No longer livid – forgiveness

The post before this is about a huge issue I had with A.  This is how the rest went.

Well, the response I got wasn’t what I wanted and I got really mad.  There was a lot more to the message, but the last paragraph read: Just maybe this is not about you, but about my capacity at the moment. I get you’re hurt and feel like I’ve let you down, which I can accept, but your lack of understanding and empathy for what I’m dealing with daily, is also a let down. I’ll accept the blame as I should have checked, but the lack of a reminder rests with you.” I was seriously triggered.  I felt blamed. Victim shamed.  Attacked. Lack of empathy? Seriously?  I spend so much time thinking about him and what’s going on in his life and actively trying to figure out how best to support him and be who he needs.  It felt like I was being attacked for having a feeling. I felt like he was excusing his behaviour and somehow he was blaming me for him forgetting and not being available to me.  

I got mad and he got mad back. We both went to bed angry.  I drank a bottle of wine, watched a sad movie and cried for hours. Hurt, sad, angry, defeated, disappointed, and everything in between.  Devastated. After so long, to finally have our first real argument and to be so very crushed by the whole thing. I spent a lot of time thinking about ending our relationship.  Trying to figure out what I needed to happen so that wouldn’t be the decision I made. I have not once, in the entire time I’ve been dating A, thought about ending our relationship.  This time, I looked at absolutely every angle about what life would look like if I did.

At some point, drunk and soaked in tears, I realized that I had two choices.  Break up with him or move past this and forgive him. What I realized, looking at all the things, was that I absolutely didn’t want to end our relationship.  That meant I had to figure out a way to forgive him. There was a whole lot of wondering if he’d forgive me, or if I was too much trouble.

I had to figure out how to do that.  Angry, hurt, and sad, crying and soaked, I wrote out a lot of my feelings.  Thank god I didn’t send them to anyone, but it helped me put together facts.  That A didn’t intentionally hurt me or risk my safety. That I love him and want to work it out.  That I don’t lack empathy for him. That he doesn’t understand how much I worry about him. I was able to ask for some things I need.  

I sent a rather long thesis of my feelings and needs to him and waited after I saw he read it.  What I got was this: “I’m so under water right now, I can’t even process an appropriate response.  I’m just over my capacity. I love you.”

That “I love you” calmed me more than any other “I love you” I’ve ever received.  That’s also when I finally started to clue in that I had done a few things really wrong.

First, despite both G and S trying to tell me that what A was actually trying to say in his original response that made me so angry, was that he’s just not coping with life right now.  He has too much on his plate between his job and his personal life and that he was sorry for what happened, but I needed to understand the why. I completely fucked up understanding the why. When I read his message, what I read was “You don’t deserve to be upset, it’s your fault, I’m not at fault because I’m stressed and you just don’t get it.”  What he meant was: “You’re right, I should have checked in and I’m sorry, please understand what I’m going through right now and forgive me.”

I fucked up royally and only read things that hurt me and made me angry.  It’s important to understand why, and when I figured it out, my whole world opened up and I understood so much about myself in that moment. My past was lying to me and all I read were those lies.

I’ve had a lifetime of people who don’t take responsibility for their actions and are very manipulative – my dad, F, my sister.  A lifetime to learn that bad communication is normal. What this looks like is when they have hurt me and I’ve brought my feelings to them, instead of acknowledging my hurt, whether there was intent or not on their part, they attack me for being hurt. Literally criticize me for my feelings. These in and of themselves are horrible things, but this was my normal for 40 years. I literally didn’t know that functional communication involved people acknowledging each other’s feelings and apologizing.  I didn’t do that either. I would go into every emotional conflict with guns blazing trying to win. I remember vividly the first time I brought an issue to a friend and told her something she said to me the day before hurt my feelings and she responded with “I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, what can I do to make this right.” I didn’t know people could do that. It completely disarmed me. That was about 8 years ago.

Fast forward to last year, all the turmoil with F, him pushing me harder and harder as I insisted that he respect my boundaries, and me being pushed to my limit and responding in anger because I had zero coping skills or ability to withstand his inappropriate behaviour. It was bad. That’s when I realized how unhealthy the “normal” I had been taught was. I stepped away from F, but I was still dating.  A has been the person who has helped me the most. Every single time I’ve brought an issue to him, he’s totally acknowledged my feelings and apologized. It’s the most disarming thing, still.

I clearly haven’t healed from the heartbreak of my past though.  No matter how functional my reality, I can’t hide from the messages my past is sending me.  This part of me is so broken. I’m logical until I feel strong emotions, then those emotions block so much of my reality from view.  

This is what happened this week with A. When the truth hit, it hit like a ton of bricks.  Not just that I was misreading and very hard on him for his response, but all the horrificness that went through my brain that night afterwards.  See, after I sent A a scathing response, he responded that he wasn’t able to deal with it or fight with me. Instead of reading what he meant, I interpreted what he mean to be that I wasn’t important enough to discuss things with.  As I drank my wine (world’s not at all best coping mechanism) I let a whole lot of fear take over my thoughts. I cried so much. Within minutes of realizing, despite my anger, that I wanted to find a way to forgive A and move on, all I could think about was how I was so certain that he was figuring out the best way to end things with me. The sense of loss was overwhelming. The sense of not being enough, being too much trouble, being a burden or a pain in the ass was all-encompassing.  I cried so hard for so long, not because I was angry at him. Not because I was sad we were fighting. Not because I was hurt that he risked my safety. Because I was so sure I was too much trouble and I’d lost the most amazing relationship I’ve ever had.

This is why that single “I love you” was so meaningful to me.  The sense of relief I felt was palpable. It literally shut off that horrific internal dialogue (that wasn’t a dialogue so much as just a panicky feeling).  I told G about how that happened and she just said “Why? Why would you think that he stopped loving you because of an argument?” I laughed and told her I was already processing the realization of how unhealthy that was.  I realized that what all those years of being attacked for having feelings did was cause me to feel like I was trouble. That my feelings were invalid. That I just cause problems for those who love me when I bring my concerns forward.  That I’m too much. 

So, my baggage was lying to me all over the place. It’s like a size 2 dress saying “you’ll look good in this” and then putting it on and realizing you look like you’re stuffing mashed potatoes in a plastic grocery bag.  Reality fucking stinks. But the lie stinks too because it hurts you so much. All that passive aggressive bullshit taught me that I’m not worth the trouble. Let me make this clear: I know I’m worth every bit of the trouble, but as soon as my emotions heightened, I lost sight of reality and let familiarity envelop me in lies.  My past didn’t let me read the reality behind what A was trying to say and it didn’t let me recognize the love and commitment we have. It let me feel anger, pain, and sadness instead of the love, respect, and security I actually have.

I want to rid myself of this baggage.  Unpack the shit out of it and put it away.  Shove it far far far away. Then G made the most salient point.  I need to feel all those feels. Recognize the feelings for what they are, acknowledge them, and then let them go so I can figure out what the things I should really be feeling about my reality are.  I know my emotions lie to me, so I rarely go with my initial response to anything, except when those emotions are strong and severe. So this is what I need to work on.

After realizing all of these things and understanding them about myself, I’m emotionally exhausted to the point where I’m feeling physical symptoms of that exhaustion.  The intensity of my anger, hurt, and sadness was immense. Then the realization that I was so fucking wrong and the disappointment in myself that I responded the way I did and the drive to apologize to A for being so hard on him even when my original anger was so justified knocked the wind out of me.  Then realizing how broken I still am and how much work I still have to do defeated me emotionally.

G said something that reminds me how much of that baggage I’ve unpacked, even if I’m slightly overwhelmed by how much more I have to do. I may have reacted emotionally when I tried to talk to A, but the fact is, I was in control enough of my emotional reaction that I didn’t fight or flight it.  I didn’t go on full attack and I didn’t run away. A year ago, I would have ended the relationship without ever having talked to him. Yay for progress.

Tonight we have a date.  I need to see him and touch him and hold him so badly.  I don’t know what’s coming, I just know that we are both exhausted from the stress of this week.  I just want to reconnect, however that happens, and hope to lose the residual emotion that’s hanging on.  

 

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Livid

“I’m livid. As in hurt and angrier at you than I’ve ever been. To me this is trust issue topped with an icing of “that’s how important I am”.

Nothing happened. No intent was there on your part. But in the end, if I had needed you as my safety net, you wouldn’t have been there. Because you didn’t care enough about me to remember.  What could have happened runs through my mind. What if you had checked your phone at 9 pm and not had a message from me? Would you have thought it weird and would it have triggered the memory? Or would you have thought nothing of it? At what point would anyone even notice I was in trouble?

I put my safety in your hands because I trusted you. I thought my safety was important to you.

You broke that trust. A trust that I don’t easily give. And I feel pretty unvalued with the excuse of forgetting.”

This was my morning greeting to A today.  Not something I wanted to send, nor something I’m sure was fun to receive.  

Yesterday, I had a date.  It was great first date and now I find myself in this great position where I actually have multiple people I want to spend my valuable time with.  But this isn’t about that.

I’m a woman and as such, meeting men on the internet necessitates some careful thought into date locations and safety and check ins with people who love me to make sure I don’t become a skin suit (not a real fear, but safety is important and I’m making light of a serious concern).  What I do is send all the information about the person I’m going out with, including pictures, names, and contact information as well as date location and time to someone who will care whether or not I check in.  When I was married, it was F who I would check in with during my dates. For a while after I separated, it was G. Somewhere along the line, it became A.

I’m fortunate.  I’ve never had a situation where I feared at all for my safety, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still have preventative measures in place.  It would be like not wearing a seat belt on a road trip. You may survive, but you should probably take the precaution either way.

The key to this arrangement is that the person who is my safety net has to actually get the check in messages or, more importantly, NOT get the check in messages and take measures to make sure I’m safe.  

Yesterday, my date started at 5.  I checked in at 6:32 to say I was good.  I checked in at 7:36 to say the date had ended.  Then at 8:08, I saw that the messages were still unread.  I laughed and wrote: “Thank god the date was good and I’m not panic messaging you to save me.”  Then I thought about it and realized what a huge failure of my safety system this was. So at 8:49, I said: “Next time I think maybe you should tell me if you’re not actually available.  Because, you know, you’re the only person I gave any information to about my date tonight.”

At 9:11, he finally got the messages.  I got an apology and the excuse of leaving the phone in his car during Tango lessons.

Then a simple request from me: “Maybe next time tell me?  Because I can tell other people who will actually get my check ins.  Or not.”

(Because having someone actually verifying that I’m safe is REALLY FUCKING IMPORTANT.)

His response?  “Like I said, I’m sorry.  I totally forgot you had date tonight.”

My safety system completely failed.    

There was literally no one who would have noticed if something had happened to me.  He forgot I had a date. He may have got home, gone to bed, and never noticed I hadn’t messaged.  When would he have remembered that I had a date? If something had happened to me, at what point would people start worrying about me?  When would phone calls start being made and police notified? The seriousness of the potential answers to these questions terrifies me.  Yes, nothing happened.  But that’s not reason to be OK with the safety system not being functional.

So obviously, my seat belt failed.  So I need to turn it into a safer model.  A 5-point harness as it were. So next time I have a first date, I’ll create a group message with multiple people who care if I check in and make sure to message there.  So someone knows I’m OK. Or multiple someones know I’m not.

In the meantime, I’m so angry at A I don’t know what to do with the emotion.  There’s no way to fix this one. It’s a breach of trust and a big one at that.  But on top of that, even with the error of leaving the phone in the car, he admitted to forgetting about the date.  So I trusted him to do something important and it was so unimportant to him that he forgot to do it. What this translates to for me: I was was so unimportant.  

So much now rests on how he responds to my message.  I’m pretty sure that he knows his response is important and he is thinking about it during his normal busy day. The biggest problem is that there’s no way to fix this.  It can’t be undone. So how he deals with it is really important, at least to me. In the meantime, my mind is swimming with “what ifs” and possibilities about how this conversation is going to go.

And my heart hurts.    

Choosing to be happy

I’ve been completely devoid of inspiration for writing lately.  There was a ton of drama a couple weeks ago caused by W. It amounted to a day of stress all told and a lot of knowledge about people who I thought were my friends who weren’t followed by love and support from so many people who are my tribe.  So, I chalked it up as a reminder to not respond to her manipulations and that I can’t begin to counteract or anticipate or fight her version of crazy because I just don’t think that way. So, I’ll go on being me and not really worry about her.

As always, I’m impressed by A’s ability to acknowledge my feelings without compromising his values.  A few weeks ago he dropped on me last minute that he wouldn’t be staying the night after I was all snuggled in and ready to crash.  It was my fault for making the assumption that he would be, based on the fact that he’s stayed over every date night since January. I was quite shocked and hurt by this sudden news and didn’t exactly hide my disappointment (seriously, I completely lack a poker face anyway).  The next day, after processing a bit, I realized I just needed to ask him to give me a little earlier notice and I’d be fine. So I did. A, being A, just apologized for not giving me more notice and then the next Friday let me know a couple days before that he wouldn’t sleep over.  Problem solved.

Last night I did a presentation at an event that had me a little nervous and a lot of friends and family supporting me in the audience.  I brought A as my date. It’s the first time he’s seen me do anything even remotely professional or related to my career. It was amazing to have him there, in a way I hadn’t realized.  We have the most amazing dates and almost all of them involve only the two of us. I would never change this. I would choose a date that involved us lying in bed for hours, cuddling, chatting, laughing, and connecting alone every single time.  What I didn’t realize was how these awesome dates isolate us and our relationship from the rest of my life. Most of the other important people in my life haven’t even met A, let alone spent any time with him. It was pretty cool to have him temporarily step in to the larger part of my life and be my partner outside of my bedroom instead of on the periphery.  In fact, it meant a lot to me that he was there, even if he criticised my “ums” and “OKs” while all my other people were telling me how awesome I was. 😉

Today, I was talking to S about how she and I both are just generally happy in our relationships.  How we accept our partners for who they are and enjoy what we get and give in our relationships. Neither of us really ever complains about our partners, we just accept them for who they are and what we have.  In fact, we are both great at deciding to really enjoy the little positive things and disregard the things that are missing.

I’m not talking about major glaring red flags or abuses or the “big” things.  I’m talking about some of the things that could make things better, but really don’t matter that much. We choose to let small things that touch us mean wonderful positive things, which means we are just comfortable and satisfied in our relationships.  

This brings me to a meme that was posted in a poly group I’m part of.  

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My initial response is “HELL NO!”  Don’t get me wrong. I get that jealousy is an important and real emotion that deserves discussion and support in a relationship. I’ve been jealous and had amazing partners that helped me through it.  I’ve been the partner that attempted to help my partner through jealousy. But the thing is, spending hours reassuring a partner isn’t my thing. While I can and do offer reassurance in situations where it is warranted, the idea of ongoing and continuously dealing with jealousy issues has me wanting to run the other direction and not only give up poly, but give up relationships.  To me, the idea of spending a bunch of time having to reassure a partner or two because they aren’t owning their emotions – trying to understand the roots of their feelings, attempting to communicate them effectively, and working on discovering what will help them deal with their issues and then asking for what they need – drives me crazy. The fact is, my emotions are not caused by someone else. They are my emotional responses to an event and they are mine to process, work to understand, and then communicate with my partners.  This extends to my partners, who also need to own their own emotions.

What I realized is that part of owning my own emotions is choosing to be happy.  To take the happiness that my partners bring to our relationship. S and I concluded that part of the reason we are so emotionally competent is the we don’t get upset by perceived missing little things, we choose to see the positive in the small good things.  We choose to be happy. We choose to see what our partners are trying to give us, not what we are missing. We concluded that being happy with being loved the way your partner can and wants to love you is the good choice.

This is part of why we are people who don’t need big gestures of love or expensive presents (not that I wouldn’t happily accept these things) to feel the meaning and connection in our relationships.  It’s why we let things go. There have been a few things that have happened recently in both of my relationships that have bothered me initially that I realized were things that I just needed to accept, move past, and not worry about.  They aren’t things that are festering away in the back of my brain, they are just things that, while they initiated an emotional response, didn’t dignify me continuing to devote emotional energy to them. Choosing to be happy falls into the general category of respecting my partners, accepting them for who they are,  and being true to myself at the same time.

 

Disappointment

Yesterday I wrote about the fact that it was date night with A and I was in need of some bucket filling. The fact is, I get a lot out of our Friday dates. We catch up on what happened during the week while we were apart, more of the nuance of what happened that can’t be easily conveyed via text, and there’s always a lot of teasing, laughter, and connection.  

Yesterday, in response to my post, A commented that he didn’t know what version of him I was going to get. This was my first indication that something was “off” with him.  We had a quick text chat about what was going on in his head and he legitimately didn’t know what was wrong, just that something was.  He arrived at my house at 8:37.  He greeted me with a passionate kiss and a strong hug.  I expected that we would at least chat for a while, but I have video of him snoring at 9:08.  In under 30 minutes, he’d passed out next to me.  

I knew he needed to cuddle and connect.  He grabbed me in a way he rarely does, hand through my hair, head to chest, arm held tightly against his chest.  I could tell he was breathing me in and calming himself.  I could feel the weight of whatever was breaking his heart exuding from him.  At one point, it seemed like he was going to start something more than cuddling, but the next thing I knew, he was snoring.  Deeply unsatisfied, I knew what type of week he had so I let him sleep.  I rolled over and texted S, and we chatted about how disappointed I was with the snoring man next to me. I even videoed him sleeping to show her what I was living through.  

I was so disappointed and a little mad.  I had spent the week anticipating this date and had no real tangible indication that it was going to go like it did.  I talked to S about how I was feeling. She validated my feelings and the best being: “A! GET IT TOGETHER AND BEAT MY GIRLFRIEND!”  While I was chatting with her, I said that I felt bad that I was so disappointed.  That I was near tears because I was so unfulfilled in that moment.  I felt like what every man I turned down over the years must feel like, I said.  Her words were exactly what I needed to hear and the message was simple:  There is nothing wrong with disappointment. It’s an appropriate response to not having the evening I so needed.  It’s OK for me to upset, and even angry, about this situation and still love him and support him and want to be there for him.  So, I grabbed my magic wand and three minutes later I had orgasmed hard enough that I could fall asleep.  It was an unusually early Friday night for me.  

It’s now early Saturday morning, and I’m sitting at my second job, feeling the disappointment from last night rather acutely.  Fortunately, when my alarm went off this morning, it woke A up too, and instead of a shower before work, I collected a handful of orgasms and ran out the door.  This super quick morning sex, interrupted by a 4-year-old who needed cuddles, was insufficient to make up for what we missed last night, but it was a start.  As he left this morning, he apologized three times, I know he missed out too, and I know he didn’t do anything intentionally, it just is what it is.

Sexually, what I needed last night was to get lost in A.  I needed to connect with him in that physical way.  I needed him to take control of me and I needed him to hurt me to take me away from the stress and busyness of my week.  The fact is, I had built myself up with anticipation during the previous three days and since he has almost never failed to deliver, I had no reason to suspect last night would be any different.  

I am a big girl and sexual disappointment really isn’t that big of a deal.  It’s a short -lived sadness, not something that sits, fastened to my heart.  What’s really bugging me is the lack of the emotional and intellectual connection that we usually share.  We didn’t get to catch up.  I didn’t get to tell him about the ups and downs of my week, nor did I get to hear about his.  Add to this the fact that we didn’t manage to have drinks or reconnect at all during the week, as is our norm, and we were both so busy that we hardly chatted at all.  We certainly didn’t exchange anything meaningful during the week.  I feel robbed of the reset that is just talking to A and tuning out the rest of the world to just be with him.  

On top of this, it’s Saturday.  It’s the day that A and his wife spend together.  Normally, I’m still riding the high of our night together, so I take the relative radio silence in stride. I miss him, but I recognize his need for connection with her too.  Today though, it’s like there is this empty well that needs to be filled and instead of that, it’s going to be sucked dry with the reminder that I am alone, with no telling when the next chance to connect with A will occur.  

So, I’m going to sit here at my job, being disappointed, sad, unsatisfied, and feeling sorry for myself.  It won’t last for long, because I know that come the next time I see him, we will be able to reset.  It won’t last for long, because I’m good at processing and perspective, and I know that this wasn’t about me, but about him and what he needed.  It won’t last for long, because the job I am currently working is an ongoing reminder of exactly how blessed my life is.  

But for now?  I’m going to feel the feelings and embrace my disappointment and sadness.  

 

Fish hooks

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

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

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

 

Yep. Fish hooks.   

 

My mind was blown.

 

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.