The sister strikes again

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dear sister,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

And that’s it.

 

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

 

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Inadequately explaining my hurts

My heart is breaking and repairing and breaking and repairing again.   This seemingly never ending cycle hurts.  It’s left me feeling raw and vulnerable and weak.  This is not something I’m used to, and it’s rather hard to cope with, truthfully.  I think that now, over six months after I asked F for a separation, I’m starting to tease out some of the baggage I have that he saddled me with that I’ve been carrying, starting fourteen years ago and adding to the load frequently for years.  I’m realizing that behaviours I thought were normal, or minor, when looked at in isolation, were just that, but that as I look back at the cumulative history of those interactions, what I went through was a thorough and devastating form of emotional abuse.

Why is this coming out now?  Because of O.

I’m going to start at the small things that amount to abuse on a larger, rather systematic scale and then add to how I started to determine this was actually abuse and how it’s all O’s fault.  I say that tongue in cheek, I realize how amazing it is that he’s helped me peel off so many layers of bandaids in such a short time.

 I remember before we were married, F getting so angry with me that he kicked a 4L milk jug in our front hallway and it exploded against the wall.  I remember him refusing to clean it up, leaving it for me as he stormed out of the house, I remember seeing the drips of the hasty job I did for weeks.  I remember another fight around that time where I locked myself in our bathroom, and he punch a hole in the door trying to break it down.  He was yelling at me to open the door and I refused, and he asked me why and I said “Because I’m scared of you right now.” and he laughed and said it was silly that I was scared, asking why I would be.  I responded with “What response did you think you would get when you started banging on the door?”  In his defense, he calmed down in that moment and said “You’re right, I’m sorry.” There was the ongoing issues with sex. Where if I said “no”, it became a fight.  If I wanted sex, it became a game.  It became about him and his needs and all about him cumming.  I like hard sex, and whenever I asked for it harder, he would complain that I “just wanted it over”, when the reality was it was the only time I really enjoyed sex with him.  If I made a mistake in front of our friends, he would make a joke about it and intentionally embarrass me.  He would throw me under the bus in excuses all the time to his parents, my parents, everyone.  Whenever I came to him and said that something he did or said hurt my feelings, he would make it like it was my fault, or that I was being too sensitive.  He would frequently say I was being controlling, too strong, too opinionated, unreasonable, and stubborn.  I suspect I sometimes was.  Other times though, I most certainly was not, and it was his way of getting my back up so that I would get upset and he would “win”.  It was his method of taking control of the situation.  Often times, these discussions would end in me crying, my feelings hurt, confused that I came to him with what I thought was a valid concern and wondering if I was, in fact, too sensitive/demanding/controlling/etc.  When this happened, he would say things like: “Oh god, you’re not crying again are you?”  or “Right, cry, because you can’t get what you want.” or if I was crying in bed and he heard me when he was sleeping or trying to sleep, “If  you’re going to cry like that, can you go somewhere else and do it so I can sleep?” For our entire marriage, I did all the household shopping.  There were constant complaints about the food I prepared.  The “junk” I bought.  The cost of everything.  When I made family meals, which was all the time, I would announce that supper was ready, the kids would come running, and F would head to the bathroom.  The five of us were often finished dinner when he finally arrived, and I had just taken care of all the kids alone.  Often I would start cleaning up while he was eating and playing on his phone or reading a book and yelling at the kids for being kids.  When he was done, he rarely did dishes.  He rarely did laundry.  He rarely helped around the house.  In fact, until just before I asked him for a divorce, he never really independently decided to do anything that needed to be done around the house, from grocery shopping, to housework, to mowing the lawn, to laundry, to preparing something for the children’s week, to registering kids for programs, to preparing school lunches, to giving kids baths, to everything, really. I read a post recently about this emotional labour that we do as women, and I acknowledge that much of this was of my causing – I just did these things, the organizing, emotional labour, family management, and household management automatically – he never HAD to help.  When I asked for help, he attacked – I was being demanding, controlling, wanted to dictate what he did with his time, and naggy.  Throughout our marriage, I would establish boundaries, and F was always pushing them.  He was constantly breaking through those boundaries and I was constantly bending them for his benefit.  So much so, that at the end, when he started pushing my boundaries so blatantly that it was impossible to miss, and some of my things were getting destroyed as a result, I continued to excuse his behaviour as abnormal or uncharacteristic, but when I truthfully looked back, I realized that his behaviour hadn’t changed, but the frequency of it had.

In all of this, I was convinced I was the one with the problem. I was too controlling. My expectations were too high.  I wasn’t communicating my feelings well.  I was broken by my childhood, so I wasn’t able to be the wife I should be.  It never occurred to me that maybe the problem wasn’t entirely me.  I’m realizing more and more that much of the problem was him.  I’m being very careful to not blame things on him that aren’t his fault, but restrict it to those things that are, while acknowledging and accepting blame for my part in things.  I’m not saying I’m blameless, I’m saying that I recognize that many things I thought were normal were actually abusive, and O has helped me realize a lot of these.

How?  Well, by simply being him.  When we had our first major discussion, when he expressed concern about my relationship with A and I got upset with him, instead of blaming me, or even arguing with me, he met me with a list of coherent thoughts he wanted to work through together.  The first part was just some basic understandings that we had based on our relationship structure. The second was clarification questions. The third was a talk about how we responded to our text dialogue and what it meant.  In all of it, we held hands, had our legs wrapped around each others’, and not an angry or accusatory word was spoken.  It wasn’t heated, it was loving, and there was no blame.  Trigger the first time I realized I was responding to O as if F was on the other side of the conversation, and I expected hidden meaning where there was none.  I expected a motive where there was only desire for understanding.  I was too hard on him because of the hurt someone else caused me.

Then, one night I was at his house.  I’ve had a lot of work stress in recent weeks, and I haven’t been at my best.  We played for a while, and I had a very fulfilling time, but he didn’t “finish”.  He asked me what I wanted.  What I truly wanted.  He presented it as: 1) keep playing and have a super hot, fun time; or 2) cuddle in and fall asleep holding each other.  I knew I wanted option two.  I was exhausted. I was emotionally done for a variety of reasons.  I needed to sleep and be held and feel safe and loved.  He had to drag that answer out of me.  I was ready to give up what I truly wanted to satisfy him, because I was so used to the guilt and manipulation that I received with F.  I wasn’t giving him a straight answer and he asked me why.  So I told him the truth.  This resulted in a short chat about how he was perfectly happy holding me while we slept and that there was no place he’d rather be and sex had nothing to do with it.  I cried a little that night, even though he didn’t know it, because I didn’t know that doing what I needed for myself could come without guilt.

A couple weeks ago, F was at his worst.  He was arguing with me about preschool Christmas concert tickets, and treated #3 horribly, manipulatively, abusively, and I lost it.  It brought up so much hurt. So much history.  So much of so much.  O came over that night. We sat on the couch, drank wine, and I talked about my life. About how I felt like layers and layers of bandaids were getting ripped off and my heart was hurting and all the reasons why. O listened. He held me.  I cried and he told me he appreciated my vulnerability.  I told him about my relationship with F and it took most of the night.  I was so raw and hurting and incapable of anything more emotionally so we crawled into bed and he held me.  He helped me heal by just being what I needed.  Something no one has ever done for me before.  I didn’t have to ask.  

That’s it:  I didn’t have to ask.  It wasn’t a compromise on his part. He just did.

I’ve written so many versions of this post.  Everything I write has meaning for me, but if I read it from the perspective of an outside observer, I think it sounds trite and petty and full of blame.  Yesterday, I went to my counsellor and I talked about this.  About how bad I am at being vulnerable, how I need to be asking for help when I need it, and  how I need to be dealing with the realizations of F’s manipulations and abuse one at a time.   

I’m not sure I can write the words that would make others understand what I’m going through in my brain and in my heart.  But the important thing is that I am going through it.  I’m growing, I’m healing, and I’m on my way to being complete.  And I’m happy.

 

Vulnerable about vulnerability

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.