Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Stand back and watch it crash and burn and turn into ash"

I think it was the first time I've ever heard her call me her girlfriend before. I'd said it several times in her presence, but I don't think I'd ever heard her use say it. We talked for hours, while I did that light touch thing on her back. I felt a little better. I felt like she had heard me and she could see where I was coming from, what some of my concerns were in going forward in what is, for her and I, unexplored territory. Is it a triad? Is it her and him, and then me? Of course, though she validated my concerns, she's fine with it developing organically. The crazy doesn't even know what that word means. But I felt better.

He was still asleep and I went to lay down with him for 15 minutes before I had to go to work. I already didn't want to leave. Half asleep still, he apologized for sleeping in so long, rolled over, pulling me to him to spoon him. And I started to cry all over again. I thought I had finished that in the shower earlier that morning, hours and hours ago by now. The only reason he didn't hear me was because he was having his own issues, breathing issues. I closed myself in 'my bedroom' long enough to get it together, then splash cold water on my face, before saying goodbye for the day. For the week actually. I hate leaving and can't wait until we actually have a place of our own.

But I'm scared and I am realizing that I have no good way of expressing how scared to anyone. When you are reading the literature about borderline personality disorder, they use words like "attention-seeking" and "manipulative." When looking at it from an outsider's perspective, I see how it is viewed that way. But from my perspective, I have always had a hard time feeling like people heard me or took me seriously, like people understood how important something was or how intensely I felt something. When I was 11 and 12, I went through an aggressive phase, especially at school, where I punched and hit things, thinking that the outward display would make people care about the inward problem, but it didn't. I retreated into myself. By the time I was 13, just about the time we moved 2 states away, the depression had settled in and I rarely tried to tell or show anyone how wrong things were. The times I got so angry or frustrated that I cried were just the times that I couldn't hold it in anymore, though I still wanted to. Though, to be honest, sometimes I wasn't even aware that things were wrong, just that they hurt, all the time. By then, of course, I thought that was normal. At least normal for me. I don't think it was really until after high school that I started freaking out on people so that they would understand how serious I was about how I felt. Just as quickly as I had learned as a preteen that no one thought anything was really wrong when I cried, I learned that, when it got too much, if I could make it big and over the top, the people who cared about me would pay attention. And yep, I see how that's attention-seeking and manipulative from the other side, but from my side, I was doing the only thing I knew how to do to get any kind of help or validation or love.

I'm doing so much better and being so much more effective. Gods bless Marsha Linahan and her dbt. But romantic relationships seem to really be the test of all that new-found effectiveness. I feel all these things and I feel them so intensely. They can change so fast and they are so confusing sometimes. Not to mention that I'm in a situation that doesn't have a guide book and I don't have many people who can show me the path they walked because we aren't even in the same forest. Everytime I get scared or freaked out or unsure, I feel like I'm hitting the same wall. I try to tell him, but I don't feel like he hears me. Then I do something stupid and make some bad decisions that actually are clearly against the rules. The times that this has happened, in the correction of the transgression, I've worked through the fear or the uncertainty. Driving to work after the incident today, I realized that I don't know how to feel like I'm getting people to hear me, to take me seriously, to understand how intense this is for me, without acting out. I don't even know what that looks like. But I'd rather not let the crazy out. So I try to deal with it myself, internally. Then, I panic a little, do some not very effective, but still minor things- like crying alot, smoking a bit more, drinking a bit more often or a bit more than I should. Usually, after a bit of this, I'll work up the nerve to express that I'm worried or scared or freaked out, which is usually met by "Don't be worried/scared/freaked out. It will be ok." This does not assuage the crazy. It makes her mad and defiant and we end up acting out. I don't want to do that, especially now that I'm fully grasping how far back this pattern goes, but I don't know how to feel like I'm heard without the acting out, especially since the acting out is just so fucking effective.

So, what's the problem, you ask?

First, let me say this. It's been a long time since I've had a relationship that felt like it was going someplace from an early stage. Within weeks, maybe even less, it felt like this was going to be something more. Not only that, but the other person wanted that too. (It took a little bit longer for her to get on board, but it wasn't that much longer.) It took much less time for the other person to want something more in this than it did with TyRoy or my ex-husband or Moneypenny. And it probably hasn't been since my ex-husband that I've had a relationship where we talked about living together and kids and living a life together, where the other person brought up how that looked to them, not just me bringing up how it looked to me. (Yes, TyRoy and I lived together and we did talk about those things, but I still always felt like there was an expiration date on our playing house, even when I did want more.) In addition to this not being a traditional situation, which can be scary, or the situation I envisioned, which is scary, but it's the first time in a long time that I've really been thinking about a long-term situation. So every step along the way, I freak out about something different. Yes, I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I wasn't freaking out about something. I know.

They just came back from a four day trip to bumfuck Midwest tiny town for her friend's wedding. Before they left, we had a practical talk about moving in together, like it can't be until March when their lease is up but we want a three bedroom place, we want to save for movers, if I bring my cats he has to have at least one room where no cats are allowed, and we want a king-size bed for puppy-piles. My unfounded and unrealized anxiety about their trip away was that they would change their mind about me and the whole situation while they were away. Of course, what actually happened was that they missed me terribly and came up with more ideas for how we could spend time together, the three of us. But they were wiped out. Her sleep schedule is completely messed up and I barely saw her in the past three days because she was either sleeping or at work. He needed time to do his own thing since he hadn't gotten much alone time in the past three weeks, so he was geeking out on his game. His allergies and asthma were also bothering him. My reasonable mind understood this. Part of this being home, not sexy-visit-sex-play, is that we aren't always on, aren't always having sexy visit sex play time. There are going to be times when, though I am there, I want to be left alone, to read, to talk to someone else on the phone, to do whatever it is I want to do. But it felt like they were in their own worlds and I still felt shut out, which is something that has been bothering me more and more lately. When I came into this situation, I had it in my head that they were a them and I was just something on the outside. It made it much easier to respect the boundaries made and their relationship in general. But as we three have started to become the we, or at least as he's expressed that that is what the two of them want, I'm trying to adjust my framework and I keep seeing the ways that it's not the three of us, but them and me. The past few days, I've felt that acutely, but didn't have a way to say it. So I smoked and I drank and I shoved it down. And when an interesting guy sent me an interesting message on a dating site, I talked to him. And when he said that he wanted to take me out on a date, I said ok, after getting permission, of course. What can I say, it stroked my ego. But as the anxiety of the idea of a date sank in, so did the reality that I didn't really want to go on a date with anyone else. They want me to, so my world doesn't shrink to just them. But what I really wanted to to feel more connected to them, to feel more like an us, and I realized that going on a date with someone else probably wasn't going to make me feel that way. When I finally got the courage to say that to him, I feel like he waved it away. Sometimes I think he forgets that I'm not her, that we don't have their four years of hard won trust and decade of friendship. I think he forgets that I don't have that kind of trust with anyone, where they can just say that it will be ok and I will believe them. When he got up after tucking me in, I cried until I fell asleep. And I cried when I woke up all by myself. Because when I don't feel like I'm taken seriously, there is only about 2 minutes of negative self talk before I get to a place where I feel like this person doesn't care about me, because I'm not the kind of person that people care for and no one is ever going to care for me and I'm always going to be on the outside, a sock without a mate in a world where no one has three feet. And in that place is where the dragons live, folks. Sigh. I've been seeing alot of the dragons lately. I can't seem to destroy that old tape.

And I'm writing this now because I can't not express it, but I don't know how else to say all this. I just want to have a way to tell people, not just him, not just them, but anyone, that something is bothering me, really bothering me, and have them really take me seriously, have them see how intensely I am feeling this, without going out and doing something stupid. I can only hope that this is heard.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Got To Get It Out The Way

Try to steel my courage.
So important to get this right. To do right by my friend, by our friendship. Hell, just do right by my own self.
A country song on the car stereo talks about a man's eyes being blue just like the ocean and I realize I don't know what color Professor's eyes are. We spend too much time in the dark or with my eyes rolled in the back of my head when we're close and face to face. But I think of what he whispered in the dark to me about my eyes, about why they drew him to me and my breath catches in my throat just like it does every time I remember flash back to it. After so long feeling like I could not live up to the goodness of my partner, I feel like I finally found a home with people who are dark and twisted but still manage to .... not overcome, but live with it and make a beautiful life where they love and take care of each other. They show me that I don't have to be that impossible version of "good" that I have in my head to love and take care of my family. Remind me all the time that I am good and I do take care of my family. Make me want to work harder to create more of a family and more for it.
And I know what color her eyes are. That green-hazel is seared into my mind. As is how her togetherness is what I thought was impossible for me to be, but her path has been harder and she does it.
And I touch the pentacle with the stag hanging on my neck, given to me by the friend I am striving so hard to prove myself to. Remember my uncle's admiration of it. Think of all the things on my body that are talismans of the people I love, drawing strength from them. After all I've done for people I love, this should be a cake walk.
Just erase the old tapes. Record new ones.
"We took down all the pictures
and then we took down all the walls
packed up our expectations
piled them in the hall
yeah we bagged our future
kicked it to the curb
and then we stood there unencumbered
and we stood there undeterred
cause we were done clinging
to the things we were afraid to lose
and the only thing left
was a breathtaking view
you looked at me
and I looked at you
and we said, "How about now,
"what you wanna do?"
now there's something in the way
In the way of my love for you
now there's something in the way
in the way of my love for you
i got to get it out the way
the way of my love for you
i got to get it out the way
the way of my love for you"
-Ani DiFranco "Out the way"
[While editing, I realize how the chorus might seem. To see what is in the way, see the verse above. It's not in reference to other people, but ideas. Just to be clear.]

Friday, July 05, 2013

"Had To Learn It From the One Who Let Me Go"

The first time Moneypenny visited me in Small Midwestern City, after our great visit in Mid-size Midwestern City and a month of talking on the phone whenever we could, he brought a mix cd with him, the most romantic of gestures when you're broke, in college and have fast and unlimited access to file sharing sites. It started out with songs of motivation and taking control of one's life in general and then at track 6 transitioned to songs that described how he felt about our burgeoning romantic relationship. Track 7 is Oleander's I Walk Alone. 

I can't take this anymore
And I'm almost pretty sure
I've been here before
I can't take this any longer
I won't heal until I'm stronger
Strong enough to not be afraid
Of what anybody thinks
Of what anybody says
About the way
About the way I am
So I'll wait until the day
When those feelings fade away
Then I'll make my break

I remember being so touched by the song and what it said about how he felt about himself in the relationship. But later lyrics made it hard for me to see myself in the song. (Which now, actually looking at what the internets say the lyrics are, I realize is a mis-hearing of the lyrics. Well, damn. Ok, I'm gonna write the lyrics as I heard them.)

Had to learn it from the one who let me go
Now I walk alone...
[Because she] had to step away
To make me want to be
A bigger man, a bigger man than that

At the time, it was only my interactions with Moneypenny that made me want to be a better person. My previous relationships hadn't really made me want to be a better person, just reinforced how bad of a person I already felt I was. If I was going to learn anything from the "one who let me go," that person was going to have to be Moneypenny, and him letting me go was not something I really wanted to think about then. 

Today I heard a little bit of it and decided to listen to the whole song.  Within six lines, I was crying and it just kept hitting me as the song went along. So many of the things that I'm trying to do now in my relationships, whether it be with the Professor and/or Ginger, or even with Troy, were seeded in my relationship with Moneypenny. I was a hot jealous, possessive mess when I was with him. I could not have imagined that in the course of a decade, I'd be able to have what I'm trying to have with the Prof and Ginger, where the biggest jealousy I've felt so far was situational and easily worked through. Or a whatever-we-have (-had?) with Troy, where I enjoy talking with him about the other women in his life, discussing the pitfalls of each potential situation, even while we're lying in bed about to have sex. (Hell, sometimes during sex.) Of course, the ability to do this, the trial and error, were things I lived through with BT and TyRoy, but it isn't the ones who let me go that are reaping the benefits of what I learned with them. It's these new people and these new relationships. 

I need you by my side
As I take it all in stride
I put away, I put away my pride
Oh I leave it up to you
Yeah I leave it in your hands
Respect your wishes and your demands
But if it was up to me
Honey we'd already be back at home
And living out

Something I'm struggling with more in this relationship with P&G is taking things at their pace. I believe I am doing well at respecting what they have in their relationship and in their household. It's the feelings part that is more difficult right now. I know that I feel much more strongly at this point than they do. I'd like to think that if I could I wouldn't feel this way yet or I'd slow down the development of my feelings, but, honestly, knowing me, I probably wouldn't have it any differently. Once I went all in, I was all in. As they are different people, coming at this from a different perspective and different experience, their feelings aren't anywhere near to mine. I do know this and I don't want to rush anyone, but the other side of that is that it can get pretty chilly so far out on this limb all by myself. It is difficult to just let it be, to not worry that because they don't feel that way now they never will, to not think that I'm making a gigantic ass out of myself, to not shut off my feelings because they aren't exactly reciprocated. 

Strong enough to not be afraid
Of what anybody thinks
Of what anybody says
About the way
About the way I am

I'm also struggling with this. To say that I don't care about what anyone thinks of me would be a lie. The bigger truth is that I often do what feels better for me with some measure of spite for what other people think. The big things in my life I don't do just because people might not like it, but it certainly helps when they don't, which is why I am often so vocal about doing or feeling those things that others might make others feel ashamed. Of course now I'm in a situation where that spite could actually have real world consequences and I feel like a giant hypocrite for not completely owning who I am, for being ashamed of who I am.

There are actually two issues here. The first is something I talked about in therapy a few days ago. Now that I'm in a bdsm relationship, I'm getting to explore parts of myself that I'd let lay dormant for a very long time. I think I'd honestly thought I'd never find anyone to explore them with, at least not anything past some rough sex and light bondage and tamer fantasies, so I'd shut it down. Now that I can, with each new thing that comes up, I'm having to struggle against my own definition of what a good or decent person is. A big part of my struggle with mental illness has been getting over feeling like I'm a bad person. I've not necessarily gotten to a place where I feel like I'm a good person, but I was at a place where I felt like I at least acted like a good person should. But the combination of the things I'm exploring in my head and the reality that, the more I'm submissive in one section of my life, the more assertive, aggressive and even downright mean I am in other parts make it difficult to hold that belief. There's also the added struggle that has come with playing with people who are much more in touch with their desires, desires more extreme than my own. Like the quote the Girls quote I used in this blog post, I am "letting everyone say anything to me." And the struggle comes from knowing that I don't think these are bad people. In fact, these are people I love and care about, who I trust. Hell, these are people I have let or will let do many of those things to me. But there's still this little disgusted voice that questions how I could be around them, much less feel this way, what kind of person am I that I still feel this way about them, that it often in fact deepens how I feel about them to know these things. 

Then there is the poly aspect of the relationship. I came out as bisexual when I was 17 because I couldn't stand to not be honest about who I was anymore and because I knew there would come a day when the person I loved was of my same gender and I felt I would be betraying that love if I was ashamed of it. Now, fourteen years later, I feel like I'm in the closet again. In my job, I work with the elderly, most of whom do not appear to be accepting of anything other than 'traditional' relationship arrangements. I feel like it's scandalous to them that I sleep over at my boyfriend's house. And I feel close to these people. I know that I am only the hired help and if they decided they didn't like me, for whatever reason, or for no reason at all, I'd be gone, but it is difficult not to form some attachment, especially when you know about each other's lives, when they ask with genuine curiosity about your life. But I don't feel comfortable being out as bi with my bosses at this job, much less out as bi and (trying to be) in a poly relationship with my bosses or my clients. When speaking to them, Ginger is my boyfriend's roommate or my friend. While both of those things are true, they are not the whole truth. I feel like a fraud saying them, but I am afraid that I might lose my job, or at least any standing I have with my current clients, if I told the whole truth. 

Aannnddddd I really don't know where I'm going with this. This would make a very poor high school essay. I just wanted to share the song and get down how I was feeling, how it parallelled things both positive and negative that I'm going through right now. When things grab me that hard, I feel like I have to get it out or I'll drown in it, so there it is. 

Thursday, July 04, 2013

"But Home For Me Was Always Someone Else, You Know?"

It's Wednesday morning, quickly slipping into afternoon, and  I figure I should start the dishes. We're supposed to go to the store later, but the Professor woke up with a bad backache and Ginger is currently giving him a very rough-looking massage. A part of me wants to stay right where I am and watch. I like learning from their interactions. But it also feels intimate, like I'm spying, like I should leave them along for a bit. I'm sure they'll come get me when they are ready to go and I don't feel it's my place to rush them.

But as I'm doing the dishes, things start to feel familiar. It sounds like Prof and Ginger have moved on from the back rub to playful couple 'fighting.' But they are happy. That much is evident. And I'm happy, in a warm, contented way.

Having a house full of people just living, interacting, both working and playing, separate yet also together, reminds me of happier times with my family. Being at Gram's for the weekend with people doing stuff, some work, some visiting, some playing, some relaxing, wondering in and out of rooms occupied by others, but knowing we'd all come together again for dinner. That 'out of the corner of your eye' awareness of what someone else was doing without getting wrapped up in it. Knowing it was all ok and all going to be ok.

Last weekend, when I was about to start the dishes, there was a short summer rainstorm. I went outside and stood on the back porch, just breathing it in. It reminded me of standing on the cobblestone road in the middle of the night in the cool rain, taking a break from painting my uncle's new 'fixer-upper in exchange for no security deposit' apartment in his college town. I was dirty and hot and covered in paint, bone tired, and we stood out there, barefoot on the road, the only ones up at that hour. I remember eleven-year-old me being so envious that adults got to do this anytime they wanted to, sure that this freedom was what it meant to be an adult. It was then and still is now, another life and then some ago, one of my favorite memories. Standing on that back porch last weekend, I cried alittle, but I felt like, as he so often has this last month or so, that my uncle was trying to reassure me. That this might not have been the situation I had asked for, but it is a good situation and he is supporting me.

(Yeah, maybe a month from now or a year from now, if/when this all blows up in my face, I'll feel differently, feel like I was completely delusional, but I need all the support I can get right now so I'll take it. Even if it's all in my head, I have to hope that it is that part of me that comes from him.)

As I do the dishes, I think of all the times hanging out with him and his (now ex-)wife. In some ways, as a kid who could only see the world in terms of couple, of pairs, I felt like a third-wheel. But they never made me feel like that, even when they probably should have kicked me out so that they could enjoy more intimate times. Actually, it seems like growing up an only child with my mom and step-dad as well as the time I spent with my aunt and uncle, and hell, to a lesser extent, the time I spent with my grandparents as an only grandchild, has prepared me for how to blend myself into a couple, perhaps create a triad, now. How to not feel competitive. How to not feel excluded when they focus on each other. (Though I have to admit that in this romantic and sexual context I'm still getting over my embarassment when one of them is focused on me while we are around the other. As well as when both of them are focused on me actually.) But it feels nice for everyone to already be comfortable enough that they can do their own thing and I can do mine, that I can feel connected to them as we do and enjoy the snippets of eavesdropped conversation and play. I miss the feeling of that larger, connected but still doing our own thing family. Of course,sadly, I rarely appreciated it in the moment as much as I do this now.

Later, in the car, as we run our errands, I ride in the back and listen with bemusement as they banter and bicker, the way that long established couples do. It reminds me of so many car rides with my parents or my uncle and aunt, that familiar feeling of being part of a family while also having my separate space, enjoying the eavesdropping as they talk to each other as if they've forgotten that I'm there. I know it sounds weird, but this is what home feels like to me. This is feeling like the home I've so missed since my larger family started passing away. This is starting to feel like home.