So far so… good enough?

This week has been odd for me.  Knowing that T and I are both dating J and we’re apparently going to give this poly thing another go is strange in some ways.  In some ways, it’s a weird sort of relief.  Almost like everything is ok, and realistically, it seems ok right now.  T isn’t having panic attacks, J is happier and more relaxed about everything.  Boundaries are being maintained.

I have this odd thing though.  I’m great in a crisis or a high-stress situation.  Afterwards, I fall apart.  All the emotional responses I didn’t allow myself come swarming through and there’s no control to them because I’ve stopped guarding them so tightly.

This week, I think I’ve had every emotion I held back on just smack me around like a tether ball.  I’ve had this feeling of being positive that J was going to leave me, all over again.  That despite his assurance right in front of me and T that he wasn’t going to do that and that he didn’t want to lose me.  I’ve felt disconnected and forgotten, because J and I have managed to have one night together this week, and little contact outside that night.  On my way to his place, J let me know that he was going to go see T before I arrived.  By the time I got there I was in tears from the anxiety that was just tearing through me.  I was terrified that T wouldn’t let us have the night together, that she’d upset J and he wouldn’t be able to calm down enough to enjoy our time, that he would still be tense and nervous because he has been for a while when I was there.

The fears were pointless.  T just wanted to see him for a minute before I got there.  No worry, no problem.  J was not only relaxed, but amazingly affectionate, more than he has been in a long time.  Turned out all my fear was rooted in the past.  That isn’t totally unreasonable, except that I was the one making it hard to relax because once he told me everything was fine, I started feeling nauseous because my nerves let go.  Way to go, self.

J is coming over to see me tomorrow and staying the night.  He may be staying Sunday as well, but we haven’t nailed that down just yet.  He’s constantly telling me he wants much more time with me, that once a week is just not enough for him.  He also said that our plans to move in together later this summer are still on.  So all my fears about losing him seem pretty pointless, too.

I ended up posting a lot about this emotional upheaval on a poly forum I frequent and got some great advice.  The parts that stuck out most to me are summed up as:

– Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need, or to expect to be heard and have those needs met.
– Cut yourself some slack, but pay attention to your own mental processes.  The ones you’re in are formed in the past and will take you all back there.
– Find something else to do when you’re not with J.  Stop thinking about what he’s doing or whether he’s with T or not!

All in all, great advice, and a lot of understanding and supportiveness.  It helped and I got my head redirected.

I also talked to T.  Sunday I was around that neighborhood and she came out to meet me and we spent about two hours talking.  She told me she was terrified I’d think she was just biding time and waiting to “get her way” and take J away, but that wasn’t what she wanted to do at all.  She’s not positive that she can handle a poly relationship, but she’s trying again with that in mind.  It was a good talk, really.  It was a bit strained, which is to be expected I guess, after all that has happened.  The funny part of it was that as I was leaving I found out I had a flat tire.  I called T and she came back, took me to get a can of fix a flat (that tire was NOT coming off!)  Then she followed me home to be sure nothing went wrong on my way and we ended up hanging out at my place for another hour.  When I called her to ask her to come back and help me out, and when we were at my place, it was a much more natural interaction level, more like we used to be, and that was nice.  I haven’t heard from her since then, so I guess she’s been busy or something.  My first thought is “She doesn’t really want to talk to me.”  That’s a little silly though, I think.  I think that in reality we’re both kind of on edge right now and not wanting to step on one another’s toes.

So, it’s not “good” at this point, but it’s good enough.  We have a lot of distance to go for any of us to have it “good” again.  We’ve all been hurt and we’re all a bit guarded about the situation right now.  I think we’re all trying to do things differently this time, and we’re all taking advantage of not living together so we have time and space for ourselves.  To expect that everything will be “good” right this minute isn’t realistic.  I’ll take good enough, and everyone putting in effort to find stable ground with one another again.

On that note, maybe I need to invite T to hang out this weekend at some point, or just to meet up with me once a week to have coffee or something.  I don’t know that we’ll get back to being “best friends” again, but we can at least work on being comfortable around one another and achieving some sort of companionable level of interaction.  I’m the more outgoing in that respect, so rather than wait for her, I’ll drop the suggestion to her in the next few days and see what she says.

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Restructuring

Yes, I know I promised a post weeks ago.  I just didn’t have it in me to make one.  So much has happened now, I’m not truly sure where to even begin.

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Oh the Humanity! (How dare I be human!)

I don’t like admitting that I’m not all I want to be cracked up to be. I don’t like admitting that I have faults. I know they’re there, mind you, I just don’t like naming them and admitting them. I really don’t like admitting to having a faulty thought process. My mind is my most valuable possession. If it’s not working properly, or as required of me, I tend to begin to feel as if my entire being is flawed and that there is nothing worthwhile here. Yes, I am aware that this pattern is a flaw as well. Right now, I’m not liking myself much at all. I’m working on it, but damned if this was an unexpected repair job to pull on myself. I feel rather like a moron for even needing it. I hate the very word jealousy. It’s a pointless thing, you see. As I’ve said before, as other polyamorists have said before, it’s an umbrella term used to cover a lot of other emotions, thoughts and unmet/unspoken needs. I have been absolutely devoured with jealousy this past few weeks. Part of it is at least understandable, if somewhat unfounded. Most of it isn’t founded in anything but old insecurities and wounds that are popping up for me. A fair amount of it is that I had some very certain ideas of how all this was going to happen and how it would look and function; and damn it all but J and T are humans with their own thoughts, desires and ideas about how things should be. Their ideas and needs and so on have made a mess of my pretty little mantelpiece family photo! How rude and inconsiderate of them! (Right?) So, what am I being jealous about? T and J, I apologize, I know I haven’t talked to you about this very plainly. I’m a bit embarrassed and ashamed of myself for even feeling this way. I need a cute kitten picture that screams “Do Not Like!” Lately I’ve been very jealous about time. It has seemed that J spends his evenings with T actually being with her, enjoying her being with him. When he and I have time together, he falls asleep. This has been going on for about a month. So in this case, the jealousy isn’t totally unfounded, but it is there. As I know that jealousy is that umbrella term, the real responses there are that I find that when this happens, I feel unimportant and uninteresting to J. I don’t “blame” T for it, but I find myself envying her for being “more interesting” and “more fun” to be around. Then I go sit alone while they have their time and stare into space and let myself sink lower and lower until I am close to tears. When J falls asleep the instant we’re alone, I find myself becoming agitated and unhappy and even angry at times. I feel “cheated” and I’ve realized that the refrain in my mind in this situation is “again.” It whispers at me, “He’s not going to spend time with you, again,” or “He’s all energetic about seeing her, again.” Any number of configurations that seem designed to make me unhappy about the situation and that keep my mind dwelling on the things I’m not getting. I realized how bad it was getting when J spent the evening with me yesterday. We both ended up staying up until well past midnight. Most of the evening we just stretched out on my bed watching a movie. (J has been sick lately.) J rested his hand on me, occasionally kissed my shoulder, held me close to him, and all I could do was fight with myself because my mind wanted to stay focused on how he wasn’t touching me and how much time we don’t get together. I was right there, with J feeling so sick he really didn’t want to do much and still reaching out and being affectionate with me, and I couldn’t keep my mind off of all the reasons to be unhappy! That’s when I realized I needed to stop and just be honest with myself. This morning, T tells me that she and J had already talked about the sleeping schedule for the weekend. Before she could say anything I felt that sinking feeling drawing me back down into the dark and lonely places. I knew that it was the weekend and he’d be with her “again” and I’d have to figure out what to do with myself and let go of the idea of him being with me again until Monday. Bearing in mind, this isn’t some sort of “pattern” that has been established. In fact, it has only happened a couple of times where J spent an entire weekend with T. When T told me that they’d decided that since Sunday is hers, she had suggested he stay with me tonight, I couldn’t even respond. I was taken so by surprise, and not because J or T are “mean” to me, but because I’ve allowed myself to sell myself the idea that J doesn’t really want to be with me and that T doesn’t care about my relationship with J. Oh, my mind is a beautiful thing, it really is. It convinced me of all that without any real evidence to support those thoughts. The realities are, J wants to be with me. He loves me and misses having time with me when we don’t get to have time together. Yes, he falls over in a pile of roughly J-shaped clothing when he’s with me rather often. This is because he trusts me to understand the stresses he’s been facing and to be supportive of him, because I always have been. If T weren’t part of the equation, I wouldn’t be so upset about this, and that’s always a good litmus test for a poly relationship when someone starts feeling insecure. “Would this be the case if it were just the two of us?” Honestly, if it were just the two of us, it might be worse. J confides deeply in me, and trusts me to be understanding of his needs and the state of his mind. He trusts me so much, he doesn’t even question it. If he needs to have a very quiet, stress-free time, then I should at least be secure enough by this stage to provide that and to enjoy the time I have instead of worrying about what I don’t have. I have been able, in the past couple of weeks, to get over the idea that T is out to hurt me or to push me aside. The problems that led to this jealousy thing happening weren’t T’s doing. They were J’s doing, and my own doing. That helps, and seeing T as an ally instead of a threat is an infinitely better way of living in this household. But what on earth is leaving me so bound up with the idea that J doesn’t want me? I mean, these thoughts cover everything from “He doesn’t love me” to “I’m too old and ugly for him now.” I’ve had to do a lot of thinking on this. The problem stem from, I am certain, my last ex. I barely survived that one. He was deeply passive-aggressive, and would withdraw affection and hold it hostage to get me to do what he wanted. When we parted, he was not kind about it at all. I had thought those wounds were pretty well healed, but I was not correct in that assessment of the damages. Feeling unwanted isn’t about J or T in this case; it’s about that ex and the many ways he convinced me I was not worthwhile. I feel like a complete noob right now. I should know better than to let things like this take me over. Sometimes I really dislike being human. So, reality stepping in: Yes, J and I have been struggling on the intimacy front. We’re working on it. I need to accept what is and stop worrying so much about what isn’t or what I think someone else is getting that I’m not. I need to appreciate the time we’re together and find the off switch for those voices that keep telling me all about what I’m not getting. I need to stop comparing what happens with T and what happens with me when we’re with J. Reality: I have been with J for years. He’s not going to be acting like a guy who just fell face first into love with me because he didn’t. That was years ago. If the situation were reversed, I’d be as love struck with a new metamour as he is, and that’s OK because it has no bearing on his feelings for me. I need to appreciate the peace and security that has come with a long-term relationship. I’ve always wanted this. I’ve always wanted someone who was “here to stay” and who I could be comfortable in the presence of. Someone I didn’t have to be “on queue” for but who I could just sit quietly in a room with if the mood so struck us. I have that with J. I need to stop letting myself sulk (and that’s what it is) over the fact that we got here, and let myself continue to enjoy this as I have for the past few years. (On a side note, T has made comments about feeling similarly because she and J aren’t there. We girls can’t win for losing sometimes, right? I find the viewpoint amusing, honestly.) I need to just relax and not kick myself so much. I’ve seen the problem and can handle it. I just don’t like being so petty and so dissatisfied when I know, rationally, that there’s no real reason for it.

Today is the day.

My company picnic is today.  I’m excited and nervous.  Today is the day that T comes out of the closet about her relationship with J.

I read a comment recently where the person was speaking about coming out and said that "You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube once it’s out."  I hope she’s really ready to live with that.  J and I never wanted to be in the closet.  T wasn’t ready to be open.  She was very concerned about how others would see her.  

I am nervous though, with the recent rash of how she’s been cutting people out.  She did it again last night, to me and to my daughter, separately.  J had brought out some pictures, and it turned out that I hadn’t seen most of them before.  He tried to share them with me as well, and kept telling her to stop holding them, to pass them down so I could see them.  She just ignored him and ignored me and kept the pictures to herself.  The more he told her to not exclude me, the more she tilted them away so I couldn’t even look over to see them.  I eventually gave up and just left them to it.  J told me this morning that he was really unhappy about her doing that.  Also, when my daughter tried to talk to J, T apparently kept talking over her until my daughter gave up and went to sit out on the porch.  She was pretty hurt by that experience.  J was again, displeased and did try to include my daughter, but failed to get T to stop the behavior.  If T starts that behavior today, we’ll be leaving the picnic.  I just don’t want my co-workers seeing such immature behavior out of my household.  If it happens, the conversation I’m planning for after my daughter’s visit won’t be waiting.

On good fronts, J and I are really feeling the renewal of our relationship now.  Every moment together is punctuated with "I love you" and with statements of how much we missed one another and how happy we are to be able to see the connection between us again.  He has admitted, he doesn’t know where things are going with T, for him.  It makes him nervous and unhappy, but at the same time, he’s very happy that he and I can recover from our problems so quickly and easily.  As I told him last night, we’ve gone years without talking, and all it takes is a little time to talk and everything rebuilds and recovers for us.  What is between us, simply is, and doesn’t seem to care much whether we acknowledge it or whether other like it or not.  He responded with the easiest and happiest smile I’ve seen on his face in months. 

So, here’s hoping and crossing fingers for a good day, and bracing for having to stand up and make a discreet exit.  Today will be a real telling day, either way.