I couldn’t breathe. I literally could not breathe. It wasn’t warm out anymore, but I rolled down my window and tried desperately to get my lungs to inflate. I started to dry-sob. I felt like I might puke. I asked Papa Bear to open the other windows, and when that didn’t work, to open the moon roof.
We were on the highway and I just needed him to pull over so I could get out of the car. “Can you find a gas station?” I gasped. He said, with a look of absolute panic on his face, that he would pull over as soon as he found one.
It was clear he hadn’t the slightest idea what to do.
When he finally found a place to stop, I got out of the car, told him to stay where he was, and ran inside for a pack of cigarettes. I have been trying very hard not to smoke, but this was an emergency. I sat outside the car, on the curb, and smoked one, and then another, and slowly my heart-rate returned to normal.
I walked slowly towards the car, got in, and then said “So you’re a dom now?”
Papa Bear is my “Daddy”, as we refer to it in kink circles. But he could never really do the dom thing. He helps me be disciplined in areas of my life that I need it, and he takes care of me and nurtures my inner baby girl. But he has made it clear from the start–even when The Ex-Wifey discovered she was a submissive and wanted him to beat her–that he is not dominant in that way. We actually took almost 6 months off from our Daddy/Baby Girl relationship when things were bad with The Wifey, and had just started dipping our toes back into him being my Daddy again. So all I could think was “But he will dom Nerd Girl. For HER, he’s a dom!?”
“No,” he said. “I’m not a dom now.”
“Then what the hell?? Why the hell did you nod when she asked if you would go down the dom road with her!?”
“It was awkward. She said it in front of you guys and I didn’t want to be like ‘Um, hold up, no’. I figured I’d sort it out with her next time we talk. And I kind of thought she was just asking if its okay that she’s a submissive, not that she wants me to be her dom.”
“Well, no,” I said. “That’s not how she put it. She asked you to ‘go down that road’ with her. She obviously thinks you’re her dom now.”
He said he had no intention of being her dom, or anyone else’s. “I had fun with her,” he said, “but flogging her did nothing for me. I wasn’t even a little bit turned on, even though she was buck ass naked and moaning like crazy. It’s not my thing.”
“Then why does she need a special name for you? Why does she now, after one night, need you to have a Dom title?”
“That freaked me out too,” he said. “She should just call me my name. I don’t want a title with anyone but you.”
I calmed down by a fraction of a decibel.
“What else upset you?” he asked.
“Well, you didn’t use a condom,” I said. “You said you would use a condom with anyone else, and you didn’t. So I guess you’ll need to buy some to use with me, since you want to be fluid-bonded with her now.”
He apologized profusely. He said it was idiotic. That he put the condom on, and it came off, and then he didn’t grab another one. He said there was no excuse. He promised it wouldn’t happen again.
But I couldn’t stop shaking and my teeth kept chattering.
“What else?” he asked.
“She wants to come spend nights at your house so she doesn’t have to go home from work? You just moved out! We literally just got to a place where we don’t need to wait til your wife is out to see each other, and you said I could come over after work, or spend the night and go to work from your place in the morning, and now she thinks she should be doing that? I have been waiting this entire relationship to get to have that kind of time with you, and after one night, she gets to reap the benefits of all our pain and all the hard decisions we’ve made, and now I have to check with you to find out if Nerd Girl is coming over before I can!?”
“No,” he said. “I told her when we chatted last week, that I am not looking for another girlfriend, and that’s still true. I have been waiting so long for us to be able to have to space to just be together. I love how easy it has been since I moved out, and how happy we have been, and I have no intention of suddenly having another woman staying over at my place all the time.”
“She already wants to see you on Friday. That’s the only night I can stay over when we don’t have to rush because of everyone’s work schedule. You said I could spend Friday night. Why does she think she is spending Friday night?”
“I have no idea,”he said. “She had already asked me about my schedule when we were in bed. I told her that the only night I have free this week is Friday, and that I usually spend Fridays with you.”
“Then why did she say that?”
“I don’t know,” he said, looking truly confused. “But her intensity is freaking me out.”
“Do you want to spend Friday night with her?” I asked quietly. “I’m not going to pull rank and say you can’t if that’s what you want to do.”
“No,” he said emphatically. “I’m not going to say I would never go out with anyone else on a Friday night, but right now you and I need that time. And I want to spend it with you. I don’t want to give it up. And I just met her. I don’t know her. ”
“Yet,” I said.
“Look,” he told me. “The first time you and I were together, something amazing happened between us. We clicked and we connected in so many ways. I knew you were my soul mate, even if I couldn’t put it into words. Even before we met, even when we were just chatting on OkCupid and texting, I felt like I knew you. I don’t feel that way about her. And even though you and I might start dating other people eventually, I have no desire to do that right now. We need space and time to figure out how to just be together. You are my world.”
We were driving now, but I asked him to pull over. I said I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know whether I should go home and be by myself, or go with him. I didn’t know whether we should try to talk this out, or just move on from it.
We got out of the car. He said he still wanted to talk. And in the distance, I spotted blue and green colours dancing across the sky. On our second date, we’d tried to find them, but couldn’t. That was the night he was talking about–the night we ended up on top of each other in the backseat, with our souls fused.
“Do you want to go see the Northern Lights?” I asked.
“Really?” he said, looking relieved and grateful.
“Really,” I answered.
And so we did.
I haven’t written in awhile. I’m not sure where my reluctance comes from. I think part of it is fear of being judged, as silly as that seems at this point. Through so much of the life of this blog I have bared my rawest, ugliest parts. But now, in my first honest-to-goodness poly relationship, it just feels different, somehow. Harder to flick off the words in the comments box, because we aren’t just talking about my sex addiction or my sluttiness or my self-destructive behaviour–we are talking about my heart. My future. The tenderest parts of me. I’m a little drunk right now, which may be why I’m back. Slowly sifting through all of this is hard, and doubts or objections from the outside can cloud my mind on decisions I should only be able to make for myself. And I am. Thinking, trying, growing, figuring it out–slowly and pain-stakingly.
That, however, was not supposed to be the subject of this post, so clearly the vodka is doing its job.
I’ve received attempted diagoses of bi-polar in the comments section of this blog. I can see why some readers may think that’s my problem. I write when I have strong feelings–either in the throes of new relationship energy, the highs of good times, or the depths of despair. The swings can be jarring.
But. I have been to many a doctor and many a mental health specialist, and have never been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, despite being assessed for it. What I do have, is Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, ADHD, and PMDD. PMDD is the one that’ll make you think I have bi-polar. If you Google “bi-polar once a month”, you’ll get tons of responses on PMDD–a simple but bad reaction to the hormonal fluctuations that happen to a woman when she’s primed to make a baby.That’s me. That’s what my doctor says I have. I have struggled with depression since my teen years, and have been on an anti-depressant since I was 19. It made a world of difference for my life except for PMDD week. During PMDD week, I can be anything from mildly irritable and slightly blue, to a raging, irrational, suicidal hot mess.
I talked to my doctor about it months back, asking if she could give me something. I was tired of living like this. It was destroying me, fucking up my relationships, throwing my entire life out of balance. She was reluctant to start me on anything since she’d just prescribed my anxiety meds (which allow me to fall asleep every night at a reasonable hour instead of staying awake until 1 AM playing angry birds), and she wasn’t sure that more chemicals would be good for me. So, I struggled. I snapped at my husband, screamed at my kids, and became an insecure basket-case where Papa Bear was concerned. They loved me through it, all of them, but recently I realized I really cannot continue to live this way. I just can’t, no matter what my doctors objections.
It was a Sunday, Papa Bear’s day with The Wifey. I was a disaster but couldn’t talk to him. The Husband was at work. The kids were home with me. And I just cried and cried. I felt a curtain of darkness so heavy descend on me that I just couldn’t imagine how I was going to go on. Thoughts of suicide were quickly curtailed by the thought of my childrens’ faces and the sound of their wails if they found out I had died. But even though I couldn’t make the decision to die because of them, I also didn’t see how I would continue to live. I sent them outside to play, and lay on the floor, sobbing until I dry-heaved, mumbling “help” into the carpet.
It passed. It always does. By the time the hubby got home and I sat on the sun, chatting on the phone with a therapist friend, I knew I would be okay. Until next time. There is always a next time.
That night Papa Bear and I sat in his car, talking. He made an exception and came out to see me on account of the total dissolution of my faculties. I told him about the PMDD. He knew about my anxiety and depression, but he needed to know that once a month, there was a chance of my totally falling apart.
Later, I looked back through my journal, tracking the dates of all our major fights. They all happened between that 7-10 day window every couple of months when each and every thing that happened seemed like the end of the world to me. I needed to fix this, before I destroyed my relationship with him. Before my kids got old enough to realize that it wasn’t normal for your mother to spend half the day sobbing.
It is the very beginning for me, in terms of treatment for this particular hormone window. My doctor still doesn’t think I should add more anti depressants to what I’m already taking, and has suggested therapy. I am waiting for the referral to go through so I can go to this center that, funnily enough, a woman Papa Bear used to date recommended to me. They have emotional regulation classes, one on one therapy, support groups, everything that would be helpful to me. I also did some research and started taking a supplement recommended on the PMDD girl blog. I bought a three month supply to see if it will help. At least its all natural. I also downloaded the iMoodJournal mood tracker app, so in a few months I’ll be able to know the patterns more certainly.
I want to not live like this anymore. It has been most of my life, and it has been brutal. I want to be normal, and happy. It may take awhile for me to figure out what works, but I’m very, very hopeful. This is PMDD week. I feel myself getting short tempered and irritable, but I haven’t had a meltdown yet. Maybe the supplements will help. Fingers crossed.
Last weekend Papa Bear and I had an overnight date. When we were on our way out to dinner, he asked me if I would be okay with The Wifey joining us for breakfast. Things between the two of us have been somewhat awkward, and historically the two of us sharing time with Papa Bear hasn’t been great, so was a little apprehensive. Then he mentioned that she said she’d be fine with it if I’d be fine with it. And I was….not overjoyed.
He had spoken to her about joining us on our date, before he spoke to me. I told him I would think about it, and later that night I explained to him that the next time he wants to invite someone else along when we have plans, he needs to check with me–the person he actually has plans with. Just as if he wanted to invite me along when they had plans, he’d first check with her, then ask me.
This is an issue that has recurred semi-regularly. I’m pretty positive he just talks to whoever happens to be there when he has the idea, and then clues the other person in after the fact. It’s something we definitely have to work on, because its caused its fair share of crap.
This time, I let him know I wasn’t impressed, but that I felt like I didn’t really have a choice, since he’d already invited her. If I said no, it would just make everything worse. So I agreed, with the caveat that we wake up earlier than usual, have breakfast with her, and then continue with our plans of spending the beginning of the afternoon together. He agreed that that would work.
The next morning he went downstairs to tell her I said she could join us for breakfast, and she was happy. We had a nice breakfast without too much awkwardness, but when it was time for us to continue with our day, she asked if she could ride with us while Papa Bear drove me home so they could plan their day. Even if we hadn’t had plans for after breakfast, I wouldn’t have been thrilled with this. I would have wanted to debrief with Papa Bear and just have a few more minutes alone to talk and hold hands and whatever, since our time is so limited. I love our car rides. But we did have plans, and it became immediately obvious to me that he hadn’t told her about them. I felt pressured–the awkward silence built as neither Papa Bear nor I knew what to say–so eventually I broke the silence and said sure, she could ride with us.
At a convenient moment I pulled Papa Bear aside and asked him why he hadn’t told her we were planning on spending part of the afternoon together as well. He said it had slipped his mind. I wasn’t pleased. He told me he’d talk to her and sort it out, which he did. Eventually I gave her a big hug that lasted longer than usual, because we’d had such a good morning and I wanted so much for things not to be screwed up, and he and I went. However, since he hadn’t told her he had plans for the day, she needed the car, so while we did go to the farmers market, our day ended earlier than we had planned.
This weekend, Papa Bear and I spent the night together again, and made plans to take my kids to an indoor playground and meet up with a friend of Papa Bear’s who he thinks I have a lot in common with (I’m actively trying to make friends so that Papa Bear is not my only non-family support system). However, on Thursday, The Wifey decided she wanted to have a games night so everyone could meet the guy her boyfriend’s wife is dating. Papa Bear, in true people pleaser fashion, decided we could do it all. He said we could probably join them after meeting his friend, and an e-vite was put out on our poly family Facebook page before he even talked to me about it.
I was not happy. We had plans, and he’d made other plans. He said he thought since we didn’t have plans for anything after meeting up with his friend, that it would be fine. But I explained that it wasn’t fine. When we try to cram too many things into a day, we always end up rushed and stressed out and screwed. Plus, he hadn’t asked me, and I felt he was bailing on me in order to keep his wife happy when we already had plans to be together that night–even if those plans weren’t definite. I asked him, “If we make plans for dinner at 7, and I figure we’ll be done eating by 8:30, is it okay for me to go ahead and make plans with someone else for 9?” He said no—that I was right. But we were stuck, so I sucked it up.
This is something I am going to have to talk to him about again soon, though. He needs to be able to say “no” if this poly thing is ever going to be less complicated than it has been.
Anyway, the day did NOT go as planned. Of course. Papa Bear was called into work a couple of times, which meant that instead of taking the kids out at 11:30 like we’d planned, we didn’t end up at the indoor playground until 2. We didn’t have time to stop at the store for appetizers for games night, as The Wifey had asked us to that morning over coffee, and then we ended up rudely cutting short our hang-out time with Papa Bear’s friend because we had to rush to the liquor and grocery store on our way back to Papa Bear’s house. We were 20 minutes late, The Wifey was pissed (though she let it go pretty quickly), and I couldn’t help thinking this could have all been avoided.
At dinner, I texted Papa Bear to ask him if his friend knew we had to be at games night shortly. He didn’t respond and didn’t mention it to her. Then when we were running late, I asked if he wanted me to text The Wifey–or if he wanted to text her–to let her know we were behind, and why that had happened. He declined.
It struck me that the times I am most frustrated with him is when he knows he has done something that will upset me, but he doesn’t mention it in the hopes that I won’t mention it. He just wants to breeze past it and let it be smoothed over. When I bring it up, then come the apologies. This makes me insane. For me personally, it is so much more respectful for someone to apologize right away and explain, than to wait for me to bring it up and hope I won’t notice. I know he doesn’t like conflict, but communication is so important, and when someone doesn’t acknowledge how they’ve let me down, it just makes me feel like they don’t care. It feels invalidating–like whatever happened isn’t even worthy of mention. At the same time, Papa Bear was incredibly stressed out about being late, and then when we walked in the door he didn’t say he was sorry–he just made a joke. That’s just his way. Now that I’ve seen how stressed out he gets, but that he still reacts that way, I know that when he lets me down he is probably just as stressed and is just handling it the way he knows how–and that doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t care.
What to say, though? First, I was pretty annoyed that he didn’t clue The Wifey in as to why we were late, or even that we were going to be late. I wanted to insist, but I am trying this thing where I do not comment on their relationship or the way they choose to handle it. He does know her better. And maybe the way he deals with things–by avoiding and then apologizing if called on it–is the way The Wifey responds best. Maybe excuses just piss her off even more. But I am not like that–I need it to be acknowledged when someone disappoints me, and if I get an apology, I will move on a lot quicker than if I have to pull one out of the person. I will explain to him, I guess, that when dealing with me, at the very least, I need him to be upfront about things instead of trying to sweep them under the rug.
There is more, but this post is already too long and my fingers hurt, so I’m out for now.
Up Later: PMDD (the relationship killer), and Baby Girls Don’t Share Well
Papa Bear and I took a break. Things were rough, mostly caused by the tension between myself and his wife, and both of us feeling like we could never measure up to the other. It was, in retrospect, all kinds of ridiculous. The truth is, I cannot measure up to her. It doesn’t matter. I don’t care. In a lot of ways, she can’t measure up to me. Does she care? At the moment, yes–very much indeed.
The Wifey’s boyfriend was going to be out of town for awhile, so I told Papa Bear to take that time to focus on her, and that I would take that time to focus on myself. He spent time with her. They had long, hard talks. They took their kids on a day trip to the mountains. They talked candidly about their needs, and exchanged lists on paper. He and I talked a bit during that time. Every day we exchanged a few messages–mostly just how are you’s, or funny pictures or videos, but once or twice we did have a long talk about where things stood or what we were learning. All three of us read relationship books–Papa Bear read one on communication and started re-reading More Than Two, and I read Co-Dependent No More. The Wifey read something as well, but I’m not sure what.
I also read for pleasure. I took hot bubble baths. I spent time with my family, and put together a care package for my mom. I bought new decorations for my bedroom. I woke up in the morning feeling too sad to go to work, and came home at the end of the day feeling happy and fulfilled. I cried a lot, even breaking down at work once. But I came out of it better, because I learned that I am capable of handling my feelings all on my own.
After our break, Papa Bear and I felt like we were re-set. The first time we talked, it was hard. We were both obviously frustrated and felt somewhat hopeless. Then an hour into our talk (for which we’d both blocked off the entire day), The Wifey called to say she’d been in a car accident. So he left, helped her, had dinner with her, and then came back around 8 PM. We ended up talking until after midnight, and it was a good talk. We felt we understood each other after that.
At the end, I asked how the sex was going with The Wifey. He’d said they had barely had sex over the past few months, so I was hoping that a few weeks of exclusive alone time had helped. He’d said they’d been having sex a handful of times a week, so that things in that department were okay. I remember being floored by that. They were having sex a few times a week now, and that, for them, was considered just okay? I would do backflips if I had that with my husband.
We were drinking and cuddling and I nodded off for a bit. And when I woke up I was in tears. I sobbed all the way home. Papa Bear asked me what was wrong, and I told him I was just jealous. He said “Jealous? Or envious?” And he was right. I was envious. I wasn’t worried that The Wifey was going to take what I had. I was sad because I wanted the same thing.
It wasn’t that I wanted sex with Papa Bear a few times a week–though we usually have that–I wanted that for my marriage. With my husband. I cried and cried, but I didn’t explain to Papa Bear what I was envious of. I’m still not even sure he knows.
Instead, I had a long talk with The Husband the next day. Not just about sex, but about the fact that I feel like we are lacking intimacy and passion. We share the same emotional intimacy best friends would have, but not romantic intimacy. I do not want a perfect marriage, but I do want a romantically intimate one. That doesn’t mean I want flowers and chocolate and sonnets, though he used to do all of those things for me. It does mean that I want a husband who not only likes me and loves me and supports me and partners with me–I want a husband who wants me. I want my husband to actually be attracted to me. I want my husband to smile when he thinks about me, and want to be close to me.
When I think about spending the rest of my life in a passionless marriage to someone who likes me and is good to me and wants the best for me, I want to cry. I feel robbed. I want him to be my lover, not just my friend.
I don’t know what to do about it. He assures me that he does love me, that he is in love with me, that he is attracted to me–but that he is just dead inside because he feels like a total failure. He assures me that his heart will open and he will be able to be spontaneous and romantic and sexual, as soon as he is no longer working in a dead-end, low-paying job.
I don’t know if that’s true, but the irony is that until he does catch a break, there’s nothing I can do about it anyway. We can’t separate–we don’t have the money. Sure, I could send him off to some crappy one-bedroom apartment, but we’d both be broke and our children would be hurt. He is good to me, and I love him, and genuinely enjoy his company, so I see no reason to do that to him. I guess we’ll wait and see. I am willing to give him more time, if that’s what he needs, and he is willing to try harder to be close to me, if that’s what I need. Honestly, I’m not holding out hope for much to change right now. But I am going to try to not complain too much about things I can’t change for the time being.
As far as Papa Bear and The Wifey go…he said things are still hard. She said, when we were on our break, that she wanted him to talk to her about our relationship. That when he didn’t, her mind went to all kinds of crazy places. She’d assume he wasn’t talking to her about our relationship because he didn’t trust her. Or she’d assume it was because he was planning to leave her and set up house with me. So once he and I were back on good ground, and I’d learned how to deal with my insecurities and emotions, he started talking to her about me. The very first time he did, she broke down and cried. She thinks I am all he ever thinks about. She thinks he wishes I were his spouse, instead of her.
He feels like he can’t win. And I have to say, there’s a chance he might be right. He says he doesn’t know what he’d do if he was put in a position where he was forced to choose, but I am fairly confident he would choose her. And after taking some time away from him…I’m okay with that. He needs to do what he needs to do.
Of course I would be sad. I would be devastated. But honestly? “The only thing that’s the end of the world, is the end of the world.” (Co-Dependent No More.)
Life would go on.
1) Is it possible to live life without expectations? I feel that the more I try to have expectation-free relationships, the more I end up just expecting the worst, instead of anticipating the best. I steel myself against disappointment this way, but pessimism about the future seems to just be negatively affecting my ability to enjoy the present. Thoughts?
2) If you believe in neither love, nor god, what do you believe in?
Please answer in the comments!
For months, something about my relationship with Papa Bear had been nagging at me. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I could trace it very specifically back to the weeks before The Wifey was going to be out of town, first with her (now ex) boyfriend, then at a design convention. Papa Bear was soooo excited about this. He kept saying he couldn’t wait to be able to just spend as much time as he wants with me. He acted like it was a vacation for us, even though we weren’t going anywhere.
That’s when something started feeling off. When we were together, I felt anxious, and needed to have a drink to be able to relax. I started to pull away emotionally, and felt a little resentful when I had to rush through my evening with my kids in order to see him. I was completely confused. Why this change, all of a sudden? What the hell was going on? It went on for months, this feeling. It’s like the feeling you get when you know you’re forgetting something but you can’t remember what. It felt like something about us just wasn’t right.
I puzzled over it. I thought about a lot, especially when we were having our painful fight a few weeks ago. I turned it over and over in my mind–explored different theories. And all that kept coming back to me, each time, was him saying he “couldn’t wait” for his wife to go away.
Little by little I started to figure it out. Part of it, the smaller part, is that I realized I am missing some key elements in my life. Papa Bear and The Wifey have mutual friends. He has his hobbies, and his friends he does those things with, and she has hers. They have their vacation they take every year. His life is full.
Him assuming that just because his wife was gone, meant that he’d be able to see me as much as he wanted and wouldn’t have to schedule any dates with me because I’d just be available, struck a nerve. Part of it was the presumptuousness of it, sure. But the other part was the realization that outside of work and my family and him, I have no life. No local friends. No hobbies or clubs. Nothing.
I thought back to November. The very morning that my personal crisis hit, I had told him that I needed to slow down. That I was serious about him and love spending time with him, but that I felt like I would become too dependent on him if I spent all of my free time with him. That I needed to see him a little less, so that I could cultivate friendships and work on my personal goals of writing, learning to dance, practicing guitar, etc. And then two hours later I got horrible news and fell completely apart. And he was there for me, every day. Every step of the way. From start to finish. I appreciate his support more than I can say. He literally saved my life, I’m certain. But I still need all those things–friends, interests, personal development, downtime, date nights with my husband. That hasn’t gone away.
The second part was more difficult to figure out, but eventually, it became clear to me: His wife going away should not be a vacation for us. In no way, shape, or form, should we be so excited about that. And the reason why it bothered me so much, isn’t because it was insulting to her. The reason it bothered me, is because it made me realize two things. The first, is that her going away should really have much less of an impact on our relationship, because the only thing stopping Papa Bear from seeing me a much as he wants should not be his wife. Yes, having more free time is great, since they wouldn’t be going on their dates and he wouldn’t have to keep the house up to her specifications, but really, those things should not be so much of a burden that it calls for celebration when she is gone. I thought about how I’d feel if my husband was going to be gone for almost two weeks, and even without the kids factoring in, I would not be happy. Because I like my husband–he doesn’t burden me. I would honestly miss him, regardless of whether or not it meant I could spend more time with Papa Bear.
The other thing–the more painful part–was the realization that this isn’t what I wanted when Papa Bear and I started dating. I wanted us to all get along. I wanted The Wifey and I to support one another, and value each other’s relationship with Papa Bear. In the beginning, it was great. I could spend the night and snuggle in bed with BOTH of them. I could wake up in the morning and we’d all hang out. Sundays weren’t sacred to them, and I wasn’t banned–if I was there, I was invited along for whatever they were doing. We got our families together (something that hasn’t happened since Christmas Eve). I didn’t resent Papa Bear’s time with her or the things he did for her, and she didn’t resent his time with me. But Papa Bear and I got more serious, and she started to feel threatened.
She says she’s jealous. That I’m ten years younger, I’m fun, I’m horny all the time, I’m closer to Papa Bear’s “physical ideal”, and I’m “shiny and new,” and she’s scared he’s going to trade her in. She says she has to make rules. She has to create boundaries around their time. She has to insist that as little changes as possible, or she is afraid she will be left with nothing.
And I look at her, and I think, he has been with her for over two decades. They have children together. They share a home. They have traditions. They have a whole life. If he is going to abandon one of us? Its going to be me–obviously. Its not even a question. I will never have any of those things with him. All I want, is to be able to keep our time sacred. To not have her push her way into it, or invade it, because it is literally all I have with him. I didn’t feel this way before she started to push me out. But now I have set boundaries, to save our relationship from her control, because I honestly had no choice.
I wanted to be a family. They said that’s what they wanted, too. It hurts that where we are now is so far from that vision. That’s what’s been nagging at me. That’s what “isn’t right.”
I talked to Papa Bear about this, once I figured it out. And we decided to make some changes. First, we are only going to see each other one day a week, barring special events or special occasions that fall on a weekday. Neither of us is getting any sleep because on weekdays he can only come over once my kids are in bed (or they’ll never actually fall asleep).With my husband working nights now, I have to be at home–we cant go out after work anymore. So by the time he gets there and we spend some time together? Well, we are both just too tired. We need to be in bed earlier.
“Our day”–as much as I have fought to avoid adding a schedule into our relationship–is Saturday. I spend the morning and early afternoon with my family, then around 4, he comes and gets me and we spend time together until late that night. The Wifey does not get a ride home from him, ever, if this is happening. She agreed to this and is not complaining, because Papa Bear will be home more so she can give up her ride one day a week.
This will give me more time to get a drink with friends on Friday night or Sunday, or to take dance lessons, or go to the gym, or any of the other very many things I have been neglecting in my own life because we are spending all of our free time together. Honestly? I’m relieved. I miss him. I miss him lots. But I am so much less stressed. And I’m going out with a work friend this weekend, so I’m very happy! Papa Bear is less stressed too, so its good all around.
As far as us being a family goes? This is a harder one. Papa Bear and I have talked about things between The Wifey and I. So far, she has talked with him, and I have talked with him, but we haven’t spoken with each other about this most recent disagreement. He spends his talks with her defending me, and spends his talks with me defending her. Then we are both upset with him, and what he wants ends up getting totally lost as he’s trying to get us both what we want. At one point I’d suggested the three of us sitting down together and hashing it out–me owning my feelings and needs, The Wifey owning hers, and Papa Bear owning his. This suggestion, however, scares Papa Bear to his very core. He does not like conflict, and he is pretty sure that the entire thing would turn into a big fight. He admits, though, that this may be the only way for us to actually move past all this. Right now, though? I simply don’t have the energy. I don’t have the will. I’m not feeling charitable towards his wife so I don’t think it would be productive at this time. I’d probably just end up telling her she’s selfish and that they’re co-dependent. Sigh.
Aside from that–from the problems between me and her–things are okay on the family front. I love Papa Bear’s kids and get along great with them. He loves my children, and they love him. They get SO excited when he comes over to spend time with us. My husband likes and respects him, and he likes and respects my husband, and they get along, and the three of us can all spend time together with zero tension or weirdness. Papa Bear has also been offering for the past several months, to baby sit for us once a week so we can have a date night. We’ve talked him down to once a month, because A) we think once a week would end up being too much for him, and B) we don’t have the money to go on a weekly date. So, we’ll stick with that for now. Maybe once the dust settles, Papa Bear and his wife and I can sit down and try to work through everything. For now, I think things are as good as they’re going to get, and I’m satisfied with that.
When Papa Bear came to pick me up from work, I had an immediate, full-body anxiety attack. I was short of breath and nearly started to hyperventilate. My fingers and toes went numb. I was shaking so hard, my teeth were chattering together. I folded in on myself in the car and tried to get my breath to regulate. My heart was pounding so hard I could actually hear it.
Papa Bear was concerned, and I kept trying to tell him that I was okay, but I’m betting he wasn’t convinced.I could barely get the words out between gasps.
I shook on the way to the restaurant. I shook when we sat out in the sun. I had to put my head down on the table and close my eyes. Papa Bear held my hands and rubbed my back while I tried to get it together.
Then I spoke. I started by addressing last night’s argument. “First, I want to say that I never wanted you to say that you don’t like spending mornings with your wife. I just…wanted you to say..that you wish we could do that, too.” My eyes filled, and spilled over.
He looked me in the eye, and said “I do want us to have that. I want that so much. I only lashed out because I was feeling defensive. I love holding you. I want the freedom to just stay in bed with you, or go to breakfast, or whatever, and not have to worry about anything else. I know we can have that, but its hard for The Wifey, so we just need to give her some notice.”
“I’m completely fine with giving her notice. I’m fine with giving her a week, or two weeks, or three weeks. I can’t spend the night that often anyway, because of the kids, but I just want to be able to have you to myself sometimes when I have you.”
He said he understood, and wanted that too.
“Additionally,” I said, “I’d like to open the floor for any comments on my marriage.”
He closed his eyes and looked deeply ashamed. “I don’t have any comments on your marriage. I was totally out of line.”
“You may have been out of line, but we’re here, so we might as well get everything out on the table. What are the ways you feel like you’re compensating for my husband?”
“I don’t actually feel that way,” he said.
“Alright. Well, just so we’re clear, my marriage is fine. My husband wants to go out and do things with me. We used to go out all the time when we were dating. But its harder when you have little kids and no family around and no money. It’s not that he doesn’t want to go out with me more often–we just can’t because we can’t afford it. I’m sure you went through the same thing when you were starting out,” I finished. I knew they had. They’d been broke for a number of years, and had started having kids at 19.
“I know. I know exactly what its like, and that’s why I feel so bad about what I said.”
“Okay,” I said, taking a deep breath. “I don’t want to tell you how to run your marriage. You told me that your marriage was strong, but in my opinion, a strong marriage is one where both parties are heard and respected. However, I am perfectly willing to keep my nose out of it if that’s what you want. I just can’t let the problems in your marriage affect our relationship anymore.”
And then I told him my boundaries, laying out everything I wrote in my previous post. I explained that when we are on a date, I need to be his priority. I explained that I simply cannot continue with having to put our own plans aside because his wife expects him to take care of her 24/7. That unless we could do that, there was no way this relationship could continue.
He agreed. He apologized. He promised that he would turn his phone to Do Not Disturb, and that he wouldn’t agree to do chores or run errands when we’re supposed to be on a date. He said that didn’t mean he wanted to give up doing anything domestic with me, but that if we wanted to just hang out at his place and make freezer meals and do laundry, we would plan for it ahead of time–it wouldn’t be anything that we got sucked into doing when we’d made specific plans to do something else, which sounded good to me. I like doing those things with him too, but on our terms.
He then suggested that we not do anything like that for the next several weeks to a couple of months. That we needed to just date for awhile. I completely agreed.
I was relieved that he understood where I was coming from, and that I hadn’t been met with more defensiveness. I was relieved that he agreed with what I needed from him, and that he would give it to me.
I would say I am cautiously optimistic. I know I’ve had this discussion with him before–about him setting boundaries with his wife, about us having more fun and less stress. But the difference this time, is that instead of just speaking in general terms, I laid out exactly what I needed to happen in order for me to still be in this.
He said he knows I’ll need time to regain his trust, and I’m glad that he sees that. I am being cautious, but I am willing to try, if he is.
Since then, we have had a few dates, and he has been true to his word. We’ve had dinner and drinks on a rooftop patio and been to a terrible movie, and had a great time at both. He has not been answering texts or including side-trips to run errands for his wife. With it being the long weekend, I was able to sleep over from Sunday into today, without him having to take me home early or leave me alone in his house while he took his wife to breakfast and to work. We slept in til ten, and it was glorious. Then we went for pancakes and bacon, and then for a walk through an indoor garden.
It will take some time for me to believe that everything will be okay. But so far, so good.