'cause someone you don't know
is someone you don't know
get a firm grip, girl
before you let go
for every hand extended
another lies in wait
keep your eye on that one
if there's anything I've learned
all these years on my own
it's how to find my own way there
and how to find my own way back home
The set-up: So Ginger is out of town on a much deserved vacation, after she drops her son back off at his father's house. My parents have just come back from a two week trip during which I took care of their dog, which meant never being away from their home for more than eight hours and never gone overnight. The Professor and I had made plans last week that we would do some more hardcore play Monday night and into Tuesday, since Tuesday is the only day that I didn't have to work. I was really excited because I have all these things I want to explore but he hasn't been in a headspace to play, and honestly I probably haven't at times either though I will usually play anyway and deal with consequences later. This was supposed to be the first getting-our-toes-wet-again playtime. But evidently the Universe had other plans because I got my period over a week early on Monday and he was having allergy and breathing issues. So not only was there no play last night (Monday night) but there ended up being no sex of any kind, period. Now I knew that later today (Tuesday) the Professor was supposed to be going out to dinner with his mom and sister, who are visiting sort of unexpectedly from out of town, but dinner with his mom is almost never until 6 or 7 o'clock, so since his breathing was better, I had had hopes that we would at least get some frisky time, or even just cuddling time, especially since his breathing had been better today. Then his sister calls and says that she's outside. Right now. "Well, I guess I better put on some real clothes." "You might want to take your collar off too." "Oh shit I almost forgot about that. I just get so used to it being on while I'm here."
Now last weekend when she came over the first time, it didn't feel as weird because Ginger and her son came in shortly after so everyone was there and it wasn't just him and I. Wait. Let me back up. So the Professor was brought up in a very strict, conservative, evangelical Christian church, which he calls a wacko fundie cult. While all the kids have strayed from it, his sister went back to help her get clean and sober from drugs and alcohol. His brother, while not in the church, is fairly successful, lives far enough away that he really only comes back for holidays, and was always the golden boy. The Professor is seen as the black sheep and it seems to be magnified by the religious context that his mother and step-father view everything. They have told him that the reason he has so much trouble in his life, why he isn't doing better job-wise, money-wise, and even physical health-wise is because he has strayed from God and that everything would be better if he would just come back to the church. He has come a long way from who he used to be in so many respects but they refuse to give him any credit for that because he still isn't in the church. But he loves them and they are still his family so he tries to have as good of a relationship as possible with them, which means not talking about a great many things. While I am totally out to my family, which is made easier by the fact that it's just my parents and I really, the Professor and Ginger come from more conservative backgrounds than I do and both worry about members of their family shunning them if they were as out as I am. (Ginger is kinda in the middle of the Professor and I's extremes as I know her family, have done family events with them, and one sibling even knows exactly what I am to her, but she maintains a don't ask don't tell policy at this time with most everyone, and they just assume I'm a really close friend.) I'm sure that it's bad enough in his parents' eyes that he lives with Ginger outside of wedlock, but for them to know about me would be even more detrimental to the relationship. Over the holidays, when his brother came to town and stayed at the apartment while I was there, the Professor told him, but I don't envision him telling his sister, at least not while she's so caught up in the religious sect of his parents and living so close to them. Back when I first moved in, which was right around the holidays, I was very insecure about all of this. Rationally, I understood both the Professor and Ginger's positions with their families but it made me feel like I was less than in the relationship. Now that things are set up differently and will be for awhile, it underscores that the relationship is different, but I know that I am not less than anyone else, that I am not loved less, and that they would stand up for me if they needed to, which is really what is important to me.
All that said, today still felt sucky. Like I cried for quite a bit kind of sucky. Like I'm crying as I write this kind of sucky. While I would like to get to know the Professor's sister better, to get to see him in that dynamic, I also thought that she probably wanted to get to hang out with her big brother on her own and that she probably wasn't expecting some random chick to be there. And that is probably exactly what she thinks I am, some random chick. Or, to be even more honest, some random trick. Before his sister got sober, she spent more than enough time around her brother and his friends to know, generally, what he was into and how his relationships went. I told the Professor that I was going to leave so they could hang out together and, despite the evil bitch in my head wanting to turn it into a "but I really wanted him to say 'no, stay and hang out with us' so I'm going to be mad that he didn't" kinda thing, that is completely unfair. I know that I would have been even more uncomfortable staying and they probably did want time to hang out together. At least she did or she wouldn't have come over by herself before dinner. But I had a bunch of stuff that I had wanted to do before I left, including have some sexual or cuddle time, all of which I had to just drop. I walked right by his sister with my overnight bag, after having come from the kitchen where I was starting the dishwasher. I was also going to run up to the convenience store with the Professor so he could get some cigarettes. As he said that his mom and sister probably wouldn't stop by there for him to pick them up, I ran to the store and back, rather than leave him with one cigarette. I felt so stupid when I came back. All I could think was what his sister must be thinking, "Who is this slut that he has staying overnight while his girlfriend is gone? Doing his dishes, running and getting him cigarettes? She's obviously ashamed to have been here, since she's leaving as soon as I got here. And she should be. I saw her just a few days ago being all good friends with his girlfriend. She should be ashamed of herself." Last week, the Professor and I celebrated being together for one year, a year with plenty of struggle on everyone's parts but where I love them more than ever, even if things don't look how we planned for them to. It's really difficult for me to remind myself that all that hard work wasn't meaningless when I feel like I'm probably just seen as some trick.
Last Friday on Facebook, I re-posted this list that a friend of mine had posted a list called 15 Things You Don't Owe Anyone At All (Thought You Think You Do). It includes "You don't owe anyone an explanation for your living situation", "You don't owe anyone an explanation for your sex life" and "You don't owe anyone an explanation for your relationship choices." I re-posted it with the following (long) comment "My friend who shared this said she doesn't usually read or share these things but this spoke to her. Obviously it spoke to me too & though it is about not owing an explanation, I wanted to throw my 2 cents in.
Several things in my life right now are not how I had been planning them to be, plans I'd been sharing for months. It's been difficult and embarrassing to have to explain why this is to people, especially in my work situation where I am not completely honest about my relationship. Maybe this is partially my fault bc I wear my life on my sleeve. If I hadn't told anyone about the plans, they wouldn't have known when it fell through. What's been just as hard is that people in my life want to blame my significant others or the kind of relationship (or just my bf if that's the only one they know about) and it ends up feeling like I'm protesting too much when I assert the truth, that I am still really happy & in love & that they helped me a great deal through all the problems & that they are also disappointed with how things went. I don't really know how to straddle that line between "let me share my happy/share my life events so we can build mutual trust" and "I dont really want or need your negative opinion on the people I love or how I live/love/fuck."" It's still really difficult for me. Obviously. No, I don't owe it to his sister to tell her who I really am to him. Nor does he. If she went off on a tirade about me, actually calling me some random trick out loud to his face, I would expect him to stand up for me and at the very least say, "You don't know her. You don't know the situation. She's someone Ginger and I care about very much and she isn't doing anything to hurt either of us. Anything more than that is none of your business." I don't think he would let that shit slide. (And I know Ginger wouldn't.) But it sucks. Just like it sucks when people in my life blame things not working out as planned on it being a poly relationship or just on him (mostly those are people who only know about him, but sometimes not.) For the most part, you get to say that once, after which I will explain as much as I can depending on what you know why that isn't the case, and then I'm going to tell you, very nicely, that I don't want to here that bullshit again. It's always more complicated than you know, even if you know everything, or think you do. (Which, yes, is something I should remind myself more often when I butt my nose into other's people's business too.) But I have a client that I just can't seem to get to STFU about how he thinks that it's all the Professor's fault. Look, it's nice that you're on my side and acting like my grandpa and all, but you don't actually know what the relationship is at all and I don't feel like I can tell you, much less also tell you about all the fucked-up shit on my side, not to mention that some of it was just that things out of our control happened long before we met and continue to this day, like his health issues, like my mental health issues, like the management at the apartment being shady assholes, like me hurting my back right as all the moving stuff was about to happen which put even more stress on an already stressed out me. He might have been the one who chose to talk to me, to pursue something with me over a year ago, but everyday that I'm with him, I chose him, and Ginger and this situation, over and over again.
So now that I'm at the end of my story, I'm not really sure what the point is or where it leaves me. For so long, I spent so much time cultivating this attitude that I didn't really care about what others thought and the idea that that was why I was so honest about who I was so early into all kinds of relationships. But I think it was really that I would rather they dislike me for who I really am than dislike, or even like, me for who I'm not. If the Professor's sister wanted to dislike me or think I'm a horrible heathen for being his whore in the true context, I think I would be much less upset than I am now. It's the idea that she might think I'm just some random fuck of his and that I would do it behind Ginger's back that I think digs in deep. I can't get to the point that the Professor and Ginger are at where they don't care what people might wonder or gossip about as long as it doesn't negatively effect how the people treat them or us, because what our relationship(s) are or aren't isn't really any of their business. I'm not upset with them for this attitude or think they should change it, it just isn't how I feel. Just like I am not saying that the Professor should have or even could have done anything different, especially while attempting to keep the current relationship he has with his family and I completely understand that, but that it is also true that, while not his or anyone's fault, I'm hurting. I guess I just needed to get it off my chest. One of those DBT lessons that sticks in my head is that two seemingly contradictory things can be true at the same time- nothing could have been done any different but I also felt like I was probably being judged in a way that erased all that we've all been to each other over this year.
everything i do is judged
and they mostly get it wrong
but oh well
'cuz the bathroom mirror has not budged
and the woman who lives there can tell
the truth from the stuff that they say
and she looks me in the eye
and says would you prefer the easy way?
no, well o.k. then