I can see how it looks that way. And I’ve honestly searched myself and tried to figure out if that is, in fact, true. His ex would say yes, that’s exactly what I did. She would say “I told you so.”
But of course, that isn’t actually what happened. What happened is that I fell in love with a man who is polyamorous, and we tried to build a poly family. When his wife kicked me out of their family, I was so completely broken that almost two years later I still cry when I think about it. And this situation terrified me out of ever wanting to be in a situation like that again.
Meanwhile, Papa Bear feels that things only imploded because he and The Wifey were never really compatible to begin with. And as long as he chooses women he’s compatible with in the future (the defining characteristic of women he goes for now is “chill”), there should never again be a situation where feelings are hurt, ultimatums are thrown down, rights are violated and everyone gets their hearts broken.
But I need to make sure that I am not violating HIS rights. That I am now not throwing ultimatums down. This is a weird example, but it reminds me of this episode of Big Love (I puffy pink heart that show). Bill’s First Wife tells him that she agreed to polygamy because it was important to him, but that he has already added two new wives and she will never accept a fourth. Bill wants to be open to the possibility of as many wives as he happens to fall in love with and thinks would be a good fit for their family, but Barb says “Fuck no. I have two sister-wives, and there will be NO MORE.”
What is the difference between stating your own boundaries, and violating another person’s freedom? For me, I feel like Barb, even though Papa Bear isn’t in any other serious relationships right now. It’s weird because I do this crazy thing where I project into the future, and it causes me all kinds of misery (more on that at another time.)
I know, know, know that it is impossible to see my future, but I can’t help trying to picture it. And polyamory is instability–at least if your loop remains open (ie, you are continually willing to bring in new partners). So I want to be extra clear when I say, that when I told Papa Bear that if he and I were to ever build a future based on us I’d need him to stop adding in other women, I meant I cannot live a life that is constantly at risk of being capsized by another polyamory related disaster.
That when I get to the good years–the years where I am no longer beaten down and exhausted by all of my daily responsibilities, the years when I can do what I want–that my life and the people I share it with need to be stable. If he has another girlfriend and we all love each other then great. If not, I would strongly prefer that he stop the merry-go-round and be happy with what he has.
Before this most recent relationship crisis, I was gone from the blog for a pretty long time. A lot of shit happened and I’m not sure I want to talk about the bad and the ugly, but here’s a bit of an update:
Boss Man: Boss Man is no longer my Boss Man. He’s no longer my boss because I finally found a new job (!!!) and he’s no longer my man because I kind of ended everything. Leaving my job was long overdue and I found something with much more room for advancement, better benefits, and steady pay increases. Professionally, I’m much happier. Personally, not seeing Boss Man every day has really helped me. For awhile we continued to talk daily, and saw each other occasionally (sometimes we fooled around, sometimes we didn’t) but then something happened. He started to have problems with his girlfriend, Tinder Girl, and suddenly it was like I was his therapist. I wanted to be there for him and I was, pretty much 24/7. In the middle of the night. All day. When I was hanging out with my family, or on a date with Papa Bear, he was texting me. I started to tell him when I was busy but he just kept texting, over and over and over, asking for advice on him and Tinder Girl, talking about how miserable he was, sending sad song lyrics, talking about wishing he and I could be together.
It got to be too much. I finally broke when my mom was visiting. It was beyond stressful having my uber-religious, mentally ill mother in my home, judging me day and night, but he continued to hammer away at me with his own problems.
I found out my husband doesn’t just have a low sex-drive, but actually doesn’t like sex (something I don’t think we can ever really work through), and he continued to spam me with messages.
I felt like things with Papa Bear were falling apart, and as I was dealing with it, he continued to text me.
Finally, I just told him I was too stressed out to help him with his relationship problems at the moment. I tried to be nice, but honestly I was kind of angry. He had never been there for me the way that I was there for him those weeks and months, and I know he never would be, because (as he readily admits) he is selfish.
He continued to text, and I just started to ignore him, and eventually he stopped altogether. Its been maybe a week or two since I’ve heard from him, and I’m not sad. I think not seeing him every day allowed me the space I need to get over our ill-advised, mess of a relationship, finally.
We moved! Yay! I bitched many, many times on here about hating my crappy apartment, and finally this spring we found a town house to move into. My kids have their own bedrooms, we have a yard, I have a basement, my own laundry room, a little garden. I could not be happier about that 🙂 When The Husband and I had just about given up on ever finding anywhere affordable, in the right part of town, Papa Bear just kept at it. He sent me links to rentals and even made phone calls and took me on viewing appointments. He was awesome, and I am so grateful for him. He helped us find our house.
Next, barring any other urgent happenings, I’ll talk about sex. I know you’ve all been wondering!
I tried to be cool. I tried to be chill. I tried to just accept what I had now, with no expectations for the future. I’d been trying to quit drinking, but every time I thought about Papa Bear and his inability to not fuck millions of girls, I wanted a drink. Or 5. And so the Friday night before our third anniversary I went over to his place, as usual. I told him I wasn’t going to quit drinking right now after all. If I was going to pretend everything was fine and I didn’t care, I’d need to numb.
Drink in hand, I asked him if he knew where the Isle of Skye was.
He responded with an enthusiastic “Yeah, I’ve been there.”
“Of course,” I laughed bitterly. Because he’s been everywhere. The Isle of Skye. Wales, London, Rome, Crete. Thailand, the Maritimes, Haida Gwaii. But never with me.
This has been a sore point between us for awhile, because when he was married, he traveled with his wife, but since he and I have been together we’ve only done road trips. He knows how wanderlust-y I am and keeps talking about us going somewhere awesome together, but it never happens.
I tell him about my plan to start aggressively saving to go away, again. I have some money in an account, but I tell him that I’ve done some research (angrily, as I’d accepted the fact that we were never going to go anywhere since I wasn’t his wife and if he couldn’t afford to take me now he wasn’t going to be able to once he had another girlfriend), and I’d found lots of cheap trips that I could save for within a year.
I said the words “By myself,” a lot.
“There’s a lot of places I can afford to go by myself.”
“I think that’s a place that would be safe to travel by myself.”
“I wouldn’t be comfortable driving to the port by myself, so I’d take a greyhound then ferry to the island.”
He asked if I still wanted him to go with me.
I said “Sure, if you want.” The unspoken message was clear: I give up. Do what you want. I’m going to live my life with or without you.
Then, working a pretty good buzz, I wondered aloud if I should join Tinder. “You know,” I said, “I only lasted about 30 seconds on there last time, but that was because I was afraid of people I know seeing my profile. Now that I’m trying to care less about what other people think, I think I’ll go ahead and join.”
And I did. Right then. I joined Tinder and immediately started swiping, completely missing the fact that I was swiping the wrong way on all the men I liked until Papa Bear showed me how to do it right.
I was kind of being a bitch. I didn’t even want to meet anyone on Tinder. Papa Bear had told me during one of our last discussions on him being way more actively poly than he is (me, preferring not to look for other partners but to be open to more love if it comes along) that he didn’t want me to feel like he was always looking, and would shut down his dating profiles. He told me he’d shut down his OkCupid, but he still had Tinder (though he was only getting men because he’d switched it to BFF mode) and I didn’t know what other apps he was using. Still, he’d made an effort, and I was kind of telling him it didn’t matter anymore. Once again, I don’t care.
He kept assuring me he wanted to be with me. Telling me the reason he hasn’t traveled with me is because he’d put the trips with his wife on his credit card and was trying to be more responsible and pay off his debt before we went away. That he wasn’t looking for other women anymore and he didn’t know what else he could do to prove that even if I didn’t care, he did.
And I just started to blubber. “Do you remember,” I asked him, “When you were still with The Wifey, and you said that if you broke up with her you’d be heart-broken, but at least you’d know you’d had a great life together and you’d always be grateful for that?”
“Yes,” he said, confused.
“Well, I don’t know if you and I are going to be able to stay together. I love you, but we might not be able to make it happen,” I sniffled. “And if we can’t, I just want to know that you and I had a great life together, while we were together. That’s why I don’t want to travel with you in a few years, I want to travel with you now. That’s why I get frustrated when we don’t go more places and do more things. Because I want to be able to look back and say, at least we had that. And if you find another serious girlfriend, that’s never going to happen because you won’t be able to afford it. So I don’t know what to do, except give up on ever having a life with you.”
“I don’t need another girlfriend,” he said, on the verge of tears.
“Yes, you do! You keep saying ‘it’s who I am, it’s who I am.’ You’ll never be happy with just me. I used to think that when we could be together all the time, you wouldn’t need anyone else. But that’s obviously not true. I’ll never be enough for you.”
He told me that I am enough. That I am more than enough. That I am everything. That his being polyamorous doesn’t say anything about whether I am enough. How could something about him, define me? “Furthermore, I’ve told you over and over that I’m not looking for another girlfriend. I don’t have the emotional energy. I’m not dating any of the women I’m seeing. I just like sex.”
“I’m sorry, then how is that who you are? How is that polyamory? You keep saying you’re polyamorous and it’s who you are, but I don’t get how that jives with having a constant stream of meaningless sex with women you barely know.”
He didn’t have a great answer for that. He knows he can love more than one woman at a time, but he doesn’t need to, and right now he doesn’t want to. It’s an ego boost knowing other people want him, but he admits he shouldn’t be ruled by his ego.
“Look,” I said. “I am not monogamous either. But the difference between us is that I don’t have to be with more than one person at a time to be happy. If looking for other women, or being with other women, is something you will always, always want–and not just a lifestyle you can choose to engage in or to not engage in, depending on the circumstances–then I just can’t imagine a future with you. In a decade, my kids are going to be grown up, and I am going to leave. I have spent my entire life settling for relationships that weren’t right, just because I loved the person, or because my life made it so that was the right thing to do. I’m not going to do that forever. Every day is a fight and when I’m done raising my kids, I’m done fighting. I’m done with the stress of being paired with the wrong person. I’m done with stress, period. Even if it means I move to Greece and live alone forever, at least I won’t be crying. At least I’ll have peace. At least I’ll be free.”
“But can I come? Like we talked about?”
“I don’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering who your next girlfriend is going to be, and what’s going to happen, and if its all going to be okay. I’m going to get tired. I’m going to be too old for this. I don’t want my whole life to be a house of cards that can crash down at any moment because we keep adding unknown elements. At some point, I want to know what my future is going to look like and who its going to be with, even if the answer to that is no one.”
He admits its hard for him to feel restricted, but maybe he needs to stop trying to recapture his 20’s. That he knows he will not have the energy for multiple women forever, and that when he looks at his future, all he sees is me.
I still don’t believe him, so as I drink and cry, he goes back inside and comes out with a red velvet ring box, shaped like a heart. I stare at it, stunned. He flips it open and inside is a ring. A sparkly, diamond ring. And all I can think is that the gold and the diamonds are arranged into the infinity symbol–which a lot of people think of as the symbol for polyamory, because love is infinite.
He holds out the ring and talks about how he loves me and wants to be with me forever. How no matter who he is with, it’s never been as good as when he’s with me. How we connect on so many levels and he truly believes we were made for each other. How sleeping with other women is just sex, but with me, from the very first time, he was shaken to his core and thought “holy fuck, what just happened?” That he’s never had that kind of connection with anyone else, and he’s never been so deeply in love with anyone else, and I need to believe him.
I burst into fresh tears, as the truth of the matter, the question that has been at the core of all of this, finally crystallizes in my mind.
“What happens when that’s not true anymore?” I ask, my voice breaking. “What happens when the next girl or the next girl or the next does touch you that way? What happens when you meet someone you click with more than me? What happens then?” I bawl.
And he gets it. He finally gets it.
I don’t take the ring. It doesn’t fit and the infinity symbol freaks me out and the timing is wrong. He puts it away and tells me he will get me a better one, one he hopes I will wear for the rest of my life.
And we compromise. We have twelve years until we can run away together. For the next twelve years, we can experiment and be as non-monogamous as we want. But when we are finally able to be together the way that we want to, the way that we were meant to, it is just him and me. Of course, if he falls in love with someone else before then that would complicate things. Who knows, I may like her enough to want to bring her with us. Or he may decide to stay here with her. But what I really needed to know is that someday my life will stabilize. That I will have my person (or people) and won’t need to deal with more.
Regardless, I know what I’m doing and I believe he wants to do it with me. Somehow I feel that all-elusive peace, which is all I really wanted to begin with.
After I cried and wailed and was generally a basket case over Yummy Mummy, Papa Bear agreed to slow things down with her. The next day, after the fog lifted, he was still struggling. I told him he didn’t have to slow things down with her if he didn’t want to, and he said “I have to. Otherwise I’ll lose you.”
I said I just didn’t understand why he had to see her. He had been seeing another woman (a 24 year old British lawyer with good hair), and had just started seeing a young blonde who likes cosplay. Why did he have to see Yummy Mummy? She was too intense and it was too serious and I couldn’t handle it.
He replied “I’m not going to be her boyfriend. We both know that can’t happen because she needs a boyfriend that’s monogamous. I had just hoped, that after 3 years I could have the chance to be her lover for a little while. But you mean the world to me and I’m not going to throw that away just for some sex. Even sex with someone I care about.”
I realized then that he wasn’t just being a playboy. I mean, he is a playboy–and I think after 20 years of being married to someone who made him feel unattractive and stupid, that it helps him to know there’s lots of women out there who would want to be with him–but with Yummy Mummy it was different.
He really cared about her, and would be truly sad if he had to end it because I couldn’t handle it. So I told him he shouldn’t break it off with her. He is clearly poly, even if maybe I’m not as poly as I used to think I was. And the only way to know if we can work long term is to try this for real. If I can’t allow him to follow his heart, then we’ll never be happy.
Papa Bear promised he’d think about what I said, and he thanked me for being brave. Then, the story goes, the next time he talked to Yummy Mummy, they both said at the same time “I think we should just be friends.”
When I asked him about it, he said that he’d kind of had a fantasy of what it would be like to be with her, but in reality it wasn’t like that at all. That it was just weird because they’d always been so close, but when they were together the chemistry was off. That he loves her very deeply, but he is not in love with her, the way he is with me.
The next time they got together she said “I don’t know why, but I’m really relieved we decided to just be friends.” I guess it didn’t feel quite right to her either.
Part of me feels guilty for saying anything. I feel like maybe if I’d kept my mouth shut, it either would have ended on its own, or it would have continued, but at least I’d know I had absolutely nothing to do with it.
But Papa Bear says I am a thinker. That I think things through to the end, and sometimes to death, and if I wasn’t there to make him realize he needs to think about things, it would be very easy for him to just jump in head-first without considering important factors–such as whether or not he wants to be a step-dad to four young kids (answer: he doesn’t.)
Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if he had started a relationship with her. I really like her and we get along great, so I think that personality-wise, it could have been awesome. But Papa Bear says that it would have been a disaster just because of everything she is going through right now. It would have put a ton of strain on both me and him, as well as on our relationship. He said he didn’t think he’d be relieved to end it with her, but that is definitely how he felt when they decided they just wanted to be friends.
Now you’d think that after that, everything would be okay–but it wasn’t. It’s hard. Things changed. I think before, I thought that I had to be poly because my husband isn’t sexual and I need to have sex. And at one point, I desperately wanted the connection that comes from a group of people who all care about each other. (I really wanted a poly family, but as of right now it’s too scary to think about. I can’t handle the thought of being rejected by another one of Papa Bear’s lovers, the way his wife rejected me. It’s too soul-destroying. I’m not saying I’d never try it again, but whoever she is, she would have to be really special. )
Now, though, I am questioning everything. Because if I’m honest with myself, deep down inside, I thought Papa Bear and I only continued to be poly because I’m still married. That as long as I was married, we’d stay poly. But if my marriage ever ended, it would just be him and me.
But through these brutally difficult discussions, he made it clear that being polyamorous is who he is. He’d say that he would be willing to give that up for me, he loves me that much, but I could never allow that. You can sacrifice things for the people you love, sure. But you should never have to sacrifice parts of yourself.
So, what could I do? I didn’t want to break up with him–I love him. And even if I did break up with him, I would still need another relationship because I cannot go the remaining decade until my kids are grown up without sex. So I’d end up right back here with whoever else I ended up sleeping with–unless I didn’t care about him. And while just having a fuck buddy seems much, much simpler, it also seems hollow. I don’t want to lose what I have with Papa Bear and replace it with something meaningless.
I still enjoy the occasional one-night-stand or whatever, but when I’m with Papa Bear, we touch each others’ hearts. I need that, and more to the point, I feel like I need him.
So, I decided. I would go back. I would go back to when we first started dating, when we said we couldn’t promise each other forever, but that we love each other “right now.” I would revert to my submissive ways, and instead of fearing his other women would take his time and attention away from me, I would simply go to him when he called for me. I could not be upset when he already had plans with someone else if I never asked to see him. I would not wait for him and I would not figure him into my future plans. If I wanted to go to Europe, then I’d save up for it myself, and if he asked to come along then maybe I’d let him. No more thinking that everything had to be “us.” I decided to pretend there was no “us.” Just him, and me, and this thing between us that may not last after all.
You’ll ask, how did that go? Not well, as it turns out.
More to come.
When Papa Bear and I met, he was casually dating another woman, who we’ll call the Yummy Mummy. She got really busy at the advent of their relationship (got married, got pregnant, marriage issues and started attending therapy) so they decided to just be friends.
For three years they talked and hung out, and I met her a few times, and instantly had a rapport with her, too. And then she her new husband and their family moved across the country, where things proceeded to get really, really tough for her.
This summer she came home to stay with her parents for awhile and brought the four kids with her. And she realized that her marriage is abusive and she doesn’t want to go back.
Though she and Papa Bear decided to be “just friends”, their relationship has always been sexually charged, and he loves her. So when she came back, for what we thought was a visit, they hooked up. And then she decided to stay.
This made me really scared and uncomfortable, for a lot of reasons. Knowing what I know about her situation, I think staying is the right choice for her, for sure. But suddenly, somewhere along the line between my boyfriend texting her during our dates, and buying her diapers and formula because her no-good crazy-ass husband wouldn’t let her have any money, alarm bells started going off in my head.
And then one Saturday Papa Bear told me he was spending the day with Yummy Mummy, so I asked if we could get together later, and he invited me to hang out with them. But then he came back saying she’d like a couple hours alone with him, but I could come by after that. So instead of all of us hanging out together like she’d been saying she wanted to ever since she got back into town, I told him that since he’d spent the day with her and her family at a festival, and was spending part of the evening alone with her, and since she needed alone time with MY BOYFRIEND, then I’d rather him come get me and have me over after she was done with him. Because at that point I needed alone time with him too, to talk about what the mother of fuck was going on.
Was I jealous? Yes, for sure. Jealousy is something I have always struggled with and probably always will, but it wasn’t just that. It was the fact that while pretending to each other and everyone else that they were “just sexy friends”, it became clear to me that they were actually in a pretty serious relationship. Like I woke up one morning and found out that I had another metamour and didn’t have ANY time to emotionally prepare for that.
I was not happy. When I finally got to Papa Bear’s house, late into the evening, I told him how I felt and how scared I was. Not just that I was upset that they weren’t being honest with anyone (or even admitting to themselves) what their relationship actually was, but that I didn’t understand where this could go, or why he would even date her. It’s not that she’s not great, but she is monogamous. She says she will never be in another polyamorous relationship again–the only reason she was doing it to begin with was because her husband isn’t monogamous.
While it’s true that there’s no future with her (unless of course he decided to leave me for her and shut down the poly thing), there was also the glaring issue of her being a newly-singled mother of four living with her parents, no transportation, and no job. Without trying to be bitchy, that isn’t the easiest position to be in when someone is looking for a partner. I’m not saying she isn’t going to find anyone to settle down with, but those things, plus some other issues I’m just not comfortable writing about here, made me feel like whatever it is they were doing was going to end up being long-term. Because he’s dated monogamous girls before (since leaving the Ex-Wifey–I haven’t written about any of them yet) and they were always clear they were leaving when they found someone monogamous to date. And he had fun with them in the short term and was fine with that.
But it could take years for someone with all of those issues to find the right monogamous man (hell, it can take years for ANYONE to find the right person), and it just stressed me out that the time I get to spend with Papa Bear is so limited and now here’s this woman who is dependent on him for diapers and rides to church.
Other problem: Back when Papa Bear and I first started dating, I told him that the first anniversary of my abortion was coming up, and that I would probably be pretty fucked up that night and would need support. Which he later relayed back to me by way of saying “Yummy Mummy said the anniversary of her abortion is coming up this weekend and she’ll need support.”
“Her too!?” I said, kind of surprised.
To which he kind of got all stuttery and weird, and it took a couple minutes to figure out that he had actually MIXED US UP. He wasn’t even dating her anymore at the time, and he mixed us up. HE MIXED US UP.
I didn’t get mad, but I’ve never forgotten that. He said “You two are just so similar.” I don’t even think he apologized.
So I have always felt, however crazy it might be, that Yummy Mummy and I are interchangeable. That we are “so similar” that he could literally be with her instead of me and not even care. That the only reason he’s with me instead, is because she got pregnant and had babies and moved away. And now she’s back.
She even looks like me. We are the same ethnicity, the same body-type, we’re pretty much the same goddamn age (read: almost inappropriately young for Papa Bear), we both wear glasses, we both have tattoos.
When I was busy freaking out, and Papa Bear was busy trying to calm me, I told him I don’t even know if I’m really polyamorous either. And it’s true. I have said before that I don’t know if I would have ever chosen this lifestyle if I had married a man who actually wanted to have sex with me.
Sex for me is a need, and masturbating doesn’t cut it. I need to connect to another person that way. Adults need to play too. Sex is play. I need that kind of play to feel human.
It was either polyamory or divorce, honestly, because I just couldn’t live like that anymore. So, okay. I became polyamorous. But is that really even ME? Is it who I am? How can I know when it was merely a solution to a problem?
And yet, I know I have the capacity to love multiple people at once. I know I don’t ever again want to be in a position where I am falling in love with someone and I feel guilty, or like I have to hide it or break it off or run away. The thing is…I already am in love. I am so, so, so in love with Papa Bear and I feel like we are really happy together. But as soon as he starts seeing someone else I feel threatened. And when I don’t get to watch them fall in love, because they’ve been IN love this entire time and never told me, how do I handle waking up one day and suddenly, without warning, knowing he loves someone else just as much as he loves me?
That makes me not want to be polyamorous. It makes me want to be monogamous. Because the fairy tale is still there, somewhere inside me. It’s continuing to die its slow death, but it’s still there, making me wish I had the kind of love where we never even wanted to look at anyone else. The kind of love where we already feel SO LUCKY that we never have to go out and search for more. The kind of love that involves romantic feelings and staring at your partner because they’re so beautiful and having a sex life that maybe ebbs and flows but you know, is still satisfying, and certainly, actually fucking EXISTS.
What I can’t figure out is if this kind of relationship is even possible. Is it a thing? Does there exist couples who have been together for 30 years and still make out like teenagers? As much as people will tell me it’s not realistic, I honestly, truly, don’t believe it. I believe it’s realistic if you want it to be. Staying in love may take work, but if you marry the right person, it can happen.
I didn’t marry the right person. That is no secret. He is a wonderful person but that doesn’t mean he’s right FOR ME. But if I were to leave, what would I have? A relationship with a man who I love so much and who tells me all the time that I am his life, but will never, ever be satisfied with just me. That hurts, and I think that’s where he and I differ in our poly.
I have everything I need in him. If I fall in love with someone else, or have a connection with them and want to follow it (as I did with Boss Man), then I can do that. But in him, it’s like he has relationship ADD. You know people who are always browsing? Why are you browsing? Aren’t you happy with what you have?
Breaks my heart ❤
Anyway, jeez, this post is completely incoherent. I spent yesterday throwing up and couldn’t get to bed til 2 AM.
And I need to go now, so, in my next post I will tell you what happened with Yummy Mummy, and we will continue to discuss my polyamory identity crisis.
So I mentioned life being fucked up. And yes, it is fucked up. Now let me tell you why.
Its no secret that my sexual relationship with The Husband is at best, uninspired, and at worst, non-existent.
That’s the reason I became non-monogamous in the first place–because after a years of not having my needs met, I was done. We came to this arrangement because if I didn’t start getting laid, our marriage would have ended anyway.
A couple months ago, I had a talk with him. It wasn’t one of our usual screaming matches about him not being into me. It was more just an inquiry. I asked him, “Do you not like sex?” And he doesn’t.
He said that realization didn’t click until the moment I asked. And honestly I was flabbergasted. How the HELL had he not realized this before? How can this possibly be the very first time he ever thought about this? We’d fought like cats and dogs. We’d both totally lost our self-esteem. We redefined our entire marriage around this problem and he’d never stop to ask himself if he likes sex???? What the actual fuck???
I asked him to explain, and he said he often enjoys it, but during almost every encounter there’s a moment of panic or a feeling that he really doesn’t like, and that makes it hard to enjoy the rest of it.
He said he never realized because he thought that everyone likes sex. It just never crossed his mind that the reason we had these problems was because he didn’t.
I let some time pass. But I couldn’t help thinking “This marriage is probably dead.”
(Stay Tuned for Part 2).
A few weeks back, my mom came to visit. Once upon a time we were close, even though our relationship has always been complicated and volatile. My mom has bi-polar, and years ago she had a mental breakdown that she has never really recovered from. There is one thing that is very important to my mother, and to most of my family of origin, and that is religion.
They would say that they are not religious, that they have a “personal relationship with Jesus”, but to me, it’s all the same. I used to share their beliefs, so that, at least wasn’t a bone of contention. But it’s been a long time since I believed in any kind of god, so I was nervous about my mother coming. Nervous might be a misnomer–what I felt was actually closer to dread.
When she was here, I watched her become more and more agitated, as she realized that Christianity had no role in our lives. We didn’t listen to Christian music, we didn’t pray before meals, we didn’t read our kids Bible stories before bed. It didn’t matter that now I have a job that I love that allows me to be home with the kids all summer, or that we finally made the transition from apartment living and have a cute little townhouse with a yard. It didn’t matter that my kids were polite and well-behaved, or that The Husband was helpful and kind. All that freaking mattered was the lack of Jesus in our lives.
When she left, I thought I’d feel relieved, but instead my anxiety began to spiral. For days, all I could think about was what I should do. How I should handle her. Because my mother doesn’t know we’re a secular, non-believing family. She just thinks we aren’t committed enough to our faith. And she has no idea just how much “sin” I participate in. The knowledge would quite possibly kill her.
But her presence, and her judgment, woke something in me. Something angry and sad. I am tired of lying, and honestly, how much longer can I get away with it? Even if we never invite her back (next time, she can stay with my sister because she’s not staying here!) my children are going to get older. She is going to question them on their beliefs, and find that they have none.
And what’s more, I feel like I am doing the right thing by raising them godless. No matter what, I cannot allow them to believe that they are so bad that before they were even born, god himself had to kill himself to appease himself so they wouldn’t have to burn for eternity. I can’t allow them to believe that there is someone up there watching and judging their every thought and action and finding them wanting. I can’t raise them to believe that if they have a problem all they have to do is pray about it. That’s the reason my mom is still so sick in the first place–she won’t go to therapy or exercise or take her insulin or engage with life. All she wants to do is pray that god will make her feel better, and hope that the TV preachers are right–that soon the world will end so none of it will matter anyway.
I am so stressed out about hiding who I am from my family, and so angry that I feel like I have to, that I don’t just want to confess to unbelief. I am tempted to confess to everything. At my core, because of the way I was raised and the beliefs–I am steeped in shame. Shame informs my entire life. It is shame that causes me to hide when I sneak a cigarette, so no one knows I smoke. It is shame that makes me think twice before holding Papa Bear’s hand when we’re out in public, in case someone sees. I have trouble even telling people I’m NOT related to, that I don’t believe in god.
If I could just let it all out, I could finally be free.
So here I am–back, and not knowing where to start. I should probably start with the reason that I’m back, which is–I feel like I would like to implode my entire life. What does that mean? What am I saying?
Just that I am sick of being who I am–or pretending to be who people believe me to be–and I want out. Permanently. I want to take out a billboard and tell the world everything about me, and ex-communicate anyone who doesn’t like it.
Ex-communication–such a harsh act. Yet for some reason it’s what I crave. Last year Tyler Glenn came out with an Album called Ex-Communication, themed around his act of coming out of the closet and leaving the Mormon church. It’s not exactly my preferred style of music, but certain songs of his, I love. Not just because of clever lines like “I found myself when I lost my faith,” but because he was brave enough to write and record them. He gave no shits. HE ex-communitated no one–yet made it clear that anyone who didn’t support him could fuck right off. He was done hiding.
I can’t explain what hiding has done to me. The fact that I feel like I am always looking over my shoulder, afraid of what others might see, the questions they might raise, the conclusions they might draw.
Am I a cheating whore? My husband a poor, blind schmuck? My children, doomed to be scarred? Am I a pervert, who has no preference for whether she fucks men or women, as long as she is fucking? A sex-addict who will go there with whomever? A heartless bitch who must not love anyone at all, if she is unwilling to remain faithful? It’s all open to speculation. The world stands in judgement. And who am I? Just a woman who is tired of hiding, tired of shame, tired of pain. A woman who has been through a fucking lot in the last few years, and just wants to take a deep breath and be herself. A woman who, by many standards, is selfish, yet still feels like she is sacrificing herself in order to not hurt others.
Who am I? I have no fucking idea.
More to come.