Posted by: terrapraeta | July 17, 2009

Stepping Clear of the Cocoon, Part IV

under for the third time.
I’ve been baptized by your voice.
it screams from deep beneath the endless water.
and it’s half as high as heaven
and half as clear as reason.
it’s cold and and black like silt on the riverbed.

But I’m so comfortable.
Far too comfortable.
Why don’t you kill me,
I’m weak and numb and insignificant,
and I’m back on my knees.
lost in euphoria.

I’m back down. I’m in the undertow.
I’m helpless and awake in the undertow.
I’ll die within your undertow.
It seems there’s no other way out of this undertow.

Tool, Undertow

September and October were a relatively calm time for both of us. There were building concerns about his job, after the company was sold to a recent IPO, and I was stressing a lot on work of my own. We continued to talk about the potential of ‘picking up’ a girl or a couple and where we might go with that, but we really were not proactive about really doing anything. At the same time, he was building a flirtation with a woman at work and we were both blogging about trips to strip clubs, meta-issues and everything in between.

Then came Halloween. That’s when I finally heard from Eddie, again. He and his girlfriend had gotten an apartment together in Denver – and then she had walked out on him, left him with an empty bank account, a rent payment due and a job that was barely useful. So he called me and we chatted… and then he got to the point. The evening before, he was hanging out with a neighbor, smoking some weed… and he suddenly thought of me. Apparently, he had a memory flash of the week I spent with him in North Carolina, and decided then and there that all of his relationship problems stem from me; because I left him jaded. I had been the best… kissing, in bed, sexually, period.

I slowed him down and pointed out that this was a ridiculous thing to say – I was a sixteen year old kid with no experience to speak of. Even by the time I went to NC, I still was mostly clueless. But I would agree that he and I were uniquely well suited to one another. Our natural predilections were complimentary, that’s all. He decided to accept this, and after that we continued to chat about a variety of things.

My honey came home early that evening, while we were still talking. We chatted a bit longer and then I told him I had to hang up and make dinner. That night was a bit difficult because my honey had made a point of leaving me a dirty movie to watch during the day – and I had – and it was supposed to kick start an evening for us. But then Eddie stepped right in the middle of it, leading him to make a variety of paranoid leaps. All of which he knew were false, but still existed and had to be addressed.

We dealt with some of those issues and then went on to have a nice evening. But by morning my mind was completely in turmoil. I cannot think of any greater fantasy than having your first love call you out of the blue and tell you that you were the best. And it happened. To me. And it happened after my honey and I had quite clearly told one another than neither of us were ‘the best’ when we got together – although the years we have spent have improved our love making to the point that we are far more comfortable with one another and adept at pleasuring one another than anyone else we have ever known.

Eddie and I exchanged a couple emails over the next twenty four hours. He sent me his ‘book’ and I asked when I should call him to chat about it. He responded with ‘Anytime is good, just try and catch me and I’m yours…..’ Of course, that did nothing to settle my turmoil. My girlfriend and I discussed the situation in some detail, and I think it helped to settle me, some. But I told her that I knew I was going to have to tell my honey all about this, because I could only imagine that he was noticing the glow I carried for days after the call.

Friday night, I did so. We went out to dinner before an Ǽnima show, and I told him about the conversation. And told him, that all I could think about was that I want to have my cake and eat it, too. I asked him if this was wrong of me, and he said no. Then I said that it was wrong of me to think about really doing it. And he said no, but… to that one.

We ended up having a great evening. We were both very sensual at the show and even left early so that we would have some energy left when we got home. But this was the start of what has come to define our interactions to this day.

On Sunday, the turmoil was still quite with me, so I wrote a long email to Eddie. Expressing my feelings, this time in depth, confirming my desire for him, my love for him AND for my honey. My desire to have both and my honey’s continuing consternation over Eddie being the one that I want. I also tried to explain to him that I did not want to play any games – even the games that everyone plays. That honesty and openness have become so important to me that it is absolutely vital to maintain it in ANY relationship I might have. I also explored his ‘chase me’ game in some detail. And I sent him a picture.

So, of course, Monday night he called again. Not just to talk, but to declare his love for me. He was pretty intoxicated: so much so that when he first called I could hardly follow what he was saying. Since then, I have come to recognize that if he is anxious when he calls (which has been most of the time, recently), his voice is strained, and his speech is disjointed and he talks very quickly, jumping around and racing forward. So it may be that he was less intoxicated then than I thought (although obviously a bit drunk). Once we are on the phone for a few minutes, he starts to calm, to slow down, to make sense again. That evening, we talked for an hour or a little better, until I absolutely had to get off the phone to work out with my honey (he came up part way through the conversation and was quite uptight with me talking to Ed).

Later that evening, he sent me a long reply to my ‘Musings’ email. Told me he had never seen how I felt all those years, calling himself a stupid egotistical child and wondering if there is any way to ‘fix’ this, now. Talked some about how I was the one that has always understood him, and given him unequivocal support. Mentioning that he was saying “I Love You” and “I’m going into rehab” in the same breathe, but because it was me, that was okay. And he told me that I looked incredibly beautiful.

The next evening, he called again. We talked for another hour, maybe longer. And once more, my honey’s anxiety spiked. Eddie sweet talking for much of the call… and even mentioning something about us running off to Costa Rica where no one would ever find us – because he has a buddy there that could set us up. He could not know how perfect a fantasy that is to me.

Wednesday evening, I called him. He was stone cold sober this time – he had told me Tuesday that this was the plan, no more intoxicants after Tuesday night. He was also in the process of shipping all his stuff off to storage before he got booted from the apartment and back into the Vet SA Program. We only talked for a couple of minutes, but we managed to flirt very lightly and then hung up the phone. That was on my birthday, but if he remembered he did not say anything.

When my honey came home, we went down to our regularly place for dinner. Anticipated a nice dinner, a couple drinks, and then home for some well deserved sexual release. That is not what ended up happening. While we talked after dinner, some topic came up that really threw him. Made him very uncomfortable, talking in public. I am sure it was sexual, and I want to say that it was related to confidence, or aggression or even capability on some level. I should ask if he remembers better. I do know that the night before he was quite worked up framing Eddie as a physical danger to us. It finally came out (perhaps days later) that when I told him Eddie said he was trying to decide whether to ‘fight for me’, that this invoked a physical contest in hiss mind. Of course, this is not at all what Eddie was saying, but it underscores the way my honey sees him – or perhaps the way he did see him, I’m not sure even yet.

Over the next few weeks, we encountered a recurring theme in our upsets and conversations. I was repeatedly doing or saying things that were ‘pushes’. Pushes that he had to respond to by either moving in his attitudes, or not moving, which could be seen as irreconcilable differences. I don’t think that I ever intended for him to find himself in that position. Certainly, I have sometimes thought at moments that we would not able to get through all of this – but mostly that has occurred in response to his extreme negativity: the conversations where he has virtually decided that there is no hope whatsoever. And to my mind, at least, that is far different from saying ‘that’s too big a leap.’

In any case, all of this came to a head early in December. After a particularly grueling series of pushes and push backs, it finally occurred to me that by not choosing I was putting all of the pressure on my honey for pretty much everything whilst shirking my own responsibility. As I thought on this, it became clear to me that I could not allow that to continue. It was unfair of me, and I have spent too much time in my life living based on whatever happens, happens, rather than pro-actively pursuing what I want. In this case, it became quite clear that in order to move forward, I needed to make a choice between my honey and Eddie. That my honey did not have any interest in pursuing a possible relationship involving Eddie – that really he could not do that. At the same time, I knew that this would hang over my head if I allowed it to simply fade, or if I consciously denied myself the opportunity to test the fantasy and see if it was real.

So I sat him down that evening and told him all this, and told him I was going to go to Colorado and have done with it. Needless to say, this did not go over very well. No matter what I say, I cannot make it clear to him that I do not know if this thing with Eddie is real. I do NOT know that it is something that I will really want when faced with the reality – and even if I do, I do not have reason to believe that it will trump what we have built (especially in these months, recently). What I cannot live with, however, is making that choice blindly. If I choose blindly, it will always be a regret in my mind. Because the fantasy will still be my only guide.

That evening was very difficult for both of us, and the next night, nearly as heavy. One thing we did decide, is that for all his complaining, that he DID want me to push him. That I was pushing him toward something that he intellectually believes in, but will inevitably resist from a visceral perspective. Thursday, I anticipated more intense discussions and attempts to find resolution, but something else happened instead. He had a revelation of sorts on his way to work. I am going to have to check with him on exactly what that was, but it led him to a calm place. So instead of fighting or intense talk or any of that, we had cuddles and snuggles and sex, and then spent the weekend exploring polyamory; both by going to the bar with intentionality on Saturday and by joining online groups and reading forums on Sunday.

For me, this provided huge clarity. I have probably emphasized this too extremely (because I feel like it is quite the opposite of what he believes of me), but I started to really push for a polyfidelious model. Not ‘going out to the bar to pick up X’, but building relationships toward the hope of one day being in a comfortable, extended family type relationship. In the same context, I have downplayed the possibility of meeting a person or a couple at these meetups that might build into a sexual relationship. Probably for the same reasons: for me and for people in this community, falling into bed can be really easy. But it is not what I am looking for and I’ve felt like I needed to really make that clear, even if by over stressing the issue.

Since then, Jim and the woman he works with have changed from a ‘flirtation’ to a full on relationship. In every sense except actual intercourse. I don’t want to dwell on the details, because that is not really my story to tell. However, there are a couple of important issues that have come to light and a couple of important feelings that I still have bottled up and I need to get that all out here.

First, the issues. Over the first couple weeks that they were seeing each other, there was an escalating pattern, both in his feelings toward her and obsession level and in the amount of time he was devoting to her and their relationship. This raised a lot of old insecurities for me – not the relationship or the sexual potential or the emotions he was expressing – but in the time spent home alone, waiting for him, wondering when he would be here and so forth Particularly because at first there were a lot of ‘last minute’ changes where I would be expecting him home and then… not. It left me very emotionally exposed and raw. To the point that one night I called him up when he was at her house and said ‘you HAVE to come home. Soon.’ Unfortunately, he did not get my message for an hour, so he did not come home as soon as I would have liked.

This was a really challenging thing for me – especially because I hate seeing that in myself. But this new dedication to honesty and openness between us, led me to expose this guilty secret place that I hate. In so doing, I completely exposed my own depressive tendencies and the core reasons behind them. As bizarre as it was to me, when this finally became clear, my honey freaked out because he did not know about my depression, how it worked, or how common it was. It was amazing to me and terrifying to him. But once the shock wore off, I think we were both able to properly compartmentalize all this new information.

Indirectly, because of that, we discovered that the biggest flaw in our understanding of one another for all these years, has been that we did not understand how we each perceive the world. I see everything in terms of patterns. He sees everything in terms of instances. To go back to our early life together, when I would get upset with him for being out, he would try and figure out ‘why this time’ when, in my mind, it was clearly NOT this instance that was the problem, but the repeating (and usually escalating) pattern of staying our drinking, not coming home, not wanting to spend time with me. This is the fundamental cause behind every fight we have ever had. And it explains why our fights never solved anything. Because we both had completely different ideas of what was being said.

I think I am past this upset, now. Since I understand it – and perhaps importantly, know that he understands it – I can simply choose not to be upset by his absence, even if it is unexpected. I can assure myself that he won’t be home, or won’t be home until after I go to bed, and then I won’t suffer the anxiety that builds up when I spend every moment thinking, maybe now.

On the other side, I know now how I feel about an open relationship. And it’s pretty damn good. I feel positive if I think about the two of them locked in an embrace. I feel good about, hopefully, one day meeting her. I am still concerned about the possibility that will never happen. And a certain amount of uncertainty over how long does this continue if she continues to refuse? How much time can we give her before we realize it will never happen? I don’t have an answer, but I also don’t feel like we are quite at that point, yet.

I also feel some consternation over the one sided-ness of this all. I was (and am) willing to sacrifice myself for the time being – to give him time to figure out what is in his head and how he can deal with this all. But part of me worries that there will be no resolution. Again, how long is long enough? And then, if he finally decides that he cannot resolve this at all… how will I react after feeling like I have ‘sacrificed’ for us and now he is taking away any possibility of that sacrifice being ‘worthwhile’ for me. We have talked a lot about equations and how we don’t want to frame it that way. But as we have also said, there is no way to completely avoid it. I’m not big on the whole altruism frame. Don’t really believe there is such a thing. It is certainly true that I am doing this for us and ultimately for me. How, exactly will I feel if it all crashes down around me, anyway?

And finally, on reading back through the journals, I was reminded of his confession about the girl and the grope session at the show a couple years ago. It still disturbs me. And it probably does disturb me far more than he realizes. Not because he kissed a girl… but because he cheated. In all of this – I have seen myself as the sexually liberated one, yet I have never strayed. Not even a little. I have had crushes and I have fantasized, but I have never crossed the line. He, on the other hand, is the monogamus one. He is the reason we have a monogamous relationship. He is the one troubled by all this. Yet, he HAS crossed that line. I don’t know what that says, but it disturbs me.

I would like to explore this disturbed feeling I have some more. I think there is a relationship between this concern over his ‘lie’ or whatever it was, and my feeling (way back when) that he did not want to be around me. It was not only that he was going out all of the time, but that when he did come home he was generally angry with me, or if it not angry at least dismissive. Part of me wonders why he worked at getting me to come home again once I left. I want to say ‘worked so hard’ but it is not true. I came home and we got better because it was the easiest thing to do. And somewhere in there, he realized that he did want to be around me… but I have no idea what thoughts led to that realization.

Where we go next, how things work out between my honey and his new lady, how things work out between Eddie and I… hell, how (or if) things work out between all four of us? All those questions are open, but, I think this story is finished. We have not stopped learning from one another, and we have not mastered communication and openness. But the major threads of our relationship have been defined. Now it is merely a question of whether all of those threads get pulled together, or if we only weave in a subset and what that ends up looking like.

The cocoon has been kicked aside, but my wings are yet to unfurl.


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