Vulnerable about vulnerability

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A poly year

A year ago, I went to bed, happy and fulfilled in my life, at least I thought.  I had a crazy dream that night.  A dream about X that was anything but platonic. That dream prompted me to message X when I got to work the next morning.  And the rest is history, as they say.  He introduced me to polyamory, and changed my entire life.

I’ve been poly for a year.  I’ve never been so certain about a decision in my life.  I am polyamorous.  I have had the most amazing year.  I fell in love with X and felt the intensity of our connection and loved him so completely.  Then it ended.  I met A, and we had the weirdest first date ever, with our bizarre coincidences and crazy connection.  We friend-zoned and were both happy to do so.  I met B, who was a romantic interest in my life for a short time, but has been a steadfast friend as I navigate my divorce and my dating life.  Then I started dating D.  I fell so madly in love with him, in the most intense and amazing way possible.  I had months of a near perfect relationship with him. It ended, in an absolutely awful way, but it doesn’t change how amazing the relationship was.  In the meantime, I unintentionally started the incredible relationship I have with A.  We embarked on an adventure exploring BDSM together.  We supported each other through some pretty shitty times.  We turned to each other when the rest of the world was railing against us.  We just became who we are together as a couple, while being who we are as individuals.  We figured out what worked for us.  I met L.  We are still working on creating what we want in our relationship together.  Committed and cooperative and happy and moving forward together.  

My marriage disintegrated.  It was awful and conflict-filled and I held on too long. Then I stood up, hopped off the roller coaster, advocated for myself, and moved forward.  We are working together to co-parent the most amazing four kids in the world.  We have moved forward as adults and our separation is negotiated.  I hope that moving forward we’ll work together instead of apart.

I dated.  I had coffee dates and dinner dates and drink dates and lunch dates and breakfast dates, and I had first kisses that rocked my world and second dates that ended in disappointment.  I had horrible dates and hopeful dates and disappointing dates and a wife messaging me to tell me I had a liar date.  

Outside of the poly part of me, I had three grandparents die.  My dad was diagnosed with cancer.  My sister cut me out of her life in a hail of fire.  I lost friends, met new friends, and connected more strongly with others.

I told many people about being polyamorous.  All but my sister reacted positively.  Nearly all embraced me and my chosen lifestyle completely, asking relevant questions and supporting my choice.  Most importantly, my mom supports me and my kids support me.  I have told so many people now that I’m almost “out”.  Not yet.  But one day, I will be.  In particular, I came out to G and to my person at work.  I made the strongest connections with two women who will always have my back.  They are better than having a sister.

I loved.  I loved men like I’ve never loved before.  My relationship with D only need serve as an example.  I’ve never loved someone who wasn’t blood so unconditionally.  My love for A is unique too.  It’s the first time I’ve submitted to a man worthy of my submission.  He’s earned a special respect and love from me. That’s something bigger than I can explain in words.  The fact that he doesn’t really ‘get it’ makes it even more important and a little funny too.  These loves taught me about the type of love I should have.  The type of love I want and the type of love I deserve and the type of love that I shouldn’t accept.  Through loving these men and the understanding of what it meant, I loved myself again.  I chose to stop sacrificing my happiness.  I expected more. I demanded more.  I became more.  I became a better woman, a better mom, a better partner, a better person.  I stood up for myself.  I supported the people I love.  I became who I’ve always wanted to be.  

I cried.  I hurt.  I raged.  I cried some more.  I have never felt so broken.  I have never felt so confused, hurt, rejected, unloved.  I cried as I shed my old me and the new me became.

Today, a year later, I’m happy. Truly, completely, thoroughly, uncomplicatedly happy.  My life is full of everything I could possibly want.  The most amazing kids, parents who love and support me, friends who accept me unconditionally, partners who accept me for who I am, two fulfilling, challenging, and stimulating jobs, and so much of everything I could ever need.

Happiness came in a form I never expected, because I had a dream.

Disappearing stress

I was reminded today, by A, that I haven’t published anything in awhile.  It made me laugh, because yesterday I dumped some twisty bits on him and I’m pretty sure he came here hoping he would get more insight before he responded.  We laughed and joked and he tried to change the conversation, but in the end, we got through the twisty bits quite uneventfully, and ended up talking about all the other things.  

The last 3 days have been kind of amazing on so many different levels.   I truly don’t know where to start.  So I’ll start with A.  We had a great date on Friday.  Friday seems to have become *our* day, and I pretty much always reserve it for him.  I’m post-surgery recovering and can’t have sex, so we spent a much longer than normal time on the couch chatting, and I was several beers in before he arrived, so I was in a mood for fun.  For the first time ever, I jokingly tied him up and went to work having said fun. I figured that someone should have an orgasm in my house, since it’s been way too tame here lately.  Alas, I played way too much, but given the length of that blow job, I’d say he at least had fun.  Tying him up was totally not my thing though.  I like the responses when he grabs my head or moderates my speed or any touch, and taking away his hands just made it less connected. Fortunately, he just untied one arm and fixed that in short order and the night was saved.  Add to that the fact that I got a lot of other attention and I’d say it was a fantastic and much-needed night.  Twisty bits aside, I needed the connection, and I suspect he did too.

Saturday, I met the other girl L is dating, and we totally hit it off.  I’m eight years older than L, and she is six years younger.  We’ve been chatting pretty much continuously, and she is very much a 26 year old version of me.  He clearly has a type.  It’s funny.  Of course, L’s mind is blown that we both get along so well, but he takes it in stride.  After that, I went to roller derby again.  One of my very good friend’s husband wanted to talk about polyamory and emotions and how to deal with everything, and so I invited him along.  It was wicked awesome.  We had such a fantastic conversation, really enjoyed the match, and everything about it was great.  

Last week, I was chatting with D’s wife about her tubal ligation and asking about recovery time and limitations (mostly in sex, because, let’s be reasonable, I’m kind of needy when it comes to this – so says A, anyway), and I gave her a heads up that I’d be at derby because the time before was so awkward (in a hilarious way though).  When I had surgery, she wished me luck and I sent her a picture of my feet in these super fun hospital styrofoam slippers:

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She joked that she didn’t get anything like that for her surgery and I joked that I’d steal some for her, and asked her her foot size.  So, while I was waiting to go into surgery, I stole a pair, shoved it in my purse, and brought it to derby.  When she arrived, she spotted me, as far away as possible from where they sit, and texted to say she saw me.  I said I had something for her and to come see me when she could.  There was more joking and awesomeness back and forth that made me giggle.  She came across at half-time, and as my friend’s husband went out for a smoke, I see D walk by and he gives me a wave and smile and I smile back, and she says “Oh, D doesn’t want to interrupt your date.”, and I laughed and explained that it wasn’t a date and referred them to a group we are all part of to catch up on who he was and then chatted.  When D came back, he came over, said he didn’t want to interrupt my date, and I stood up and gave him a hug and explained that it wasn’t a date.  He bought me a beer and the three of us chatted, mostly about how my divorce is going and my new tattoo, but it was good.  It was so normal.  So at the end of half-time, they left to go back to their seats, and I said “Enjoy your long walk, I intentionally picked seats as far away as possible to mitigate the awkward”.  D’s response:  “Next time come sit with us”.  So I laugh and say “Does this mean the awkward is over?” and he says “Yes”, and his wife laughs and says “You two are so fucking weird!” and that’s how it ended.  I sent him a text to say I was glad the awkward was over and apologized for my anger and hurt and the passive aggressive way I dealt with my heartbreak, but didn’t get a response, but for me, it was the ultimate closure.  I just feel so damn good about it.

Oh, and her slippers fit:

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That night, I went to my good friends’ house.  They moved less than a block away, and they are derby refs, so we continued the night there. There’s not much to say other than it was a lot of fun. I was in prime drunken form and probably embarrassed myself, but it was great.  As seems to be the theme with them, there was some cuddling and love and tons of joking and laughter. It was amazing.  Honestly, Saturday was probably the most perfect day I’ve had in a long time.  A left so early in the morning after we fell asleep cuddling, I met L’s other lady, I had a great chat with my friend’s husband, I chatted and hugged and shed the awkward with D, and had a great, super fun non-adulting night with friends who accept me for exactly who I am.

Sunday, I had a Lego date with my 3-year-old, my eldest two came back from my parents’ and we had a cuddling movie night.  Then L came over, we chatted, and cuddled, and started a movie, and he decided to go home because he was tired, and the goodnight kiss ended up in more work on my blow job skills.  😉  (My main joke right now is that since I can’t have sex, I’m going to work on perfecting my blowjob skills and successfully deep throating.) It was just full of connection and awesome.  I like what I have with L.  He’s so sweet.  I describe him as the “cute new guy” to everyone.  He’s just lovely.  Kind, and funny, and strong, and accepting, and enthusiastic.  He’s a good match for me and my relationship with him is a good complement to my relationship with A.  A, I refer to as “sexy grandpa”, because that is exactly what he is.    

I’m back on OKC, on Friday, I eliminated the other 2 guys I was dating from contention for legitimate but rather boring reasons. They are both nice guys.  I’d have a great time with both of them.  But neither can give me what I need, so I needed to walk away.  Of course, this means that I’m talking to more men than I can keep track of, but it’s pretty great.  I have a date on Wednesday, and should have one or more others coming up.  A is going out of town next weekend, so I’m going out with L’s other girl on Friday, which should be fun.  

The biggest and most amazing thing is that F and I are in a good place again.  We had a great meeting with our lawyers today, and we are at the point of drafting a separation agreement.  I got basically everything I wanted and I think he’s happy too.  So much stress just disappeared from my life.

Now, if only I could have sex.  Because damn, 6 weeks is a long time.

 

Whole

I crossed the couch and unintentionally started a relationship with A just over 6 months ago.  Back then, if someone had said I would be separated, D and I wouldn’t be together anymore, and I’d be in love with A and dating actively, I would have told them they were smoking some awesome drugs.  But that is my reality.  Six months, A and I have been together.  He’s never said he loves me, although I think he likes me and the time we have together a bit more than a little.  Do I care that he knows I love him, and he’s never said it?  Not even a little.  I’m happy with what we have, including him and his reluctance to talk about feelings.

I saw my person for the first time in a couple weeks.  I updated her on the goings on in my life and it took 45 minutes to just give the brief explanation because my life is weird, and awesome, and so very fucking full. I realized again, just how much support I have in my life.  I’m so lucky.

Among the things that happened this week is that I found my first cheating asshole!  I’m very clear with every man that messages me on OKC that I am polyamorous, I’m not interested in casual sex, I’m not anyone’s unicorn, and if there is a wife or significant other in the picture, that person needs to be 100% in the know before I even consider dating someone.  Well, I went out with a guy.  Had an amazing kiss in my parking lot (did I mention that I had 3 first kisses in that parking lot in the last week?  Well, I did)  The next day, I got a text from his wife telling me that he was breaking all their rules and that he was lying to me and to her. So. Not. Cool. So, I obviously walked the fuck away from that without looking back.

I’ve been staying at my parents when F is parenting in our house and this week I had a great talk with my step-dad. This guy is the most amazing father figure. He’s been there for me, for my sister, and for my kids more than any other male figure has been.  He told me he was proud of me. That he was happy that I finally realized what was going on between F and I and that I stepped away from the dysfunction.  He was supportive and awesome and loving and amazing and totally dad-like.  It was so refreshing.  It was one of those dad conversations that won’t happen again for years, but I feel better, and anchored, because of it.

I got the second part of my tattoo done.  It didn’t escape me that the flower bud that represents my second  miscarriage was what was the most painful!  But damn is it amazing!!!  I’m so happy with it.

The other day, F and I had our second collaborative meeting with our lawyers.  It went so well that we actually got up and hugged each other part of the way through.  It was incredible actually, to be laughing and joking and having fun while discussing divorce proceedings.  Things seem to be working out as far as that goes.  We’re actually getting along reasonably well and the kids are doing well too.  We told them that we are separated last week, and they reacted as well as can be expected.  They actually seem to be doing quite well with it all and only time will tell how quickly they adjust.

So much is going so well for me right now.  I realized that I’m actually truly, unequivocally happy.  Content in my life, my strength, my independence.  Loving my kids and my jobs and my boyfriend and dating new and interesting people.  For the first time in a year, I don’t feel stressed or sad or angry.  I just am.  I’m in control of as much of my life as I can be, have accepted the parts of life I cannot change, and am moving forward with intention, joy, love, and independence.  I am whole again.

Ephiphany

Today was the most amazing day.  I had an enormous epiphany that was the final puzzle piece on processing the end of my relationship with D and that gave me so much perspective about what has been going on with F.  I’m in such an amazing place and it’s really impossible to explain how happy this epiphany has truly made me.

First, I’m going to share a conversation that happened between F and I today.  The time has come to tell our kids about our separation.  We’ve been waiting until school is done because our oldest has a lot of separation anxiety when big changes occur.  I really didn’t want to tell her that her entire world was changing and then send her off to school.  This Thursday being the last day of school means that it’s time.  So I messaged F to try to set up a time for us to break the news to them together.  This is how it went (I’m pink; F’s blue):

This is the last week of school.  I would like to tell #1 (and the other kids) about us separating.  This is something I think we should do together.  How would you feel about doing it after school on Thursday before you go to your first night shift?

Tell me how you see this looking? I was planning on spending some time packing for camping.  How much time do you think we need? Do you think you’d be able to come back at 4pm, and we could do it then? Any thoughts on how to present it to them?

I can definitely come back at 4. I think we should sit the kids down and just tell them that mommy and daddy still love each other, but we aren’t going to be married to each other anymore, and that we are going to live in separate houses.  We should tell them that we were fighting all the time as they know, and we get along better when we don’t live together.  I think we should tell them that we still both love them and we are all still family even though mommy and daddy aren’t a couple and that mommy and daddy are still working as a team to be their parents.  We should tell them that they will still see both of us lots and that it’s OK to love us both and it’s OK to miss one of us and miss when we all lived together.  I expect #1 will react very badly, and have a lot of questions.  

To add to that, #1 was asking me last night if I like W, and asking me if I think you love her or me more, etc.  She knows something is up.  I told her that my feelings about W don’t matter because you chose her and it’s not my decision.  She tried to argue that you chose me first and that means I’m more important and I basically deflected the situation.  Be prepared that she’s going to need your reassurance that this decision was both of ours, not that you left for W.  I absolutely will not ever tell the kids that you chose her over me. I promise you that.

Just to clarify there, I did not choose W over you. She actually has nothing to do with this. You asked for a separation. But I agree that this is not something they need to know.

Are you sure you want to do this when you’re going to have them by yourself for several days?

I think #1 already understands. She’s a smart kid. Of course they’re going to react against new partner(s), and want us back together, that’s natural.  I think we need to try and minimise the conflict between us that occurs in front of them.

Me asking for a separation is mutually exclusive from you choosing W over me.  It doesn’t matter though, you made your choice and that influenced my choice. It’s OK, I’m not blaming her, I blame us.

I do absolutely want to do this when I’m going to have them alone for several days. #1 will need the extra time with me to talk to me and be close to me so I can help her process. I do not want to wait until just before you take them for the weekend or just before she goes on her trip.  And honestly, I don’t like having to avoid answering #1’s questions.

I tried a few times to write a response to your comments about, “choosing W over [you]”. This isn’t what happened — but I can understand how you may feel this way, given we haven’t had any real conversation about the causes of the separation. On one hand, I feel like the time we spent together means I owe you explanations of what happened, and that you deserve to hear my perspective.  But on the other, I think you’re not ready to listen, and it will only cause more anger and conflict. So I’m going to leave it there.

I think telling them on Thursday puts me in a difficult situation, in that they (especially #1), will have a lot of questions that I won’t be able to answer until Saturday, when we’re off camping. But I’m not seeing a lot of great alternatives.  Telling her just before going on her trip would be a nightmare, and I agree that doing it on almost no sleep before going camping is also a bad idea.

I also don’t like avoiding answering questions, I’m glad it will be out in the open, although I suspect they have worked much out themselves in their clever little heads. I am worried about how this is going to affect them, but remain far more worried about how us remaining together would have affected them. At least we know how we’re going to screw them up now.  Everyone screws up their kids somehow, this will be our way.

I want to say that I’m not angry at you for this.  We are not a good combination together, and became (or maybe always have been?) toxic. That doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, any more than it makes me a bad person. It just means the combination of us doesn’t work. I wish you happiness in the future, and hope that you can find someone who meets your needs better than I could. I hope that you’re doing ok.

No matter what,  your perspective and my perspective are going to be different.  You have a dialogue, I have mine. Somewhere in the middle is the truth.  If you want to tell me what you think happened, I will be happy to hear it.  But as you said, it’s not necessary.  I hope to one day be friends again, because it will be good for the kids, and honestly, most of the time, I like you.  I think that you choosing to have W in your life will complicate our friendship, but that is the choice you have made.  For what it’s worth, I’m glad you are happy with her, even if I don’t like her and I’m concerned about the influence she will have over our kids in the future.

Honestly, I may have been the one to ask for the official separation, but you left our marriage a long time before I did.  I was just the one to pull the trigger, but we were both done.  I dislike that you keep saying “You asked for this”.  I didn’t ask for this, but I did choose it, because it was the right decision, and I suspect you wouldn’t have chosen yourself.  I think that when I look back at our relationship, there is a theme that presents itself. I don’t like to say toxic, because it wasn’t all bad. There were some really great times.  The last six months were awful.  I thought at one point that that awful was new, but realized that it wasn’t new, it was just more frequent.  When I thought back through our 14 years together, I realized that the dysfunction had always been there, it just took the addition of 3 new people in our lives to expose those cracks in our foundation.  When we didn’t acknowledge those cracks or even try to repair them, it crumbled. It crumbled in a horrible awful way because we were both too stubborn to acknowledge our roles and work together or pull the plug sooner.  Stepping off that roller coaster was the best thing I could do for myself, for you, and for our kids.  It was the best thing for our marriage to end it.  You and I both know that.  There are times when you and I chat now that I remember why I married you.  I’m glad I have that back, because it had been nearly a year since I felt that way. It helps remind me that I do want to parent with you because you are a good dad.  I think as things settle down, we will get better.  There will be challenges that we haven’t faced before, but in the end, I believe we will do what is best for the kids always.  

As for me, there will never be some”one” for me.  I am polyamorous – acknowledging that and embracing it was life changing in the most amazing way.  What it means for my future, I don’t know, but I’m really really really happy knowing who I am and living the life I was meant to.  It doesn’t make it easy, lord knows I’ve suffered a lot in the last six months, but it is worth it to me.

As for the conversation with the kids, the reality is that we are not going to both be with the kids for them to ask us questions together. That’s the very basic fact of what we are telling them.  It will take them time to process. If #1 needs to talk to you, I can call you and you can talk to her. It will be OK.  But this isn’t screwing up the kids.  Screwing up the kids was what we did from November to March.

I wouldn’t focus so much on W. It will be a minor miracle if that relationship survives our separation. Also, you really don’t know the first thing about her — you never got to know her.

I think we will be able to be friends and make this work amicably. We’re obviously going to have disagreements, but I think it’s important to both of us to maintain a strong parenting relationship moving forwards for the sake of the kids.

I think sometimes that the children helped keep us together.  Suddenly we had these amazing little people that we were in love with, and we saw that love reflected in each other. I also feel I have some responsibility for not having the self esteem to leave the relationship earlier –  but, at the same time, I’m glad we had the four amazing kids that we had.

I’m glad that finding polyamory has made you happy. I also think that kids are very resilient, and will deal with this.

I’m not focused on W at all, apart from the instigation, rumours, and general defamation of my character that she likes to partake in, both to my face and to others who will listen, I couldn’t actually care less about her.  I just don’t want her to hurt the kids.  My separation is with you, and I work very hard to focus on what you and I need to do to work together, but it’s also obvious that a third person is influencing things. I’m fortunate to have partners who don’t get involved.

I, too, am glad that we have the kids we did, the frequent pregnancies and crazy changes we experienced certainly inhibited us from really seeing what our relationship was.  We looked at events instead of happiness as a whole.  I, too, acknowledge my responsibility for not leaving you earlier.  I think that the fact that I wasn’t living authentically meant that I settled for something that didn’t make me happy for a long time.  I truly thought we were good when I proposed polyamory last August.  I didn’t doubt my love for you.  I’m sorry that I hurt you along the way and that it took me until now to know myself.  But how amazing is it that we both know that we weren’t happy and can pursue what we really want in life?  With the best kids in the world to join the adventure?

Thursday at 4 it is.

“But how amazing is it that we both know that we weren’t happy and can pursue what we really want in life?  With the best kids in the world to join the adventure?”

I like that sentiment.

The journey we take together is apart.  That’s OK!

I have no idea what that means, but good luck!

Hahaha. I got too philosophical!  

I meant that we have had a life’s journey together that brought us to this point, and now we are on parallel journeys to create the life we want, still together because of our wonderful kids, but apart.  

It made sense in my head.

I like this conversation. Thank you.

Me too. You’re welcome.

There is so much awesome in this conversation. From both of us presenting our feelings and listening and accepting the other’s perspective, to the acknowledgement from both of us that we are doing the right thing by separating, to the discussion of how to have a difficult conversation with the four people we love most in the world, to the support and encouragement from each of us to the other with regards to creating the lives we want.  

The second thing I want to write about is a conversation I had with a coworker today.  He has chosen to leave his wife in the last few weeks.  On paper, they have a great marriage.  There really isn’t an obvious reason he’s not happy that an outside observer could identify, but he’s not happy.  He doesn’t find his relationship fulfilling and wants something different.  He’s been trying to explain this to his wife and she doesn’t understand it.  Of course, she is trying to understand and is making her own conclusions about why he’s doing what he’s doing. She’s concluded that he’s depressed and that is the reason he blames their relationship for his unhappiness.  It’s such a natural thing for a person to do – to try to understand something because it’s hard to accept without understanding, and to make up a reason that makes sense to them.  In fact, I did that exact thing, actively, as part of my process of mourning the loss of my relationship with D and less consciously as part of my processing the dysfunction in my relationship with F.  I sat in my office, listened to his story, and said: “It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, as long as you are making the decisions that make you happy.”  

As those words came out of my mouth, I had my epiphany.  I realized that what I was saying applied to D too.  It doesn’t matter what I think or feel or even why he did it.  It doesn’t matter that the decision he made for himself hurt me deeply.  He made a decision for himself because he decided it was what he needed to do to be happy.  While I was more heartbroken than I’ve ever been before, the love I had for him allows me to be very happy for him now that I understand that he knows himself well enough to make decisions for his own happiness.  

As I sat thinking about this revelation, I realized that it also applies to F.  We have walked a path together and at the fork in the road, we chose different paths.  Those paths are now parallel, because we always need to be near to our children, but they are our own individual paths to walk that we each get to choose for ourselves.  We get to make our own decisions about what makes us happy, who we bring along on our journeys, and how we get there.  

This epiphany meant that I suddenly felt very happy for D.  I suddenly felt very happy for F.  Even more, I felt very happy for myself.  We are all making decisions that make us happy and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  

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:

Screenshot_20170515-101654Screenshot_20170515-101707

 

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.