Broken

The last week has been amazing in so many ways.  Things are falling into place.  F and I are working together really well.  Our bi-weekly finance discussion went so smoothly this week that we ended up thanking each other for working as a team and cooperating so well.  We laughed about things our crazy kids did.  I offered to do some things for him, he for me.  It was so….functional.  

My job is gearing down for the summer.  This is awesome, because it has been, at times, rather insane, with long days and intense work stresses.  I love my job, but even a job I love gets overwhelming with pressure sometimes.  I  also had a great weekend with so many friends around me that love me.

So everything is shiny and beautiful and perfect, right?

No.

I’ve been really down the last couple of days.  This is completely unlike me. I’m normally a super positive person.  I usually have to focus on something super sad to even cry when I want to.  (Unless I’m angry, I can cry very easily when pissed off).  Yesterday, for unknown reasons, my date ghosted and I ended up alone in the evening.  This isn’t that big of a deal. I like being alone with myself.  I’m great company for myself.  But the overwhelming sadness just wasn’t going away.  I asked A to go out for a drink, but he was busy.  This isn’t surprising, he’s always busy these days, and I’m trying to be cognizant of exactly how much I’m asking of him, which in recent weeks has been more than he can give because I haven’t been coping with life that well. I know that sometimes I need to find my support elsewhere, and working out exactly what I need to do to get what I need and, truthfully, even recognizing what I need, is a challenge.  

So, since I was utterly alone last night, I headed into our gorgeous river valley to feed the mosquitoes go for a walk.  I decided I was going to focus on the super sad things that have happened in my life in the last 5 months, to see which one was the one that was trying to make itself known.  I had 2 grandparents die.  My dad was diagnosed with cancer.  My sister attacked me unfairly in a family text conversation and we haven’t talked since.  D broke up with me via email.  I asked F for a separation and we have had near endless conflict for about 9 months. I figured if I was sad, I probably had one or more of these things still to deal with. What this meant is that I was completely overrun with despair. I walked and walked and stifled tears the whole way.  I was feeling dejected and unloved and unwanted and weak and overwhelmingly hurt.  I can’t explain how bad I felt, I haven’t ever felt the way I did last night.  I got back to my car, sat in the driver’s seat and cried.  Full on sobbing, ugly tears, break-down cried.  It hurt in my heart and my stomach and my head.  I cried for probably a good 20 minutes until F texted me to ask me if I was coming home soon because he wanted to get to W’s house.  I figured if I sat there much longer, someone would call the cops because they would be concerned for my safety, thinking I was about to jump in the river or something.  So, I drove home with tears in my eyes, just hoping I could hold it together while I said goodbye to F so that I didn’t have to explain to him that I was broken but didn’t know why.  

Well, that didn’t work.  I walked in and he immediately asked me if I was OK.  I said I didn’t want to talk about it and stood their crying silently as he talked about the day he and the kids had.  He looked up and realized what was happening and stopped talking and offered me a hug.  I declined and he asked if I was sure.  I took the hug.  It was the first proper hug he’s given me since early February.  It wasn’t what I needed, but it helped. It got me out in the yard to do some work before I went to bed and helped redirect me.

I was chatting with X and K during the evening as they both asked how I was doing and I was honest.  X said he had been thinking that he wondered how I did it all, and he concluded that I am Wonder Woman.  K said that he didn’t know how I held up as long as I did and that I’m superhero strong and a real lioness.  In my weakest moment, two people who I care about deeply said something about me being so strong.  I felt so vulnerable and so broken.  I cried even more then, but it helped to realize that people who actually know me see me as a strong person, and that it was OK that I was sad.

I think what happened, or what is happening, is that life has calmed down.  I’m no longer running on adrenaline, putting metaphorical fires out, bouncing from one stressful life event to the next.  I don’t have constant conflict in my life.  I’m not busy like I was a couple months ago.  I’ve had sufficient, and even abundant, down-time lately.  Dealing with the stresses in my life, on top of parenting my children, maintaining my career, boyfriends, friendships, and family obligations has been overwhelming the past months, and I was just operating on autopilot, because I didn’t have the luxury of taking time to process.  I think my subconscious decided that now that I have time, it was OK for me to feel all the feelings.  All those feelings came out all at once last night.  I broke.

This is all OK. Actually normal.  Of course I couldn’t hold it all together.  Who could?  

My friend, the one who came for my birthday, when I posted about my crying in a group we are in together with four of our mutual friends, said: “ It’s normal to feel some sadness. While there are some great things happening in your life, there is also some not so great things happening in your life. Sometimes it’s great to have a good cry.”

Rock reforms with the pressure of water.  Water carves canyons and creates beautiful creations simply by running over it.  I’m hoping that’s what my tears are doing, helping me reform and create something beautiful.  

 

Before D dumped me….

…..I was writing this blog post!  His email came in as I was about to publish this!

As soon as I say I’m OK and everything is improving, life derails a little bit again.  I woke up this morning with that knot in my stomach nagging feeling that something was wrong. (The fact that I was writing this as D was composing a break up email, is rather interesting, isn’t it?)  I’m my world, that always means I have something I’m not processing properly or I need to work out and process.  Usually, going for a walk or run or having some time alone works for me to get to the root of the problem.  So, since F was parenting this morning, I took off for a good long walk this morning to clear my head.

While I was out and about, I had the genius idea to take my second on a mommy-daughter date this afternoon, because F was parenting.  So, when I got home, I asked him to come chat with me.  He came upstairs reluctantly and I said: “Hey, would you mind if I picked child #2 up at 5:00 and took her out for a mommy-daughter date and came home at 7?”  Exactly like that.  No demand, not pushing, just asking.  What I got was this:

“This is why you can’t be home when I’m parenting. Why the fuck aren’t you at work? All you do when you are home is interfere and get in the way.  You just cause conflict and make demands of me and make everything difficult.  Why can’t you stop making demands on my time and just go to work.  I have plans tonight and now you are ruining them by changing all our plans at the last minute. This is all about you controlling me.”

While screaming “What. The. Fuck!” on the inside, I responded: “Hold up.  We don’t have any plans.  But I just asked you if it was OK.  I’m here to discuss things with you. Tell me what you need, clearly, without accusations and insults.”

I got from him: “You said you’d be home early and I made plans and not you are changing them and controlling me and demanding my time without talking to me….”

Me, annoyed: “Say what you need.  Communicate with me.”

Him: “I would like you to not take child #2 on a mommy-daughter date today because I made plans and I’d like you to come home earlier.”

Me: “OK. Was that so hard? You can definitely go spend more time with your new family because they are more important than your daughter having a special date with her mom.”

OK, so I should have stopped at “Was that so hard?”  But damn!!!  Why he thinks any of that is appropriate, I don’t understand.

So, he asked when I’d be home, and I said between 5:30 and 6 and he got mad and said that wasn’t early enough.  I told him that was what he gets and said “I’m going to have a shower, then I’m going to work, I’m done talking now.”

I went into my bedroom and locked the door.  Child #3 was inside because she wanted to have a shower too.  So, I undressed and was getting ready to get in the shower and in walks F.  He had broken into the room by popping the lock. Here I am, naked, and he breaks into the room I’m in trying to have a shower. I’m pretty sure that a locked door is a pretty damn crystal clear boundary, that he just barged right through.  I yelled at him to get out.  He refused.  Said “It’s my fucking house, I can be wherever I want to be.”  So I pushed him out the door and locked it and went and hid in the ensuite and then he broke in again.  Fortunately, he walked away.  I showered and child #4 was in our room messing around while #3 showered and F was downstairs, not parenting, but working out.

Then this happened:

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As the day went on, he just got more annoying, worried about himself, and being a giant dick.  I had a great conversation at work and saw a friend this afternoon.  I came home at 5:30 and he left.  Thank goodness. My kids were wonderful and we had a lovely evening, despite the usual post-F parenting behavioural issues.

All this talk of assault got me thinking.  One of my friends suggested I contact police and file a report. First off, I don’t think I need to waste police time.  Second, I didn’t really know where assault and defense lies in all that.  So I consulted my cousin the police officer who is one of my closest friends too.  I wish I had done it before. She said that technically what I did was assault him, but any police officer would listen to my side of the story and tell F that he’s wasting his time.  Her advice?  Next time, don’t push or shove, punch him.  It’s all the same!  Jokes aside, she raised a really good point. He likes to hold assault over me.  She advised me to respond by saying “If you want to talk about assault, call the police and make a statement, otherwise, drop it, because we aren’t having this conversation.”  Fucking genius. Take his power away.  She also pointed out that I need to be very careful, because his increasing anger and aggression could be dangerous. With how fit he is and his brown belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, he could be a real danger to me.  She said to always err on the side of caution and make sure that he isn’t given the opportunity to hurt me.  Wise words from a person who has seen so many horrible domestic situations.

 

The dawn

Well, 9 hours after I got dumped for the first time in my life, I woke up at 4:30 am and baked a cake, chatted with G and K about my break up and have come to a reasonably good place.  Sure, I know I’ll go a few more rounds of feelings and hurt and processing before I’m done, but the reality is that I have bigger things in my life going on and they are way more important than my hurt and disappointment in D.

My primary thoughts are that I’ve learned something about him that I didn’t know previously.  He’s the kind of guy who will, out of nowhere, break up with a girl he says he loves, after six months without so much as one conflict, because he feels like she is an “obligation”.  He doesn’t try to get to the root of the problem.  He doesn’t communicate his concerns.  He encounters the first “problem”, and without communicating with the person he has the issue with, the person he says he loves, he leaves.  He walks away from challenge.  He does so without even having the courtesy of doing it in person.  He sends a lame email and he doesn’t even attempt to explain.  Lame, half-assed apologies are what he offers.

Well, my disappointment in him and how he handled this is simple to understand. I was blindsided.  It’s obvious that he’s not handling my separation well. What else could it be?  He’s excused every bad mood with how busy he’s been or how stressful work is or other things, never once did he communicate that he was having a hard time with me talking to him about my separation.  I had no idea he was internalizing my issues and that he wasn’t coping with my conflict. Had he communicated it?  I could have gone elsewhere for support. But he told me he wanted to be there as a source of support.

Let’s forget how lame it is that he can’t handle the complexities of my life, the complexities, I may add, that I’m navigating amazingly well with little impact on my life let alone the life of others, and focus on the fact that he had an issue and didn’t communicate it.  I don’t want to be with someone who thinks so little of me that he will drop me via email six months into a relationship that had zero issues with no explanation.  Now that I know this part of who he is, I don’t want to be with him.

So, this morning, I’m more focused on the one thing about him I will miss – his amazing oral skills and the best orgasms of my life.  The reality is that my feelings for him were probably intricately linked to those orgasms, so they wouldn’t come back anyway.  So I’ll mourn their loss in the same practical way I mourn the loss of what I thought was a near perfect relationship.

And I added getting dumped to my 40 things before 40 list. Because I’ve never been dumped before…..

Sisterly support?

I may have eluded to the fact that my sister was the first person I confided in when F and I decided to be polyamorous.  Her reaction was horrible. She yelled, screamed, accused, and generally berated me for a week.  What I got from that was that she doesn’t think very much of me.  She thinks I’m a bad person. She thinks I treat her badly, that I’m a bully, that I judge her.  According to her, this all started one night when we were building a puzzle in my kitchen and I tried to move the puzzle to complete the edge. Apparently it was a metaphor for my dealings with everyone in my life.  According to her, I don’t care about the hard work of other people and I just push my way through them, not caring who I hurt in the process.  I certainly don’t think that’s the way I operate. Here’s the thing.  She got mad about that at least four months before she blew up at me.  She was living, for free, in my basement, while I paid for babysitters to go to work, and she undermined my babysitter daily. It was pretty awful.  I should have talked to her about what she was doing, but I was a little busy starting a new job and living my life while she took advantage of my generosity.

I deleted all the text conversations we had, because I couldn’t handle the awfulness.  I didn’t want to reread a long argument between her and I.  

At Easter, my sister was being wicked awesome with my kids.  They were making vinegar and baking soda volcanoes, and someone got the idea of trying to explode a bottle in the back yard.  She headed out to the backyard to mix things up, put on the cap, and ran away.  It became pressurized and didn’t explode.  She snuck up on the bottle and tried to get it to explode, opened the lid and squeezed out the liquid.  I videoed it and it was hilarious. It was so fun and awesome. The kids loved it, everyone was laughing, it was great family time.  I said I thought it was awesome and I was going to post it her Facebook wall, and she said “Then I’ll delete it.”  I posted the video to my Facebook and tagged her in it. I legitimately didn’t understand that she didn’t want it posted. I thought she was joking with me.  I thought it was an awesome family moment. She felt otherwise. Of course, instead of saying something, at dessert, she decided scream at me about how she’d been trying to remove the tag on Facebook for hours.  I just said “Oh, why didn’t you tell me you didn’t want it posted, I can take it down right now.”  She yelled that she had told me.  There was a back and forth that involved me saying that I have enough people in my life not actually saying what they need that I didn’t need her poor communication.  She told me that she “knows the only reason I posted that video is so that my friends and I could make fun of her.” She said that I had intentionally not posted pictures of her at my kids’ birthdays and Christmas and then chose to post something to embarrass her.   At that point I left the room.  I came back and said that she needs to get over herself, she’s not that important, my friends and I don’t talk about her, good or bad.  I told her that I hadn’t posted pictures of her because I either didn’t have them or the ones I had weren’t pictures she’d want me to post.

I had had a conversation with my mom about my will a few days before, and she suggested that I change the guardian of my children from my brother-in-law to my sister in the event of my death.  I said I wasn’t comfortable with my sister having the kids because her lifestyle isn’t conducive to having four kids.  My mom said that she would rise to the occasion in the event that it happened.  She was concerned that my brother-in-law is as passive aggressive as F.  Well, this was an example of my sister being even as passive aggressive.  I told my mom, after this exchange, that this was why my brother-in-law was preferable.  She just said “Well, don’t die.”  I love my mom. It must be so hard for her to see her kids doing this.  

And then in the last 24 hours it got worse.  

My daughter’s 5th birthday party was on Sunday.  I took pictures, and posted one to Instagram of my sister watching present opening.  Then this happened:

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This was between us on Instagram.  I decided that I didn’t need the abuse, deleted her off my social media.  It’s my space.  I don’t let people treat me badly in my space.  She took screen shots and put it in a Viber thread that contains my mom and my step-dad.   This is where it continues.

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I want to respond, but nothing good can come of it.  She’s passive aggressive, mean, and unaccountable for her actions.  She blames me for things that aren’t my fault.  But the things I would say if I thought responding would be reasonable are:

  1. I never intentionally cut you out of pictures or didn’t post any. You didn’t come to Christmas, and those pictures that I did have of you at other times are the types you wouldn’t want posted.  So I didn’t post them.
  2. I didn’t post that video to show a failure or embarrass you, I thought it was a great example of you being an awesome and fun auntie and of us having some good family time together.  It was so nice to have that laugh 24 hours after I asked F for a separation.
  3. I’ve never tried to control you or anyone else.  I’m glad you feel emotionally stable.  I liked you when you showed a small measure of compassion and care for your family and your friends.  I enjoyed being with you.  Fuck, I let you live for free in my basement for over a year with you hardly ever contributing.  Towards the end, I was paying a babysitter to take care of my kids while you slept in the basement, woke up, undermined said babysitter and left.
  4. You are terribly judgmental – it comes out in your reaction to my confiding in you about polyamory, in the way you talk about my parenting, how you criticize my 7-year-old when you think she needs a bath, or when she behaves like a 7-year-old does and wants a friend to herself and you call her a bully and refuse to spend any more quality time with her. It comes out in the negative things you say about natives, homeless people, professional people, and anyone who doesn’t believe in naturopathy and homeopathy.  It comes out when you criticise me for trusting science and not believing in your unproven, scientifically implausible, often times completely discounted natural medicine.  It comes out in the way you talk about your “friends”, their clothing, their choices, the things they say.  
  5. I didn’t decide “to set my husband up with other women”.  I am polyamorous.  I discussed things with him and we decided together.  Much like you, his version of history frequently changes, but polyamory is so much different from what you are talking about.  It’s really too bad you can’t understand.
  6. When you say racist things about Muslims and aboriginals, when you justify slavery in America, when you spout pro-Trump rhetoric, or right-wing conservative propaganda, in front of my kids and in my house, I will always respond. Me not agreeing with a belief you have is not me attacking you.  It’s me not agreeing with a belief you have.  I can love you but still think you are wrong.  It’s not gaslighting. It’s not criticism. It’s not abuse.  It’s not even an attack. It’s me disagreeing with your opinion.
  7. My attitude to you changed when you yelled at me, criticized me, called me a whore, and blamed me for things that I never did.  You spent an entire week telling me everything you have every perceived as a slight. Because I told you I was polyamorous.
  8. I have never asked you if I can post every single picture.  I did ask you when I took them and you lived with me. But I can’t win on this.  If I don’t post a picture, you accuse me of intentionally cropping you out, if I do post a picture, it’s not good enough.  
  9. I am not hurtful and mean spirited.  I never have been and I never will be.  Have I said things in anger that I shouldn’t have? Definitely.  Do I wish I hadn’t? Sure.  But I have never intentionally hurt anyone.  I’m sorry if you feel I have.
  10. I’ve never fought you on your feelings. You want me to delete something I post of you? Say so.  Don’t accuse me of doing things I haven’t done, and expect me to accept your abuse. I never said I didn’t care about how you feel about a picture you don’t like.  You just had to ask me to take it down. Nothing else needed to be said. I thought it was a good pic.
  11. You keep saying that I “intentionally cut you out of pictures”; “posted a failure video to make fun of you”; “post a picture you don’t like” to hurt you.  I literally don’t think about you enough to do any of those things.  First, I’m just not that intentional, and would never do something to hurt someone, and second, you just aren’t that big of a concern in my life.  You aren’t that important that I, or my group of friends, spend any amount of time talking about you and how to do things to you.  It’s very self-centered of you to think that we would.  So when I say “get over yourself”, that’s what I mean.
  12. I haven’t approached you since last summer. At all. Harshly or otherwise.  I most certainly haven’t been treating you badly your whole life.  If you think I have and you are blaming me for some of these things, you should probably reevaluate some of your perspectives.  But if you want to scapegoat me to escape responsibility, go ahead.
  13. You have never tried to fix anything.  You have definitely not tried “everything”. You have never come to me about anything. You have never communicated with me.  I guess if you feel that insulting, criticizing, and generally abusing me is communication, you have.  But I don’t know on what planet you think the way you talk to me would ever be effective in either getting me to have a basic understanding of the message you really want to send or getting me to change some perceived bad behaviour.
  14. I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. I said things in anger, and I shouldn’t have engaged you.  But it’s not fucking intentional and I certainly haven’t done the things you say I have.
  15. Quit making excuses about your language being too aggressive. You insult, criticise, and accuse. That’s not communication. That’s being an asshole.  I don’t care who you work with. It’s not OK.  .
  16. I want to have a sisterly relationship with you. I always have. Those 4 short years where we got along were great.  But somewhere along the way, communication broke down and I just can’t make the sacrifice to my self-esteem to bend over and do what  you seem to think I need to do to make things right.  I love you, but I can’t do this right now. I can’t take your abuse, criticism, accusations, or negative attitude. I need people who love me and support me around me. People who will actually communicate their needs and desires directly. People who will not make arbitrary rules and then get mad at me when I don’t know them and don’t follow them. I can’t. I can’t do this with you.
  17. I hope people out there who say they are my friends aren’t actually scared to talk to me.  But if they are, they aren’t my friends.  I had several people comment on what a colossal passive aggressive bitch you are, but that doesn’t really matter, does it?  
  18. I can’t do this to mom.  She is my rock. She is the person who accepts me without fail, and I won’t hurt her.  Please don’t do this to her.  But if you have to, don’t include me.

There’s probably more.  But honestly, I’m just hurt. And tired. I can’t deal with attacks on two fronts.  Have I made mistakes? Absolutely.  But I’m not the only one who has, I’m just the only one who acknowledges it. I need to take care of myself and my kids.  My sister is going to just have to continue throwing attacks that don’t get a response, because I need my energy to negotiate with F and work out a separation and be there for my kids.  While my sister doesn’t understand this, my boyfriends, friends, and other family do.  For them, I’m eternally grateful.

The new normal until it’s just normal

I feel the need to write, but don’t really know what to write about.  I’m feeling a bit down and out, but really, life is just at its “new” normal level of stress and chaos.  In so many ways, my life is easier.  F is hardly ever around, so the kids are calmer, I’m happier, and although less stuff gets done around the house, because I just can’t do it all with how busy I’ve been at work, in many ways, life is simpler for me.  Of course, at the same time, A’s life has got crazy busy and he’s being stretched in five million directions and trying to juggle a bunch of balls and roller skate while singing a ballad in falsetto at the same time. OK, that was my lame attempt at humour, but the reality is that he’s giving 120% and ending each day exhausted with more things on the “to-do” list than he started with in the morning. He and his wife are both hard working and they are especially busy right now, and they have their sons to consider too.  Add to this the extra emotional stuff that’s going on in the background and it means he doesn’t have a lot left to give at the end of the day.  More than anything, he needs to make himself a priority.  This is something that I want him to do, and thankfully, he is very self-aware and good at taking time for himself if he actually has the time.  

What this means for me is less time with him.  We smuggle dates here and there, sandwiched in between meetings, family responsibilities, and other obligations.  When we are together, it’s amazing. It’s fun and easy and we laugh and joke and smile and occasionally talk about serious things.  He said to me once that I am “an island of calm” and he always comes away relaxed and refreshed.  He is very much this to me too.  He grounds me.  When we are together, it is just us.  We have so many people in common and there’s easy context in our conversations and we can be serious or sarcastic or rude or goofy or sexual or flirty and it all just works.  We both say things to get a rise out of each other and we both look at each other in that way.  It’s good.  Really good. I miss him though.  I miss having the time and the freedom to be with him more often too.  It’s not his fault, it’s not my fault, it’s just life.  Our lives have changed since January when we accidentally-on-purpose ended up naked in bed together and I’m sure they will change again.  I’m glad for the relative ease we had before and I’m glad we are both so happy and committed to what we have now that we will work to weather this time where our time to connect is limited.

D is super busy at work too.  He’s going full speed all day at work, as the project he is working on ramps up.  It’s going to continue like this for some time, which means there are no sweet messages in the middle of the day anymore and he’s so exhausted at the end of the day that the text conversations that we used to have don’t happen anymore either.  It’s not like there’s no communication, it’s just not plentiful and loving.  It’s factual.  We catch up when we are together. Every moment when we are together is used well.  I think I hugged him for a solid two minutes when he arrived last night, getting lost in the connection that I feel when we touch.  Two of my girls joined in and I have a special love for him because my kids care for him so much too.  In fact, F took one of our girls to an event in the evening and when he brought her home, she ran in the house excited to see D and jumped on his lap.  I have no doubt this was hard for F to see, not to mention that the girls just said “bye daddy” as he left, when they normally run to the door and don’t let me go when I leave.  Now, this is absolutely typical behaviour for the age of our children. Children this age are normally more attached to their mother than father.  However, F has a way of getting emotional about shit that’s not really about him, so I don’t doubt that there were some feelings coming out on his drive back to W’s house. (The kids get just as excited seeing W and other than the fact that I think she’s a crazy fucking cow, I don’t get upset – well, unless she’s passive aggressively criticizing my parenting, but not that my kids like her).

D is a “safe place” for me. Somewhere where I can let go completely and be myself. Be raw and real and never concerned about how he will react.  He is so calm and accepting.  Just after his surgery a few weeks ago, when things had to remain PG, we spent an evening on the couch just cuddling and intermittently chatting.  We are both big on touch, so we were pretty much in constant contact, me rubbing his gorgeous bald head, him running his hands through my hair, rubbing his chest, him rubbing my arm or holding my hand.  There were long periods of time where we just held each other and said nothing.  It was beyond wonderful.  I think that when you’ve reached the point in your relationship where you can sit in beautiful companionship filled silence, you’ve reached an amazing place. What that evening did for us both was recharge us. We both needed that place where we were alone and the world didn’t exist to reset.  

The fact that A and D and I are all so busy right now means that the reset button isn’t pushed as often.  We just don’t have the time to give each other.  I’m home nearly every night with my kids, because F thinks it’s his right to stay away and only parent when I’m working my Monday to Friday job. I spend the majority of my evenings at home with my children and then alone for hours.  When I first asked F for a trial separation, I basked in the awesomeness of my new-found alone time. I’ve always loved being alone. It’s rarely been a problem for me.  Before I met F, I lived alone for a couple years and I look back on that as the best time in my life.  But tonight I realized that I’m having a harder time adjusting to this new normal than I anticipated.  Turns out that being “alone” with kids isn’t the same as being alone with myself. I suspect it has something to do with responsibility.  When I spent so much time alone when I was childless and single, I *could* leave if I wanted to.  Now I can’t.  I don’t think I feel trapped, I think I just feel a little less in control.  It’s probably a combination of the changes in my life, the changes in A’s life, and the changes in D’s availability.  So many things are changing so quickly that my brain is having a hard time catching up.  The brain that suddenly has far more alone time to spend processing (read: obsessing) and has a heightened awareness of the realities of the major life changes occurring because of my decisions. This perfect combination combined tonight to make me cognizant of the fact that I’m not adapting quite as well as I thought to these changes.

I’ve been joking with A that I should just find a third boyfriend to fill the gaps in my calendar.  I have a secret thrill (probably not secret, probably intentional on his part) when he reacts negatively to this.  He likes to cover up his feelings with an excuse about how scheduling will work, but I know there’s more to it than that.  Truth be told, I have a man waiting in the wings for the time when my life is settled enough that I could actually date someone else, but that time isn’t going to be for several months. I haven’t been stringing him along at all, he knows I can’t date right now.  In fact, my exact words were: “I need another boyfriend like I need a hole in my head”, but I am truly very interested in him, so working towards a place where I can date again is kind of important to me.  I have decided that I need to have a signed separation agreement before I even consider if I’m ready to date, so it’ll be a while.  Of course, I am human and may change my mind and am reserving my right to do so, because if F continues the way he has been, it may be 2019 before we have one signed!

The solution to this is, of course, more sex and more alcohol!

 Kidding, of course.  The solution is to do nothing.  Ride it out.  My new normal will eventually become just normal.  Nothing needs to be done.  Why? Because I’m still happy underneath it all. I love the life I’m living.  I love the relationships I have.  I love the connection I have with my men and my family and my friends.  My life is really very full of love. Expressed daily or weekly or monthly or only in actions, love is pervasive in my life. Being alone and surrounded by love is so much more preferable than being surrounded by people without love.

Sex, cultural norms, explanations, and how we talk about it all

Life is crazy.  Hubby decided to empty our joint chequing account and cancel our joint credit card without telling me. I found out when I tried to withdraw money to pay our babysitter on my break on Sunday.  Not the good type of surprise.  Fortunately, I was smart enough to save our children’s savings accounts and had stashed a bit of a cash back up fund, so I’ll be fine. Today was a day of opening my own accounts, making sure that all my earnings go into my own account, taking my name off some accounts, closing others, and getting my phone in my name apart from him.  The cherry on the top of the cake was my parking fees being NSF’d because hubby cancelled my credit card. So I managed to get direct debit set up.  Now I think I’m good.  As good as one can be when one’s husband goes crazy and makes major decisions without telling her.  Also, I told him about every change I made so he isn’t caught unaware next week.  I will be the bigger person if it kills me.

During this weekend I was talking to A a bit about my blog and how much he enjoys reading it.  He caught up on my most recent posts and asked me about calling him a “cocky asshole” (I stand by it!) and we laughed a bit.  He said he likes reading about our relationship and how I present it to others. I explained that it’s really a processing tool for me or really an explanation of my processing.  That it’s therapeutic in a way.  And then I said:  Except now that you read it, I can’t be completely honest about all the things until I’ve been completely honest with you about them.”

As is so typical of A, his response was perfect and interesting and full of insights into how he works.  I’m not sure he always realizes how much of who he *really* is is present in some of his messages, but maybe he does and he’s that good with words and messages and guiding my responses.  It doesn’t really matter to me either way. I kind of like him a little bit so it all makes me happy. 🙂

 Here was his response:

“Actually you can totally be honest in the blog.  As I know it is how you process,  and it is a great way to get a conversation started,  and if it is written,  then I can read and be prepared for the convo.  You know I’m very easy to manage and communicate with.  I don’t see it as passive.”

First off, he’s so not easy to manage! But he’s easy to communicate with. In fact, he’s one of the best communicators I know.  It’s part of why I tolerate the cocky asshole part. (Totally kidding, but I have to ride that one as long as I can – see what I did there?)

While there are things I could write about, I like keeping my relationship with A uncomplicatedly complicated.  The fact that my two metamours are best friends could be so complicated and it isn’t.  The fact that his wife is monogamous and our relationship is more committed than his others since he’s had his “free pass”, as he calls it, has the potential to be complicated, but so far it isn’t.  The fact that I’m separating from my husband and he’s gone batshit crazy has the potential to get complicated and it has.  It hasn’t caused stress in my relationships, but it could.  These things I have minimal control over.  What I do have control over is how complicated I make our relationship. So some things won’t make it here until I talk with him in person, even when I have his permission.  Plus, he says a lot with his body language that doesn’t come across in his written responses, so sometimes I don’t want the guy to have prep time!

Now that I’ve explained all that, I’m going to talk about something that happened last night with A.  Not because of him, but because something he said had me thinking all day today in between putting out the fires of my life.  

He came over for a glass of wine after a charity event he was at and the stressed out version of me had other ideas for him than just drinking wine and though he put up a token fight, I managed to get him into bed and use him for the stress relief I needed.  (I would never have got him naked if he hadn’t wanted to be, so no stress about me having an unwilling participant.) Somewhere in the midst of pillow talk, he said something about me being a nympho.  I joked that for a guy that says he always wants sex, he sure turns me down a lot and we continued from there.

So here’s the thing. I like sex a lot. There was a time in my married life where we went without having sex (as in penis in vagina intercourse) for many many many months.  We did other things, but it was mediocre at best.  So was the sex when we had it. For the year before we embraced polyamory, we had very regular sex and it was improving dramatically.  There was a time in my life where I thought I might be asexual, but then it occurred to me that I very much enjoyed masturbation every day, so it was probably a problem with the sex, not the machinery.  When I started dating, and started having sex with new men, I realized something.  These 40 year old men?  Best kept secret.  They know what they are doing.  They have sex for the entire experience. They know how to please a woman and they know their way around the lady parts.  They know how to ask for what they want and they know how to take feedback.  Sex with 40-year-old men is amazing.  Every. Fucking. Time.  (Shhhhh. Don’t tell anyone.  I want them all for myself!)

That’s why I like sex so much.  I have the best sex of my life pretty much every time I have sex.  Yes, it’s that good.  I have two amazing partners.  Everything about my relationships with them is extremely different, but they are both amazing.  They fulfill parts of my life in ways I never thought possible until X introduced me to polyamory.  So, I pretty much always want to have sex. I joke that I’m channeling a 16-year-old boy. A said I’m just channeling any man, but then he turns me down for sex. So I’m going to go with me being right!

See what I just did in the above paragraphs?  What I did was explain.  I explained why I like sex.  I explained the circumstances of why I wanted to have a really good naked time with A last night.  I found an excuse for every one of my actions that wasn’t “I just wanted to have sex”.

Think about this for a second.  If a man said that he had a tough day, needed some stress relief and wanted sex, would you question it?  If a man just said he wanted sex, would you be surprised?  Would you call him a nympho for expressing his desire?

See what happened?  A man pointed out my ‘atypical’ sex drive and I responded by defending it. A didn’t do anything wrong.  He was joking with me. He’s a product of the society we live in as much as I am.  Sure we have alternative lifestyles, but internalization of gender norms runs deep, and we all are guilty of our indoctrination. This fact can’t be more apparent than in my need to justify why I want sex.  Or my response to him being teasing back that “for a guy who says he always wants sex, you sure were difficult to get in the bedroom.” I immediately went for the gender stereotype that he should always be ready and willing.   

Why do we do this?  Why is this our cultural norm?  I don’t take any offense to it.  I have no shame associated with the fact that I like sex, because I’m confident in who I am and what I want.  But why isn’t it OK for a woman to say “Holy shit, could I ever use a pounding now” or a man to say “I just need to cuddle tonight”?  Why is it the default of sex positive people like A and me to poke fun and joke with gender stereotypes and societal norms?  

And in the end, is it important?  Does it matter if he jokingly calls me a nympho after I very actively convinced him into the bedroom?  Does it matter that my response is to tease him that for a man who says he has a high sex drive, I sure did have to work to convince him?  Is it wrong to just let the joke go? Or as a proper feminist, do I have to do better, fight the joke, fight the stereotype, fight the gender norm?  

In the end, the sex is fucking fantastic. And it always has me wanting more.  Which means I’ll have more than one future opportunity to explain why I just want to get fucked.

 

Closing a door

The last week has been crazy in so many ways.  But I’m going to focus on a major decision I’ve made with regards to my marriage.  Let me see if I can piece together all the processing I’ve done during the last week into something coherent.

Last Thursday, I woke up with one of those rare (for me) feelings of unease. Like something was wrong, but I didn’t know what it was.  I hate things like this.  It makes it really hard for me to focus on anything else, and I obsessively process and try to work my way through things.  I don’t do well with not understanding my emotions.  As soon as I realize I don’t, I have to figure it out.  At first I thought I was just nervous knowing that I was going to kiss G.  Then I kissed her and it was still there, no change really.

Then I did some more processing and thinking and came up with a few twisty bits about A.  I tackled one of them.  I talked to G about the other and I still have to talk to A about it, and call me crazy, but I think it’s better if I talk to him in person about my Twisty Bit than publish it here to read. I do have a post almost entirely prepared about those Twisty Bits though. (Sorry A, you’ll actually have to have the serious conversation with me!)

So, that meant processing more.  I spent the entire weekend, except for Sunday night, alone with the kids.  This meant a lot of time to think and work and think and work.  One of the things I did was tell my four best friends from when I lived abroad that I am polyamorous. I did it in the best way possible.  Bandaid style.  I posted a picture of me with A and D and said “This is a picture of me with my boyfriends…”  and explained the whole thing.  In true friend fashion, they were all really supportive.  But my best friend there had the best thing to say:

Ahhh. I’m actually not surprised. And I’m not surprised that as soon as you were happy and confident in your professional and emotional life your hubby couldn’t cope. I’m glad you are finding yourself!!

Then I had a long chat with her on messenger and she pointed out a few things.  Patterns of behaviour that suggest that those bizarre boundary pushing behaviours, passive aggressive control manipulations, and general douchiness were actually present all along, not a product of the last six months.  She pointed out some situations where it was quite obvious that he was trying to control me. Where he said things that were so critical or manipulative or just a little too far past the truth to really stick.  As I thought of it, I realized a few things.  

When we were just the two of us, for the first 7 years of our relationship, I was strong and independent, but I made so much less money than he did that I was dependent on him and his support.  He could still be a real jerk, but it was seldom, because let’s face it, when you don’t have kids, things are a little easier to manage in life.  But there were times he accused me of trying to control him, or spending his money frivolously, or using him for this or that.  He guilted me about sex and he was a very selfish lover.  But it wasn’t that bad.  All of it could be excused by his challenging job, the fact that he was going to university full time and working full time, and the fact that he worked shift work and was often very tired.

Then, we had four kids in five years and four months.  I had two miscarriages in that time too.  I was depressed in the months leading up to getting pregnant with #2.  I’m a strong, independent, career minded woman and I was at home on maternity leave for 4 years. I sacrificed a lot to be home with my kids.  It’s OK, it was a choice I made, but it was still hard.  In between, I worked a job that I like, but didn’t give me the fulfillment that my job, in my chosen profession, that I have now, gives me.  I was unhappy.  Then, after #4 was born, I finally realized that I was depressed and went on medication.  It changed my life.  I was more engaged in life, I worked at making things work with hubby more, it was great.  In the end, after a year and a half on meds, I thought he and I were in a really good spot.  We weren’t really, but I thought we were.  

What I realized is that there was a lot of passive aggressive and outright aggressive criticisms of me taking place during those years.  Comments about how I shouldn’t be having a hard time and needing him at home on his days off because I was “just” at home with the kids doing nothing all day.  Comments about how all I did was “spend his money”.  Comments criticizing my diet, exercise, and appearance.  Recently, a lot of these things have really exploded. Yesterday he blamed me for all our financial issues and the told me that his mental health issues were because of the finances.

 Hmmmmmm…..sounds like I’m being blamed for his mental health issues.

These comments served to destabilize me more.  It was a way to control me. To keep me unhappy and “stuck”. For him to feel needed by me.  He knew I was unhappy being at home full time with kids, so he played up my dislike of it.  He knew I wasn’t fulfilled in my other job in emergency services and criticised me for taking a job in my chosen career instead.  He still criticises me about my job, complaining I work too much, complaining that I don’t make enough, complaining that I work and “let someone else parent my kids” (never mind that he is also working and letting someone else parent his kids….).  Then this crazy ass thing happened. I was professionally fulfilled for the first time since I graduated from grad school.  I found a job I love, doing what I want, with amazing coworkers, and great work/life balance.  

Then I reconnected with X.  He introduced me to polyamory.  I went through the growth of the heartbreak with him.  I met A, B, C, and D.  All of them have given me so much in my life, even if B is now a friend and C has disappeared because he’s W’s other partner.  I became happy.  Really, truly, deep down in the darkest corners of me, happy.  I found a part of me that I didn’t know was missing.  I felt (and still feel) complete.  

What I didn’t realize is how destabilizing my happiness and fulfillment in my professional and emotional life was to hubby’s mental health.  He no longer could control me.  With my happiness came the ability to calmly and patiently deal with life’s issues.  I had perspective and meaning and balance.  But hubby didn’t.  My happiness rocked his world view.  I stopped responding and getting angry at the little pokes. So the pokes got bigger.  He started stomping right through my boundaries.  He had to work harder and harder to get a reaction out of me.  Then, at a certain point, I couldn’t help but react.  I’m human. I got pushed to the point where I couldn’t be calm any more.  And I lost control.  And that was horrible.  

Inside all that conflict there was one thing that still was obvious.  I was happy. Complete.  In love with D and living my life exactly how I wanted. Then I crossed the couch and ended up with A.  My happiness and the ease with which I slotted A into my life was hard on hubby. He didn’t realize that I still loved him and wanted to be him, and that upped his boundary pushing to a point where it couldn’t be sustained any more. Because of all that pushing, I reacted and our relationship exploded.  

The last weeks have been interesting.  Hubby is not doing well. He’s quite obviously stressed – not sleeping, looks exhausted, unkempt and stressed.  He’s having a very hard time with me not reacting.  Except this week, I haven’t been my best and have reacted a little too often.  Mostly, he’s challenged by my calling him on his bullshit.  He’s complained that I’m not a stay at home mom, that I’m responsible for all the financial issues we have, says I’m abusive, he’s told me that I lost the right to be upset about the fact that he forced a situation where I had to tell a friend and my mom about being polyamory because I hit him. He’s told me he doesn’t feel like he’s ever had any control in his life.  He’s got a cloak of victim wrapped so tightly around himself that he can’t see how he is manipulating and being passive aggressive.  It’s sad.

What I had to ask myself after all of these realizations was:

  1. Do I think that hubby can do all the things I need him to do if we are to fix our marriage?
  2. What are all the things I need hubby to do if he decides he wants to fix our marriage?
  3. If he does decide that he wants to fix our marriage, do I really want that?  

It’s sad that this is what I’m thinking about.  But what it did was help me figure it all out.  The thing is, when I thought it was just hubby going a little crazy over a short period of time, I thought we could solve things.  Now that I realize it’s a pattern of behaviour that just amplified, I don’t think we can.

So, I’ve decided to formally separate from my husband.  I’m stressed about the details.  I couldn’t be more certain of my decision at this point.