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.
My husband cannot meet my needs or fulfill me in this one specific, but highly important way. It’s so funny because I have SO MANY girlfriends who do not give a shit about sex. They are with someone who is kind of grumpy about the lack of sexual contact and it’s kind of just met with an eye-roll.
I can’t help raising an eyebrow, or feeling sorry for their husbands. It takes real effort for me to bite my tongue on this, because I know how their husbands feel and it’s shitty. The funny part though, is that any one of these women could have married a man like The Husband, and ridden happily into the sex-free sunset. Instead, their high-libido partners got paired with low libido women, and I’m a borderline nympho with a husband who hates sex. Who the hell is in charge of all this? Because they dropped the ball somewhere. Very funny, universe.
So. Is my marriage over? Not today. I actually have no idea what to do. A couple times over the past week or so, The Husband has put the moves on me. He said he is trying to be more affectionate, and I appreciate it, but I have to say there is nothing that is LESS of a turn on than having sex with someone you know doesn’t actually want to be having it.
What is there to do? I feel guilty for shooting him down, yet I can’t help but think, this is what you’ve done to me for ten years. And I actually wanted him. But now that desire is gone. It’s just been too long, and I don’t know if I can get it back. If he truly does not enjoy sex, how can I ever enjoy sleeping with him again? Part of me wishes he hadn’t told me.
I have a theory, and it’s not a theory I feel I can share with him at this point in his life. He is still struggling to find a career and hating himself for not being able to.
Anyway…wonder if he was abused as a child. He doesn’t remember much of his childhood, and that combined with the panic he feels during sex just makes me wonder. It’s entirely possible he’s just asexual, or that he has sensory processing issues (he also doesn’t like getting his hair cut or getting massages and lots of other touchy-type things).
His self esteem is too low for me to even think of leaving him right now, not to mention the fact that we can’t afford a split household. But I don’t even know if I want to leave him. I love him.
It’s just that I wanted more, you know? I didn’t just want a supportive, comfortable, friendly companion marriage, I wanted romance and sex and desire and love love.
I asked him awhile back (after he told me he didn’t like sex, but before his attempts at seduction) if he ever wanted to have sex again. It wasn’t an accusation, but a tearful inquiry. He told me he did, but that he mainly derives pleasure out of pleasuring me. That on him, it’s uncomfortable.
That’s not really the kind of sex life that I want. I don’t know what to do, but thankfully Papa Bear is paying for me to go to therapy so I can figure it out.
In the meantime, I’m having to think about what life would be like as a single mom, and I have no idea. Can I wait another 12 years for my kids to grow up to have the kind of relationship that I want?
I don’t even know what I want, and that’s the kicker. I’m polyamorous because of circumstances, but is that really who I am? And if not, what’s going to happen to me and Papa Bear?
Something happened a couple weeks ago that brought this question front and centre. Stay tuned.
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.
I’ve been gone for a long time. I have no idea if any of you are still here. But goddamnit, are things fucked up right now. More later. Stay tuned.
Papa Bear and I put up a tiny little Christmas tree in his apartment. It’s a REAL tree–my first–and is maybe three and a half feet high. It has ornaments from Ikea, candy canes of all flavours and sizes, and a Santa hat for a topper.
It’s drinking water so hopefully it doesn’t die before Christmas. This is our third Christmas together. I feel kind of weird about it–like I don’t know exactly what to do. This is his first Christmas without a wife. I haven’t even really figured out how he feels about it.
I’m sleeping over on the 23rd as usual, and then on Christmas Eve morning we’ll go back to my place, exchange gifts with my kids and the Husband, and have brunch.
His kids are coming over on Christmas Eve night with their friends to make music and eat and drink and that should be nice. But on Christmas morning he’s going to wake up alone.
If it were me, I think I’d cry. I asked if he wanted to join us for Christmas breakfast but he said he’d rather come in the evening for appetizers and desserts. At least I know I gave him the option of spending Christmas morning with us, but it makes me sad that he’ll be alone.
I hope at the very least this holiday season is less stressful for him than last year’s–that was one shitty chain of events.
As for me, I’m glad this year is almost done. The polar vortex is over, and I’ve started my job search again. I hope I find something good, and soon. I love Boss Man down to my core, but I need to get away from him. A session with my therapist made it clear that all I’m ever going to do in his presence is end up getting hurt.
Interestingly, he’s told me he’s started looking at other employment opportunities, and all I want is to leave, if not before he does, then very soon after. It’s not about beating him–it’s just that it doesn’t feel like he’d be leaving his job. It feels like he’s leaving me. I can’t imagine going in there every day and not seeing him. It seems like it would be walking into someplace dead.
I almost fell apart today but I wouldn’t allow it. I need to hold myself together. And most importantly, I need to stay healthy and happy, and find a job that pays more, because I am bound and determined to leave this tiny apartment behind by spring.
It’s time for things to change. I hope I’m ready.
Another sexless lunch. Another totally appropriate hangout at a downtown pub. We sat close at a high, tiny table, and talked music, tattoos, movies and relationships. At the end we hugged goodbye. I’m pretty freaking proud of us.
Oh these words. How true they are. I am so broken–in love, in life, in politics. One foot in front of the other. No victory march for me, but a sad, drunken stumble. But there’s a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
Broken, but beautiful, and shimmering with love every day.