Going everywhere and nowhere at once.

With the awesome help of my sister, I finally found a place to live. It’s a room in a recently divorced dad’s house. Fairly large, private bath, all utilities included. I start moving today.

I should be more excited.

It’s not that I’m not relieved that this came up so serendipitously. I am. But. It’s all happening very fast. I emailed on Saturday. Saw it, agreed to take it, dropped off paint so my new roommate/landlord could paint it on Sunday. Picked up the key and dropped off the first month’s rent on Tuesday. Starting to move today.

As I said last night to my husband, this is the first time (save for a week and a half twelve years ago) I’ve ever lived with someone I don’t know. Ever. So there’s that.

There’s also the fact that I still don’t think I can be fully me there.

And then there’s the thing that hit me as I was packing up this morning.

This all is just a constant reminder of why I’m here in the first place. And it makes it hurt all over again, almost fresh. I had gotten to the point where talking about it didn’t hurt much anymore, and I could say her name without wanting to puke. But now, packing everything, it reminds me of the last time I put things in bags. Heart blown apart with betrayal, but functioning in numb auto pilot. Preparing to get the fuck away from it and not be hurt again. Anger simmering somewhere beneath the surface but too afraid to look at it.

Just keep moving forward. Just keep going. Just get out.

I was in the middle of doing laundry when I found out. Our laundry. The sheets from what had become our marital bed. I wanted to cut them into strips. Set them on fire. Leave them out on the lawn and uproot a tree and just set the dirt ball on top. Some kind of physical representation of what it felt like he’d done to my heart. Our marriage.

Instead, I folded them. I folded his clothes, too. I piled them on the bed and got my shit together and left.

It may be part of my PTSD kicking in, or hormones, or just the overwhelmingness of the whole damn situation, or maybe all of the above. All I know is it feels like I just found out all over again. Except this time, I’m letting myself feel it, sob about it, grieve.

When I found out in April, something in my brain shut off emotion. Yes, I had glimpses of anger and grief, but they continually got overrode by auto pilot. Don’t feel. Just do. I talked to my sister before she had an interview for a job she wanted. I couldn’t break down on the phone with her while she was going into the interview. So I auto piloted it. I called my brother-in-law to ask if I could come back and explained the situation. I couldn’t lose it on the phone with him; he was at work. I just kept it together. I just kept going. I felt numb and removed from myself talking to my husband that night. Piecing things together. Getting confirmation. Hearing the pain and anger in his voice.

And telling our girlfriend. Leaving her, too. Knowing I was too broken deal with any relationship. The lack of trust I felt in just about the entire world was staggering. I’ve never been like that. Well, that’s not entirely true. I haven’t been like that in decades. I have had what others have called a sunny personality, but when I was younger, it was an act. Even wrote a song about it. Now, I try to believe the best in people, not feed into the negative. I don’t watch the news. Yes, I know there are murders, kidnapping, pedophiles, rapists, and all manner of other sick, shitty people out there. I try to focus on the good. I spent too much time growing up being afraid. Shutting out the bad, you actually wind up shutting out the good as well. I learned that the hard way. So I gradually opened up. Accepting the light and dark in humanity, even myself. But when smacked directly with the dark, I had a lesson in the practical application of the light and dark we all carry. And I didn’t know how to process it besides self-preservation. Get to higher ground where you can be safe. So I headed to the place where I’d had the closest thing to stability I’ve had in years. And here I am now. Reminded that the place I came back to isn’t mine anymore. Because I chose to leave. Coming back, I knew my time here was limited. My sister says this will always be home if I need it, but…it can’t be. There’s no place for me anymore. So I’m moving out on my own. Except I don’t fucking want to be on my own, really. Yes, it’s nice to think about how to decorate a space that’s wholly mine, since I’ve never had that. Yes, it’s great that I’m getting some independence. Yes, it’s wonderful that I found what seems to be a clean, safe place to live.

Someone dear to me recently said that he found it surprising that I was able to talk about burlesque. Given that I’d put years of my life into it, and the way I left was wrapped up in complicated, he expected it to be complex, at best, to talk about. When really, it’s not. I miss the people. I miss the performing. I miss the preparation. But it’s not…I had already been gearing up to phase more towards becoming a mother. I was preparing for it long before it happened. When it did, it sucked that it was at the same time as finding out about my husband, but it wasn’t really that which made me make the decision. It contributed, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t planning to leave until I seriously was planning to get or actually got pregnant.

Why do I bring this up in the middle of everything?

Because yes, decorating, independence, and clean, safe places to live are things worthy of celebration. But that independence? Sure, it’s great to push out on my own and all…but I just…don’t want it. I want to be married, dammit. I want children. A family. A unit. To be part of, belong to, feel connected to. This is what I’ve been working towards. What I’ve been hoping and praying for.

I know I can’t have it now. I know this is, though it may not feel like it now, moving forward. I know and have been told that that there is time for children, a house, a solid marriage. It’s entirely possible that my husband and I will come through this and be more solid for it. As evidenced by referencing talking to him above, we are talking regularly now. There are seeds of hope. I don’t know what that means for the future, but it’s where we are now. Seems to be a theme. I don’t know what this means for the future, but it’s where I am now. Since that’s really all I can control, I guess I have to work with what I’ve got and go pack summore stuff.

“Can the child within my heart rise above?”

Landslide by Fleetwood Mac

It was pointed out to me that everyone I’ve expressed interest in or who has expressed interest in me, relationship/dating-wise, lives about 1,000 miles away.  A very astute observation.  The same person also pointed out that I’m where I need to be.  Another astute observation.  However, the latter was actually made before the former, so I’m not sure if that denotes a subtle shift in opinion regarding where he thinks I belong or not.

Yes, the people I actively have feelings for all live 1,000 or so miles away from me.  Which is probably for the best.  Because right now?  Not a good time for me to be a in a relationship.  I feel too weak, too damaged, to scared, and honestly too ambivalent (on some days) to be a good partner.  My baggage is poorly packed, my heart is making a bloody mess on my sleeve, and I’m not at home in myself anymore.  Not a good partner in any shape or form.

My minister, when I first went to see him a few times before I had a therapist, asked me what in me makes me think I deserve to be treated the way I have been.  He recommended that I read Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood by Wayne Muller.  To be frank, while I did plan to give it a look over, I really thought I had healed from the shitty childhood I had and wasn’t expecting much beyond blaming and shaming poor parenting, and really, I’m just done with that.  I’d had the requisite years of therapy, some stellar and some sucktastic.  I am (mostly) able to write about painful things in my past without breaking down.  Talking about horrendous episodes had gotten much easier.  I was fine.  I AM fine.

FINE.

Then I started reading the book.

You know what really sucks?  When you’re not as fine as you really want to believe you are.  Not nearly as fine as you think you should be after all this damn time.  That some scars may’ve stopped hurting but that’s not because they’ve healed but because they’re kind of numb.

It also really sucks when you read a book that exposes the coping mechanisms you’ve gotten so good at they almost felt like they were just normal, healthy parts of living, all the empty spots that you’ve tried to fill in various ways unsuccessfully, and those myriad ways you feel inept, unwelcome, and unworthy:

“When we doubt our own belonging, we grow desperate, and we learn to grab almost anything – a job, a sexual partner, a lifestyle – and make that our place of belonging. In our desperation we lose both our serenity and our sensitivity to the needs of others. If I need your company to feel that I belong, then I am more concerned with how I impress you than I am with your particular needs and desires. You become merely a vehicle for my belonging, an agent to my comfort, no longer [someone] with your own hopes and dreams. As I approach you, it is not you that I touch, it is my own desperation.”

And it’s simply amazing how painful things that happened long ago can translate into adult lives:

“When we are convinced how little is a available for us, we feel confused about how much is enough.  How much can we ask for, what can we hope for?  When we resign ourselves to a life where love and joy will never come in abundance, we reduce the depth and breadth of what is possible for us,  making our lives small and sparse.  ‘Ask and you shall receive’ rings hollow in the heart that has grown to expect less and less.  There will never be enough for us; why bother asking at all?”

These passages both hit me like a hot pink brick truck.  I’m too desperate, hungry, and raw to be a good partner.  I’ll either wind up giving everything (or simply more than I should) away again, trying frantically to phoenix my way through it, and be left wondering why I’ve been reduced to a smoldering pile of ashes, or I’ll go in selfishly, aggressively trying to get everything I hadn’t gotten in the past, ruthlessly making demands, and being disappointed at the inevitable shortfall and fallout.  I have things I need to sort out, one of which is not being afraid to ask for what I want.  Yet also finding a balance between my desires and those of a partner.  There’s so much that goes into maintaining a relationship that right now, the thought of doing it again exhausts me.  Of course, I just have to think about a hug, a look, a tone of voice, a gentle surprise, a touch and I’m reminded of why it’s all worth it…once I get my head and heart back on straight.

 

Disquieting thoughts

The last few weeks have been incredibly tumultuous. My work schedule has been upended, but I still don’t make enough to move out on my own yet. I just came back from a business trip that spanned two states and new experiences, as well as seeing my estranged husband and ex-girlfriend for the first time in four months. On top of all this, I’m beginning the paperwork for divorce, looking for more work, trying to schedule the work I have, all while trying to figure out my life in terms of what I want relationship-wise.

Most recently, a very dear friend asked me to remove the phrase and/or theory that I “wasn’t/am not good enough” from the equation and then delve into why my marriage to my ex-husband and ex-wife didn’t work. What it taught me. What I would do in hindsight. He suspected these were things I hadn’t fully answered…only scabbed over. He acknowledged that it would be hard (if possible) to answer. But that it is also a piece of me that’s missing and without having a better grounding in that piece, I won’t be able to make sense of the other pieces I’m struggling with pertaining to current relationships.

He’s right. As he frequently is. I’ve been thinking about it.

One of the things that’s kept coming up for me, for over a decade, has been hard to articulate. But this blogger hit the nail on the head with a recent post:

At the same time that I have an intellectual appreciation for the approach of polyamory, I think I still have the emotional approach of monogamy. I don’t know whether that’s because I’m naturally more of a monogamous person or because I’ve been socialized to think of intimate relationships only within the bounds of monogamy. In either case, though, I find that I am emotionally attracted to the idea of loving one person more than anyone else. Of having a favorite. And being someone’s favorite.

I’ve been really hesitant to admit that, even to myself. I’ve converted to polyamory, after all. Anything short of the ideal is weakness in myself. I can’t allow jealousy to rule me. You know? I hate being weak. I hate not being able to follow my convictions.

And I am afraid of the idea that polyamory may not be right for me. If it’s not, then what am I doing with my life? What will I lose when I change course? It’s almost too scary even to contemplate, which now that I say it out loud, I find very interesting.

I know I can love more than one person. I do love more than one person. I have, for many years, loved more than one person. Even right now, not technically being in any romantic relationships, I love more than one person. But for me, the practicality and reality of being in polyamorous relationships haven’t…worked out as well as I wanted.

The triads I’ve been in have short-circuited my brain and heart in one way or another. The second could’ve been because I didn’t fully heal from the ending of the first. And also that it imploded spectacularly from a direction I didn’t see coming. But it also could’ve been because I’m not wired that way. Not sure.

I dated a few people, with permission, while I was married. One person was also married, himself. The other person didn’t have a significant other. It sometimes felt that the relationship with the person who didn’t have a SO got a little imbalanced. She wanted a SO and might’ve wanted me to be hers, but that wasn’t what I or my husband and wife wanted. But still, both were good for their duration, yet I wound up ending both to focus on my marriage. A friend once told me he thought I might be looking for things I wasn’t getting at home in outside relationships. So I redoubled my efforts to invest in my marriage(s). Two months later it(they) were over. They’d been ending for a while, but still…it was kind of like a mega blow. Within two months, four relationships were over. God, I’m not sure I ever put those numbers such plain terms. Two months after that, I was laid off. Two months after that, I moved halfway across the country. The first half of 2012 was all about change. The latter half was…fuck, the latter half was just as change-driven as the first. New jobs, new loves, engagement…and now we’re 2/3’s of the way done with 2013, and I feel like I’m just catching my breath and actually looking at things. Finally processing, finally trying to make sense of things instead of hurling myself headlong into the crazy winds of change.

And what I’m coming up with is all over the damn place.

I’ve read many essays on more egalitarian and less couple-based polyamory, which made sense. This one, especially, by sexgeek railing against “polynormativity” got to me. Hit way too close to home. I began testing in my head that maybe I didn’t have to do couple-based, hetereosexual(ish), hierarchical, rules-laden poly. Maybe I should truly do what the authors of The Ethical Slut preach and “let each relationship seek it’s own level” without imposing my own desires and possibly fears on them. I spoke with some close friends. Asked them how they “do” poly. A friend who expressed interest in dating me (after I’d had proper time to heal from the boatloads of upheaval) mentioned that he thought I was more heterosexually inclined. The pansexual poly chick in me bristled. No. I love everyone. Boys, girls, girlyboys, and butchie babes, trans…whatever. It didn’t matter the body you were in. I typically like a balance of male and female in the people I’m attracted to.

However.

It seems that my track record says something different. It seems that my current desires say something different.

There’s a likelihood that I just haven’t given my new thoughts and ideas enough time to take wing.

Another possibility is that I’ve spent and continue to spend so much damn time searching for answers and solutions to problems that might be solved if I were more honest with myself.

I’m not sure which it is. But I’m leaning towards the latter.

Which means that my first marriage(s) might’ve ended partly because I was constantly trying to make the relationship be something that it clearly wasn’t. And when it clearly wasn’t, instead of coming to the conclusion that I didn’t find it fulfilling and I also didn’t feel comfortable or fully engaged, alive, loving…nor like I was being fully engaged or loved, and then instead of acting with grace and dignity and leaving, I stayed. And continually tried to make myself fit. Many times I checked my grace and dignity at the door to try again and again. “We’re working on some issues” became the subtitle of my love life. My sister finally said to me a few years back that relationships do take work, but they shouldn’t constantly be so much work. In the end, she was right.

But what was it I wanted? I wanted a primary relationship with my then boyfriend, turned husband. I wanted to special. I wanted to the be favorite. And I wasn’t. Or at least I quickly became not. There are some even further difficult implications this has that are hard to admit. It may not be anyone’s fault. And maybe the fact that I was looking for that meant that I wouldn’t find it. I don’t know. But this knowledge is really fucking disquieting. I don’t know what to do with it right now.

“Take a closer look at what it is that’s really haunting you…”

“Digital Ghost” by Tori Amos

It’s odd when you finally hear something that you’ve been waiting to hear about. That you’ve been morbidly curious about. That has the power to cause so much pain, and has for so many months. An event that destroys something you thought was pure. That brought you such happiness and hope.

Humans want details.

There’s an anticlimactic nature. A band-aid ripping off. Oh, look. A wound. Of course I knew that was there. The bandage was covering it. Bandages, whether they’re real or emotional, cover places that hurts. That’s what they do. So…of course there was a wound there.

Questions:
Are you sure you want to hear this?
Yes. No. I want to not have a “this” to hear. But it’s too late for that, isn’t it?

Why doesn’t this hurt more?
Oh. Numb. Right.

Oh GOD, why does this hurt so much?
Please, dear god, make it stop hurting.

Please.

Please?

Another book the whole damn world needs to read

Raising-My-Rainbow-Adventures-in-Raising-a-Fabulous-Gender-Creative-Son-Lori-Duron

When I was in my mid-twenties, my dad told me that Ellen Degeneres coming out of the closet and my gay best friend being gay/having a boyfriend were “what was wrong with this world.”  It made me incredibly sad and angry to hear him say this (not the least of which was because he still didn’t know I was bisexual.)  In my opinion, Ellen and my best friend were two shining examples of what was right with the world. After finishing Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son* by Lori Duron (and foreward by the ever-amazing Neil Patrick Harris and his partner David Burtka)  I can say without hesitation that Lori Duron is now added to my list of “what is So Very Right with the world.”  Granted, she’s a “who” not a “what”, but this book and the open, loving, giving, accepting, nurturing way she and her family are raising her children transcends how awesome she is as a person.  (Though she is quite kickass all on her own.)

The book centers around the titular “fabulous, gender creative” C.J., who discovers Barbie when he’s just two and a half years old and sets off running down the gender creative road, leaving his family in a glittery, pink wake.  As Duron describes, “It was like watching somebody come alive, watching a flower bloom, watching a rainbow cross the sky.”  From that moment on, C.J. began to discover the world of “girl”, resplendent with long, silky hair, Disney Princesses, sparkles, Monster High, skirts, Hello Kitty, heels, and the sheer awesomeness that is the color pink.  His response of pure, unadulterated glee to it All Things Girly concerned his mom and dad.  C.J. is, after all, a boy.  Boys are supposed to like “boy things: trucks, dinosaurs, the color blue, to name a few.  Right?
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“I’ve been here sleeping all these years.”

It’s been a dark week.

My brain and body had very few spoons to start with and the slightest little thing seemed to tap them all at once.  I was besieged by unrelenting nightmares, surprised by physical and emotional pain (much of which shouldn’t’ve been surprising), and bombarded with a near constant urge for chocolate to soothe my nerves, however temporarily.

Slowly, I feel it lifting.  Suggestions from friends (force yourself to work on, and therefore through, it) and family (the less politically correct version: suck it up) helped slightly but not as much as I hoped.  One of the most helpful things was actually when a friend resurrected her round robin style of getting a group of her friends to say three things they’re thankful or glad for every single day. Constantly reminding myself of the good, and having other people do the same, reminded me how many blessings are in my life, if only I remember them.

It’s not perfect.  I still feel off, and things take far too many spoons away from me.  But I’m getting somewhere.  I’m getting some of it out in writing, some through reading, and some in just exploring the dark, painful parts and letting them hurt.

Also, music has been a comfort.  Tylan’s song “Wild Awake” sums up the last 14 years of my life, right up to now, fairly well.  The title of this post is a Melissa Etheridge song called “Into the Dark”, which is where I’ve been.  Others that have popped up are “The Morning of the Rain” and “Let There Be Lonely” by Jonathan Jackson, “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserablès, “Thank God for My Friends” by Crystal Bowersox, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Celtic Woman and sometimes Elvis, and “Hold On” from The Secret Garden.

So, yeah.  Holdin’ on.  I guess that’s something, right?