Poly Nirvana

Love, Life and Rational Polyamory


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~Onward~

Sometimes a really horrible thing can quickly shift your focus.  Reorder your priorities.  Give you some clarity.

I’ve applied for a new job with a local hospice.  I’ve made some peace with Mrs. A.  I’m determined to love my people and let myself be loved.

I’m also not sleeping well.  I dream all night, every night, and while they are not classic nightmares with monsters and dark threats, they are very busy and stressful dreams that startle me awake with a pounding heart and a racing mind.  I dreamed I found a suicide note, taped inside a yellow freezer.  The note was black, the writing was white.  It was from my exhusband, and I have no idea what the words said.  But my mind keeps turning the dream over and over in my mind.  I am purging, processing.  It is exhausting.

On Thursday Special Man is taking me away for the weekend.  Just a border town, a big hotel casino. I have naps planned.  Naps and reading.  Food and sex and then, more naps.  People watching with a virgin drink in front of me.  I am so excited.

This past Sunday, Special Man and CC came for brunch.  We made it a Valentine’s theme, and yes, I know it’s still January, but I wanted to enjoy some red and pink paper crafts and do a little holiday decorating, and kids love themes, so I bought paper and glue and stickers and we cut and pasted and made a big mess after we ate waffles and strawberries with pink whipped cream.  It was great, it was easy, and it was enjoyable.  We plan to try and do brunch monthly, and I am looking forward to it.  Relationships take effort and nurturing.  I want the kids to be comfortable with all of us together, just as much as I want to be comfortable myself.

I feel something akin to separation anxiety from SMF this past week.  I tell myself it’s understandable, he says the same thing, considering the intensity of recent events.  I fear that I am clingy.  I fear that I will suffocate him with the sheer volume of need for him that I feel right now.

People leave.  People leave, and then life continues on.  I feel so…small.  That’s it.  I just feel small right now.


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~Easy~

Thanksgiving was wonderful.  There’s no other word for it. It felt happy and comfortable.  My house was full, the food was delicious, and my kids didn’t embarrass me. After years of parenting, I figure if my children know this one rule, it covers most behavior:  Don’t embarrass me.  Fortunately, they can all quote this rule without any prompting.

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Special Man and CC were here, and I had a particularly nice time being in CC’s space, and having her in mine.  I think we’ve finally made it to an authentic commitment to each other, as a part of this bigger picture of our individual relationships and how they affect us. It’s not just about being polite any more, which we were sometimes (too many times) not very good at.  Anyway, she is a much fancier cook than I am, and she made some amazing food, the kind that you take pictures of.  I’m the mother of many teenage boys…I made the basics, and yes, that included stuffing from a box.  Somehow it all worked together, my instant potatoes and gravy, side by side with her spinach gratin and pumpkin cheesecake.  I think that while cooking is her thing, getting my kids fed and happy is my thing, and everyone was satisfied.  We even had a ham and turkey.

I thought it was interesting that while I am fully about time and simplicity when it comes to food, It was important to me to have a pretty table, and nice dishes.  I conceded with super nice, heavy clear plastic plates, but we had tablecloths and candles and a few festive decorations, and we ate together.  It was a nice balance of formal and easy. I loved it, and everything just worked together.  My green bean casserole, with the canned soup and those exquisite fried onions, sat side by side with CC’s fancy brussels sprout, apple, bacon, almond, cranberry dish, and everyone was happy.  (Well, I was very happy.)

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CC’s partner of a few years was also here, as were SMF’s sister and a date.  We had sixteen people and I didn’t stress out too much. I stressed out just the right amount, actually. The kids played Rock Band, we put a movie on, we colored with markers.

I can’t wait to do it again. I’m thinking about maybe instituting a monthly family poly dinner.  Sometimes small, sometimes larger, but just with people we are genuinely connected to.

Tomorrow is Georgia’s big surgery, and so I am in preparation mode.  SMF is here, after struggling each of the nights before the last two surgeries, I finally just came out and asked him to be with me the night before this one.  Monday night is generally the night he spends a few hours with Mrs. A, and I kind of wondered if it was unreasonable of me to even ask for him to be here instead of there.  And I decided, after two horrible “night-befores”, where I felt overwhelmed and worried and stressed out and alone…that it was better to say what I needed, and how I was feeling, and what I thought would help.  So here we are, I’m packing and puttering and baking banana muffins, and he’s working on job-related stuff upstairs, and everything feels just a little better.  He’s my people, and I’m glad he’s here. It’s nice to have a friend here, and he’ll stay tonight, and leave straight for work in the morning.

I’ll be on my own tomorrow, while Georgia is under anesthesia.  Special Man couldn’t take the day off of work.  I’m disappointed, but I don’t feel alone.  I’m important, and I’m loved, and I can do this.  Three major surgeries in eight weeks…  I’ll be relieved to celebrate New Year’s this year, with these behind us.

Good night.  Time for sleep.


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~Meh~

I have three or four drafts working for blog posts. Some deep thinking kind of stuff.  But it’s not coming together.  I want to write, but I can’t find my words.

In the morning I start my prep day for Thanksgiving.  I can’t wait.  I’m excited to have a house full of people.  I’m excited to have Special Man and CC here, their son, and Special Man’s sister is coming and bringing a friend.  My kids will be here, and I hope it’s fun and loud, and that the house smells good and that my teenagers don’t fight with each other.

Or with me.

I’ve had a bit of a rough patch the last few days.  I had a revelation.  And I don’t like it one bit.

In the last year, as I’ve become more and more “out” and open and honest with others, and with myself, I have found myself strongly triggered in certain situations.  I have spoken with my fabulous therapist about it, and she was surprised that I had never had any counseling to deal with the aftermath of my abusive marriage.  As a nurse, I can intellectually talk myself through some of these things, simply because I recognize what is happening.

I was sitting in my therapists waiting room one time, not long ago.  There was a couple’s session going on, and I’m not sure if the door was open, or the walls were thin, but I could hear much of what was being said by the male partner, who was speaking in a loud, agitated, voice.  The female partner would occasionally respond in softer tones, and was generally interrupted by the man.  I heard a lot of “you did” this and “you should have” that.  I was uncomfortable.  I started to get hot, and I felt my face start to tingle.  My heart was beating fast, my palms were sweaty, and I was fighting not to cry.

The odd thing about this whole experience, was that my mind was calm.  I was thinking, ‘What is wrong with me?  I don’t feel upset, but my body is absolutely freaking out.  This is kind of PTSD-like.  I don’t have PTSD.  This is so weird.”

Except I probably do have some PTSD.

I’m just starting to get into it with my therapist now.  SMF snapped at me last week about something silly.  In three years, I can honestly say, that he has shown anger to me only a scant handful of times.  It’s a good thing, because my reactions are becoming more intense.  I don’t want to be this person.

But I am.

When Mrs. A verbally attacked me, my head went quiet.  I remember thinking after, that I was surprised I wasn’t more upset. It was similar to when I was sitting in the waiting room, listening to the man and woman fighting. My heart was pounding, my stomach hurt, and I felt like throwing up, but inside I was thinking, “Huh, this kind of weird.”  She said a lot of mean and ugly things; things I just haven’t been able to move past.  And it’s really starting to affect me.  A few nights ago, I lashed out at SMF.  Every time I know he’s with her, I’ve been upset and hurt, because I felt (feel?) abandoned.  I mean, don’t the sacred rules of couplehood and loyalty and all that, demand that he stand by me?  Put his foot down?  Never talk to her again?

No.

I’ve got all these concepts swirling around in my head.  Where do obligation and autonomy meet?  Is SMF obligated to share the same boundary as I have?  What’s my obligation to Mrs. A as a metamour?  What’s my obligation to my larger poly “family” if he continues to see her?  Falls in love with her?  At this point, I cannot be around her.  I don’t feel safe.  I have to protect myself, and in doing so, I want to protect those around me, and that includes HIM.

But he doesn’t feel unsafe around her.  He simply doesn’t have the same boundary around her behavior that I do. And that is both okay, and not okay.  I’ve almost worked through this in my head.  Almost.

But not quite.

I sent her a message this week asking her to have coffee.  I did it because I was trying to Do Good Poly.  (This phrase, Doing Good Poly, is now my nemesis. I think it’s now become a normative set of  polyamorous expectations, and I hate it. More on that another day, though.)  I did it because I felt obligated to SMF.  I did it because I felt obligated even, to my own vision of a comfortable and close poly network.

The same day, the anticipation of having to make nice with her, simply because she’s seeing my partner, made me anxious and tearful and the now-familiar stomach ache came back. I sent her another message. I won’t be meeting with her.  I am protecting myself and holding my boundaries.  The end.

So now we come back around to Special Man. I sent him this message:

“I’ve been acting under an assumption that I was obligated to make things good with me and A. in the name of good poly, or for the good of our greater poly network. I think it’s something I put on myself, and it’s something that you have put on me in the past with CC and anticipate will put on me in the future with A. Ideally, I want to be friendly with your other partners and with Cc’s partners and with their other partners. I made a huge effort with A. even when I was uncomfortable out of obligation to you and *good poly*. My obligation ended when she made it clear to me that I have some serious and valid! boundaries around cultivating relationships with people whose mental illness causes them to be irrational, abusive, and out of control. And I have been feeling hurt that you don’t have the same boundaries and that isn’t fair to you. You don’t have the same boundaries. You’re OK with her. And that should be okay with me. I need to respect you and your choices while still taking care of myself. And you’ll have to respect my choices. Don’t ask me to hang out with her and don’t give me a hard time when I choose not to come to things, like poly potluck for example. I will not take your relationship with her as disloyalty to me, but you can’t take my purposeful distance from her as disloyalty to either you*or* to polyamory. I know I’m going to miss things and people and opportunities to spend time with you because of my choice, but it’s also because of your choice. And that’s just the way it is. I messaged her last night in a fit of obligation, to see if she wanted to have coffee. Maybe she already told you. But I was wrong. I don’t have to fix this, because I am trying to keep myself happy and healthy.”

Monogamy tells us how we are “supposed” to act and feel. Not being monogamous? Well, that’s a whole different ballgame.

Most of the time I don’t even feel like I’m playing ball, at all.


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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.