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There are words that push me over a precipice when I’m upset. Mainly “It’s OK”.
It’s OK. Wait, it’s OK? Well, then, I guess all this snot and crying is for nothing! I might as well just stop this instant.
No, friends. It’s not OK, hence all the snot and crying, and it makes me livid to hear these words used to comfort me.
When did we become a society that devalues being upset? Why are we so afraid of raw emotion? What makes us say anything just to make it stop? When women are upset they’re hysterical or histrionic. When men are upset they’re unstable or weak. Why should human emotion make one a pariah?
It has always been stressed during group rituals that there is a serious rule about interjecting when someone gets emotional unless there is an obvious emergency. Why? Because to interrupt is to rob someone of an integral part of the experience. Granted, being sad and going to someone for emotional support isn’t a ritual experience, but it is still very important to see it out. I’ve told Hubby in the past that I don’t ever expect him to fix my problems, I just want to know I’m not alone while I process them.
Being upset is a sign. It means something in our life is important enough to be upset over. It’s an impetus for change and growth. It’s a push to rid ourselves of what’s holding us back so that life can heal us the way it’s meant to.
I know most people mean well when they say “it’s OK”, and most of the time what they mean is “it’s going to be OK”, but it’s a cop-out to the obvious. Instead, what anyone who is upset and reaching out for comfort needs to remember is, “it’s not OK, and that’s alright”.
“What would you say,” a friend posed to me as I sat at his table, “to a friend who had just told you what you just told me?” We had been discussing certain decisions coming up in my life and what I should consider when making them. He was right. If I took the sentiment and nostalgia out of the situation the answer I was looking for was right in front of my face. I just didn’t want to accept it. I tried to take what he had said to heart, and in the following days I gained such a powerful sense of clarity that I felt foolish for not having seen it before. I knew what I had to do, but I also knew that this meant fortifying my relationship with myself.
Then there came this night. A night when all the love and support in the world was gone, and everything was quiet. A night when loneliness took over, and my only option was to learn to stand up in the darkness by myself. You know what? In that moment I learned what it was like to become my own best friend, to really trust myself to be available for me when I needed a little extra strength and love, and to actually do so.
Don’t get me wrong, my outer support circle is fantastic, but they can’t be with me all the time. I cannot allow myself to become dependent. I also cannot allow myself to become self-destructive when left to my own devices. I must learn to thrive and enjoy being alone, and this is a very fresh lesson. I must learn to do this myself or it will overpower me. The darkness, the silence, the solitude. It all comes from within, so it is from within that it must be overcome.
What would I say to a friend? Nothing. She already knows the answers. She already has the seeds of change within her. She just needs a friend. It’s up to me to be that friend.
My former coven used to do a Yule ritual that involved keening. It was extremely powerful and emotionally intimate. We are at our most vulnerable and unhidden when we are keening, because once it starts it’s uncontrollable. As soon as one deeply buried emotion makes its way to the surface to be released there is no way of knowing what will follow it. Unresolved, unhelpful, and unhealthy thoughts and feelings tend to travel in flocks, and there is no way to sugar coat or disguise them in front of others when they’re pouring from us in waves. We are raw. We are authentic. We are healing in one of the most violent and explicit ways possible.
So yes, this is much more of a Yule lesson for cleansing and renewal than it is a Samhain lesson, but after years of repeating this ritual at Yule I felt it begin to build as the veils thinned and the dark half of the Wheel of the Year began its final turn. It seems that around this time of year many lives change in very eruptive ways, and by the time the light returns at Yule we either release the residue from this change or find it very hard to feel the sun.
I’ve chosen to write this now because I’ve noticed an unusual density around me. Several people in my life are experiencing this painful change all at once, including myself. Some of us are coming through it embracing new opportunities, and some of us have simply stopped trying to move forward. I fall somewhere in the middle, but deep inside I know I can’t just stop where I am and give up.
Here is a very short meditation for your consideration as it came to me in this time of change:
You’re on a path that you believe is The path. It’s been the only path you’ve followed and believed could lead you to fulfillment. Maybe for months, maybe for years, or maybe for your entire life you have struggled with the obstacles and setbacks that come with any journey. Then one day the path ends with no divergent path and no way to go back. Everything you’ve invested, all the time and energy you’ve spent, and all the sacrifices you’ve made on this path are gone. The only way to go is forward, and in front of you is a cliff into a dark abyss. Your only choices are to sit and stop moving forward or jump and have faith that you will survive the fall. You may fall to a new path, or you may have to seek one out once you’ve landed and put yourself back together.
Your decision in this case is not for me to judge or push one way or another. In some cases you may be perfectly content to climb a tree and make a life here at the end of this path. You may not feel like the risk of facing another cliff is worth seeking a new path. You may also get to the tree, sit there for a while, and decide you have to move forward to feel like the path you were on wasn’t for nothing. I wish I could say the risk was always worth the fall, but that’s for you to decide.
For me the fall isn’t what scares me, it’s the possibility of not finding a new path at all. My choice to move on was made because I have a lot of journey left before me. There is no way of knowing what will come next, but I want to see what could come next. The only way for me to do that is to shed the excess weight and grime left behind by the obstacles of a path that just…ended. I don’t want to sit in a tree with only my emotional baggage for company. I don’t want to spent my entire life resenting the cliff. I want to be rid of the hurt and blame that I have collected on this dead-end path. I want to feel my mortality and know what it feels like to come out of it alive. I want to be able to know that the abyss did not claim me.
So, the keening. It took me a long time to be able to let go enough to actually let it all go. In order for it to be keening, rather than your run of the mill wailing and carrying on in front of a bonfire in the cold in the middle of the night, you must be willing and able to let it all go. It was a fall that taught me how, a fall that taught me to stop holding on to old pain for fear of what future pain might entail. My lesson? Don’t fear the fall because of what you might lose on the way down. Embrace it. Sometimes you need the fall to be able to walk away from a path that is obviously no longer leading you anywhere. Sometimes you need the fall to find the path in the abyss. Sometimes you need the fall to keen and release all the things that are holding you back. Go ahead. Fall, scream, cry, face your demons, and let it all go. Then find the path that gives you a new purpose, or even just a new way to get to your original purpose.
Go now, fall or stand still.
October is well-known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it is also designated as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. October 15th marks a day of remembrance and support. A few months ago I wrote a post as a letter to my unborn child, and it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to put on paper.
I have felt a calling all my life to be a mother, a teacher, and a nurturer. Decisions I made very early on in my life made a career in such things unfeasible, but I made those decisions confidently as I tried to navigate a situation I was unprepared to face alone, but alone I was. I didn’t feel like I could tell my family, and most of the friends I did tell thought I was making a terrible mistake. Still, no matter how terrified I was of what I was about to face, I gave my future, and my heart to a child that many would have cast away as a reminder of violence and hurt. In fact, it may have been that unborn child that kept me alive long enough to work through the emotional and psychological damage caused by the experience. When I lost that first baby I lost the focus of all my attention and energy . Worse were constant comments like “it was probably for the best” and “you’ll be relieved someday when you have a child out of love”. I didn’t care. It was still a loss.
A few years later I would be faced with the same fear. I was in a loving relationship with the father at the time, but we were barely feeding ourselves, and I knew at the time my health was in terrible shape. At our first appointment there was no detectable heartbeat, and I almost blacked out in the office. Repeated attempts yielded no results, and the final consensus was that I had a blighted ovum, an empty sack that the body treats as if it’s a viable pregnancy. For days before my surgery to have it removed I had nightmares of babies wailing, and in the days that followed I got the same ignorant comments as I’d gotten the first time combined with everyone’s refusal to let me grieve a baby that technically never existed. I still have a tiny pair of booties in a box. It existed in my heart.
All in all I’ve had this experience five times, and when Hubby and I talk about children there’s a little sting in the back of my heart that knows it might only be a dream. Our reasons for not trying yet are numerous and mostly logistical, and when we do try we will have a lot to deal with emotionally and physically. Since the wedding I feel like people are constantly asking if we want children or when we’re going to have them. My answer is always the same, “when and if it’s possible”. I keep it short, because my past is generally ignored, and my future as a mother is a rather sensitive and questionable subject.
I don’t write any of this to drag out old wounds or evoke sympathy. I write it because for many years I felt like I didn’t deserve to go through any kind of grieving process. Every time I felt sad I pushed it down. Every time someone told me “it’ll happen when the time is right” I pushed it down. Every time I felt like it was my fault for one reason or another I pushed it down. Any chance I had to work through my emotions turned in to a chance to push them to a place where I didn’t have to feel them, and society wholeheartedly supported that behaviour. It wasn’t until much later when I eschewed that the notion that my feelings of loss were silly or unfounded that I was able to release that weight and really move forward. So I write this to tell any one, man or woman, who has been in place that it’s alright to grieve. It doesn’t matter whether or not the situation was ideal or the timing was right. You have every right to feel your emotions and work through them in a healthy manner.
“Polyamory probably saved my marriage.”
I have heard this statement made several times, and it always refers to something different. Sometimes it refers to a sense that things had gotten stale and polyamory put a fresh spin on the marriage. Sometimes it’s been sexual desires or orientations. Other times it’s been a deeper need to become closer through shared experiences. For me it’s been about lessons. I mentioned in a previous post that recently Hubby and I had some troubled waters. I strongly believe that we would not have come out of them unscathed as a monogamous couple, at least not as the monogamous couple we were. While the idea is emotionally unfathomable, realistically I don’t think we would have had the right tools to keep our marriage afloat.
Communication: While this one seems like it should encompass everything else, there are a few key lessons in communication that come from experience with polyamory. Most of us know how to identify communication, but many don’t know how to actually communicate. Good communication makes the difference between an electric mixer and a wooden spoon. Where good communication makes things smoother and easier to handle, bad communication often causes nothing but soreness and a mess. My apologies to anyone who likes to mix things by hand. To communicate freely requires that one eschew fear of being honest. Oftentimes when we bring up an uncomfortable topic we try to avoid confrontation and word things to sound more innocuous. Sometimes we even try to predict what the other person’s reaction will be and how to avoid it being negative. The truth is, sometimes we need a negative reaction. Sometimes Hubby needs to know things are not copacetic. We can’t fix a problem he doesn’t know exists. That being said, communicating dictates you be calm, concise, and factual with no emotional mudslinging or attacking. Everyone listens instead of plotting their next move, and everyone gets to talk. As long as this can be done in a mature manner, you’ve done it! You’re communicating!
Dedication: It has always been my belief that one contributing factor to our nation’s divorce rate is how easy it is to give up. There have been moments when we may have thrown in the towel had we not been married and committed to those vows. If in the end we agree that we’ve done everything we could to fix our problems I will fully accept that, but until then I will keep trying to make our marriage stronger and healthier. Many people in relationships act as if a difference in opinion or beliefs is an automatic sign that the relationship is doomed. No one is perfect, and nothing that lasts a lifetime is polished in a day. The marriages that last are the one that are constantly maintained by people who don’t avoid or repress their problems. Instead they work through them one at a time to nurture their bond and grow as a couple.
One Step at a Time: Think of a math equation. Looking at all the different functions in the equation all at once can seem daunting, but if you break it down into smaller, easier to handle parts you can focus on one function at a time. Quite often when a relationship experiences an obstacle it seems insurmountable because it’s never made up of just one issue. Usually by the time a marriage is in serious jeopardy the root cause is an amalgamation of smaller issues. Trying to work on them all at once can be overwhelming and will only cause more frustration and friction. Prioritizing and processing one problem at a time and accepting that there will be setbacks can help the healing process to not become such a burden that a couple gives up. Poly teaches us to deal with one thing at a time as it pertains to each situation. Just as no two partners are alike, no two problems are alike. Still, no member of our family is alone when problems do arise. Working on them together makes anything possible if we take it one step at a time.
Letting it Go: Once a problem is discussed and resolved it needs to be let go, not just until the next fight, not just until you’re feeling a little neglected and need some attention, but let go for good. There is nothing as detrimental to a relationship that’s trying to heal like bringing up old baggage that doesn’t serve the issue at hand. Poly teaches us to deal with any possible situation then let it go, because there is no room in healthy non-monogamy for extra baggage.
Perspective: Sometimes the way we see things is not how others see them, and either way may be a skewed version of the truth. Polyamory has taught me not to use phrases like “you did X” but instead say things like “it seemed to me like you did XYZ”. Blame solves nothing, and it makes you look foolish and out of control. Instead, calmly recounting the situation from your perspective can help the other person understand why there was an emotional response, and understanding is the beginning of both of you processing.
Avoiding Scapegoats or Insults: Blaming solves nothing, but playing dirty makes things worse. These issues are between you and your partner, not other partners, kids, or other mitigating factors. Accept that they didn’t cause the problems you’re having, the two of you did, even if your partner’s behaviour was based on these other things. I had this realization not too long ago when A told me it seemed like I was mad at her. Even to her it seemed like I was blaming her when really my real anger was towards how Hubby was treating the situation or acting because of something in their relationship. While it all may have exacerbated our issues, it wasn’t their relationship that was responsible for it, it was his behaviour and my reaction to that behaviour that was.
Emotional Independence: Polyamory has taught not only to be responsible for my emotions but also to handle them as much as I can on my own. There was a time when both of us where extremely needy and co-dependent on each other. Opening our marriage and branching out forced us to be aware of that co-dependency and to become more self-reliant. I now feel that I don’t need to run to Hubby every time I feel emotional. This puts less stress on him and allows him to be more self-reliant as well. It also means he’s available when I really need the support instead of being burnt out or overburdened already. Because of this emotional independence I have been able to trust both of our emotions and have faith that he’s with me because he loves me, not because he needs something from me emotionally. It has also given me the confidence to voice my emotional needs and know when I just can’t process certain things on my own. When working through problems in a marriage this is all integral. I feel less desperate for that emotional support, therefore I can be more articulate about real needs. I feel less burnt out and more willing to be supportive when he has real needs. Without emotional independence neither of us can be honest with ourselves or each other about emotional issues. Without it neither of us can grow as an individual.
What Worked Before: Marriages sometimes fall into a comfort, and resentment can build when the NRE starts to fade. When issues arise this is the first thing that gets flung between partners. “We never do XYZ anymore!” My first question is always, “why not?”. I have found that polyamory has kept us fresh and inspired. We have found new ways to keep our lives exciting, and we hold on to the memories and traditions that still serve us. The truth is that what worked before may not work now. This can include little things like mutual hobbies and weekly rituals to big things like relationship style and family dynamic. You may not do those things anymore because those people are no longer who you are as individuals. That couple may not be the couple you are now. That marriage has grown and evolved just as the two of you have done. Nostalgia can be a great reminder of where we come from, but it can also be a great road block to moving forward. We hold on to thing that once felt good forgetting that as we change we can and should find new things that make us feel good, too. Whether it’s changing how you date others or changing how you eat dinner together, don’t be afraid to re-evaluate. Polyamory has taught me to constantly re-evaluate our needs, my needs, and the needs of our family as a whole. If there is not growth and movement a stagnant marriage cannot thrive.
I’ll say it one more time… “Polyamory saved my marriage,” and possibly my life, or at least the quality of my life. I’ve used these tools with friends, coworkers, children, and clients. I feel enriched and empowered, and confident that I can tackle anything. Having my husband and our family on board helps, too, of course.
So, there’s this guy…
Doesn’t every good story start with “so, there’s this guy”?
In any case, there’s this guy, and we meet at a bar. I ditch the excruciatingly dull date I’m on, and I bring home a guy from a bar, which is something that, at the precipice of 30 years old, I have never done before. Another item on some kind of unwritten Bucket List I didn’t know existed.
This guy has a very black and white perspective on life and how the world turns. He not so much questions my beliefs but preaches his opinion on them like a sermon to save me from a life of ridiculous spirituality and ill-advised relationship decisions. On the former I stand firm, and there is no doubt in my mind that my faith is unshakable. He seems frustrated that I won’t try to prove my beliefs, but it is not my responsibility to convince him of their validity or sciency data. On the latter, however, I waver and bend a little. I am unsure. I unearth old doubts and question my faith in myself and the choices I have made over the last decade. When it comes to believing in myself I am weak. Things that were once true seem less so. Things that made my love and my marriage healthy and good for me begin to seem detrimental and lacking. Hubby and I no longer seem like the strong, loving partnership we once were.
This guy dangles in front of me all the things I’ve wanted in life, but as with most things worth having, it all comes with a price that until recently I have not been willing to even consider. More questions. Would I be willing to give up one big piece of who I am now to have a shot at goals I’ve been vying for my entire life? In the last few years I have resigned myself to a limited path. I have chalked up a lot of my dreams and aspirations to bad decisions or believing those things just weren’t meant for me. Hubby supports me where he can, but more and more reality sets in, and when our goals are in direct conflict mine fall away. He is always more driven, always a better opportunist, and almost always has more backing and resources. This is just how it’s always been.
I see myself now at a crossroads where it is integral that I have no doubt in the direction in which I choose to continue my journey. This is something I’m unprepared for, and it’s a self-portrait I cannot begin to paint. Can I adapt my current path or must I make a complete break and risk being lost? This is a question I am unprepared to answer, but how long can I wait for life to make it for me before all the doors close around me?
The big question here is not whether or not I leave but whether or not we can fix the rift that’s grown between us. It has not gone unnoticed, but I don’t think either of us has been aware of how big it’s gotten. If we can we will be the solid couple we once were. If not, it will swallow one or both of us, and we are each too beautiful and unique to be unhappy. This guy is not my future, but he has prompted me to think about what I want my future to look like and how I can make that happen. My hope is that a clear idea of just how deep and wide this rift in my marriage is can help us begin to fill it in with healing and love.
And here we are now. We have faced the end of our story and refused to accept it. Instead we have once more rewritten our future together. We still stumble occasionally, but we now have a better understanding of and commitment to this marriage and the promises we’ve made to each other. The Death card dealt here was not for a finite ending but for a razing and rebuilding, and we are building something strong and wonderful together.
These past few months have been an extremely eye-opening experience for me, and the past week has turned all of that into yet another set of lessons to be learned. Now that the dust is starting to settle, and I am beginning to see my way out of it all, I can take a little time to reflect and decide where my next steps take me and how I proceed.
A few months ago I met someone who really challenged how I’ve let myself open up emotionally to new partners. I’ve generally been a pretty closed off person. While I’ve let myself love to a point I have not made myself completely emotionally available. I have not taken down the defenses that have been in place for many many years, and that has worked fine for me. I’ve always considered Hubby a fluke. He was the first to find a way in that didn’t mean total devastation and the first to stay even when things got rough. Because of this he has been the only one to have access to all of me.
That is, until this summer. Suddenly there was this presence in my life, and I didn’t know how to react. I resisted at first, but by the time I realized how much he had managed to bring down my defenses they were gone. The feeling was both terrifying and liberating, but I didn’t really know how to process what I was feeling or integrate it into how I was operating at the time.
My need for past tense writing started about a week ago when the presence that had so suddenly appeared in my life just as suddenly vanished. Texts, phone calls, emails all went unanswered, and I had a choice to either assume something terrible had happened or assume he’d written me off for some reason.
It is no secret to anyone, and definitely was no secret to him, that I have some pretty strong abandonment issues. Years ago someone I cared very strongly for was sent to Afghanistan. Unfortunately he was ashamed of me, and his family didn’t know I existed. If anything had happened to him no one would have called me. I spent a few months reading lists of dead soldiers before really facing the fact at I had to give it up and move on or I’d drive myself crazy. Incidentally he came home alive, he just never called me when he did. It wasn’t the first time someone had up and vanished on me, and it wouldn’t be the last, but it seemed to happen that every time I really invested myself in someone he either disappeared or caused some other kind of serious upheaval of my life. When Hubby and I decided to be poly it gave me an outlet for my capacity to love but let me stay safeguarded.
I never imagined this is how this particular relationship would end, no matter how young it was. We’d had these talks, he knew I could accept that this just wasn’t for him. I’m pretty sure he knew I’d rather go through anything than a vanishing act, not just because of my issues with abandonment but also because until I accept that that’s what has happened I worry. There’s even an interim where I can’t even think “there better be a good explanation for this” because I care too much to think of something that serious happening to him. The caveat with that is that if nothing happened and I really have just been left hanging, why should I care? I do. Usually to a fault. It is this lack of certainty and the abruptness of it that leaves me more confused and hurt than angry. My mother in law tells me all the time that I don’t get angry enough, but what good does that do anyone? None.
In any case, I am left with a couple of options now. I can either revert to old patterns, and this was all for nothing, or I can garner some lessons and a chance to grow from it. Hubby has challenged me to move on without putting my walls back up, and I have promised to try. I am now learning to use the resources and support I have, the tools the last several years have added to my kit, and the people around me to develop more healthy coping mechanisms than I had when I was monogamous or single.
My first instinct is to shut down emotionally and throw myself into as many meaningless sexual relationships as present themselves. My next instinct is to stop taking care of myself and shack up with depression for a while. This is no longer an option in my life. My family counts on me, Hubby still needs me to be emotionally available, and I owe it to myself to stay focused and stable. My goals, my focus, and my drive will not suffer because I feel like burying myself. I will not let myself believe I am broken or unlovable. I will not let this completely disintegrate all the confidence and self-worth I have managed to build, which was pretty non-existent until a few years ago. This may mean I actually have to face, fight, and overcome the mountain that is my fear of abandonment, and I have to do this without putting any extra dependence on my support system. Whew! This is a lot of unexpected personal work, but I feel like it’s been a long time coming and will really help me move forward in many areas of my life.
Relationship wise this has really taught me how polyamory can feel. Up until that bit at the end I was unbelievably happy. Something about it had that piece I’d been missing. I just need to identify what it was and learn to see it in future partners. It also showed me how I want to be treated by new people in my life and how good it can feel to have a relationship that doesn’t start with sex. You wouldn’t think that at the age of 29 this would be an unknown anomaly to me, but it was. I have never had a serious relationship that didn’t start with sex an develop into connection. Having it grow this way instead was a huge awakening for me, and something I’d like to reproduce. Maybe a part of me has felt that without that element I couldn’t hold someone’s attention enough for him to stick around. I’m ignoring he voice inside me that says I still haven’t, but seriously, I have settled a lot in the past because of the false pretense that anything comfortable was better than nothing. I think this experience will make me less likely to settle now that I know I am capable of opening myself up so much.
The biggest lesson to come out of this will be how to heal under the surface while getting on with the rest of my life. This is something I have never mastered, but something I’m prepared to take on if it means a more healthy me coming out of this. I had my core rocked pretty hard. Yes, I am still a bit shaken and shattered. I still expect to have my moments, but I’m learning to have them, let them out when I can, and move forward. Next time I will be better equipped and better able to handle this kind of situation. The alternative is to stop falling in love, and I don’t intend to ever try to harness that animal. It’s just who I am to love, and once someone gets that from me it’s complete. That won’t change.
I am fully aware that this will not be an overnight healing process. It will take a lot of time and work to be able to put myself in this position again, and I cannot just shutdown and turn all my focus inward. I have to accept that he will not be the one to give me my closure. There will be no explanations, and I have to accept that and actually be ok with it. In a way I’ve already changed how I deal with feeling hurt. I haven’t burned any bridges, and I have let him know that he can fix this if he wants to. Other than that there’s not much I can do except move forward and take the lessons I have learned with me.
One little word with all the power in the world. The word love has the power to grant gifts of flight and healing. It can help us cope with loss and distance and overcome addiction and fear.
One syllable that acts like a Pandora’s box. It enfolds passion, compassion, and value. It becomes synonymous with desire, need, and cherish. It encompasses so much, yet leaves just as much unable to describe or speak.
Love also holds great capacity for hurt. It can enslave and obsess. It can be used to cut down or to allow ourselves to be cut down. For love people make themselves vulnerable and blind. For love we withstand abuse and isolation. Love gives us the ability to look past anything and accept anything from those to whom we give it. Love can be a drug and a poison, and one that makes us do and say awful things to one another because we find it justified.
Can love alone sustain a marriage? Can love help one see past loneliness and feelings of inadequacy? Can love exist where there is not a common goal?
These are questions I find myself asking. Am I a failure? Is my love enough? Am I loving properly and to my fullest potential or have I confused it with something else? After five years of persevering and surviving with love in my holster, is it still strong enough? If so, why is it that we are so easily able to hurt one another? How is it that the man who knows me the best, inside and out, could hold it against me?
I keep trying because I love him. I do whatever I can, become whatever I can, and hope I don’t lose everything good I have managed to become in the process. Because of his love I am a better person and a better woman, at least that’s how I felt.
I’ve talked a lot about changing. People change. Sometimes we change together, and sometimes we move very far apart. In moving apart, especially with the aspects of polyamory that allow me to make other connections and bonds, can we still exist as a family? How do we redefine ourselves? Is it possible to do so without losing who we are as a couple?
I refuse to give up so easily, but he has told me to prepare to face the fact that this may no longer be good for either of us, that what I need is not him, that my life could be happier without him. I’ve heard this a few times in the past few years, and it has always hurt to hear, even if some parts of it resonate with my own thoughts at times.
Am I being stubborn? Am I giving up? Can he still love me with the changes we’ve both made?
Friends, I have no idea. I’m terrified of the possibilities. In the last seven months my entire family structure has disintegrated, but I never thought it would rupture like this. We’ve had our moments, but we’ve always seen them through. Can we again? He’s never left before. Tonight I sit alone…for love.
“Please be a traveler,not a tourist.
Try new things,
meet new people,
and look beyond
what’s right in front of you.
Those are the keys to understanding
this amazing world we live in.”
I’m officially home from a month working and living in New York City with a flash card full of pictures, a head full of memories, and a severe plague from living in a hotel full of piped air for a month.
When I got there I was a little nervous. I used to do new things all the time. I used to be really adept at navigating new cities and never shied from experiencing something new on my own. Since meeting Hubby, however, the solo missions have slowed to a trickle, but if I was going to see anything but LaGuardia Airport I needed to reclaim that adventurous spirit.
My first day was a little rough. I almost boarded a bus in the wrong direction, and I got off at the wrong stop. I ended up in a Duane Reade in Jackson Heights. I hadn’t yet had the chance to get a MetroCard, and I had spent all my coins on the bus that had just left me on the curb on the verge of tears. Under the guise of grabbing a bottle of water, I let out a sob, pulled myself together, and chastised myself for being ridiculous. This was not my first time in NYC, let alone on a bus, and I had not just spent my last $2.25 ever. I was not trapped. I was not lost. I was not in trouble. I was letting myself panic.
I remember my first trip to NYC. I fell directly into the Big City Panic, forgetting I had navigated cities before. NYC is really no different. It may be a little bigger, but because of that it may actually be a little better prepared for the chaos. It is well mapped, well canvassed with mass transit that runs 24-hours a day, and crowded enough that you can always find someone to ask if you really have to. I have never been “lost” for more than five minutes in NYC, which is nothing compared to the amount of time I have spent completely turned around in Philadelphia, where I’ve lived for over ten years. It’s really not as complicated as it seems. It’s big, yes. It’s complex, definitely, but neither of those things has to equal complicated.
By my next trip anywhere I had figured out the websites, the apps, the maps, and my own directional calibration to the way the city is laid out. I bused and trained through Astoria, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, and by the time Hubby drove in to visit I knew not only how to get where he wanted to go by car but where to find free parking. That’s right, free parking in Manhattan, friends.
And there you have it, the lesson of the day. Oh please, you saw it coming. How often do we do this, friends? In love, in life, in anything? Since this is a blog about poly, pagan householding I’ll funnel it there, but this can apply to any new venture in life. How many times have I heard, “I’d love to do this, but I don’t even know where to start”? I know I’ve done it. Hell, I know I did it with polyamory, with most of our big hobbies, even with my writing.
They keys are not to panic and to break it down into pieces that make sense. We didn’t start this open marriage with a dozen serious partners. We started with one, and believe me, that one brought out enough issues and points in our marriage that needed work. That one lead to enough discussions and changes in how we did things and interacted with each other and those around us, how we dealt with conflict and negativity. That one seemed like our Big City Panic enough to make us run for the hills, but we didn’t. We learned the maps. We stuck together, used our heads and our hearts, and we found that it did make sense if we looked at it calmly.
We have tried to take this approach to the big changes that life has thrown at us: my illness, moving, changes in our family. Sometimes we realize somewhere along the line that we’ve fallen into the Panic. Ok, so sometimes he realizes it for me. It’s then that we have to reel ourselves in and remind ourselves that it’s really not that complicated.
As Hubby likes to remind me:
“Step 1: Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
“Step 2: It’s all small stuff.”
Go now, uncomplicate.