Guys, I did good!

My title is a bit of a joke and a bit of a pat on the back directed towards myself.  

For the first time in our relationship, A started dating someone that I hadn’t introduced him to.  Last week, when he let me know that sex was on the table for him and the new girl, I wasn’t particularly upset, but I had some confusing feelings that I needed time to process.  In the end, I realized they were all insecurities that I needed to work through and had nothing to do with him. I don’t want to really go into the details of the insecurities that reared their ugly heads, partly because it’s embarrassingly unattractive and I’m a little disgusted at myself for having them in the first place, part of that is that I was pretty bluntly honest about them with S and G last week, and I didn’t exactly get the response I needed when putting out all that vulnerability from S (G nailed it, as she always does), and because I’m mostly past them and really don’t want to re-feel all the feels.  Also, A and I had a total communication fuck up around the whole thing, he totally dropped the ball, I totally wasn’t clear about what I was feeling, and in the end it became a thing when it wasn’t supposed to ever be a thing and all I needed was some acknowledgment and maybe a little reassurance, so…ugh…no more.

So, A and new girl had their date the other day.  I was genuinely concerned with how I would deal with it, because it was a completely unknown situation to me.  A true first. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it popped into my mind a few times on Sunday night, but the thing was, it was more factual, like “I wonder if it’s happening now?”, and then super excitement for him.  No jealousy. I actually tried to dig deep to see if there would be some kind of upset feelings, and I couldn’t find any. It just didn’t bother me.

However, being proactive, I did ask him a few details over messenger the next day, and asked him to stop by for a debrief.  You see, I know myself well, and I know that my imagination makes up way worse things in my head than the truth ever brings.  So he stopped by after work and we had a (very disjointed thanks to the crazy assholes I brought into this world) chat about his night.  The thing was, he’s so cute. The smiles and exhaustion and general contentment were so amazing to see. I felt a level of compersion I’ve never felt before.  

This just makes me happy.  Happy for A, yes, but happy for me, even more.  I have an amazing relationship with A. We are so comfortable and stable and it’s really fucking good.  I realized the other day that while we’ll never have that NRE and excitement that we may once have had (I don’t actually remember it, because it was all wrapped up in the weirdness that was our beginning), what we have is so much better.  That compersion came easy for me, well, that just makes me happy, and reinforces, again, that this life I’ve chosen is right for me.

 

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Unmet needs

The last week has kind of, well, sucked. My usual positive demeanor has been crushed into a pit of negativity and defeatism.  I’m going to just whine a bit, so be warned. I know I sound a bit like a spoiled brat. A’s on a much needed vacation. It’s been two weeks since I’ve been touched in a sexual way.  It’s been slightly less since I saw A last, but our dates where we meet for drinks, while full of intellectual and emotional connection, are nearly devoid of physical connection – unless you count a simple kiss as physical, but I don’t.  I got sick the day he left on vacation over a week ago and I haven’t touched an adult since. In fact, I haven’t touched a person I wasn’t responsible for keeping alive since. I’m dying for touch.

I’m in this lovely place in life where truly amazing people care about me.  They really respect me and love me. They look up to me and want to be with me.  These are good things. I cancelled on S the week before A left because I was so exhausted I couldn’t see straight and I only managed to kiss and grope her while drunk at the poly pub night with her hubby. Then she cancelled on me because she has amazing priorities.  Then I got sick and ruined everything and cancelled on her. So it’s been three weeks since I’ve got to hold her in my arms and I’m going crazy without her. I desperately need to reconnect with her physically.

The fact is, I’m going crazy with the lack of touch. The lack of connection. I think I’ve discovered the downside of solo-poly.  I love being strong and independent and in control. I do. But when you are sick, to the point where you don’t leave the couch for the weekend and to the point where you cancel all your plans because you don’t want to infect everyone you see, the truth is, what you really want is the person who will hold you while you are suffering.  I don’t have that. This is the first time I realized that. The reality is that I never really had that, I just had the illusion of that. When I was sick in the past, F would complain about what I needed. If I was sick in bed because I was unable to do more, it was burden on him. I remember about six months into our relationship, going away for a weekend together.  There was much build up about the physical nature of that weekend. On the Saturday, I got dreadfully sick with food poisoning and spent most of the day and night in the washroom. He spent that time openly complaining about the fact that we weren’t having sex as anticipated. Meanwhile, I wasn’t out of the washroom for more than 20 minutes in a 24 hours period. I felt just good enough to drive back home.  This was the first time that he turned my suffering into something about him. I couldn’t possibly itemize the rest of the times he did that in 14 years.

The fact is, right now, I don’t need much, but what I need is a little affirmation.  I’ve been reaching out to A and to S and the truth is, I’m not getting everything I need.  S is generally great. She reinforces my insecurities with love. She reminds me that she needs me.  She misses me when she can’t touch me. She celebrates my successes and laments my failures. Even apart, we are together in the daily milestones.  I send materially equivalent messages to A. I try not to be upset when he doesn’t respond, but the fact is, sometimes, it feels like he doesn’t care.  Sometimes, I need more than he can give. That’s where we are right now, I think.

I’m mad at him; I miss him; I want to touch him so badly.  I LOVE that he is finally getting a break, but I’m mad as fuck that he can’t be bothered to say “goodnight” or acknowledge my message that my real estate papers are signed for my separation, or even recognize that I ranted about my problems with insurance companies, or that I admitted how much I’m struggling with the lack of connection.  What I need is simple and he’s currently not giving it to me. Even when I directly ask for it.

I need love. Acknowledgement.  I need him to say I mean as much to him as he means to me.  I need to feel like he values me. Like he misses me, even when he’s in paradise with his family.  I need him to care enough to want to care for my needs while he is caring for his. And I’m not sure he does.  I’m in this weird place where I just want him to show he cares about me. I want more than a “Good morning” every day.  I want to feel like I matter, but I don’t feel like I do. I feel insignificant and unimportant and like I don’t matter to him.  

Most of this is a “me” thing, I know this.  When I was in Mexico in December, I took a picture of a beautiful beach side romantic dinner for two that was set up and waiting for a couple to arrive and captioned it “One day”.  A commented that it was amazing. I mentioned the dream that it was. A booked the equivalent romantic dinner for himself and his wife for their 19th wedding anniversary at the hotel they are at in Mexico.  I love that he did that for her. For them. It’s amazing. It’s something to celebrate. Fuck, someone put up with him for 19 years of marriage, that’s big. Compersion was my first response. Then I looked at the pictures.  I realized that even if the situation were different and it was he and I that were in the same place, he’d probably not book the romantic dinner for us. What’s more, it hit me that I may never be able to exclaim publicly, or post a picture on social media, how much he means to me or the history we have in the same way his wife can.  Normally, I can be quite pragmatic about this, it’s the reality of dating a married man who is not “out”. When his wife tags him in brunch posts or family posts or long-time friend posts, I don’t usually feel anything but happy for everything he has. This week though, the things I don’t have hit me in the feels.

Right now, he’s taking the time he needs. The time I know he needs, deserves, and more than anything, I want him to have.  In the meantime, my life hasn’t stopped and I need things from him that he isn’t giving to me and I’m angry about missing the pieces.  At the same time, I want to hug him, hold him, love him, and be one with him, because he fulfills me in ways no man ever has. This weird dichotomy is brought to you by functional relationships where you can love someone and recognize the things that are missing at the same time.

I told A how I was feeling last night, because I had a temporary lack of judgement, because wine.  Of course, he pissed me off completely (sarcasm-ish) by apologizing and being the generally amazing person he is by acknowledging my feelings, explaining his position, and being himself.  

I recognize where I am. These are temporary problems that are easily solved by time.  The next time this happens, I will be much better prepared to deal with the emotions of it, because I’ve experienced it before.  For many people, going two weeks without touch is not something to complain about; I get my privilege in this situation. In fact, looking at it practically, I see how amazing my life is that I feel loved, supported, and valued enough on a daily basis that I have the luxury of feeling sad because no one has touched me in two weeks.  Knowing this doesn’t diminish my need for touch, but understanding the root of my emotions is kind of amazing.

Acceptance

Things went stale this last week (Thank you A and S for the reminders – I’m glad I have you two to remind me to write about….you two!).  Not for any particular reason other than I was busy living my life and working too much.  I had a much-needed day off on Sunday that was my first day off after 20 days straight of work between my two jobs.  However, last week was a little less stressful at my full-time job and I took that as an opportunity to cash in and work a lot more at my casual job, which is stressful at best and has crazy hours, so I wore myself out. Then, on the two days I had kids that I could get away, I had mommy-daughter dates with two of my girls. I’m not sure I can adequately express exactly how cool those kids are, and how much I enjoyed my time with them, but it means that I entered this week behind, with little chance of catching up until April.

I took my #2 to visit A’s wife and have coffee on one of the dates.  Their cat had kittens a couple months ago so we went over to cuddle kittens and visit. I had an amazing talk with A’s wife.  She’s truly an absolutely lovely person.  I wrote a while ago about how I would like a better relationship with her as a metamour and with her also dating, that transition seems to be happening naturally. I don’t know if it’s because it’s easier for her now that things are more “balanced” in her and A’s relationship dynamic or if it’s because she now understands on a more personal level what the relationship outside of the life partnership means to the other person, or something else, but I love it.  

A was having a pretty rough week a couple weeks ago (when he passed out less than 30 minutes after arriving at my place) and so his wife and I talked about how much fun he is to deal with when he’s grumpy and even shared a fist bump in solidarity!  One of the things she said that meant a lot to me was that she is so glad that A has found someone who understands him and accepts him as he is.  How he can be gruff and a bit of an asshole sometimes and doesn’t always really care how others see him.  I said that one of the many things about him that I love is that he is unapologetically himself.  I always know exactly where I stand with him, even if I sometimes have to ask.  She said something I have often thought and also means a lot to me: “Isn’t it wonderful having a relationship with someone who chooses every day to be with you?”

IT ABSOLUTELY IS!  The thing about my relationships now is that I have to put a lot of effort into maintaining contact, being clear about what I’m doing, where I am emotionally, and whether I need or want support.  I have had to learn to explain things clearly, not react in the moment until I have more information, and to ask for information when I find some lacking. I have spent some time reevaluating my expectations and totally changing them altogether in some instances. The fact is that every day, I choose A. Every day, I choose S.  And every day, they choose me.  There’s no taking for granted in our situations.  We actively participate in our lives together in whatever form they take, daily.

One of the things that came up between A’s wife and I was that I had to ask her for their address.  Initially, when A and I started dating, they had a rule that they didn’t host dates at their house.  Their house was for their family.  I had been to his house briefly one night when he had to feed his animals while we were on a date, but had no idea where it was, to be honest.  Since my house is mine and even when I was married F worked night shifts, I have always hosted. This is never a problem for me, as I like being at home, it allows me to have dates after my kids go to bed, and it means that I don’t have to drive at the end of the night, I can just roll over and fall asleep.  It strikes me how amusing it is that the first time I went to A’s on my own, he wasn’t even home!

As we were talking about him and his more grouchy nature as of late, we both commented how badly we want him to take a vacation.  It was really positive and quite obvious how much both of us love him and want him to be happy.  We talked about how she wants to plan a getaway and how I totally agree that they need to get away soon, preferably before her work ramps up to chaos levels again.  He needs to be removed from his crazy 14-18 hour days he’s been “on” lately, often seven days a week, and be forced to take care of himself.  I know that part of all this is that he really enjoys the people he works with and the challenges of running his business, but no one can burn a candle at both ends indefinitely, and he’s nearing the end of his wick.  Thankfully, a few days after this conversation, they booked a vacation, so they are heading out in a few weeks!

Somewhere in the conversation, I said “I want to go on a tropical vacation!” and A’s wife said: “I know A is looking forward to a time when you and he can go away together.  I anticipate that we will be doing staggering vacations or even all go on vacation together some time.”  This is music to my ears.  I have a ton of vacation days, and a reasonably flexible schedule if I can plan in advance, and A doesn’t have either.  So being able to share his vacation days with him would be ideal.  This led to us talking about possibly coordinating a camping trip in the summer and a winter vacation next year.   

Logistics and finances might not make it possible, but I love the potential of being able to travel with my love and not take precious time away from his wife and family.  I love the idea of having a polycule that enjoys each other’s company instead of just accepts each other.  I also just really like the idea that I could spend more than a weekend with A, allowing us to relax into each other.  Regardless, it won’t be for some time, but really it’s just the thought of it, the acceptance of me as an important part of A’s life, and the idea that brought me joy.  On top of that, the fact that A’s wife and I are becoming friends is important to me and brings me great happiness.  It’s one less complication in our already wonderful relationship.  

All of this has brought me a lot of calm and happiness recently.  Add to this the stabilizing and supportive force that is S and I’m quite cognizant of what I have in both of them.  So much so, I have deactivated my OKC account and just taken a step back.  I realized how important it is to me to have the uncomplicated relationships I do have, and I’m not interested in having someone disrupt what I’ve obtained.  So it has to be perfect to work and online dating doesn’t facilitate that.  I’ve been working on an old FWB for a return to that arrangement and I suspect it will happen soon.  I also sort of reconnected with M this week – I have no intention of dating him again, but I could handle having him as a casual partner.  A gorgeous black FWB.  All this together had me laughing about how I have A and S and a bit of vanilla (the old FWB) and a bit of chocolate (M).  I think I’m hilarious. It’s OK if you don’t.

Before I got together with M a few days ago. I told A and S both that I would be getting together with him, and that we would likely end up naked.  Both were completely accepting.  A teased me a little, and I said: “I can’t help it, he’s pretty”, and he said: “I know, and you shouldn’t have to control it!”  The next day, I got a message from S in the morning, and she said: “I hope you got fucked hard last night!”, and when I told A that I fucked M again, he said: “Yeah you did!”

This, the ability to be myself, talk honestly and openly about my relationships and my desires, to go out and know that if I follow my desires, heart, or careless whims, I won’t be having a difficult conversation because of it, is amazing.  I realized that I have spent so much time in my previous relationships concerned about how things I want to do will affect the people I’m dating, that I was preventing myself from doing things that would make me happy.  I’m not saying that it’s not important to consider how my actions will affect my loves, because of course I do.  I would never want to do anything to hurt anyone I care about, but the fact is, A and S are both so confident and understanding and compersion-filled, that I never have to worry that they will be anything but supportive.  That is an amazing thing to have.

This support comes out so much in S.  I talk to her about everything and so this often means talking about A and how many of my other partners have felt about him.  I talked to her about O’s jealousy and L’s anger, and everything in between, and as I talked, I realized some things that are absolutely, incredibly important.  First, S loves my relationship with A. She gets it.  She encourages it and is full of compersion from it.  Second, all these people who have had concerns with A have all been the people who have either disrespected my autonomy or questioned my judgement, and worse, violated major boundaries.  One thing A has never done?  Violated a boundary.  Over a year later, I trust him implicitly, because he has shown me week after week that he respects me, loves me, and values me.  I have only to ask for what I need and he gives it to me.  He is honest, communicates well, and is completely reliable.  So, what I think about all those partners that disliked him?  Well, fuck them, really.  He’s still in my life because he has never hurt me.  Let that sink in.  There’s a reason over a year later I haven’t lost my attraction to him in the least.  The fact that S gets all this?  Well, that’s one of the many things on the long list of reasons I love her.

Being accepted as I am, by A and S, and having my relationships accepted by the people in our lives is so incredibly uplifting.

 

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.   

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.