Message in a bottle, poly-flavoured internet edition...
I'm new here. And by here I mean both this forum and polyamory in general, I suppose.
I'm here, typing out words, because I'm kind of in emotional free-fall right now and writing letters (even to the ether) helps. I'm hoping I can find other people who have been here, to talk to, for advice, because I'm realizing more and more that I'm kind of at the very beginning of reworking my identity when I thought I was working way above level.
So, ok. I'm going to start way at the beginning, because why not? Roughly two years ago I was in a relationship with this chick. She failed to disclose the fact she had an additional partner. I found out. In spite of the breach of trust, I tried to continue to make things work with her (and him). They didn't. It wasn't the poly that was the issue, it was good ol' lack of communication.
The reason it's important though, is because it made me restructure everything. I did it in a vacuum--At that point I didn't seek out help, like I'm doing now, because I knew there was a great deal that was wrong with that set up and I didn't want to admit to it even in anonymous mode.
Shortly after I finally broke things off with that individual, I met my current girlfriend. At some point she mentioned she was poly, and we got to talking about it, and I realized that her system was incredibly similar to the ideal I created when I was rewriting things in my own head.
That story has a happy ending--We're still together, and everything is (I'm assured by many friends) disgustingly sweet and wonderful. But it's about to get a bit more complicated... You know what? Ok, let's back up again.
She'd never actually been poly in practice, just in theory. At this point, I was nervous about the idea but my interest was piqued. If I'd been the kind of girl who could be satisfied winning games on easy mode, I really honestly think we'd have ended up more or less monogamous for a very long time. But I'm not that kind of girl-- I told myself that I owed it to her to not let things settle that way, because it was an ideal for her and she would be letting them gel into that place due to my nerves. What I didn't admit at that point in things was that I owed it to myself too. I'd been spending my whole life clipping relationships in places I felt were unnatural, because I didn't think there was an alternative viable system. Having one that tangible and not trying to realize it would have killed me.
Thus started my Epic Quest to get laid so that I could be poly and shit.
As it turned out fulfilling the first part of my quest was, unsurprisingly, easy. It took me a bit longer to realize the extent of the logical fallacy involved in my thinking though: I actually remember that first kiss that wasn't my girlfriend, and being like "I'm not having a panic attack! YES!!" and then being like "...But I'm not having a revelation either exactly..."
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed myself plenty. If we continue to follow that train of thought it starts derailing and getting appropriately inappropriate and moany. But the encounter didn't really answer any of my questions, it only reassured me I had the capacity for more in the right circumstances.
Enter Boy. Now Boy hasn't done poly before. I'm starting to fall for him, and he's sorting things in his own head (which is, of course, completely legit at this juncture) but I think this might.... be a fit.
Which is wonderful.
It really, truly is.
But I'm a mess.
When I'm ecstatic I'm ecstatic, but when I'm not I'm breaking down all over again, just like when I first came to terms with things. And it's kind of invisible, because I feel this sort of pressure to deal with both my partners' needs and worries over my own because they're the ones in precarious situations--I'm the one getting everything I could possibly want, right? Itís my job to moderate things.
And I just wantÖ I donít know. Iím so scared Iím going to fuck things up somehow.
And I want purchase. Itís like, itís not even specific questions I haveóThough reading posts here or rereading The Ethical Slut helps, because it talks about everything like itís normal. I wantÖ to talk to someone and just have this be normal stuff people go through, you know? SoÖ Thatís why Iím here. To find that.
Iím sorry if this was kind of ranty for an intro post. ^^;; I donít know where else to put it though.
Hi. Iím here. I exist, and Iím going through stuff. Hello.
Sounds like you're having quite a time.
I feel compelled to point that it really isn't exclusively your job to:
"feel this sort of pressure to deal with both my partners' needs and worries over my own because they're the ones in precarious situations--I'm the one getting everything I could possibly want, right? Itís my job to moderate things."
I get you're feeling it; I invite you to stop. :D
If they're actually PARTNERS, I'm guessing they want to support you too. Let them. Share with them. Everything. Not just the good feelings.
Feel your feet on the ground. It really is okay.
I agree with November that you aren't meant to take care of your partners above all else. Yes, of course, we want to act compassionately and take care of the people around us, but not at our own expense, and not by putting their needs before ours. Stop thinking of yourself as being selfish and that they are in precarious positions. They're not hanging off ledges on skyscrapers, after all. They are simply involved in relationship with someone who is involved with another. It's not epic or earth-shattering, really. As for moderating things? I don't know - what is it, a panel discussion? You take care of each relationship and nurture them to create a healthy dynamic of caring, love, and respect, but I wouldn't see it as moderating. Yes, you have to juggle your time and energies, but the people you're in relationship with are 100% responsible for their parts in it too. As I see it, the idea that relationships are 50/50 is bullshit - it's always 100/100 (or 100/100/100, whatever applies to the poly sitch).
And remember, if you've been honest with them, they are with you because they choose to be. You're not doing poly "to them," as if it were a weapon.
As far as feeling like you're going to fuck things up, well, I'm 51 and I still feel that way about almost everything in my life. Time to get over it and realize that you're doing the best you can and will sometimes make mistakes.
I think that you just need to take care to communicate as clearly and honestly as you can, figure out what you need and ask for or create it, and be kind to yourself. Enjoy what you got, honey! Also, when I have moments of doubt, fear, or or jealousy regarding my relationships, I try and remind myself that the people I love deserve to be happy and free, as do I, and that helps me act with integrity in order to support that for all of us - notice, not just people you love, but yourself as well.
Ah man, ok.
Firstly, thanks for the responses.
Secondly, I may have been suffering from "I'm Sometimes Overly Dramatic on the Internet" when I wrote this. ^.^;;
Essentially, about an hour after pressing send my girlfriend came home and hugged me and things were more or less alright really. I think... sometimes... possibly... I do this thing where huge unbearable amounts of existentialism build up and then affect me horribly for the space of about thirty minutes, and then I remember everything is probably mostly ok and it dies down. Some of my worst problems are the ones that I made up; it can be a pretty intense thirty minute phenomenon.
Welcome to our forum.
The others have already given great insights and advice, so I won't belabor that. I think we all have times where things just seem overwhelming, but then we start to feel okay again, and life goes on.
It's great to be with you here; I hope to meet up with you here and there on the different boards.
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