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.

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The sister strikes again

My sister and her asshattery reared their ugly heads a couple weeks ago.  It hurt my heart and broke my spirit a little to read the things she said about me.  But some good came from it.  I had been undecided about what I was going to do about the giant rift that has been floating around on the periphery of my consciousness for the last year and half. I didn’t know if reconciliation was something I wanted or if I would have to cut her out of my life.  Her tirade helped me make that decision.  Here’s what happened in all its ugliness:

 

Her: “Can you put my mail on a shelf in the garage please? Thank you.”

 

Me: “I think I threw it in a box to go to F’s since you spend so much time with him.  Perhaps you could change your address and forward your mail so I don’t have to be responsible for it anymore?”

 

Her: “I spend so much time with him so I can see the children, he doesn’t spend his time hurling unnecessary insults at me and trying to degrade me every chance he gets and I appreciate that about him.  Can’t say the same about your behaviour. Plus, in the event I have a problem with something he does he doesn’t verbally assault me over how I feel, it’s nice.  If you could apologize for all the insults you’ve thrown in my direction, I’m sure I would be willing to see you too. But alas you will not and that’s your choice.  

I have been meaning to change my address I just haven’t got around to it yet.”

 

Me:  “OK.  I’m sorry you feel that way, but the way I see it, you and I participated in an argument where we both said some hurtful things.  If you want to use your big girl words and talk like a reasonable person, I will happily listen to your perspective and apologize for those things I said or did as appropriate.  I expect the same from you.  Believe me, you owe me many an apology too.  

By choosing my abusive ex-husband and his manipulative girlfriend over working to heal your relationship with your sister, you have repeated history a la Auntie C.  

You chose them. I’m not chasing you.  You want to mend fences, it’s up to you to make the move.”

 

Her: “All you’re doing is projecting your qualities and attributes onto 3 other people and playing the victim.  Take responsibility for your actions and stop blaming everyone else.

What I said was that you were making a mistake and I was right.  I think that an ill conceived plan of adding extra people to  your marriage was a poor idea, and I was right.  I honestly think the only thing that hurts you is that you were wrong.  I didn’t do anything except for voice, my correct, spot on, opinion.

I ask you to not post a picture of me and you do anyways.  I ask no video and you do it anyways.  I’ve had an entire lifetime of being bullied by you and kept down any chance you get.  I’ve been in an abusive relationship and so I have first hand experience in being able to spot red flags, not that you would ever give me credit for any of my education or life experience because that would mean I may know something you don’t and then you would have to admit you’re wrong about something, which experience with you suggests you’re incapable of.

You have gone out of your way to call me racist (unsubstantiated), doesn’t do self-work (unsubstantiated), systematically oppressive (unsubstantiated and your babysitter never said that) and now you’ve compared me to Auntie C whom Auntie E trained you to hate from the time you were born.

You chased me away by disrespecting me, insulting me, being rude to me, doing things I specifically asked you not to and then when I told you how I felt you attacked me for how I felt.  

I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, however, to date you still can’t tell me what I did. So please, by all means tell me what I did to deserve being treated like garbage by you for over a year.  So then I know what I’m apologizing for.”

 

At this point, I showed O the message she sent.  He said: “Don’t respond. Nothing good can come from you responding.  Just let her dig her hole, you don’t need to participate.”  So I didn’t respond.  This is what happened, over the next 10 hours:

 

“Still not going to tell me what I did wrong huh?”

 

“Here is the definition of projection.  Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.”

 

“Whenever you’re ready to tell me why you’re mad I’m waiting. What did I do?”

 

“Not gonna take your own advice and use your “big girl words” and explain to me what I did that made you so mad?”

 

“Please, by all means, tell me what I need to apologize for.”

 

Then, I guess she must have slept, because when I woke the next morning, this was on my phone.

 

“Why do I owe you an apology or “many an apology” or still no answer?  I’ve been asking for over a year now and you still can’t provide me with a reason why you’re mad.  Cause if you provide a reason then I have something to work with.

Secondly if you were sending my mail to F, you could have sent me a message stating as such.  You didn’t need to handle it how you did.  Change locks. Wait for me to ask for my mail since I’m not allowed in the house (reason 2 for not visiting You). Then when I ask for mail tell me you gave it to a third party.  

Projection and Deflection are in Elementary Psychology books it’s pretty basic stuff. Basic. Look it up and expand your mind stop blaming everyone around you and look at yourself.  No matter how much booze you drink, food you eat and guys you fuck you’re not going to escape from the pain that’s inside you.

If me losing all respect for you destroying your own marriage by your own choices by letting other women fuck your husband warrants an apology from me then I’m sorry I don’t respect you.

If standing up to you because I feel I am being treated fairly because you tend to name call, insult me, and purposefully make me look bad, or purposefully uninclude me.  I’m sorry I don’t like to be called names or insulted and I am strong enough not to be bullied or pushed around.  

If it’s because you use internet buzz words and whatever is “trending” in political smear campaigns against the party you don’t support to describe me and it’s blatantly false and not based in reality as i don’t have those attributes.  I’m sorry you can’t see me for who I really am and you let the internet control your assumptions about those who surround you.  I’m sorry when you’re losing a debate you take the snide lazy road by insulting those you are talking to.  I’m sorry you think that’s appropriate behaviour.”

“If it’s because I refuse to hate myself for the colour of my skin. I’m not sorry. I’m not spending a life feeling guilty for something I had zero control over.

Just fucking tell me what I did that made you so mad.

We did have an argument.  One where I said being a whore was a terrible idea.  I told you to rip off the bandaid now cause you’re getting divorced.  You broke my fucking heart because i knew you were just slow rolling getting out of your marriage. You name called me for hours upon hours upon hours .  For what? I was asking questions about why you woulc consciously decide letting other women fuck your husband was a good idea.  Which even then you couldn’t answer.  But you could insult me over and over and over.  You decided to move forward in opening the marriage that was what you were gonna do, you did it, you fucked up HUGE. You let your man realise that he didn’t have to continue being treated like garbage by you, a reality I’ve gone through my whole life, except those amazing 5 years you were in Sweden.  Miss those days.

Your marriage ending is not my fault.  I warned you against your actions.  I have no respect for you whatsoever now. If you’re going to make a life altering decision that will change the life of children and you can’t justify it beyond your sexdrive….it’s a mistake.  It was a mistake and you can’t turn a fantasy into a reality.  

But then again, had YOU not decided to open up the marriage and invite W and her children into your home then you would have no scapegoats to blame for everything. At least with W in the picture you invited her in to then you can call her names and blame her for “stealing” your husband and manipulating him to leave you when we both know that’s not true. He stopped choosing you. He chose someone else. That’s what hurts. He stopped choosing you and then he chose someone else.  That’s not abuse.

He stopped choosing you. He chose someone else.  That’s what hurts. He stopped choosing you and then he chose someone else. That’s not abuse. Abuse is being picked up by the throat and thrown through a door and then choked and punched until you pass out.  A husband who comes off a night shift and after a 12 hour shift you greet him at the door with garbage and ask him what he’s making for supper and reacts grumpy to that, that isn’t abuse. That grumpy is justified.”

“And one more thing calling F abusive and W manipulative is textbook projection. Additionally it’s just name calling and defamation of character.  It’s completely unnecessary. I was in an abusive relationship and it’s insulting and demeaning to women who’ve actually gone through abuse for you to compare that to F.”

 

And that’s where it ended, because I didn’t respond. O was a huge support and talked me off the ledge of responding. I shared the conversation with A and with G too, and both of them gave me some great words of support.  A told me it was laughable that anyone would say those things about me.  G just reminded me how much she loves me, made fun of my sister and her stupidity a bit, and threatened to take my phone away if I responded to her.  The truth is, I was really hurt by it.  This is my sister, someone who is supposed to love me. Someone who thinks I’m a bully. That I’ve been intentionally mean to her. That I’ve degraded her and hurt her her whole life. She thinks that I’m abusive and manipulative.  She thinks I’m a whore. She doesn’t understand the fact that I’m polyamorous and thinks that is why my marriage ended.  She thinks I’m mad at her, W, and F because F chose W.  So many of these things aren’t true.  It fucking hurts that my own sister would think so badly of me.  I work so hard to be kind, supportive, and accepting of the people around me.  I work to be generous and loving. When my sister says things like this about me, to me, it breaks my heart and makes me doubt myself.

This hurt was the solidification on my decision to cut my sister out from my life.  I just don’t think there is any coming back from this.  I could totally forgive her, but she absolutely doesn’t understand or acknowledge what she’s done.  How she’s hurt me. How inappropriate she is. How hurtful it is to choose my abusive ex-husband and his awful manipulative girlfriend over me and to use my children as the excuse.  So, I decided that it was time to cut her out, for my protection.  The reality is, my life has been a lot easier since she’s been nearly absent from it.

Originally, I had decided to cut her completely out of my life, but then I saw her with my kids on a trip to Mexico with my family, and I knew that I couldn’t cut her out of their lives.  I also can’t open myself up to her toxicity, so I had to reach a compromise: I will set some very strict boundaries that she will follow and I will continue to invite her to family events like the children’s birthdays and major holidays, like Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving.  I won’t be reading any abusive text messages or be engaging in any discussion with her about the ones that have already arrived.  Messages will be limited to logistics only.  I will require her to forward her mail and to remove all her possessions from my property.  I have enlisted the help of my parents if she starts to lose her shit on me to get my kids out of the room to prevent them from seeing her treat me badly.  Otherwise, I will keep my parents out of things, because I would never expect them to get involved or pick sides.

The other day, after our trip to Mexico, I messaged her and said “As per our conversation in Mexico, I am hosting Christmas dinner on Saturday, the kids would love it if you’d come.”  Her response was: “As per previous messages, tell me why you are mad at me.”  I just said “Our parents are coming at 3, you are welcome any time after that, please let me know if you will be coming.”  Her response?  “Lol”.

She didn’t come.  I was relieved. Another affirmation that cutting her out as much as possible is what’s best for me.

This got me to thinking of what I *would* write if I actually thought she would listen to me. How I would like to respond if I could just smack it to her. It would go something like this:

 

Dear sister,

Know this first.  I love you.  I am sorry for every time I hurt you, both the things I really did and the things that you blame me for that are just part of your perception with no base in reality.  While I know I’ve done things to hurt you, it was never my intention to cause you pain.  I have said things in anger and for that, I am sorry.  I have also been accused of doing things that I haven’t done. I’m not sure why you think I would do those things, but I don’t pretend to understand where you are in life.

There are many things that I wish to say to you.  The first is that I am not a whore.  I am polyamorous. This means that I believe very strongly in the fact that no one person can fulfill all my needs.  I believe that the ability to love is infinite.  I don’t sleep around and I don’t have casual sex. I didn’t “invite” women into F’s bed, he dated them willingly and embraced polyamory with me.  No one forced him and he was happy to start dating other women and to have me date other men.  I was there the night he met W.  I was unaware that she was such a horrible person, but I know now. If he had been able to keep any of the other women he dated, there’s a possibility it would have taken a much longer time to separate, but I have no doubt that we would have ended up separated anyway.

The thing is, when I started dating, I suddenly had men who treated me well. They treated me with respect, love, and compassion.  The showed me what it was like to be desired and valued. At the same time, F was intentionally pushing all my boundaries, sometimes physically, he was ragefully jealous, and incredibly angry with me for things that couldn’t be my fault.  Not only that, but W intentionally destabilized our relationship, by spreading rumours about me, and lying to F about what she had “read” on her other partner’s phone and then telling F that I didn’t love him.  You are right about one thing, he did stop choosing me. He chose her and that was what put the final nail in the coffin of our marriage. But I’m not angry about it. I’m not hurt by it. I’m happy to be done with F.  I don’t blame W or scapegoat her, I blame him and I.  We ended our relationship through our actions and I’m glad we did. In the end, I realized that F didn’t want me to be happy.  He didn’t respect me.  He didn’t value me.  In the end, I realized that even if we could get past all the other things, I could no longer be married to someone who didn’t want me to be happy.  Now, I’m dating two men who value my happiness very highly, and because of that, I’m exceedingly happy in my relationships and my overall life.

You have said I’m projecting and implied that I’m manipulative and abusive. That I think that F being grumpy with me because I asked him to help after a hard day with four young kids at home constitutes abuse.  I don’t.  That’s just him being a grumpy ass who didn’t contribute to our family unless asked. Ever.  Being a “single” parent is easier than being married to him ever was, because now he has to parent the kids when he has them.  The things he said, the way he manipulated me, the passive aggressive and outright aggressive comments, the selfishness, the disrespect, all of those things were abusive.  He didn’t respect my boundaries. He told me he didn’t care about my feelings.  He destroyed my property.  He mocked me when I cried.  He broke my spirit and he broke my heart. He didn’t care, because to him, it was all about him.  This isn’t physical abuse. This isn’t the type of abuse you sustained.  It is still abuse.  I’m busy unpacking the many layers of abuse that I suffered at the hands of F and I suspect this will go on for years, in a similar way that our mom is still unpacking some of the stuff our father did to her.  The father that you communicate so similarly to. I am sorry you don’t see the impact of the abuse I sustained as significant as that you did.  I’m sorry you think that my suffering minimizes yours. It doesn’t.

You tell me I said all of these things about you. I did.  You undermined my babysitter multiple times. A babysitter whom I was paying to watch my children while you slept off your party in my basement while living with me for free.  You didn’t contribute to our household and you couldn’t be bothered to respect the person who we entrusted with the care of our kids.  You would say horrible things about our aboriginal population, justify slavery, and no end of comments that show that you don’t appreciate how the colour of your skin and the location of your birth have afforded you no end of privilege. I didn’t insult you for this, I asked you not to say some of the horrible things you said in front of my children.  You support Donald Trump. You argued for his racist policies. I never called you a racist, I argued why his policies were bad.  That they don’t agree with my political views is true, but I make my own opinions, I don’t just follow the platform of my favourite party. In fact, I don’t have a favourite party, I have opinions about many policies and I support the party that represents my interests and values best.  The fact is that me disagreeing with you doesn’t make me mean or insulting. It means my opinion is different than yours. You are entitled to your opinion. I am entitled to mine. It’s OK to not agree.  It’s just important that if I ask you not to say something in front of my children, you don’t.  

You implied that by embracing polyamory, I destroyed my children’s lives.  My children have a much better life now than they did then.  There is no longer conflict in my home. They are happy, thriving, intelligent, loving children. They have two parents who love them, and I can’t speak for F, but they have an extremely happy mom.  I am modelling for them a strong, independent woman who is living life to its fullest. Who is unapologetic about living life under her own terms.  I am a loving mother. I am a strong woman with a career.  I am a loving and caring partner to two wonderful men who love me.  I am valued by incredible friends who love me and would do anything for me as I would do for them.  I have friends who have become family.  Like a sister should be.  Contrast that with you and the things you will say to me, let alone the things you say to others.

You have accused me of doing or saying things I didn’t.  You never asked me not to post that photo, you accused me of posting a photo you disliked intentionally to hurt you. You accused me of intentionally cutting you out of family photos.  But you never asked me not to post it. After you treated me like crap and posted a bunch of hurtful things on Instagram, I deleted the picture and your comments and you from my Instagram and Facebook.  My pages, my choice.  I already apologized for posting a very loving and fun video of you being an amazing aunt. I didn’t realize you were serious when you told me not to post it.  Had you communicated effectively, it wouldn’t be an issue. You passive aggressively attacked me about it, when you could have just asked me to delete it.  

I don’t believe in naturopathy or acupuncture because I’ve read the studies that show they are placebo and in some cases, outright dangerous. That’s not an insult to you or your education, that’s a credit to mine.  It’s not personal.  Just because I don’t instantly believe your “500 things that are good about coconut oil” doesn’t mean I don’t respect your education, it means I have a healthy dose of scientific scepticism and the ability to form my own opinions and make my own decisions. As for me being wrong, I’m great at admitting when I am wrong, I just haven’t been wrong with you.

I’ve never let “the internet control my opinions” or one aunt brainwash me over the other.   I let peer-reviewed scientific literature, my life experience, and my morals and ethics control my opinions. My opinions are fluid and I’m very good at assimilating new information.  The fact that you don’t agree with my opinions doesn’t mean I didn’t come by them through critical thinking and personal judgement.  It means you have a different opinion. It’s not an insult to you or your opinions, no matter how ill-informed they are.  

I haven’t treated you like garbage for over a year, I just haven’t talked to you.  I haven’t engaged you. I changed the locks on my house so you couldn’t come and go as you please because the only time you spent at my house was when I wasn’t there.  I ensured you have access to your possessions, but not to mine.  It’s safety.  You’ve chosen my ex-husband over me, I need to make sure you don’t cause damage to my life in support of him.

The thing is, you consider your opinions to be fact. You have a lot of opinions about how I live my life.  You think it’s acceptable to judge me and condemn me for decisions I’ve made, but you’ve never talked to me about why I did.  I’m not sure why my marriage ending would break your heart, it didn’t break mine.  It was the right thing to do, for me, for F and for our children.  You have no right to tell me that embracing polyamory was wrong. You have no right to call me a whore.  You have no right to call me a bully or imply that I don’t think for myself, that I don’t take responsibility for my actions, or that I make decisions without regard for my children’s welfare.  

What you do have a right to do is to say specifically how something I did hurt you. You have a right to tell me how you feel when something happens. You have the right to an apology if something I did or said hurt you, intentionally or not.  You have a responsibility to act respectfully and with compassion.  You are required to respect my boundaries and take responsibility for your actions.  

 

And that’s it.

 

Those last two paragraphs are exactly why I’m not responding.  She’s treated me horribly and is unlikely to acknowledge it.  So I wrote it out here so it’s out of my head. Moving forward, she is but a challenging family member that I have to deal with at family events. Now, moving on.

 

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.

 

Vulnerable about vulnerability

This last week was a bit crazy.  So much of A’s stress has resolved, he’s back to the basal level of stress he has as his “normal”, which is still a lot for most, but he’s an expert in dealing with things in the most amazing way. O and I had a rather challenging discussion last week after he reacted strongly to a spontaneous night A and I had and some of the dom/sub dynamics we enjoy and I then was way too hard on him.  What came from it was the most functional, understanding, and loving conflict resolution-type conversation I have ever had with a partner.  He was so….perfect.  About everything.  I was really hard on him.  I over-reacted.  I took our conversation of the previous day, where he warned me to be careful with A, and turned my feelings about that into an excuse to react badly about his feelings about A coming over spontaneously the previous night.  I was blunt and direct and not at all empathetic.  I wasn’t recognizing my triggers and I wasn’t recognizing his. I was not a good girlfriend.  He continued loving me anyway and we had a great talk about the whole thing that evening.  The conflict part of the conversation happened during the day, via text.  Text is, of course, the best way to fuck up your meaning, and this was truly the case. I felt he had questioned my judgement, he felt I had lied to him.  It was a storm of miscommunication and was completely avoidable.  When I sat on his couch with a glass of wine to talk it out, I knew, immediately, that it was going to be fine.  When we are together, we have a very hard time not touching each other.  So, legs wrapped together, holding hands, we broke down and broke through every detail that needed to be discussed.  It ended in us giving each other context, clarifying a few “guidelines” (I can’t think of a better term, but it’s just overarching themes of our relationship that we agree on), and most importantly, opening up the understanding of how our own personal baggage has influenced how we respond to each other, and how we recognize that what we have in each other is as amazing and as statistically improbably as winning the lottery, and how we both want to work to maintain what we have.  I left that conversation, completely emotionally exhausted, but completely reassured that I love him, he is as perfect for me as I thought, and that we are so incredibly good together, it’s amazing.

Part of what I told him was the full story of F and I and our journey in polyamory.  As I was explaining the critical occurrences, the things I did wrong, the things F did wrong, and everything in between, I had this crazy epiphany that I tied into my realization that I’m absolutely shit at asking for what I need. I’m really bad at being vulnerable.  Absolutely horrible, in fact.  Several of my partners have commented on how they don’t know I’m processing something I’m emotional working through until I all of a sudden come to them with a conclusion.  Then they have to catch up with the fact that I have been struggling with something and they had no idea.  I then have to describe the process I went through, the feelings I had, the hurt I experienced.  More than once I’ve heard: “But why didn’t you tell me you were having a hard time?”  Truthfully, I thought it was just how I am.  That I’m an internal processor and that I wasn’t hurting anyone.   I was proud of the exclamations from partners about how strong I am.  Truthfully, I was hurting myself first, and partners and those who love me second.  I was taking on loads that should be shared by the people who love me.  This is the case with O the other day, when I was upset with him about warning me about A, but didn’t communicate it with him.  This is the “event” that made me realize that I have some broken parts that need repairs.  

A few weeks ago, I asked A for some cuddles when I was going through a particularly difficult time. It was slightly easier for me to ask then, because I didn’t know what was wrong.  I just needed closeness and cuddles and to be held, and he obliged. He’s actually really good at just being what I need in the moment without making me explain.  I think he knows that I’ll eventually get to the explanation without being pushed.  I also think it’s just his way and the dynamic we set up this last year as I asked for diversions and distractions from him physically as I went through the emotional pain I wasn’t communicating.  The fact is, asking for cuddles was the first time in several years that I’ve asked someone to do something emotionally supportive for me, because I need it.  When I was talking to O about my story last week, I realized that there was a time when I was better at asking for what I need.  When I was OK with being vulnerable and didn’t feel like I needed to be strong and hide my pain from others.  I realized that that time was long in the past, before F and I were married and our dynamic changed from one of some sort of mutual support (I’m not sure it was ever completely healthy, but certainly healthier than where it ended up), to one where I supported him, and if I needed support, he had free license to turn it into something he needed support for.

Before I go on, I need to also address the fact that I remembered last weekend that F has PTSD.  He is in emergency services and has been for nearly 20 years.  I was talking with a friend and coworker at my second job who has been a huge mental health advocate for emergency services personnel in the last years.  As I chatted with her about her journey, my experiences being married to F came out.  I remembered the hurtful awful things he did.  The pain he felt. The fact that he was able to pretend he wasn’t chronically affected by his career choice when we went to Sweden and the stressors were removed, but that when we returned to Canada, the stressors reappeared and he spiralled into the oblivion that is PTSD.  She understood the trend for long-term emergency services workers to take their worst experiences out on their spouses. It reminded me that early in our relationship, and even as it progressed for the next 14 years, F frequently talked of divorce, alcoholism, or suicide as a given.  He seemed to think that losing his mental health was a predetermined certainty and that it would cost him everything that meant something to him.  As I told my story, she sympathized with me AND with F, and just shook her head and even cried at the fact that our story isn’t unusual.  This whole conversation reminded me that while the way that F treated me was unacceptable, it isn’t entirely him, so much as his mental illness, that is driving his behaviour.  That I, too, am a victim of the stress that is the career he chose.  It also made me ridiculously angry at the fact that he didn’t move into positions that would offer less stress (and more money) or access the amazing supports available to him when he had opportunities for the protection of our marriage and, even more, our children and families.  There were many of these opportunities, yet he focused on blame and the fact that I chose to work in a job I love in my chosen career rather than stay home with my children.  So, take any story of his inability to be a decent husband, and sometimes, a decent person, with a grain of salt. The man clearly has mental illness, and I don’t want to diminish from the fact that he actually has redeemable qualities that made him, at one point, long ago, an acceptable choice as a partner.

As I told O my story, I realized the gravity of the things I went through in the last year.  How any support from F came with a price.  How I needed, badly, someone who had my back in all of the horrible situations I found myself in.  I thought about how I asked F for support as I was encountering feelings with his relationship with W.  How I asked for time, connection, love, touch, and even a smile.  How I frequently asked for simple touches, like a hug or a kiss, and was denied.  How he frequently refused to sleep with me because I snore, wouldn’t touch me when I was struggling emotionally, demeaned me as useless when I wasn’t supporting him exactly how he wanted, though he didn’t communicate his needs, and how even when he was intimate with me, the whole episode was about his pleasure, his climax, and had so little to do with mine.  As I thought it through, as I recognized the damaged goods that I am, I could see how somewhere in the years that we had been together, F had become the person who I supported.  I became his strength and his support, but he wasn’t that for me.  (There’s a lot of irony here, because he had a hard time with the fact that I “didn’t need him anymore”, when we embraced polyamory.)  

Nothing is a more clear an example of his manipulation as when I was diagnosed with post-partum depression in 2015.  At that time, #4 was 3 months old. He had a few health scares early on.  When they were resolved, and I didn’t get better, I realized that I needed help that wasn’t going to come in the form of “giving it time” or “accepting my situation”.  So I made an appointment with my family physician and got a prescription for antidepressants.  Thirteen days later, I woke up, myself, for the first time in six years, realizing that this acute depression had been preceded by six years of a low level chronic depression.  The intervening thirteen days where I adjusted to my meds were some of the most difficult of my life. I was unable to get out of bed in the morning.  The antidepressant I’m on is a sedative and it takes some time to adjust.  I had a three month old baby, who, thankfully, was the best sleeper, and would wake a 8:30 a.m.  I would nurse him and hand him off to F.  F would get up with the children, feed and care for them, and put #4 down for a nap, who would wake up at around noon.  I would get up, feed him, and we would get going and spend the afternoon together. I was groggy and stressed and still very much depressed.  Just going through the motions of daily life was an enormous challenge.  During this whole time, I heard no end of complaints about how hard it was on F.  How he wasn’t getting a vacation, how I was “lazing” away the days while he worked so hard.  How he was suffering, and I wasn’t helping.  It went on and on. It was one long complaint.  After two weeks, I came out of my depression with a new lease on life. I realized how difficult our relationship had been for years and started tackling some of the issues that needed to be fixed.  I took control again.  

The reality of this is that every time I had an issue, every time I was vulnerable, my needs became a problem for F.  He turned my suffering into his.  I ended up supporting him through my stresses.  It was the very definition of unhealthy, having a partner who couldn’t actually see past the end of his nose to support me.  When I was talking to A about F, he said “I don’t understand him.  He’s clearly very selfish”, and I can’t help but agree with him.  Anything anyone in his life was going through became about him.  The kids being kids and being loud or demanding became them misbehaving and being hard on him after a night shift.  Me needing a break and time off for myself when I was home with kids alone for days at a time on his days off was me making things too hard for him, denying him a break.  Me needing him for anything was about him.  

What does this mean?  It means that every time, for 14 years, that I was at all vulnerable, I had a partner who not only didn’t support me, but required me to support him.  I did so, to the best of my ability, and he criticized me for it.  So somewhere along the journey, I stopped asking for support.  I stopped being vulnerable.  I stopped needing anyone but myself.  I turned completely inwards.  This is where A and O, the loves in my life, find me.  This is where my strong friends, like G, find me. Strong and independent to a fault.  Reluctant to share my truths with many.  Not asking for help, but wanting the support (and perhaps needing it) more than anyone can guess.  

Now, I have two men in my life who ACTUALLY want to help me work through my weaknesses.  I have friends who are unfailingly supportive.  But I don’t know how to ask for the help I need. No, that’s not true. I know HOW to ask, I don’t know how to feel safe asking for what I need.  I’m bad at vulnerability.  The fact that I’ve felt raw and vulnerable this week, while I process this truth of my inability to be good at vulnerability is the wildest irony in this situation.  The fact is, I have to unpack this fact, dissect it.  Understand the healthy parts, discard the unhealthy ones, and figure out how to function better for my own good.  For myself, but also for the people who I love and who love me.  I need to model good communication and self-care for my children and that comes with not always being the strong person and being vulnerable sometimes.  I need to be better.  I’m still being strong and fun and unapologetic, which is good.  Going forward, I need to be someone who is strong and fun and unapologetic who is really, truly all of those things because I have the support of those I love and the strength to show them the vulnerable, feeling, hurting, emotional side of me too.  Understanding what led me here is a huge revelation.  Unpacking it will take time.  Thankfully, I have people who will encourage me to do the things I need for myself, including being there when I am vulnerable and ask for the support I need.

One of the many things I love about O is that he asks me what I need.  What I want from our date or what I want him to communicate or if I need anything specific in any situation.  Just by being himself, he is pulling my needs from me and making it normal for me to ask for what I need.  This game changer seems to be just naturally changing my game.   

Understanding my submission

A couple weeks ago, A and I had a pretty crazy session, and there was a lot of biting involved.  Most of it wasn’t particularly painful, or, more accurately, it was the right kind of pain for this girl.  I had a tubal ligation a few months ago that left me with a tiny scar on my lower abdomen.  Completely unintentionally, A bit me on my scar, and ironically, it didn’t hurt, but clearly it disrupted something underneath the scar, because the next day, I had a HUGE bruise. I suspect that it busted open some scar tissue beneath the external scar, causing a bit of bleeding.  So, this was the bruise I was sporting the first time I had sex with O:

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I had, of course, warned him that A and I are kinky. That I would frequently have bruises and that they were obtained consensually, and more often than not, directly asked for.  I explained that I like vanilla as much as BDSM, that I take pleasure from all kinds of sex, and that he didn’t have to feel the need to do what A does to me, in fact, part of what I love about him is that he doesn’t do what A does to me.  Different people scratch different itches.  

I’ve mentioned several times here that A has been going through an extraordinarily difficult time in his life.  He’s been dealing with it amazingly well, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t worried about him.  He has a lot of work stress, family stress, and relationship stress going on.  It’s a trifecta of awfulness and while I’m in awe of how well he is dealing with everything, I have also been quietly waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop.  Mostly, I expected him to fall off the radar for a night and get totally crazy drunk and then suffer for a day or two after because of his indulgence.  I was worried one or more of his realities would hit and he’d bottle up again.  In true A style, he snuck in a drunk while his wife was getting her hair done, we had an interesting drunk texting conversation, and he had his meltdown verbally with her in the car on the way home.  He either is embarrassed by what he said or truly doesn’t remember, because the next day he was all apologies to her and claims (to me) he doesn’t remember what was said.  

Then, last week, I developed left flank pain that increased in intensity and started radiating centrally and forward that was so bad that I couldn’t sit comfortably.  I reached my breaking point on day three of this pain and headed to my local emergency room.  Going in, of course I was texting with both A and O, and they each were worried about me.  I told them I thought one of two things were going on: 1)  I had a kidney infection and needed IV antibiotics; or 2) the bite mark caused more damage than I knew and I had a build up of blood internally causing issues.  Well, proof once again that I’m not a physician – it turned out that I have a pinched muscle in my back that’s causing left flank pain.  They gave me a shot of Toradol and sent me home, where I proceeded to drink a bit too much wine and that’s where both A and O found me when they came to check on me that night.

As stuff in A’s life is coming to a head, I was texting with O, saying I didn’t sleep well, largely because I was worried about A, and he said: “If A is verging on cracking up from all the pressure and is having episodes where he is not really in control of himself, please promise me you will be careful.”

Me: “Of course.  Honestly, he has never said or done anything to make me concerned. He can be a pain in the ass, but he’s always been very caring and gentle except when I ask for him not to be. I’m not worried”

O: “That’s cool. I guess I am just saying to be sure he is in control when you put yourself in his control. You were at the hospital last week for what you thought might be internal bleeding so forgive me if I am coming across as overly cautious. “

Me: “Hahaha.  Point made. But that was unintentional on his part!”

O: “That is exactly my point: unintentional=not in control. Just…be careful please. I care about you.”

Me: “No, it wasn’t out of control at all. It was a non-painful bite over my surgery scar. Had it been anywhere else, there would not have even been a mark.  It was an accident, not lack of control.”

O: “Be careful please.”

Me: “I will. But you need to understand that I have no concerns at all. I have no reason to mistrust A.  In fact, if I did, it would destroy our dynamic, as it only works with trust. I think your imagination is getting the better of you. We have all been drunk and said things that were inappropriate. That’s what happened here.”

O: “Of course you know A best and you are probably right about my imagination. I am not questioning your trust in him. It is just he has been a little random in him behaviour lately. …I am not trying to limit you, really. I am learning it is not easy for someone to care about someone in a bdsm relationship with someone else (when the first party hasn’t built up their own trust with the someone else yet) and communicate that care to the other without sounding controlling…

…I realized on the walk over that askin0g you to be careful was a trigger for you. It has probably been used against you in the past. I apologize if I brought up bad associations for you. I will be more cognizant of my usage of that word in the future. …”

Me: “Can I say how much I love that you are so introspective and think about how what you say and do affects the people you love?  I was trying to think how I was going to respond to you and realize I don’t really need to.”

Truthfully, I was upset when I read the first part of his last text.  I decided to put my phone down and think how I would like to respond to O.  I was upset by the portrayal of A as out of control.  I was upset that my judgement was being questioned. I’ve never seen A anything but in control and I’ve tried to push him outside his comfort zone many times. But as I thought about it, I realized that this is the second time in a week that people who don’t know A well have talked about him in a less than positive way.  I realized that it must have something to do with me and the way I talk about him, the dynamics of our relationship in and out of the bedroom, and my portrayal of our interactions together.  

I’ve known from the beginning of our relationship that A isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  I’ve talked to a person or two who say they don’t understand him or he wasn’t their favourite person, and because I once thought he was a little too cocky, I sort of understood.  As I got to know him better, I saw past the somewhat cocky and arrogant exterior and realized that there is a man with a giant, kind, empathetic, and generous heart behind his walls.  All along, I said to every person: “It’s OK if you don’t like him, I just want you to respect our relationship, because he is important to me, and he’s not going anywhere”. Truthfully, now that we are so close, it really bothers me when people misjudge him.

I think that people take his attitude and then start extending it to our dom/sub dynamics.  I think that in theory, people understand that everyone has different desires, kinks, and fetishes, and that for some, nothing but missionary vanilla sex is ever needed and for others, group sex with whips and needles and all kinds of “out there” kinks is the order of the day.  I have very liberal minded friends and partners.  They generally say that they don’t understand the BDSM stuff that A and I are into, but they support our choices and understand that it’s consensual and something we do love.  The problem is, I think that they want to support it, but because they don’t understand it, they can’t. Then, if they have assumptions about myself, or A or anyone else, they conflate the ideas and misunderstandings like this occur.  

This fact has me wanting to put into words what my relationship with A is *really* like from my perspective.  Who A is to me.  I hope I can accomplish this, although I’m not sure I can.  

A is my boyfriend.  He is everything that the word should inspire you to think when you think of a boyfriend.  We have spent more time together lately with our clothes on, either just chatting with each other in his truck, or having an adult beverage at a local pub, or out at a disappointing sex show, than we have naked.  Our dom/sub dynamic has a very defined start and stop.  It is only in the bedroom and it is only while we are actively playing.  I’ve been asking for him to just come in and ravage me, but consent, in the form of a very enthusiastic “YES!!!” is necessary every time. Truthfully, I initiate sex over 95% of the time.  There is no victimization or abuse in our relationship, everything we do, we do because I’ve asked for it.  

When not actively playing, the majority of our relationship we could pass as a vanilla couple.  In the last week, he made time to come visit me during my one hour lunch break at my second job.  He crawled into the back seat of his truck with me just to cuddle me because I was having a hard time.  He declined a back seat blow job because he “really enjoys just talking” to me.  There were moments in the truck where we just looked at each other and smiled, hugging and kissing gently and lovingly.  A few weeks ago, when I was having feelings about A and U having “lunch”, he was legitimately concerned he hurt me. He called me to talk it out.  Ten months in, we had our first phone conversation because he was concerned about how I was doing emotionally and I gave him reassurance that I was not, in fact, hurt and angry, but understood that I needed to process what had happened and work through it.  He’s the boyfriend who has told me, unequivocally, how amazing he thinks I am, and how I’m the “best girlfriend ever’, (not just because of the awesome sex, but because as he says, I’m “unlike anyone he’s ever met”).  The love and the connection has just intensified exponentially in the past months as his walls began crumbling and the man I knew was behind those walls has come into the light.

Those things explained, I need to talk about what I get out of submission.  What needs to be reiterated is exactly how strong of a person I am.  I’m highly educated, I have a professional career that I love, I work a second job because it’s different and dynamic and allows me to help people in real time, and I need the money because I am paying for a divorce.  My separation means that I parent my four children 60% of the time and that they are with their dad the rest of the time.  As part of my separation, I will take over the mortgage on my house and assume all responsibility for the bills associated with it.  I have an amazing in-home caregiver who cares for my children when I’m at work and who cooks, cleans, and does laundry, generally being entirely responsible for the fact that I always have clean underwear and can find anything at all in my house.  I have had a huge diversity of experiences in my life, some of them awful, some of them wonderful.  But I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself. I am a support to the people around me.  I am not easily manipulated, pushed around, or abused.  

For years, I had fantasies in my alone time about submission.  I never thought it would happen, because I was monogamous and F was not at all dominant.  Then, when I first had sex with D, I realized I liked a man who took control.  BDSM wasn’t his thing at all, but he knew what he wanted and wasn’t scared to drive the bus.  When we got drunk and I crossed the couch and A and I started our relationship, he was even more willing to drive the bus.  I started talking about things I wanted to try, largely because he was the first man who was ever hard enough on my nipples.  (Truthfully, I’d never enjoyed my nipples being played with before.)  The fact that he was naturally hard on me turned me on, and as I talked more about things I’d like to try, he obliged.  I created my own dom, in a sense, as he became one because I asked him to.  What I found was this:  I am submissive through and through but only sexually.  I like being told what to do.  It never ceases to amaze me that I instantly get wet when I’m given an order.  A texted me once on his way over with a picture of a girl kneeling on the floor, hands on knees, looking down, naked, with the caption: “Like this toy.  Nipple clamps are not optional”.  I was immediately ready to be fucked.  I was waiting exactly like he asked.  It’s all just hot to me.  I like that he uses me like he wants. I love the rush and sting of any and all of the floggers. I love the squirm and the squeal that come out of me with nipple torture or biting.  I frequently soak the bed before he’s even touched my pussy. The more immobile I am, the hotter it is for me.  For him, he prefers to give me orders and have me able to move at will, because that means that I am continuing to submit, constantly making the choice to come back for more.  

When we first started our trip down the rabbit hole, I would text him during the day of our date and tell him what I wanted him to do.  He would oblige and add a bit here and there. Somewhere along the way, I stopped doing so.  I usually say if something is off the table, but rarely ask for anything unless I really want it.  He is in sole control of the bus most of the time.  (Which is good, because by the time he’s done, I can rarely walk!) At the beginning, he was gentler, he started slow and worked up.  He checked in often. I’d ask for harder, and he’d say “Not today, we want to do this and check in first and escalate slowly”.  He was careful and methodical and generous and kind.  My experience was everything to him.  Now, I don’t need to ask for what I want, because he knows me so well.  What he comes up with is always better than what I would request.  There’s also something super sexy in the unknown.

What I get is simple.  I get lost completely in sensation.  There is absolutely nothing else going on in the world when I’m with A.  I am totally and completely with him in that moment.  The sensations overwhelm my body.  Each strike, each thrust, each gag on his cock is everything in that moment.  There’s a point where pain becomes pleasure and pleasure and pain mix to set my whole body on fire and I become overwhelmed with the sensations and fall into this amazing ‘subspace’ where I just am.  It’s the most liberating and all encompassing sensation I could ask for. The intensity and build up of all orgasm control play lights me on fire.  He was the first man to make me squirt and it happens regularly now.

What it isn’t is me lying there taking a beating. There’s laughter and joking and whining and begging and feedback and checking in. There are orders and control, but no one would question that I like it. It’s not constant pain, in fact I’d say I spend more time orgasming than getting flogged, thanks to a magic wand and forced orgasms. We debrief to a different extent every time. Sometimes it’s collapsing in each other’s arms and not saying much, sometimes it’s dissecting what happened and what we liked, didn’t like, what was too much, what we want more of, and where we would like to take things.  Sometimes we watch stand up comedy sketches or listen to music together. Sometimes we just chat about life. The point is, aftercare is a huge part of everything we do. There’s never a quicky with us.

Whenever we try something new, A will check in with me periodically.  During our foursome, he stopped what he was doing, I was a puddle on the bed, and he came over, lovingly stroked my hair and kissed me and asked me how I was doing, if I was OK, and if there was anything I needed or wanted. If I say something is too much, he dials back or switches to something else. If I say “no” to something, he always respects it. He is always watching for my reactions and feedback and body language.

I asked A what he gets out of being my dom. He said he didn’t know, or couldn’t put it into words.  He said he does it because I love it, what he enjoys is how I respond to him.  All this together just reminds me that I need to be better at explaining that this is about me and what I want more than about him *doing* something to me.

The true power in power exchange is in the hands of the sub. Submission is a gift given willingly and the submissive controls every limit and how it will be pushed. I could end everything with a simple word: “red”.  I’ve never even got close to saying it, because, like every great dom, A knows me and my limits and how and when to push those boundaries.

About the things I don’t write about

I love that people actually want to read what I’m writing, not just my boyfriends and best friend, but there are people out there who are legitimately interested in my life and my random musings about it.  I am reminded, occasionally, that I make assumptions and generalizations that can offend people. This is not intentional, my blog is my space, where I write about my experiences, my perspectives, my feelings, and my failings. My writing is also completely full of my biases.  It also contains only snapshots in time, wrapped up in short(ish) posts about events I’m interested in relating.  It’s just a small part of me, the part I feel like sharing in that moment.

I often don’t write about things that would hurt others if they were to read it.  I try to keep my posts about me, respecting the privacy of my friends, partners, and family.  Some things that happen to me just aren’t that big of a deal or important enough to write about. Some things I haven’t shared because I haven’t had the need or the opportunity.  Some, I’m not ready to share or I’m not done processing. I think that some people lose sight of the fact that no matter what you read, you are not getting the full story.

With that in mind, I thought I’d write about some of the things I haven’t written about, for whatever reason:

  1. The fact that I picked up my kids from F’s last week and his parents and siblings were there and there was awkward with his mum and sister.  That W arrived while I was there, and seeing her hug them and say hello hurt me more than I anticipated.  Turns out that she can have F, but I’m not so happy about her taking my place in his family.  I don’t want her to hurt them like she’s hurt me.
  2. The fact that F’s family, sans F, came over for lunch a couple days later and it was amazing to see them and to begin to redefine and reestablish that relationship.  To know that we can continue to be a family even after the breakdown of my marriage to their son/brother.  That they are truly happy to remain in my life with no conflict.  
  3. How I’m hemorrhaging money because F is delaying our separation agreement finalization and I need to consolidate my debt into my mortgage and everything is just sitting waiting to be signed and he’s taking his sweet time because he makes 140% of what I do and has less bills.  So when my eldest needed new leggings and winter boots and I couldn’t afford it, my mom went out without being asked and bought her four pairs of leggings and new winter boots and just asked me to stop by.  She also got stuff for the three other kids.  I ugly cried with complete gratitude into my mom’s shoulders that day and she cried too.  
  4. How my sister has completely cut me out of her life.  How she’s spending a lot of time with F.  How she’s interfered in my separation. How she’s influenced my relationship with my father, which was already strained, but is now pretty much nonexistent.  How she’s cutting herself out of my mom’s life too and how much this hurts my mom.  Or how, despite the fact that I would love a good relationship with my sister, my life is so very much easier without her in it, and I feel slightly guilty for the relief I feel that I don’t have to deal with her bullshit.
  5. Why my relationship with my dad is strained. I haven’t written about the emotional abuse.  I haven’t written about the absentee father who never took responsibility for his actions and promised the world but rarely followed through on his words. I haven’t talked about the 12-year-old girl who idolized him and was left waiting for him to arrive to pick her up on more than one occasion to not have him show. Or the 17-year-old girl, who desperately wanted a father, who got kicked out of his house because she called the alcoholic step-mother an alcoholic.  
  6. What those first years of independent living were like, the sexual abuse, the frequent moves, the bad and the good decisions I made during that time, and how so many of those decisions provided a foundation for who I am now.
  7. What it’s like to have family and friends all over the world who I miss immensely and how their absence/distance from my life leaves a hole that isn’t fillable, and sometimes, it’s too much.
  8. How I had a bad day the other day. I was emotional, near tears all day, and I didn’t know why. It’s a big deal that I reached out for comfort, knowing that I needed time and physical touch with one of the men I love.  How A came and met me during my lunch break and we sat in the back of his truck and snuggled and chatted. How I melted into him and everything was right again.  How hard it is for me to ask for that comfort when I need it.  I’m so fiercely strong and independent, and being vulnerable isn’t always my strong point. I can ask for what I need because for the first time in my life, I’m dating men who actually want my happiness, and that breaks down walls, and I’m so thankful for them.
  9. How heartbreaking it is when my kids complain that they don’t see me enough and I have to explain that I have to work extra right now so we have a house and food and clothes and all the necessities of life and have them say they just want to be with me.  Then I hold them and cuddle them and tell them I love them.
  10. What it felt like to introduce my kids to O and to meet his daughter. How he’s changed my expectations in my relationships and had me reevaluate so many of my priorities in my dating life.  How good it feels to know I can talk to him about everything and have him understand and respect my boundaries and work with me to build the relationship we want together.  

What’s my point?  There are things that I haven’t written about. Ironically, I just admitted to some in writing, but my point would be lost if I didn’t write in my blog! Everyone has a story and very few others are privy to all the details.  Even those who are in the know most certainly didn’t live the feelings, nuances, details, and stress. Sometimes, we have to remember that everyone has a story, everyone has a battle they are fighting, and everyone deserves compassion and understanding.

Choose Every Day

I’ve had a lot of conversations with A about relationship structures and obligations, responsibilities, and priorities in poly relationships and how they relate to hierarchy.  Hierarchy doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  Formalized rules and regulation and veto usually are, at least in my experience, but also don’t have to be bad.  I had a friend recently who really liked a guy.  She wanted to continue dating him.  She ran away as fast as she could in the opposite direction when he laid out the rules he and his wife had:  The wife had to know all the plans for the date.  He had to be home by 11 p.m.  His wife needed all of my friend’s sexual partners disclosed to her. No more than one date every week.  No overnights.  It went on.  Honestly, I wouldn’t ever consider dating a man with that type of primary relationship structure.  It smacks of insecurity.  Having been married to an insecure man and dealing with him as my partner in a poly relationship and having him date an even more insecure woman and dealing with her particular insanity have me on high alert for those types of control issues.  Too many rules inevitably mean that someone is try to control the situation because they are uncomfortable, usually driven by insecurity, or lack of stability in their relationship.  I just can’t date a person who lives in that world.  

Fortunately, A, O, and I don’t suffer from major insecurities, we all communicate well and have very few rules apart from the “Be safe, be honest, be respectful” undercurrent in all our time together.  But what this means is that there is a lot of communication about other relationships, how we feel about them, and how the relationships overlap.  I came into my relationship with A knowing he was married.  I’ve never expected or desired any more than exactly what we have right now.  What we have is absolutely perfect for us.  But I actively chose to respect his relationship and honour his commitments to his marriage, his family, his business and everything else in his life.  F liked to criticize my relationship structure with my other partners when we were still together, so I had to think a lot about what I want and how I feel about my relationships.  I enter every relationship with the same idea – that no matter what the obligations and responsibilities are, I will respect my partner’s choices.  I’ve dated a few solo poly men with kids, a solo poly guy with dogs and a mortgage, and a couple married men.  The point to me is that no matter who they are or what they do or what their life looks like, they come with a life that they have chosen and that requires respect and consideration when developing the relationship structure that we want together.

A few weeks ago, A and I were talking about his different relationships and what they meant.  In typical practical A fashion, he said something to the effect of: “I have a 20 year history with my wife, a family, a mortgage, and an entire life together.  With you, we don’t share anything.  Ending my marriage would be devastating.  Ending my relationship with you would suck, but it would be easy.”  OK, obvious heart pang aside, there is an element of truth in this statement that is obvious.  When you only share selfies, a few pornographic videos and pics, and hot sex, the relationship is easier to untangle.  When you share retirement savings, progeny that contain 50% of your DNA each, and purchased your bed together, things are a little more complicated.  This was quite apparent to me this past weekend, when I was talking to a poly friend about her boyfriend and her husband.  She’s been with her husband for 23 years.  They were high school sweethearts.  I said something about my divorce and she said “I wish I was as strong as you.  I should leave my husband, but it’s just too hard.  I still love him, but I’m not happy.  I think we are just together out of habit.”  Another friend came over for wine last week.  She said she was going to give her marriage another four years, and then she’s gone.  Four years!  Knowing she’s planning on ending it.  Her reasoning?  They can’t afford to live apart right now.  They need each other’s incomes.  They are staying together out of practicality, not because they want, need, or desire each other in their life.  

These conversations had me thinking.  As I’ve looked back over my marriage, critically analyzing my role in the whole process we went through, I realized that I fell back into that routine and comfort in a relationship, continually moving forward without really considering if it was what I wanted for myself.  I just accepted it as the commitment that I made, no longer considering if it was, in fact, what I needed and wanted in my life.  If it fulfilled me and my need for connection and love.  I really didn’t consider that I was unhappy.  I just thought that was how it should be.  Of course, it’s easier for me to break up with a boyfriend of a few months than it is to break up with my husband, who I have four kids with, a mortgage, retirement savings, debt, and a 14 year history.  But that for as long as I can remember, I didn’t really consider if I *wanted* to be in that relationship, but just accepted it without thought, is a bit of a problem in my mind.

I was thinking about my current relationships, the relationships I have had in the last year, and the relationships I would like going forward, and I realized something that is a strength of polyamorous relationship structure that is lacking in monogamous relationships: the common thread about all of my poly relationships is that every day, I choose them.  There is something completely romantic to me in the fact that every morning, I choose A and O.  I choose the time I spend with them, I choose the contact and communication I have with them, I choose to be completely with them when we are together.  I carve out time in my life to prioritize them because I love them.  In my monogamous relationships, they all started out that way, but eventually life took over, we took each other for granted, and we moved forward as a matter of routine.  It wasn’t choosing each other, but rather, not choosing something or someone else.

This complacency isn’t something I want in my life.  I’ve spent the last year actively choosing only things that make me happy and fulfill me in ways that I hadn’t previously dreamed. I’ve made some hard choices, some even harder choices, and some that were so easy that I wondered why I didn’t make them sooner. Within my relationship with A, it’s easy to avoid complacency.  We won’t escalate to the point where we ever won’t have to choose to be together.  We won’t share life in the way that anything could become routine.  Now that I have a partner who is likely to escalate to all the levels, I’m trying to work through the mental exercise of how I can hypothetically take on all the comforts and commitments of a shared life and responsibilities and obligations that go with it, while avoiding that mental switch that turns it from a choice to a routine.  I want to choose to live my life the way I want every day for the rest of my life.  I don’t want to go through life as a matter of routine, like a ghost floating through my days without actively engaging in my life and connecting with the important people in it. I want to remember all the reasons I value my partners, friends, family, jobs, and overall life, always.  I want to go through the rest of my life actively choosing it.  I think a strength of the polyamorous relationship structures that I’ve chosen, is that I do get that choice.  Every day.