The Art of Waiting for a Thousand Days

When Husband and I first met Boyfriend, he told us he was working on a project that was bigger and more consuming than expected, but it would be done in the fall.  Unfortunately, the project only continued to become more massive and stressful, with repeated deadline extensions.  The project did not technically finish for another thousand days- 1,042 to be exact.

During all this, Boyfriend’s time and availability was limited.  He was in chronic ‘work mode’ and even when he did allow himself to make time for a visit or a chat, the constant feeling of “I should be working” hung heavily over him.  The project consumed everyone it touched, and as he pointed out afterwards, it should have failed.  There were so many obstacles, so many points where it should have just collapsed on itself.

The same holds true for our quad.  The poly quad is a configuration that often doesn’t work in the best of scenarios- and here we were, plugging along while also doing long distance and with this beastly project on our backs.  This is not to say that we have survived wholly intact.  Most of our interactions with Boyfriend individually and especially as a group began to revolve around his stress levels and work load. We stopped voicing concerns and issues because it would take time to process them. Husband and Boyfriend’s friendship fell by the wayside and Husband became more frustrated the longer it went on and with how it impacted everyone in different ways.  Husband’s anger began to impact his relationship with me over the past year.

Now we are on the other side and have begun to work through it.  Adjusting and working through the emotions and frustrations that built up will take time, but I feel very optimistic.  We are all still here, despite the odds.

Now that I can turn and look at my thousand day wait, it is interesting to see the progress and movement I made even when at the time it felt like I was at a standstill for an eternity. Polyamory is valuable to me because I believe in the enrichment, ongoing communication, and growth that it brings.  Since I had to experience this in such constricted blips of time, it became about how to endure and how to feel love and to feel loved even when someone is absent.

Year 1:  Falling in love and weaning myself off.   The first six months were the all consuming process of chatting, visiting, getting to know each other and falling in love.  Then he began to withdraw to focus on the project.  The agony of seeing messages dwindle and the increasing gaps of time between chats was like coming off of an addiction.  Logically I knew this was what needed to happen, but my body experienced it like a break up and I desperately longed for interaction and reassurance.   It was not a normal transition from the giddy falling in love phase to the bonding phase.  My body didn’t know what the fuck was up.  I also had a lot to learn about his communication style and how he compartmentalized his emotions while working so hard.

Year 2: Poly drops and logic/brain vs emotion/body.   This dilemma between the brain and the body continued.  I would have visits, then long periods of time of minimal communication.  The visits were all inclusive, confirming that the connection was as strong and soul warming as ever, and then I would go home and it would fall off a cliff.  I would crash emotionally and physically.  I would grapple with my logic that understood why things were this way and with my attachment system that could only howl like a toddler at the absence.

Year 3: The coast.   After many hundreds of grappling bouts between brain and body, one day my body “got it.”  I could see and feel during visits that he clearly loves me, and I could retain that knowledge at all levels after visits and in between visits.  I became accepting of the way things were, enjoyed my deepened and supportive friendship with Metamour, and looked forward to the future.

The irony is that now that the future is finally here, I’ve reconciled so well that I don’t feel all that different.  I’m not feeling deprived or starving for his attention like I was during Year 2.  I want things to be more balanced, I want to receive support as well as give support, but I’m content to just be and not actively go looking for it to be a certain way or for it to “make up” for all the time we missed.  I’m content to sit back while he recovers and begins to become more active on our chat threads.  Metamour was here this weekend, and I’m excited to visit Boyfriend next weekend.  Life is good.

-P

 

 

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Politics ptsd

Words fail to capture the devastation, heartbreak and terror I felt when I watched the numbers roll in on election night.  Since then I have been grappling with numbness, discouragement, helplessness, fear, resolve, hope, dread, grief, not wanting to read the news, morbid fascination with reading the news.  I attended a march in my area and the numbers exceeded everyone’s expectations.

What a feeling to be stuck in a country that is starting to violently trample every value and moral and human right that I have.  I want out, but I can’t.  I want to resist and fight in the most effective way possible, but I don’t know how.

Fascinating how this feels like the end of the world and extremely ominous for some, and for others, they gladly voted for it.  I rely on my ability to be empathetic and understand other perspectives, but I can’t even begin to comprehend this.

-P

 

 

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Poly in the psyche

Oh hi.  It has been a while.

The video clip (see below) from the Young Turks about monogamy is interesting.  Lots of nervous laughter, assumptions, and really not quite getting it.  It reminds me again of how the topic has to be truly absorbed and experienced and twisted on its head, and when you come out after, you have a different lens altogether.  If you try to discuss the idea without doing all that work first, you fall short.  You’ll keep returning to a variation of “it’s pretty much cheating, with permission.”

 

I visited Boyfriend last weekend and we have a group visit coming up in a couple weeks.  Adjusting back to everyday life after a mostly poly summer took some doing.

I’m pretty amazed when I reflect on how constant this has been, not only outwardly, but in my psyche.  Boyfriend and Metamour live in my brain, all the time.  What a curious thing, to have a part of my mind always devoted to people I don’t see in person.  I don’t have to consciously generate any effort or focus, it fuels itself.   “Out of sight, out of mind” does not apply here and sometimes it’s surprising to me when I think about it.  It just doesn’t stop or fade away, even after this much time.   This is probably what happens to parents when their children leave home or to military spouses or others in LDR relationships.   Only in a situation like this can we be so aware of how love internalizes the other and makes it part of the self for as long as we live.  It’s pretty amazing.  Why do we fear loss so much, when this is possible?

-P

 

 

 

 

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Expectations vs Reality in Poly Life

Got a kick out of this-

The polylife logbook

What people that do not know me think of, when I tell them I’m poly:

POLYNESIA: ILLUSTRATION

What people that do know me think when I explain to them that I’m poly…

edouard-henri_avril_25

What my life mostly looks like:

article-2337460-01be18c90000044d-161_634x370

Oh well… baby steps! 😉

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Poly Space

Metamour and I were talking one day about relationship transition and how the next phase of our relationships doesn’t translate as well to long distance.  Phone and chat/text is a pretty good vehicle for phase 1:  the getting to know you/NRE phase.  The extra boost in curiosity and energy generates a lot of exchanges and flirting.

If it was an in-person relationship, often the transition to the next phase is barely noticed. Things happily go from the honeymoon phase to a cozy, comfortable, bonded phase and likely accompanied by an event such as moving in together.  In a long distance relationship, however, the transition from the energized phase to the next can sometimes feel like dropping off a cliff.  The next phase is characterized by…less chat.  You have cozy, comfortable, connected visits and then you go home and you have…less chat.

We are in weird territory.  Most people probably do not continue past the end of the first phase with long distance, at least in the monogamous version.  By two years, people either move to be together or they break up.   I’ve been with Boyfriend for over two years and by all rights, should have that phase 2 cozy, daily connection, but here I am, feeling disconnected and not knowing what he’s thinking or feeling on a given day and vice versa.  When you’ve been with someone that long, it is jarring and discombobulating and sucky to have no window into their life unless they are typing to you enough so that you can see.

Metamour and I started joking about having a camera in each other’s houses, so we could look at a screen and, in a glance, be able to resolve that disconnected “I have no idea what they are doing” feeling.  Then after the conversation, I thought of that again and thought “Why not?”  If we are going to do long distance indefinitely, we have to get creative.  Boyfriend went out and got the “Nest” camera.  Now, with one touch on my phone screen, I can see him in his office.  Nest is technically a security camera, but it works great for what I had in mind.  I don’t feel blind and cut off anymore.

Ideally someday we could have a full size monitor on a wall in our house, and it would be like a ‘window’ into their house.  We could wave at each other as we walk by, have coffee together, etc.  This way we can together in a new kind of space, with visual and audio, even though we live over four hours apart.  Amazing what technology can make possible.

-P

 

 

 

 

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Poly in exile

I have a new term.  Poly bloat:  this is when your long distance poly quad has weeks together- nearly a month in total- over the summer and celebrates every day with various kinds of chips, chocolate, mixed drinks and beer.

I am in denial that it is over and we are back to sporadic weekend visits.

I’m reading _Women Who Run With the Wolves_ by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  This book is good fodder for contemplating the deeper meaning of polyamory and the ways that it may reverberate in the unconscious.  More than ever I want to create ritual and meaning in the context of poly, to open portals and deepen what is.

In particular I saw a connection between exile and polyamory.  Estes writes:

There is an odd phenomenon that occurs when one keeps trying to fit and fails.  Even though the outcast is driven away, she is at the same time driven right into the arms of her psychic and true kin, whether these be a course of study, an art form, or a group of people. 

Something…is being tempered, being made strong by this exile.  While this situation is not one we would wish on anyone for any reason, its effect is similar to pure natural carbon under pressure producing diamonds- it leads eventually to a profound magnitude and clarity of psyche.  The gifts of exile are many…it enables acute insight, heightens intuition, grants the power of keen observation and perspective that the ‘insider’ can never achieve.

The wild psyche can endure exile.  It makes us yearn that much more to free our own true nature and causes us to long for a culture to match.  Even this yearning, this longing makes a person go on.  It makes a woman go on looking, and if she cannot find the culture that encourages her, then usually decides to construct it herself.” p 184

“If you have lived your life as an outsider…if you are a loner, one who lives at the edge of the mainstream, you have suffered.  Yet there also comes a time to row away from all that, to experience a different vantage point, to emigrate back to the land of one’s own kind.”  p 190

Many of my formative years were spent as a ghost, invisible and unable to express myself, the outsider watching from the sidelines.  Exile cuts off from others which cuts off from self, and vice versa.  I was a ghost that waited a long time.  That particular feeling- the pain of exile- fills my body as I write, it burns just to remember.  The yearning to “free our own true nature” and to find inclusion is exquisite and all consuming.  My refrain for many years was “I just want to be able to be myself.”   I believe that is why I pursued polyamory despite the odds, the crashes, the burning, then nearly dragged my husband over the border- emotionally, figuratively, literally.

What a relief to have found it.  Poly isn’t the end all or the be all, or the answer, or the way. For me, however, it is a crucial component to the return.

-P

 

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Tripping

I love trail running.  Not only because of the benefits of being in nature, but because of the mindfulness that is necessary.   If I run on a flat surface, I tend to go on autopilot and be lost in my thoughts.  Trails require a certain focus.  If my focus trips, I trip.  I love how intuitive it is- all I have to do is watch and be aware, and my body knows what to do.  As I fly over roots and rocks and abrupt ups and downs, my feet automatically adjust and know how to navigate based simply on my awareness of the trail.

I can run trails that way but I’m not getting through everyday life that way right now.   I feel easily overwhelmed.  I’m often automatically critiquing my life, my surroundings.  My brain has a negative and discouraging outlook that it likes to visit periodically.  I’m not being present.  I’m tripping on my thoughts every day.  Time to re-center.

The other day I watched Amorous.  The reviews were not promising but I couldn’t resist a movie about a poly quad.  I gave it four stars on Netflix to try to boost the 1 1/2 stars it has on there, but I’m still mulling over how I feel about it.  Sex scenes inter-spaced with performance art bits is definitely a different way to experience a film.  Ultimately the lack of character development and personality among the four people is a missed opportunity.  The only overt conflict is when an ex boyfriend shows up- I suppose ultimately the point of that was to show the rejection of monogamy- but I don’t think it was necessary to have an outsider come in.  The real drama should have been between the four.  There’s some subtle conflict among them, but it’s never communicated.

I suppose the overall point might be to imply that the four of them were sad, incomplete people and together they were complete, as long as they can live separately from the real world.  The irony is that the more incomplete you are going into poly, the more problems and disappointment and ‘drama’ you are going to have, and the film misses that point entirely.  Anyone who has ventured into poly knows how at some point it will ignite every relating and attachment issue, every form of miscommunication among all the possible connections, as well as the range of insecurities and shadow sides of the personality- and it can and will be intense and it needs to be worked through in its various forms.   Poly/CNM is many things, but it is not extended embryonic bliss.  I’d love to see a movie really capture that!  I do appreciate that it didn’t go into a Hollywood-type, cliche direction with the subject material.

-P

 

 

 

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