So, it’s the weekend. I wake up at 4:30 a.m. every weekday for work. On the weekends I get to sleep in… until about 6 or 6:30! Today however, my eyes popped open at 4:30 on the dot and I was awake. I tried desperately to sleep for a while, but it just wasn’t going to happen. That bites. Guess it’ll be time for a nap this afternoon!
Since I can’t seem to sleep and the rest of the house is still out cold, I think I’ll make a post! Lucky readers that you are! (Coherency will not be guaranteed, I’m only starting the second cup of coffee!)
Sunday, sunday. J and I will be off to church this morning. He found a church that has much in common with Unitarian teachings, and it seems great for all of us. J is Christian, I am pagan, and T is … Well, T isn’t entirely sure what "label" to use, but I think I’d describe her as an agnostic spiritualist. T usually goes with us, but last night she was saying that she wasn’t sure she’d come along this time, so, me and J for certain, possibly T. Afterwards, there will be lunch and a short trip to the store to grab some things for a picnic this afternoon. We’re going to meet up with another poly household that is local to us. It’s kind of a boon to us, to be able to hang out with another poly family with a similar configuration, that has also been together for several years. The geners are perfectly reversed in their group, which means that when we all sit at a table together, we end up with a boy-girl configuration all the way around the table. It’s amusing!
After the picnic, I have to return home and get ready for bed. 4:30 comes early and on a work day, I can’t be staying up until 11:30 like I did last night!
I’ve been thinking this morning though, about a lot of things. I’ve been looking at the issues we face in this relationship, things we’ve already overcome, and the relationships in my past. I’ve also been thinking about how we’ve managed to get through some rather large personality differences. For two newbies and a veteran who thought she was retired from the poly life, we’ve come a long way in the last 30 days. I think I have to feel proud of our family. We have gone from me and J being exclusive and monogamous to being broken up, to getting back together, to adding in T… and we’re all still alive. No one has burst into flame or dropped dead, and the level of caring between us continues to grow.
This relationship has been a LOT more difficult than those in my past though. I’m not sure what the difference is. Perhaps it’s living together, which only happened once before for me. Though, when that did happen, it wasn’t this rough of a run.
For starters, T and J had to get their heads around the idea that poly isn’t cheating, that I don’t suffer from low self-esteem for being poly, that there was even a chance that this could work out. That was bumpy, but not too bad. Then there was figuring out if we’re going to have a schedule or not. I still long for a schedule. I enjoy the certainty of knowing when J and I will have time together again. However, J isn’t big on scheduling and T just can’t bear one. Compromise/majority rule, the scheduling goes away aside from special events. In the aftermath of that, I think we were all miserable at first. I felt forgotten, T felt like I was competing with her, J wanted to run away to someplace far away, anywhere that would be quiet and have no demands on his own time for himself. The whole thing almost fell apart that week.
Now, we’re still mostly without a schedule. J’s solution was that he won’t spend more than a night or two with either me or T, so we aren’t either one feeling left out or forgotten.(T and I are both still getting over the initial upheavals). J is doing better about simply claiming his own time and not letting the fact that one or both of us girls will frown and not be super happy about the idea keep him from it. What can we say, T and I both love having J with us, alone or together. T and I are remembering life without J attached at the hip to us and figuring out what to do with ourselves when he takes time alone, or with the other one of us.
They’ve both had a hard lesson in the concept that family decisions can’t happen without the family present, and that if a topic needs to be addressed again, then it should be addressed again. The most clear example was that I knew something was bothering T. Our friendship was suffering, she didn’t seem to want to allow J and I to have any real intimacy, and when I talked about a future, she always had a strange look on her face. Come to find out, she was going off of a very early statement J had made (we’re talking a few days to a week into this), that when she went to grad school next year, we’d be staying behind. He and I had talked a little about the idea, but I wasn’t really willing to move for anything so new. I have a really good job right now, and I don’t truly want to give that up. But, what hadn’t been relayed, because no one told me it was an issue, was that T really wanted us to be willing to move with her. I can’t imagine how she must have felt, but I know I would have felt like a temporary plaything. Once it came out and I said that I’d be willing to look at moving with an open mind and make some serious attempts to find work wherever she goes to grad school, several problems seemed to resolve instantly.
We’re all learning how to articulate our needs. I’d gotten so settled with J and our long history that really there wasn’t much to talk about as far as "personal needs" in the relationship. We just knew one another well enough that we knew what to do when it was just us. Add one and watch everything morph, right? That’s pretty much how it has gone. For the record, I really suck at expressing my needs. I am trying to do better at this. My biggest problem is that I don’t see a need until it isn’t meant, so it comes off a lot of times like I’m constantly unhappy and feeling bad about something. I’m not, truly. I’m just not able to say anything and make sense. It’s a learning experience for me, but I think I must be getting better about it. I’m hearing "I hear you" from then more, and less "You can’t put a guilt trip out like that!" Yay for patient partners who understand that experienced or not, I’m human.
J has always struggled with maintaining boundaries. In all the time I have known him I’ve rarely seen him say "I want/need x" and expect others to respect his needs. He is learning that this must be done. His biggest struggle is with taking time for himself, but in the past couple of weeks, he has learned to say, "I need some time for myself" and simply take that time. He’s slowly getting the idea that he has rights, but he has to tell people what he needs and then hold the line. Not that T or I are either one unable to respect him, but no one can give space or anything else that’s needed if the need isn’t expressed.
T has made the biggest steps of all, and I’m so proud of her. She’s gone from pure monogamy and many concepts of intimacy that is shared being lessened, and being a sign of some sort of disrespect, to suddenly (to my and J’s surprise and happiness), being willing to let things go quite far with all of us present. She’s gone from not wanting any PDA that might even hint that there’s a poly relationship here, to being mostly ok with very light interaction between us all when we’re out in public. In fact, when we were at the pool yesterday, we were being watched by one of the few people who’d gotten up so early as we had, and I’m sure she saw it, but seemed not to care. I really just don’t have words to express how impressed I am with her ability to face down fears, socially and familialy imposed concepts, and make the internal shifts to be a part of this family. It just reaffirms that I didn’t make a bad choice in opening that door for she and J to be together.
We’ve all had our share of tears, heartbreaks, and being ready to walk away. When T and J first got together, I felt so abandoned. They were so caught up in NRE that I really was rather left behind. As the initial waves began to calm a little, J realized quickly that yes, he’d been neglecting our relationship, and we’ve been working through those hurts and trying to rebuild the trust and intimacy a little bit at a time. He and I drawing close again became difficult for T at first, and so she also had her share of tears. Poor J didn’t know what to do with himself. Every time he turned around someone was crying.
Yet, here we are. Forming a family out of close friendships, forming a history and a future together, and working together to do it.
We still have a long way to go, but we’re stumbling in the right directions more often than not, and I have great hope for us and for our future.