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.   

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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.

Dickhead

I keep starting a version of this post and either falling asleep or getting distracted with one of my million other priorities.  The thing is, life is so good, that it’s kind of difficult to write about.  It kind of seems like “Here’s my charmed life and it’s awesomeness, care if I rub your nose in it right now?”  But then I got thinking today, thanks to Facebook memories.

This coming Friday is one year since my first date with D.  He hasn’t shown up at the last couple events that we should have run into each other at, so either he has shit going on, or he’s avoiding me.  I guess it’s possible that I made it that awkward, but I like to think that I couldn’t have that big of an effect on him.  Realistically speaking, it doesn’t matter to me.  I’m so caught up in my relationships with A and O, that I haven’t thought about D at all apart from a “Huh, too bad he’s not here, he’s missing out”.  So when my Facebook memories popped up yesterday with a “Congratulations on one year of Friendship” video (yes, we were Facebook friends before we met in person), I was shocked to see him, and then shocked that I hadn’t thought about him in so long.  

When I was trying to pick a letter for O for this blog, I gave him a choice of letter, his first name starts with a “D”, so it makes sense that he would be D, but since it was taken, this wasn’t an option.  We settled on “O”, and that was it. Truthfully, D has come to mean more than the name I referred to D as in my blog.  When I first asked F for a trial separation, D sent me this song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suaveqvlWP8

I love this song.  The Dickhead theme kept me going through some of the harder days of my breakup with F.  It’s why D sent it to me.  Something to make me laugh about all the crazy stupidity that was going on in my personal life.  There were days when I listened to it on repeat.  I may have once turned it on full volume when F was talking to me about something and treating me inappropriately. I left it in my YouTube playlist and it continued to come up from time to time.  Now, the song no longer makes me think of F, although “Dickhead” can be a very good name to sum up who he is.  But every time it comes on, it reminds me of D.  It turns out that D no longer is as simple as a letter to maintain anonymity.  I guess it stopped being just that soon after I fell for him.  D, someone I was once Devoted to, someone I Desired, and someone I thought was part of my Destiny, turned out to be a Disappointment, a Deplorable communicator, and a DICKHEAD!  

It’s childish. It’s funny.  It’s apt.  It’s true.

 

Rejection letter ripples

A and I are coming up on the anniversary of our first date. November 4. Two weeks after our first date, out of the blue, I got this email from A.

Good Morning,

Sorry for dropping off the radar, it is a busy time for me at work, and I’ve been fighting a cold or something which as dropped my energy levels. I didn’t want to ‘ghost’ you, I believe that is the correct term, I’m not one of those cool, young hip kids who know all the slang.

As much as I enjoyed dinner and our varied conversation, I felt that something was missing from a romantic standpoint. I wouldn’t rule out friendship, though as I really did enjoy talking with you!

I’d be up for another bottle of wine or cocktails to further our discussion on religion, and now we could add the US election and the new ‘white’ culture and paranoid fear state!

Cheers,

A

My response was:

Hi A!

I really didn’t expect to hear from you, what a nice surprise! I figured out about halfway through our date that there wouldn’t be a second, for the same reason as you, the chemistry just wasn’t there. But I did, very much, enjoy chatting with you, and would love to meet for drinks some time. I would love to completely agree with each other in all the ways to solve the world’s problems over wine!

The truth was, I didn’t think I would ever hear from him again. I was dating B and D, F and I were starting our downhill descent to divorce, and I was completely consumed with NRE for D. I did, however, very much enjoy our first date. We got along very well, with instant chemistry. There was never a lull in conversation and we laughed and drank a lot. So why did I know there wasn’t going to be a second date? Well, because when an hour in, we find out that A knows D and their wives are best friends, that can make things awkward. But true awkwardness prevails when I unintentionally, by saying my daughter’s name, reveal his life’s biggest hurt. Because our daughters share a name, a very beautiful but uncommon name, he had to tell me about the death of his daughter on our first date. This is undoubtedly not a recipe for romantic connection.

A and I went out once as friends. We had a great time. Without the “date” part of it in the background, we were just our raw, honest selves. We proceeded to spend about six hours drinking wine and chatting, and I even had to sleep off some of the wine in my office before I drove home. We talked about everything that night and it was so fun. At one point I remember thinking “It’s too bad we don’t have a romantic connection, because we could have a really good time.” In fact, I may have said that out loud.

Then, exactly two months after our first date, A came over for some wine and a chat on the couch. After five hours of drinking and chatting, we ended up clothes-less in bed. It was the start of what we have now. For this reason, we had our first date just over 11 months ago, but have only been dating for nine months.

As A was driving us home last Friday after our super hot night with U, I said: “Can you believe that you once sent me a rejection email?” His response? “I am very thankful I did!”

For the last few days, I’ve been thinking about that. I was completely prepared to go on with life, never seeing A again. Had he not decided to send me that email telling me that he didn’t feel a romantic connection, but would like to meet again, I wouldn’t have ever really thought about him again, apart from the fact that I was dating D and would have heard about him from time to time. I would never have chatted with him freely as his friend in a bar for hours and then on my couch for even more hours and then at some point realized he was sending out the signals that more than friendship was welcome and crossed the couch.

I guess the enormity of the ripple effect of seemingly simple acts are something I’ve become increasingly cognizant of. From choosing to take Chemistry 30 in Grade 11 and meeting X in that class, which 22 years later led to him introducing me to polyamory to A sending me a rejection letter, which led to us creating this amazing non-traditional, on-our-own-terms, fantastically hot relationship that we have, I’m just blown away by how some seemingly innocuous things happen, and they end up having such life altering ripple effects.

Happy Right Now

My life is fucking fantastic.  Shall we talk about how?  Yes, yes we should!

Well, F has moved out. Or at least there are dirty spots that need to be swept or vacuumed where large pieces of furniture used to be.  It’s almost done.  The relief and happiness I feel at this transition into independence is incredible.  Yesterday, I picked up my kids to take them for dinner, and my eldest two expressed that they were having a hard time with all the changes, as the previous night was their first night in their dad’s new place.  Luckily, my parents live close, and were able to come meet us for supper, and helped me give the kids the love and attention they needed to just feel a little more secure in their little lives.  When I dropped the kids off with F, he and I had a good chat about how to help the kids with the transition and came up with a plan to work together. We talked with our eldest about how we are friends now and we are going to always be on her team and want to help her as much as possible.  I talked to my second eldest and just hugged her and sung the “I’ll love you forever” song, and she said “Does this mean you’ll always be mommy?”, and I said “Yes sweetheart, I’ll always be your mommy and I’ll always be here for you.”  I have no illusion that F and I won’t fight in the future, but last night was a great example of what positive separation and coparenting looks like.

My job is great.  I am getting constant positive feedback from the people I work with and the people I work for.  More importantly, I love everything about it.  I enjoy the intellectual stimulation, the challenges, the people I work with, the learning I do, and the flexibility in my schedule.  

Things with A are great.  More on that in another post, because I have a lot to say there, and he’s pressuring me for an insight into my thoughts on recent events, and it’s fun to make him wait.  Things with L are good. I don’t see him as much as I would like.  I’ve been busy and he’s started dating another girl, so his time is more limited.  He has evening activities often and I’m busy during the day.  He’s been pushed back in the pecking order of my men a bit, but when we are together it’s amazing.  He’s supportive and fun and loving.  What we have is great, and I’m going to choose to be happy with that.  I’ve been dating another guy.  This gorgeous, sweet, kind, and fucking sexy man, who I guess will get the letter M.  I met M months ago at a polyamory pub night.  He and his girlfriend and her husband gave my drunken ass a ride home that night.  I remember him walking into the pub and thinking “Damn, he’s really fucking hot.  I bet he’s an asshole.”  Sure enough, I was completely wrong.  Talk about an exercise in checking my biases and assumptions.  He’s so nice.  He’s going through a divorce, has two kids that are the same ages as two of mine, and he’s amazing in every way.  Everything about being with him is simple and easy.  When we began talking, it was because he sent out this “You are Awesome” video to nearly everyone on his friends list on Facebook.  I wrote back that I thought he was awesome too, and asked if he had sent that message out to everyone, and he said yes and that his phone was blowing up.  I commented that it must usually be like that, and he said “No, it’s usually pretty quiet”.  I said that surprised me because he’s so hot and charismatic and kind that I thought the women would be throwing themselves naked at his feet.  He destroyed my assumptions by saying that had never happened, and said he thought I was hot too.  I just said “Really? We should talk about that some time?”  He responded with “Nice advance lady!”, and we kept on talking.  That was over a month ago, and it’s going great. He’s fun and kind and makes me laugh and turns me on and rocks my world and I’m happy with how simple and easy it’s been.

Everything is great.  I’ve never been this happy. Ever. Which brings me to an interesting conversation with a coffee date I had a few weeks ago. He said: “I’ve given up on happily ever after.”, and this got me to thinking.  I don’t think there is a happily ever after. That’s the stuff of lies and fairy tales.  What there is, or at least has the potential to be is Happy right now.  This is my new commitment to myself, working for the end goal of being happy right now.  It’s just all part of making the choices to be true to myself and live the life I choose.