February 14th, 2013
I want to write something intelligent today, but my body wants to sleep. I want to write something deep and meaningful, but I should really be packing. I want to write something that fully expresses the emotions of these last few weeks, but I’m not sure I’m ready. I want to put it all out there, but I don’t want anyone to read it. That’s the trouble with a blog – people read and react to it, whether you want them to or not. Best to keep the private things on paper, or at least locked away in your personal files.
I do too much of that, though. Locking away how I feel. I resist reacting because it feels pointless, useless and occasionally stupid. I hate it when people call themselves stupid, but lately, I’ve found myself calling my reactions that. I’ve gotta stop. They aren’t stupid, they’re my reactions. And they aren’t always logical, because reactions are emotional. I’m allowed to be upset about things, allowed to react to things. As long as I recognize that’s what’s happening, as long as I keep working through the reaction, keep listening and talking. As long as I don’t sit and dwell and wallow in the reaction. And that’s the problem. Because if I feel like the reaction won’t accomplish anything, I try to resist it. Trouble is, that only puts a stopper in the bomb, and the pressure builds and then explodes even stronger.
Last night we were talking about things, and he gave me a heads up, and I shut down. I was reacting, but I didn’t want to react. I didn’t want to be upset because he was just trying to warn me that something might happen. He noticed and poked, and I eventually mumbled that I was reacting and it was stupid. And he looked me in the eyes and told me I was allowed to react. It was still an internal battle and the conversation that resulted wasn’t much fun either, but it kept me from stewing and wallowing. It gave me more information, and a better ability to deal with the information, process it appropriately. Otherwise, my mind would have stuck in the pothole and spun for the last 24 hours instead of being able to accept the warning and figure out how to deal with it. It didn’t make for an entirely pleasant evening, but bottling would have made for a much worse one.
I did the same at the con. Stamped down on feelings and reactions because I didn’t think they would be useful. In a couple classes, I refused to let myself cry, refused to let the emotions out because I didn’t want to call attention or make a scene. Neither of these things would have happened. The presenters had everyone’s attention, I was free to react however I wanted. But I resisted, screwed that lid down tightly. It led to an explosion later, when he said something that I reacted to. In this case, he walked away because he wanted me to feel free to react and get it out. Which I did, in spades. But again, I felt reacting at him would not accomplish anything, so I tried to keep it inside. Fortunately, even when ill, he notices these things. When he came back we were able to talk it through, and then the next day, because often I take a day to process, we finished talking it out.
It is all about these stories we write in our brains. They are written in an instant of reaction. And often, they are wrong. And I usually know they are wrong, so I scold myself and try to stifle them, but I cannot erase them unless I get them out of my head. Unless I ask. Unless I get clarification when I’m confused or unclear. Writing stories without all the facts is fine for novels, but it doesn’t work in relationships. Yes, sometimes asking is really hard, sometimes it escalates the upset, which is a hard thing for a peace-maker like myself. But not asking just strengthens the false thought. Leave a thought long enough, and it becomes your truth. And truths are even harder to erase or rewrite.
I am taking better care of myself this year. I am standing up for myself. Next step is to stand up To myself. Allow myself the freedom to react, to question, and to find the truth.
March 8th, 2012
So, my blogs lately have been a lot of nonsense, Modern Dungeon Quarterly and the occasional story. Life has been chaotic. Relationships have been chaotic. And I just didn’t want to put it down clearly. I haven’t even been journaling. I’ve meant to, but every time, I find something else to do. Something that won’t make me look at the words on the page. Won’t force me to stare at my thoughts laid bare. Bottling is unhealthy, I know this. I don’t usually do it. But with everything that’s been going on over the last few months, it seemed like my only option in some cases. Bottle it up until other things are sorted, and then let it out in a controlled manner. Wait til they sort things out, then tell her how I feel. Wait til I’m calmer, then tell her why it hurt. Wait til he’s had a few sessions, and then, with the doc there to help us both, say how I’ve been feeling.
Wait. Wait. Wait.
Ready. Set. Go.
New relationships bring whirlwinds with them. Change, adjustment, and new energy. Adding a new relationship to a poly group will forever change that group. Now, that doesn’t have to be in a negative way. Change is neither a positive nor a negative force, it just is. Things spin for awhile, as everyone readjusts, as schedules are resorted, as priorities are reframed. In my life, let’s add in almost everyone in the group entering into new job situations, and new class schedules. And things still aren’t settled because class schedules change every quarter. And toy is still working on getting a different job. Let’s also add in bits of drama, miscommunication, misunderstanding, and two people leaving the group. Stress levels rolling like ocean waves. Storms coming and going. Clashes of personality and sensibilities.
Everything changes. But if you can ride out those waves, weather those storms, and navigate the difficulties, you come out the other side stronger than ever. And, if it’s meant to be, so do your relationships. Not every relationship survives. Not every relationship is meant to last forever. But they all add to our lives, to our selves and to our strength. It takes a lot to rebuild after a storm, whether the tornadoes to our south, or emotional explosions that send everyone spinning. Sometimes you have to remove all the debris, foundation and all, and start again from scratch. Sometimes the remains can be salvaged. And sometimes it just takes a little patching up. Regardless, it takes work.
We are in the midst of that work, trying to see what we’ve been left with. What parts are still useable, what parts have to be made anew, and what parts just don’t fit anymore. Both sides of my poly life are in this situation right now. And while I am hopeful, I am not confident that everything will turn out the way we might wish.
Hubby and I have entered a second round of counseling, this time with a professional. Cheating, broken rules, broken promises, and on top if it all, Lies. We tried a community counselor, but when things blew up a second time, he suggested we were beyond his ken. Hubby went alone a few times to sort out some things and now we are going together. We have a lot of work to do.
Doc has four areas he works with in his couples sections and it seems to me, we have trouble in at least three of them. First is work ethic in relation to the marriage. Putting in the work to have a good marriage, and in this case, to fix the marriage. Are we committed to fixing it? Are we willing to do the work? Our friend kind of asked us a similar thing. Were we there because we wanted to fix things, or because it was our last shot? I told him I wanted to fix things, I wanted to keep the marriage. This time, it kinda feels more like a last shot. I love my hubby, obviously, but I feel so broken, that I’m not as confident it can be fixed. Do I want to fix it? Yes. Do I think it can be? Hopeful, but not confident.
Second, is the all important communication. Doc addresses this in a couple ways. First, is what he calls Face Value communication. That is take what the other person says at face value. If I say, could you take out the trash on your way out the door, that’s all I’m saying. I’m not saying, you’re lazy and you never do your part. I’m just asking you to take out the trash. Second is communicating to problem resolution. Not just saying what’s wrong, or what’s bad, but being able to come to resolutions that work for both parties. And lastly, nurturing communication. Being able to support and nurture each other.
Third, the one I think we actually manage, is having fun together. Enjoying each other’s company. When we’re not angry, stressed or depressed. I think we do a fairly good job of having fun together. Watching shows and movies we like. Playing games together. Having good food and times with friends. Though this last is a little more difficult, depending on the venue. I’m an odd bird when it comes to being social, and he has a difficult time in some of our circles here.
Fourth, always a tricky one for us, physical intimacy. I think with our run at counseling with our friend we tried jumping right to this one before fixing the others first. I mean, we were working on communication and such, but doing it all at once might have not been the best idea. Or maybe it was. But currently, this one will be last. I need trust back before I can even consider this step. And right now, it’s long gone.
So, a lot of work to do. A lot of hard work, to find our way back to our path together. We have help, so maybe we’ll make it. But it’s going to be a long road. If we make it through this, though, we can do anything.
December 10th, 2011
Finally move to my new webhosting company so I can post this week’s post.
I read Emotional Blackmail by Susan Forward this week, and while there is a lot to it, and a lot that does not apply to my own situation. I found myself realizing that while I don’t let others blackmail me, I may be doing it for them. I have hot buttons from my past, that I use against myself to control my current behavior. I scare myself into behaving certain ways, even though I don’t want to. So here they are, and my attempts to disarm them.
Fear of anger or raised voices. There was hardly ever any yelling in my house as a child. Occasionally, my brother or I got yelled at, but mostly when we were too young to remember or doing something dangerous. But there was a single instance where my father yelled at my mother, called her a bad name, and she left the house. I heard the yelling, I still don’t know what it was about, and I saw her drive away. She came back, I don’t remember how long it took, but that set a hot button in my developing mind. Yelling and anger equals a loved one leaving. I struggle with that one, I fear raising anger, I fear conflict. I have become a peacemaker, which is not bad, unless it is at the expense of my own needs or wants. I blackmail myself – don’t do that, it’ll make them angry. You don’t want to see them angry. What if you make them so angry they just leave? Which is unfair to the other person, I’m not giving them a chance – to react to what I want, or to show that it doesn’t make them angry. And unfair to myself – I am not being true to who I am.
Emotional responsibility. I know I’ve talked about this before. Especially in the Ethical Slut posts. But I find it hard to not feel responsible when my partners are sad/upset/depressed. Or at least responsible for making them feel better, or to avoid causing those feelings. Obviously, none of us wants to upset our partners, but I can also take this too far, into blackmail. Don’t say that, you’ll only upset him. It’s not really that important, you don’t want to make him feel bad. Look at how miserable he is, how could you do that? But I am not the gauge of what will make a person sad. I am not responsible for how they react and deal with things. I should not avoid things because they’re uncomfortable to talk about. It only leads to deception and bottling, which is way worse than a few tears before things get worked out. I can offer to help, and keep talking through things. But I should not try to stop someone else feeling their own emotions and reactions.
Self worth. I’ve often struggled with replacement fears since becoming poly. I’ve always struggled with my self image and self esteem. Those things have been growing by leaps and bounds since I found a community here that loves and supports me for who I am. But there’s a hot button left over from college and my second boyfriend. I tried to date him a second time(or was it a third, I had an odd dating record), late in my sophomore year. He told me, he didn’t need the ego boost that dating me gave him anymore. He was popular now. What a strange thing to say, and even odder still to internalize. What it wrote in my head was, I’m only needed by guys who aren’t confident or popular, I’m just an ego boost until someone better comes along. This has played a major role in my replacement fears – worrying the new girl is better than me, so I won’t be needed anymore. It took a much stronger sense of self, this last time, to not go there. I am finally fully confident in my worth, and did not feel that I even Could be replaced.
August 3rd, 2011
I was going to do the posts close together, but things keep getting busy. So, here’s the second post on The Ethical Slut, part II. This one focuses on Jealousy and Fear.
“No one can own another person.” (117) An important thing to remember, whether or not you are poly. You do not own your partner. (We aren’t talking about Master/slave ownership agreements here, that’s another discussion.) You are not responsible for their actions, and your every moment is not about each other. It would be a rather boring life for most of us to spend every waking moment with only one other person. There are jobs, and friends, and family and hobbies and a myriad of other things that are part of life. You share your life, poly or not, with many people, things and activities.
“Jealousy may be an expression of insecurity, of fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, feeling left out, feeling not good enough, or feeling inadequate.” (134) “[Jealousy] is a part of you, a way that you express fear and hurt.” (137) Jealousy is a normal human emotion. Everyone has jealousy at some point in their lives over something. It’s natural. And it can tell you when something is important to you. If it wasn’t important, you wouldn’t react to it.
“We imagine we know his thoughts, when in fact we are thinking about our fears.” (121) Our imaginations are great creators of fear. Sometimes, our imagination just leads us to silence or inaction. I can’t be that, he’ll say this. I can’t do that, she’ll think this. I can’t ask that, he’ll say no. How do we know? We don’t, we’re just projecting our fears onto our partner.
“You actually don’t know what your partner is doing. The images you see in your mind are the perfect reflection of your own fears.” (149) Our imagination gives us false impressions of what our partner is doing with others, or while out of our sight. We are afraid of what they are doing, afraid we’ll be hurt by it. “It helps to ask, “What am I afraid might happen?”” (131) We might imagine that the other person is better at it than we are. That they’ll enjoy it more with that other person. That we will pale in comparison. We might be afraid that he won’t want us anymore, or won’t want to do a certain thing with us anymore. We can really let our imaginations run away with us. That’s why communication is so important, before and after. So that we can stay in touch with the reality of a situation.
“What are the specific images that disturb me the most?” (148) It is important to figure out what triggers your fears, insecurities and jealousy the most. To identify major issues, so they can be named(often this, is enough to take the power away), discussed and perhaps disarmed. Or, if not disarmed, perhaps agreements can be made around them, to the benefit of all involved. No one wants to make their partners unhappy.
“Jealous might actually be envy.” (134) “When I’m not taking care of getting what I want, it’s easy to get jealous and think that someone else is getting what I am not.” (137) Are there things that you want that others appear to be getting? Are you asking for those things? Can you work out a way to have the experience you are missing so that you aren’t envious of the other person? It is important to take care of yourself, and your wants and needs. Don’t give jealousy any more footholds than it already has.
“Sometimes jealousy has at its root feelings of grief or loss.” (134) This goes back to economics of starvation, for me. Feeling like I’m losing something if someone else gets the same. Jealousy over fear of loss. I have to remind myself that someone else getting something does not take away from what I already have. And, it can even strengthen it.
“If you try to pretend that you are not jealous when you are, others will perceive you as dishonest, or worse yet, they may believe you, and see no need to support and protect you.” (138) “Denying your jealousy can lead you to act out harsh feelings in ways you will regret later.” (138) Expressing jealousy can be painful, but denying it can be damaging. It isn’t easy to admit you are feeling negatively about your partner, but letting negativity fester only makes things worse. If you can admit to it, you can then talk about it, and get through it. Together. A shared burden is easier to carry.
“The way to unlearn jealousy is to be willing to experience it.” (139) “You can feel jealousy without acting on it.” (140) Like any other emotion, jealousy does not have to take over. You can feel it and see it and deal with it, without letting it control you. This can take practice though, and time. And you have to want to. You are in control of you, even when you feel out of control. Ask for help when you need it, and jealousy is nothing to be afraid of.
“You and your partners need to practice talking about jealousy.” (151) I’m not sure how to practice, but talking about jealousy is the best way I know to get through it. Getting your feelings out, having them acknowledged and supported, if not agreed with, and then having help getting through them, is a great feeling. But that’s the next blog post, Emotions and Validation.