he held me.  He helped me heal by just being what I needed.  Something no one has ever done for me before.  I didn’t have to ask.  

That’s it:  I didn’t have to ask.  It wasn’t a compromise on his part. He just did.

I’ve written so many versions of this post.  Everything I write has meaning for me, but if I read it from the perspective of an outside observer, I think it sounds trite and petty and full of blame.  Yesterday, I went to my counsellor and I talked about this.  About how bad I am at being vulnerable, how I need to be asking for help when I need it, and  how I need to be dealing with the realizations of F’s manipulations and abuse one at a time.   

I’m not sure I can write the words that would make others understand what I’m going through in my brain and in my heart.  But the important thing is that I am going through it.  I’m growing, I’m healing, and I’m on my way to being complete.  And I’m happy.

 

My metamours

I’m super happy, totally settled, deeply in love, broke, and busy as fuck at work.  O and I are wonderful.  He was super supportive and read a book or worked on his own work while I worked several evenings this week.  He made me dinner and brought me wine and was so supportive as I marathoned my way through so much work when I would rather have been doing anything else.  After these work-filled evenings, we were able to connect and have some extremely amazing quality time together (read: mind-blowing sex). It was fabulous.  One of the most interesting conversations we had was about how his other girlfriend told him how much she likes me.  It means a lot to me that my newest metamour is on my team.  I like her a lot, so it really makes my heart soar to know she feels the same.  Furthermore, after the horrible experience with W as my first metamour, I’m a little terrified of a repeat performance, and hearing that the relationship is starting on a good note is so reassuring. Now we are at the weekend, and I haven’t seen O for a couple days and I’m missing his touch and presence in my life.  Such is the life when working two jobs and dating two amazing men.

Things with A are fantastic. We are deepening our connection and comfort and commitment to each other.  On our Friday date this week, we went out for dinner and then back to my place.  I was kid-free, so this meant that play happened in the middle of the living room with all the space and opportunity that it provides.  On such evenings, we take the opportunity for rope play that is otherwise impossible when a kid could wake up and knock on the door at any moment.  There are few things that I like better than rope play, and this was no exception.  Tied up, completely helpless, he grabbed my face in his hands, looked me in the eyes, and told me how much he loved me.  It was one of those moments that makes my heart skip beats and leaves a lump in my throat. It was perfect.

Our play was fun, but I was unable to take much in the form of the pain I usually enjoy so much.  I figure that the stress of the last week built up and was manifesting in increased pain sensitivity.  It didn’t change how turned on I was, but I slowed things down and reset by using my big girl words to ask for what I needed.  On these nights, we usually play for hours, taking breaks in between for cuddles and resetting, but it goes on and on. It’s truly amazing.  Not long into the evening, A said he was feeling really awful.  He came back from the bathroom and informed me that he had been vomiting.  Since he wasn’t drunk, we concluded he was sick.  I tucked him into bed, gave him water, and cuddled up to him and we slept.  Honestly, sleeping in his arms all night was just as wonderful as the many orgasms I would have had if he’d been feeling better, but happily, he woke me up at 6 a.m. and I got the full force of his attention. Then we fell back to sleep in each other’s arms and woke at 10 a.m.  A is usually gone from my place fairly early on Saturday mornings, so I was surprised when we woke up so late.  His phone was dead, so I texted his wife to let her know that he had been sick and I’d let him sleep in, and she and I proceeded to have a conversation about some upcoming events and the fact that he needs some body wash and a phone charger at my place, and that she’s going to put together a package for him to bring over.  All that awesomeness said, the next part of our conversation was even better.  Here’s the screenshot:

Ivy text

I have wanted a closer relationship with A’s wife since we got together.  It’s really important for me to get along with my metamours, so I’ve worked very hard to be a supportive girlfriend, to understand her boundaries and her limits, and to not try to push any of those.  It occurs to me now, as her and A’s relationship evolves now that she has a boyfriend, and he and I are expanding our adventures, that part of why this is happening now is because I have worked so hard for things to be comfortable for her, that she feels like she can reach out to me.  How my life has evolved in the last year is amazing. How A’s life has evolved is incredible.  How our relationship has evolved is wonderful. The fact that this evolution includes a stronger relationship between A’s wife and I means so much to me.  Reading her words accepting and appreciating me and being able to express my appreciation of her totally made my day today.  Knowing that O was talking with his other girlfriend about how much she likes me adds to my happiness.  The poly life I dreamed of early on is even better in reality.