Life in the fog
(Note: I wrote this mid-July and never published it because I wasn’t sure I had expressed myself the way I wanted to. I wasn’t sure I had been fair to everyone involved. I wasn’t sure I understood even my own concerns. It sat. Ignored at first. And then forgotten. I stumbled on it again just recently. Looking back at it now, I don’t have the same reservations I did before about publishing it, and I don’t want to gloss over some of the feelings I’ve had during this time. So here it is. Just as I wrote it in July.)
I feel like I’m failing. Hm. Maybe that’s not quite it. I feel like I don’t want to fail, but that I don’t know how to succeed. When I began this blog, I promised myself that I would write the truth as best I know it. I would be open and honest about myself as much as I was able to accurately see myself. Sometimes that’s scary. Exposing my weaknesses. Showing my true self, warts and all. But other times, it’s not so much that I’m afraid of being unmasked, but rather that I just don’t understand how I feel.
How can I succeed at being in this partial perspective vortex when I’m living this life in the fog? I kind of know where I’ve come from, but even still, when I try to look back, my memories are filtered through the colored glass of my current understanding of life. And looking ahead is murkier still. I have more questions than answers. I feel a little lost, a little unsure, and unable to explain it all.
A lot of it started when Mr. Wonderful told me that I was no longer welcome in his home. While he didn’t completely forbid his wife from seeing me, that one rule seriously reduced the amount of time I was able to spend with her. Since she has young children, she couldn’t easily just break away from the home at any time she wanted. It was a difficult time for me. Not because I didn’t know how to be patient. Not because my life was suddenly empty without being able to fill it with her. But because it was such a change from how I thought our relationship was progressing. Because it made me realize how powerless I was in this situation.
Prior to this rule, I had been living with the expectation that the three of us were going to figure out how to make polyamory work for us. While life perhaps wasn’t as perfect as I could have hoped, the three of us were working together, figuring things out, finding a way forward that seemed to satisfy everyone’s needs. And then, suddenly, with a word from him, that illusion was shattered. He said he had been uncomfortable with everything all along, that he had felt forced, that he had been hiding his pain and his discomfort. And without consulting either of us, he had decided upon a new rule. I realized over the next few weeks that my relationship with Girlfriend was not just based on what she and I wanted, not just on how she and I felt about each other, but on his whims and restrictions.
I didn’t know how to write about it at the time. I still don’t. I want to be fair to him. I’m sure he had what he felt were good reasons for making the restriction. But it was a terrible feeling to know that I had as much power as a dog locked on the wrong side of a gate. I could bark if I wanted to, but I couldn’t open the gate myself. I decided not to bark. I decided to have patience. To go along with it. I didn’t talk with anyone about how much it hurt, partly because I didn’t understand it fully myself, and partly because I didn’t think I should be feeling hurt by it. But it took a toll on me. I was increasingly worried. Afraid. Unsure.
I don’t think even now I can accurately explain it. I had a sense that things were unstable. That if Mr. Wonderful really felt the need to bar me from his home, that it wouldn’t stop there. He would eventually realize that his feelings of jealousy weren’t tied to location, but to affection. That as long as his wife pursued a relationship with me, no matter where it took place, that he would be unhappy. And I had a sense that if he placed increasing restrictions on his wife, that she would eventually leave. She would still be my friend. But everything would be in a mess. I didn’t want that. Even though I was fairly confident I would still have her in my life, the uncertainty of what that life would look like was very difficult to face. I wanted stability. I didn’t want their marriage to fall apart. I wanted her to be happy. But I definitely wanted to see her more often.
Then one day it was suddenly over. Almost without warning. Like it began. I was allowed back in the house. He placed a few additional rules about the level of intimacy that would be allowed to take place in the house. But other than that, things were pretty much as they had been before.
And as nice as it has been to be able to resume my relationship with Girlfriend almost as it was before, things are not as they were before between Mr. Wonderful and me. In the month or so that I was not allowed in the house, he and I never talked. When I came back to the house, he acted as if nothing had happened. I don’t really understand that. I’m not allowed in his house for a month and then I am, and he just smiles at me as if nothing happened? No apology? No explanation? No discussion whatsoever?
I try my best to talk with him like we used to, but I don’t know how. I open myself up and share personal things that are happening with me. I ask him about his work. But something’s different. I feel a certain wall between us. I don’t understand it.
I feel like I have always proceeded with his input. From the time that Girlfriend and I first stumbled upon the concept of polyamory and decided we would like to explore it, we included him at every step along the way. We asked him for permission to have a relationship. We sought his opinion about how to progress. When he was uncomfortable, we moved slowly. Several times along the way I asked him if there was anything that we needed to do differently.
I guess I felt like it was something the three of us were trying to figure out together.
I don’t really know, but I guess he feels that there are two teams instead of one. Team Family, where he is head coach and star player. And Team Polyamory, where his wife and I are trying to figure things out. If Team Polyamory wants to approach him, he is happy to help us set up the rules for our success. But Team Family is strictly his domain.
Maybe part of that is my fault. By trying to be respectful of him and ask his opinions and permission, perhaps I gave him the impression that I felt he was in charge. That we aren’t three individuals each with wants and desires that should be taken into consideration, but that there is a hierarchy of importance, with his family at the head, and me as the outsider. I saw this from more an egalitarian perspective. He saw it, perhaps, from a patriarchal perspective.
I don’t blame him for seeing things that way. That’s the way society teaches us to see things. The family is foremost. Marriage is sacrosanct. I guess I just thought we were making different choices, operating under different rules.
And now? We interact from time to time. Not nearly as much as before. But we’ve spent a little time together. And I almost feel normal about it. But there’s this gap. This little tiny piece of burning knowledge in a dark corner of my mind that knows that he approaches this differently. That fears that at any time he could make additional demands. That realizes that if he is afraid, he won’t ask for or consider my opinion before acting.
I don’t know how to write about that. I don’t presume that I have the correct way of looking at things, nor that his perspective is wrong. I don’t know how to say I’m afraid, when there’s nothing really to be afraid of right now. I don’t know how to say that I don’t know how to talk to him, when he is allowing me into his home and interacting at least superficially with me.
I don’t know how to say that I feel some sort of discussion would be appropriate. In my mind, an apology would go a long way to clearing things up. But probably not in his mind. I’m sure he feels he has done nothing wrong. And I don’t know even how to say that I want a discussion. If he really feels that it’s Team Family vs Team Polyamory, then there’s nothing to discuss. Why would he talk with me about things that don’t concern me? So from his perspective, I’m sure everything is just fine. I’m the only one who is a bit lost and unsure, the only one who feels that there is any need to talk about a restriction that has already been lifted.
But I don’t really care about the restriction. I care about his approach. I care about his goals and desires. I care about his ability to discuss things, to share his true feelings, to be honest and to work things out. Among the three of us. And that’s where I’m probably wrong. Because he doesn’t see it as the three of us. He sees me as the intruder. From a monogamous standpoint, that’s the correct view.
So where does that leave me? I’m content with where things are right now, for the most part. I have worries. I have fears. I have concerns. But I can’t really complain. I get to see Girlfriend fairly often. And he’s done some very thoughtful things to allow us to be together, like watching the children one afternoon of his vacation so that she and I could go catch a movie together. What more can I ask for? As long as there’s nothing really to talk about, I don’t think I should push for some sort of discussion. I think the best thing to do is just be patient. Just wait and see how things progress. Any feelings of awkwardness will likely dissolve as he and I continue to interact. And there won’t be any need to try to force some sort of discussion about things that are already past.