Cheers Sexy People!
Hello friends. First I want to thank you all for the outpouring of love and support that came in from my last post where I described my feelings of getting shoved aside while my boyfriend’s family is visiting him for over a month. I had referenced Franklin Veaux’s Secondary Bill of Rights as I very abruptly got moved from co-significant other position to “I barely even exist or am acknowledged” position. Having worked so hard on my polyamorous journey, even creating our mission here at Loving Without Boundaries which is all about creating education, tolerance and acceptance for polyamory and relationship choice, this was all not sitting very well with me – even from an ethical standpoint as well in my heart of hearts. This particular poly situation was and is very new to me – and I must say I did not enjoy it one eye-ota. So I have great empathy for anyone else in similar situations. Hang in there, peeps, if this is something that you are dealing with. I certainly hope there are lessons and accidental wisdom to be taken from this story.
I wrote last week’s post on Thursday and was supposed to be meeting my boyfriend for lunch near his office in DC the following day.
What transpired over the next four days is nothing short of remarkable if not a poly miracle.
Even though I really missed my relationship as I knew it with my boyfriend (the feeling of intimacy both emotionally and physically, being as “out” as possible with our family and friends, sharing joy freely sans restrictions and outside “permission”, etc.), I was apprehensive about meeting him for lunch. This was for a couple of reasons, such as:
- I was quite upset and feared I may say something I might regret and damage our relationship permanently.
- Washington, DC traffic is horrible. So it often takes about 2.5 to 3.5 hours out of my day to visit him for lunch, where I only spend about an hour with him of which actual productive talking is about 40 minutes or less. We all know polyamory is about communication, communication, communication. How much could we accomplish in less than 40 minutes?
- I feared my anger and resentment would become overwhelming. It was building not only due to this overall situation, but also this being forced to work around his and his family’s schedule of only being “allowed” to visit him in public at lunch through DC traffic. I seemed to have no voice in the matter.
Anger I will admit is an emotion that I have always struggled dealing with, and certainly dealing with productively. There are many reasons for this, including growing up in a household with a very angry, bitter and resentful mother. I taught myself that anger and resentment are awful emotions to be avoided and not shared. I also learned to have guilt around feeling them. As an adult who strives for personal growth, I understand that suppressing emotions is unhealthy and not productive. Ignoring problems does not make them go away. But what to do with these pesky emotions? Time for a nap…
But alas time was ticking away. No time for napping! I let my boyfriend know that I was unsure if I would or could meet him for lunch on Friday in a brief text de-void of emotion. He took it personally and used the word “drama” in his response. Yikes! My anger was increasing! As I stalled, he wrote a long heartfelt note. One that blew me away where he explained that he was doing the best that he could, he was working on things on his side with his wife, and that he appreciated my patience and input as we navigated through this together. And could I please meet him for lunch as he needed that for reassurance that we could make it.
Wow. Where had that been for the last week and a half? And that was without even reading my blog post.
I agreed to meet him and prepped notes to make the best use of our time. The morning of I was super stressed from both this situation, and a work problem. As I spoke to a good friend of mine over Skype, I started to cry as I was buckling under the pressure of it all. Realizing I was a mess, I refused to leave for this lunch until I stopped for 20 minutes to meditate with Headspace.com (this tool rocks!) to help center and calm myself. He was just going to have to wait until I was ready on my terms to meet him downtown.
As luck would have it, traffic was bumper to bumper. Super stressful. By the time I finally found parking, all of the anger and resentment was back again in full force. So much for meditation! When we finally found each other, I went against my friend’s advice (to remain super calm as he was probably overwhelmed and stressed and feeling pulled apart by all this), and I spoke my truth. No pretending. As calmly as I could muster, I let him know that I was struggling with feelings of anger and resentment, and I was doing my best to try to subside them. Once we finally grabbed food and got to talking, I tried to use words putting myself in his shoes. I also just flat out asked him if he was feeling shame (over being polyamorous and thus was shielding his family from it) or guilt (about cheating on his wife all those years ago and was perhaps protecting her). He quickly explained that he was feeling neither of those things – he was proud of his polyamorous nature, and he no longer felt guilt about something that happened years ago. That was behind him. Fair enough. The conversation took a bad turn shortly after that. Then he asked me a pivotal question:
“Do you trust me?”
I thought and said “yes.” Then he said I needed to trust him to deal with his family in his own way, on his own timeline, and to know that he is doing the very best he can, and he didn’t like this separation either. He let me know that communication is not his strong suit, and he normally only likes to speak when he is very sure of what he’s saying and doing. This conversation, as well as watching me deal with my anxiety and stress, was taking him very far out of his comfort zone. He went on to explain all of the things he was doing on his end but until now had not told me about.
By the end of the conversation, I realized how transformational it was. We had a much deeper understanding of each other, of each of our situations, of how we could meet in the middle, and in some ways how we already were but weren’t aware of it because certain words had not yet been exchanged. Words. They are powerful! He asked how he could support me. I went over the following with him and added a fourth:
- Acknowledge – When we acknowledge what someone has said (by paraphrasing), we let them know we have really listened, and care about what they are saying.
- Validate – We all have feelings and many feel guilty for having them. When we validate, we let others know they have a the right to feel the way they do. Example: “That makes perfect sense that you feel that way. Anyone in your shoes would.”
- Appreciate – If you are asking something of someone that feels uncomfortable for them or is out of the range of what feels acceptable to them (whether for five minutes or a month+), show appreciation for their efforts, patience, and sacrifices that they are making for you. Show in words, or a thank you card, or a thoughtful gift. Realize how far a show of appreciation can be to bridging gaps and creating connection. This is HUGE!
- Reassure – Words of reassurance during times of separation or stress is the glue that helps keep loved ones close. Even just reassurances that you are on the same team, working towards the same goal are paramount. It helps reduce resentment as well so no one feels like they are doing ALL the work. You are a team. HUGE!
We both felt such relief. He walked me to my car, and gave me one of those movie star kisses where you float away into the air and think sweet nothings. When I got home, I let him know how valuable him opening up his heart and mind to me was. I also informed him that with traffic, it had taken me four hours from the time I started to get ready to getting back to the house. Meeting him for lunch affected my sanity and my businesses – but I was glad we had done it, yet I didn’t know if I could do it again next week.
What transpired over the next few days rocked my world…
- We communicated over text with words of love, support, gratitude and appreciation for both each other and the work we were both doing to make this work. In each correspondence, I could see him actively using the tools I outlined above. I pointed it out to him and showed appreciation for his efforts.
- I received a note from him that said his wife was okay and even supportive of him “taking some leave” to visit with me, so that I didn’t have to take the time to come to DC, and we could have more time together in a private atmosphere! We spent four magical hours together in our home being ourselves, doing whatever we wanted, immersing ourselves back into our relationship and love for each other.
- I gave him several wine sippy cups to give to his wife as a gift, as I knew she drank wine and I love sharing these awesome items with friends as they are AWESOME and very useful, especially in the summer. She could use them on her upcoming trip with my boyfriend/her husband at the beach.
- His wife not only loved them, but she asked for my cell phone number to thank me! What, what, WHAT!?!? Are you kidding me??? What progress! I don’t know what this boy is saying over there, but whatever it is, it’s now working!
- My boyfriend let me know that while my husband and I were on a short vacation, he and his family would be able to stop over the house to check on our cats one day. So though his family may not be comfortable meeting me/us in person (yet), they were comfortable at this point being in our space essentially “meeting us” in a non-threatening way by seeing where we live when we were not there, seeing where my boyfriend is going to be living, and helping our family out by making sure our cats are fed and happy. Yay!
- His wife wrote me directly a very sweet and kind note thanking me for the wine sippy cups, which I in turn thanked her for accompanying my boyfriend in checking on our cats. It was a very pleasant exchange! And OMG how awesome!
I would call all this a Big Phat Poly WIN!
And I wasn’t expecting any of it. I had let go of all ideas about how this had to be surrounding elements that I had no control over. Yet I did that while still honoring myself, my values, my beliefs, and my “minimum requirements” of what is acceptable, getting really clear on what my boundaries are. I also practiced voicing my concerns as gently as I could using non-blaming language while still honoring my own truth. Denying who we really are hurts our self-esteem. Suppressing emotions is not healthy. But blowing up, freaking out, making demands, and using statements of blame and ridicule will get you nowhere. We all will have to have conversations in our lives that take us out of our comfort zone. How we handle them will make all of the difference.
I will leave you with never give up. Persevere. Keep growing. And most of all:
Believe in love. Go forth and love, my friends. <3
Wishing you peace, love and happiness,
(and thrilling, fun sex too!)