Poly Nirvana

Love, Life and Rational Polyamory


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~Chili~

Special Man makes a good chili.  No, he makes a great chili.  Before I met him, I had no idea that people make chili without beans.  On purpose.  Just to eat.  I mean, I had bought no-bean chili in a can for chili dogs for my kids.  But SMF’s chili has all sorts of meat and spice and utter deliciousness.  I love it.

Yesterday I texted CC, at the suggestion of a friend in Chicago, who knew I was feeling disconnected and alone, and kind of frustrated.  “This is a great chance”, Chicago said, “for you to be vulnerable, and reach out to CC.”

Special Man has been stressed and, as I see and feel it, distant.  It’s hard to know what to do, what to say, how to act.  It’s especially hard, being the non co-habitating partner.  I don’t get to see him, to lay eyes on him, to know that yes, he is distant and withdrawn, but he is okay, and we are okay.  I don’t get to hand him a cup of coffee, or squeeze his hand as we pass in the hall, or observe that while he is withdrawn, he is still in there.  It’s been a challenging week.  I want to give SMF what he needs. But…he wants/needs to withdraw…and since our time together is very limited, if he withdraws, I see it as him disappearing.

And I didn’t handle that as gracefully as I could have/should have/would like to have.

Chicago was right.  I texted CC.

::I know SMF is having a hard time, but it won’t last forever, right? You know him best, you see him every day, when he withdraws it’s unsettling for me because he’s just kind of checked out and I don’t know what to do::

::I know, I’m kind of in the middle of that right now, too.:: She texted back.

That was all it took. There was more, but just knowing that she was in it too, helped me to breathe just a little easier.  Maybe that’s the beauty of metamours.  They are kind of in the middle of it too.

Soon after, I got texts from both her and SMF.  Come to dinner, they each said. Come watch a movie.  Come have chili and caramel corn.

I don’t know, I said.  Everything felt stressed and strained and difficult. I was tired, I was emotional, I was crabby.

But I went.  I went because it was important.  I went because they reached out to me, I went because I was invited, and I went because I was welcome.  I also went because there was chili.  (And CC’s caramel corn, which might as well be called caramel crack, for how addicting it is, and I’m not even exaggerating.)  We had chili, we watched a dumb movie, and we didn’t talk about anything hard.  It was awesome.

It’s funny, because ultimately, I went out of obligation and commitment.  I went because they wanted me in their space.  I was cranky and I was truly feeling the “solo” part of my solo polyamory.  I wasn’t lonely.  I was alone. I was separate. But tonight I have leftover chili in my fridge, and the memory of a nothing special Saturday night, where we were all in the same space, and it felt good, and it felt easy.


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~Tuesday~

I’ve reread last nights post.  Several times.  It’s probably the only time I’ve written in the heat of the moment like that.  It was reactionary, and emotional.  I thought about deleting it, especially as I’m still all worked up and wacky over it.

But I can’t delete it. Because it’s a real thing that happens to this real person trying to be all self-aware and mindful and crap, and sometimes I get blindsided.  Sometimes it’s an epic fail.  Sometimes I handle things completely wrong.  Sometimes I lose it.  And this, this imperfect poly is the whole reason I started writing.  So it stays.

Relationships can be tough. Not just poly relationships. All of them.  Familes, friends, lovers, partners. Polyamory doesn’t make me special, or my relationships easier, no matter how many articles and books and blogs I read. They are just hard sometimes. And sometimes, the harder I try to control and manage things, the faster things fall apart.  This is part of my personality, this wanting to be able to manage things.  I must manage ALL THE THINGS.

::facepalm::

So now I have this icky feeling that I’m difficult and needy and that now Special Man Friend (and everyone else) knows.

Someone give me some chocolate.

I texted with CC this morning for a few minutes, and she said all the right things, but think I may have overwhelmed her with my “I’m so needy, I don’t know how to do this, I need a pep talk” texts.

“It gets better,” she texted.  “You get to be needy sometimes, too.”

I’m really glad she’s my friend.


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~Fine~

Disclaimer:  This is the real poly that goes on in my imperfect life.  It is neither enlightened, nor glamorous, despite what you may think of my awesome poly skills.  You have been warned. 

Alright, poly peeps.

Let’s say, you’re having a crabby day.  And, in an effort to cheer you up, your partner sends you a picture of a kitten, which you dismiss with a “Nice try, I’m immune to cute animals.” text.  Then comes another kitten.  “Nope.” you type back.

So then, your partner, thinking that a cute picture of HIM will cheer you up, sends a picture you happen to have seen once, because his newest partner showed it to you before, in a gush of NRE.

But even if you hadn’t seen it before, HE should know, that you might not want to see a cutesie picture of him, in his new girlfriend’s sunglasses, making kissy smoochie faces at the camera, on a date with her, while she took the picture.  It’s a study in freaking New Relationship Energy, and you simply don’t need a picture of it.

And it’s moments like these, that seem so silly and small, that make me think, What the hell am I doing here?

Seriously, where’s all this compersion everyone else gets so excited about?  Where’s MY compersion?

Ok.  Deep breath.

Honestly, I know this has to be tied up in the layers of conflict that I have with Mrs. A. I don’t think he intended to be insensitive at all, though I am holding him to his subsequent insensitivity after I was explicit in what bothered me about that.

DO YOU HEAR ME, SPECIAL MAN FRIEND?

I know I really screwed this one up.  I keep thinking I can detach, and be over here all mindful and self-aware, and he can be over there managing his relationships, but it really does bother me that things are so complicated, and I can’t fix it.  And I’m worried and stressed and I should have gone with my gut and gone to bed early, before any of this happened.  I wish I could take it all back.

(But you still shouldn’t have sent that picture.)


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~Strange~

Tomorrow morning is our monthly poly potluck.  It’s a community thing, and it ranges from a handful of people, to around twenty people, depending on the month.  I don’t always attend, as I generally work Sunday nights, and I like to be home with the kids and then I sleep in the afternoon.  This month I’m off, and I’m going.

I got a message from Mrs. A, asking me, that if she decided to go would I go as well, or would I stay home.

(Ugh. I don’t want to do this.)

She and I haven’t spoken or had even a polite kind of resolution to The Episode. I know it’s going to have to happen.  I hate conflict.  It makes my stomach hurt.  I told her no, I probably wouldn’t go if she decided to go, since we hadn’t hadn’t talked yet.  I can’t do the awkward, stilted, not-conversation tomorrow.

My counselor asked me, would I consider a thirty day “respite” period, wherein I give myself permission to not make any decisions about how to move forward, as I’ve been pretty focused on what on earth I was going to DO, what was best, what was reasonable, what was both kind to her and still mindful of my own boundaries.

I told her, Yes, I was going. She told me, she would not.

I don’t like this one bit. But I don’t know what else to do.

I am exhausted, I have not caught up from my few nights in the hospital with Leo. Last night was date night. Special Man and I had a quick dinner close to my house, and wandered an awesome toy store for a little bit before coming home and watching a movie with my kids.  It was perfect.  We climbed into my bed, and did little: random small talk, internet. I curled up and slept, he did not.

It was wonderful.

He woke me after a couple of hours, and made love to me.  It was warm and comfortable, and when it was over, it wasn’t over.  I cried.

He’s used to it, these tears that belong to him.

I cried because I was safe.  I cried because I was happy.  I cried because I have so much more than I ever expected, and I cried because still, I want more.

And I cried, because I know, it will come.

In the morning, I woke early and left him in my bed while I had coffee and worked on the computer.  He sent me a message.  You should come upstairs and kiss me.  

So I did.  This time there were no tears.


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~Touch~

 

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I named him Leo, after Leo McGarry from West Wing.  He was born ten days before I started nursing school, and he’s an enthusiastic, energetic, creative, affectionate and loving kid.  This sucks.  I’d like to say, all’s well that ends well, but right now even my bones are exhausted, and Leo just told me I should take a shower.  I guess two days of stress and worry can make a momma bear a little frayed around the edges.

And stinky, apparently.

Yesterday was a long day, with surgery lasting just over three hours, and a long recovery period complicated by violent vomiting that would not stop.  He was given drug after drug, a fluid bolus, acupressure wrist bands that might help (they didn’t), more drugs, and, when a kind nurse told me she was trained in “therapeutic touch”, and offered to work on his energy, I said bring it.  (I wish I had a picture.)  She was a very kind woman, who didn’t bat an eye when he began to throw up during her healing session.

We tried more drugs.  Finally. Peace.

And then my important person was there  I had almost tried to let him off the hook earlier in the evening. He texted me right back.

::I need to be with you, kitten. I’ll be there in 30 minutes::

(He calls me kitten sometimes.  It’s my favorite.)

He apologized for getting upset when I told him I wasn’t happy he was leaving town this week.  “I wasn’t thinking,” he said.   He isn’t going anywhere.  And, in three weeks and six days, when it’s time for Georgia’s surgery, he’s taking a personal day at work so he can be with us.  And that is how I want my relationships to work.  Communicate, adjust and readjust, move forward.  I’m fortunate that I get to recognize these small milestones, because that’s how I see them, as important little relationship mile markers.   Look at us, I think sometimes.  We are really doing this.

Tonight CC and SMF were both here.  She sat and crocheted, he ordered sandwiches and managed the bedside table for Leo.  I sat on the floor, my arms wrapped around my knees and did not cry.  It was easy, this being together, and in my exhausted state I felt emotional, and raw, and grateful.


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~Boundary~

My ex-husband is mentally ill.

Not simply mentally ill.  He is utterly disabled.

It is something that I had to deal with for many years, as he deteriorated, and became more volatile and violent.  He was verbally and emotionally abusive to me and the kids, and sometimes physically abusive.  When I took the kids and left, I had absolutely no idea he would continue to deteriorate to where he is now, and  I would be here, six years later, about to say this:

My children’s father is now a ward of the state, and is currently at the state hospital in Blackfoot, Idaho.

It’s kind of bizarre.

It’s also heartbreaking, tragic, exhausting and emotional.  Especially because I see my oldest child exhibiting many of the same red flags, and it hurts my heart.  For a long time, I thought if I said the right things, did the right things, and walked on the right eggshells, that I could control, fix, or manage things.  I was horribly wrong about that.

As it happens, Mrs. A also deals with her own demons, and this weekend I witnessed some of the emotional instability that she struggles with.  I won’t get into details here, except to say that I took the brunt of it, with her venomous closing sentence to me being, “I’m happy that hurt you.”

I can’t.

I can’t be in that position.  It’s taken years for me to be able to stop internalizing the irrational actions of my ex and my child.  I took much of that on myself.  And in the end I was angry and resentful and hurt and so, so weary.

So it seems I have a boundary.  I won’t knowingly get close to someone who’s mental illness causes them to hurt me or those I love.  I am not insensitive.  I am not uncompassionate.  I can be kind and friendly, but I will protect myself and my heart.

I’d really like to veto this whole situation.  I can’t, and I won’t. But I am a mamma bear who is desperate not to see her people hurt.  But this is the difference, to me, between a rule and a boundary. My boundary is for me. I’m unwilling to make a rule…for him. I have to step back and let Special Man manage his relationship with her. I don’t really like it, this watchful waiting. But I love him, and that won’t stop because he chooses to have a relationship with someone I am not comfortable being close with myself.

I can’t decide if this makes me a bad person or not, but in the end I suppose it doesn’t matter.

I just can’t.


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~Birthday~

Last weekend I celebrated my birthday with my kids and Special Man and CC.  At least that was the plan.

We were preparing our Tiny Food (for our Tiny Food party), when my mother walked in. I heard her voice from the kitchen as she walked in.  “It’s my mother,” I whispered to SMF.  Now he’s met her, multiple times. I believe she liked him, until the day I told her he was in an open marriage.

“I had no idea he was so dysfunctional,” she told me. (Not sure what that says about me, thanks, Mom.)

I introduced her to CC.  “This is SMF’s WIFE.”  Mom was polite. Appropriate. Surprised. I could almost see the wheels turning in her head, as she debated how she would proceed. My mother considers herself a morally responsible person, who has a duty to make her moral position clear. To everyone.

I’m sure it killed her not to say anything. But she didn’t. Not even to me privately.

When she left she made a point to call CC by name and say goodbye and that it had been nice to meet her. They didn’t really interact, but I suppose that’s okay.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that after three years, I’m truly OUT.

And the world didn’t end.


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~Pout~

Sometimes I look around and wonder what on earth I was thinking.

Poly is hard, guys.

Special Man has a new interest. I suppose at this point he might refer to her as a girlfriend, though I’ve not heard him say it out loud.  I know she considers him a boyfriend. And I know I’m supposed to be happy and compersive.

But I’m not, exactly.

Oh I get fleeting touches of it, this elusive compersion. It’s nice to see that someone he likes, likes him back. I like that he is happy.  But mostly what I’m feeling is territorial. I’M supposed to be the girlfriend.

It’s all very decidedly UN-poly of me.  (Commence pouting.)

She’s a great person. No, she’s a fantastic person.  She’s beautiful. She is creative and artistic.  She is strong, energetic, enthusiastic, friendly, funny, and she has a great laugh.  Also she looks wonderful without makeup.  She likes animals.  (SMF loves animals.  I mostly just like a few, and tolerate the rest.)  And I KNOW it’s not supposed to be a competition, but humans are fickle creatures, and I’m a little insecure.

He will debate that he and I first met Mrs. A on the same day, but really, she was my friend first.  SMF and I met Mrs. A and Mr. A for coffee, after they contacted me online, and were interested in  dipping their toes in the kink community.  At that point they were monogamous. So add that to the list of Things That Make Ginger Nervous: people brand spanking new to poly.

I genuinely like and enjoy Mrs. A. She is kind and thoughtful, and I think she’s a wonderful addition to my poly network. I really do.  This too, scares me.  If I’m struggling with this new girl in spite of the fact that she’s considerate and loving and mindful of others, what does that make me?  (Add guilt to the pouting.)

Underlying this new relationship, is the attempted breakup with SMF at the beginning of the summer.  We spent a few months in limbo, trying to let go, but never quite being able to.  Then came a renegotiation and redefining of our relationship.

The pendulum has swung, and though I’m committed to my partner and my people, I’m having a little poly performance anxiety.

(End pout.)


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~Uno~

Special Man Friend and his wife came for cards and pizza.  It was the first time CC met my children.

I cleaned my kitchen and sent one of the boys to pick up pizza. I was really nervous.  When I came out to my kids as poly, I was genuinely surprised at the neutrality of their reactions.  The worst I got was, “Huh.  That’s kind of weird.” and the best was, “Hey, the important thing is that you are happy.”

But meeting Special Man’s wife?  I wanted it to happen. I want the big happy poly extended family.  It’s been a long time coming, this first meeting, and truthfully, there was a time I didn’t think it was possible that we would ever make this step.

Life is full of surprises.  We are constantly changing and evolving as human creatures, and I am so grateful for that.

The whole thing was uneventful.  My kids were polite, well mannered, accepting.  My 19 year old had told me in advance that he was supportive but uncomfortable, and wasn’t sure if he would stay and hang out, and I was happy that he was able to tell me that.  He did meet CC, and stayed for a few minutes, but soon retreated.  We ate dinner, and then played a few rounds of cutthroat Uno, and it was easy, and casual, and relaxed.

We are already planning Thanksgiving.  Things feel good.


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~Secret~

My ex-husband lives in a homeless shelter, and there’s nothing I can do about it.  In the six years since I took my children and left, he has deteriorated into a person I hardly recognize.

I started to read something today, about the #WhyIStayed stories trending on the interwebs.  These are the stories of abuse victims, and you can either Google or check out Twitter if you are interested.  I had to stop reading at one point, because some of the words hit so close to where I live.  My secret is that I stayed because I wasn’t strong enough to leave.  And it took me a long time to forgive myself for that.

Today I am strong.  I am independent.  I am also guarded, and slow to trust.  It affects me, every day, and it affects my relationships.  So be it.

Special Man and I are in a new, solid place with each other.  I’ve come out to my children;  my mother. My Meta CC is coming to meet the kids in a couple of days.  We have  pizza and Uno planned.  I am both optimistic, and terrified.  I want it all.  I want my big happy poly family fantasy.

But I’ve been disappointed before.