I guess this is the deep end...
When you were a kid, did you ever step off the edge of the pool, and then realize a step too late that the water was about three feet deeper than you thought it was? You sink further and faster than you expected to, and when you stretch out your legs to try to put a foot on the bottom of the pool, it's still a couple feet below, out of reach.
That's pretty much what a lot of the past year has felt like.
I haven't been in a 'serious' relationship in more than five years. The last one was with a guy I still have nightmares about. (We'll call him the X.) I did NOT expect to fall in love with Karma. It was supposed to be a one-time thing, but somehow hours turned into nights, and nights turned into weeks, and weeks to months. The relationship we had before Mohegan found out we'd had an affair was full of ups and downs. The ups were how he made me feel like a person for the first time in years. The downs were when I hated myself for being the other woman, and when I resented that I loved him too much to break it off. The ups were the first nights I went without nightmares when sleeping beside a man, the first time anyone had ever been able to bring me out of a panic attack, and the point where I realized how much of an improvement it was that I could actually trust a man enough to sleep beside him. The downs were the nights I had panic attacks and couldn't call him, couldn't reach him, and didn't dare try too many times, the time the X found my number and called, the time I ran into him at a concert, and couldn't reach Karma.
I always assumed that at some point I would be cheated on. It never dawned on me that I would ever knowingly be the other woman. At times I pitied his wife, at times I resented her, but most of the time, I just tried not to think about it. He needed me, and I needed him, and I told myself that was enough.
But he was busy. He had a real life, and I couldn't be part of it. It got to the point where I barely heard from him, let alone saw him. Our mutual friend J was the only person I felt like I could talk to. I didn't realize at first that he already had strong feelings for me, and over time, I found myself feeling for him too. He was the only person at that point who was truly there for me all the time.
This is the point where I feel like I really got in over my head. It never occurred to me that I could love more than one man. I do love both of them, and it seemed like a logical course of action to try and be with both of them, and make both of them happy. Suddenly, my life became a juggling act that I just wasn't prepared for. I was caught between two men I loved, who quite simply detest each other. They used to be friends, and I've been told time and time again that they would have fought whether or not I came into the picture. But it still sucks to have been the catalyst.
J and Karma both told me quite candidly what they thought of the other, and how they thought I was being used and manipulated by the other. Accusations were flying all over the place. Now, I'm quite paranoid enough on my own, thanks. My imagination doesn't need fuel – but I found it in abundance. Things blew up, and J told Mohegan about my affair with Karma. He warned me before he did, and on some level, I guess I didn't tell him not to because I felt she had the right to know. I told him I thought he was doing the right thing, but fore ENTIRELY the wrong reasons, and I felt that it should be Karma and I who told her. Didn't get the chance. He sent it. There were all kinds of threats and snarls and accusations. The fights got worse, then kinda burned out. Things sort of settled down, but I think it was only because they were both tired of fighting, and were trying not to put me in the middle.
As is the nature of people who have NO idea what they were doing, I promptly screwed up again. Karma's close friend D had been talking me up for a long time. He had established himself as a confidante, a person I could turn to for help and advice. He'd been a little flirty, but never too much. Then, one night, he wanted to hang out. He told me he had to talk to Karma first.
Lack of experience has made me astoundingly naïve, and I know that – I'm trying to grow out of it, but that process hurts. D had asked for Karma's permission to pursue me. NOBODY felt the need to tell me this. I didn't think he was interested - I had wondered, briefly, but decided that D, the charming, charismatic prince of darkness and womanizer, wouldn't be interested in little old me. So D picked me up, and we headed back to his place to 'hang out.' Having a clue, beforehand, would have been nice. D told me that he'd asked Karma for permission, and that Karma had given him the green light. The way he said it made it sound to me like it was what Karma wanted. D had spent quite awhile explaining to me that he likes to share, it turns him on. I wondered if Karma wasn't the same way. D is an extremely controlling, dominant person, and he is, quite frankly, prone to violence. This is precisely the type of personality that the X has. When confronted with it, I buckled. He got what he wanted. Now, I can't blame it all on fear, and don't assume I am – there was a healthy dose of lust and a bit of curiosity in there. He was new, he was charming, he was attractive. But at the point when I wanted to back out, I found I could not say no. Call it what you will. “Spineless,” “cowardly,” and “lacking balls” have been thrown around a lot. I can be a doormat, and I don't actually need the reminders of it. I'm just trying to change it.
J was livid. I had cheated, and I was still not entirely sure how it had happened. I couldn't give him any kind of explanation. I was dazed, scared, and in pain. He flipped, and started threatening to hurt himself if I didn't fix things. Now, I love him, but there is a LOT about him that I have trouble dealing with. That's one of the issues that I normally don't know how to confront, especially not with J. I told Karma, and he was furious too. I didn't know what happened. D had told me Karma was okay with it. I'd thought it was what he wanted. I had the both of them yelling at me, distrustful of me, and suspicious of me. Then D found out about my confusion and regret, and was immediately defensive. D thought I was accusing him of rape, J said I'd cheated, Karma was angry and I didn't get why. Everyone thought I was lying, playing games, being manipulative.
Trust me, I'm not smart enough to manipulate people like Karma and D. I'm just not. Even if I was, I'm not inclined to. I have made a LOT of mistakes over the last year, and I can't necessarily fix all of them, or even most of them. But I am learning as quickly as I can, and trying really hard not to duplicate mistakes.
Suddenly, J suggested a poly relationship to me. He suggested it, so I assumed he was okay with it. I don't know why. Maybe I just really wanted to believe it. Both J and Karma told me that they would rather see me with the other than with D. I tried to sort out a schedule that would give Karma and J roughly equal amounts of time with me, and would still give Karma and Mohegan time together. There were a few hitches. I get the impression that that's usually the case.
I've been trying to figure out how to smooth things out between Mohegan and myself, and I really just don't know how. Even before she found out about the affair, I felt like she immediately got hostile. I couldn't blame her for it, so I didn't really argue. In her place, I'd be pretty pissed at the other woman. I've probably projected my expectations (and definitely my paranoia) on Mohegan. I'm trying not to do that anymore.
We started trying to rebuild trust, but nearly every time I've seen her, I've perceived nothing but hostility. I say 'perceived' because I'm not necessarily being fair. It's probably mostly my paranoia and expectations. But I've felt like she had no interest in getting to know me, and like she was just waiting for me to screw up again, so she could tell Karma and I we couldn't see each other.
Now, I have a lot of issues trusting women. I don't have many female friends, because I don't tolerate cattiness well. When confronted with a woman who's being hostile, I'll do one of two things:
1.)I get hostile right back, and lash out with all the venom I see fit to use.
2.)I don't respond, either out of contempt or diplomacy.
I didn't feel like I had a right to lash out. Karma and I had cheated. There were no two ways around that, and it was kind of miraculous that she would be willing to let us try to sort this out. I also didn't feel like getting confrontational would help. That's been extremely difficult, from time to time. I've been accused of a lot, been called a lot of things, and been judged from the get-go. I've had my love for Karma questioned by god and everybody, and I keep hearing the questions “Why does he need her?” "Now that we're okay again, what is he getting from her?" and “What is she giving him?” That hurt unbelievably. But snapping didn't seem like the most helpful course of action. So in the interest of diplomacy, I chose not to say anything. This apparently comes across as being pitifully spineless, and inspires little but contempt. I pick up on her distaste, and immediately get defensive, and wall off. Why try to open up when I'm fairly certain I'm just going to be attacked? Everyone keeps telling me “just be yourself.” Why? Some inexplicable vibe is apparently so off-putting that I make her skin crawl. As far as I could see, the logical response was not to make things worse.
Yes, as Mohegan pointed out, I've got self-esteem issues. So I felt like there was no use in presenting myself as a target to her, when everything I did seemed to piss her off, and made her think I was a lying manipulative whore. She doesn't see anything in me worth the trouble Karma's gone to to keep me around. Would you try to be friends? I knew I'd just get hurt, and I'm not quite that much of a masochist. I understand she's just trying to protect her husband, and looking back, I understand a lot of my mistakes. However, I won't go out of my way to play nice with someone who doesn't seem to be giving me even a snowflake's chance in hell at earning respect. As far as I could see, she had no interest at all in getting to know me, so I did my best to not irritate her by following her around like a lost puppy, and being her best friend. I let it go. I won't try to be someone's friend when neither of us can be genuine about it. She doesn't like me, so I don't try to convince her she should. Yes, this is a very defeatist attitude. No, it was not the right way to respond. But I'm not sure what the right way is.
I really did feel like she was demanding I open up, just so I could provide her with new buttons to push, and I felt certain she had no intention of actually giving me a chance. So I refused to play that 'game.'
Because of the issues I have with my X, it is very hard for me to say 'no.' Karma and I discussed it recently, and he told me he doesn't ever actually recall me saying the word 'no' to him. That's a problem. I'm also extremely nervous about asserting myself, my needs. When my worth is questioned, I don't challenge it. I just do my best to avoid situations that upset people. The X taught me that upsetting people results in getting hurt. That's not the kind of 'training' that you overcome easily. I'm not writing all my issues off as his fault, but I'm realizing more and more how much they influence the rest of my life, particularly my relationship with Karma, and now with Mohegan.
She sees my failure to stand up for myself as pure and inexplicable cowardice. I see it as what used to be self-preservation, and is now just something I'm trying to overcome. Unfortunately, getting over it is not something that produces tangible, immediate results, so it looks like I'm doing nothing.
I decided early on that if she ever asks me to stop seeing him, I will. I will try to fix things, but I won't try to change her mind. If she asks me not to post here anymore, or to stop reading, I'm fine with that too. I've done my best to abide by her rules, because she has every right to impose them. Of course, with her and I limiting our contact lately, that's been a little hard, because Karma's the only thing really facilitating communication, and this game of telephone is bound to result in hurt feelings and mistakes. I'm hoping that by accepting her invitation to write here, we can at least get to a point where she's not poking me with a sharp stick to see who I am and what I'm about, and I'm not curling up in my shell to avoid harsh questions and quick judgment.
Wow. What a situation.
As I read the posts, frequently I think how courageous people are to open up about some of the most intimate, often painful and embarrassing things about their lives and themselves, even in the fairly anonymous context of this forum. How much more courage does it take to tell your story when people you know well are going to read it? When you're afraid that opening up may give people in your life ammunition to cause you pain?
Pretty fucking impressive for a spineless doormat, in my opinion.
Perhaps it would also be appropriate to say here, something I've thought about when reading Mohegan's threads and others like it, but have never posted.
Strength and courage. In a troubled relationship, whether we choose to stay or to go, we need strength and courage to make good on our choice.
I'm impressed with the courage and strength that has been shown by Mohegan, and others, in following through with their choice. Dealing with the aftermath of cheating, the loss of trust, must be devastatingly difficult. To those who have made the further choice to try to accept someone new into their life that hurt them so badly... I can't even imagine what that takes.
I guess what I'm really trying to say is, I'm rooting hard for all of you!
Hopefuly she gets the support and great feedback I have.
Cricket-thanks for finaly posting and giving yourself a voice. I hope this is the start of us moving in good direction.
I find after a year of being on here that when I see a "new" part of an "established" relationship poster enter the picture I am nervous about replying.
Because it so easily turns into a bloodbath.
That said-I would like to welcome you to the forum Cricket.
I was the wife who cheated on her husband (so the position of Karma).
GG was the "other man".
Here we stand now living together, myself, GG and my husband Maca. It's been a rough go some of the time, a beautiful dream some of the time and often it's been a hysterically funny ride. But most of all it's been a true blessing in disguise as we each find ourselves more truly and grown into better versions of ourselves.
I hope that all of you can find the better and then best versions of yourselves as well.
Welcome, Cricket. I'm glad you're here.
Thank you everybody. :)
I was honestly kind of nervous about posting here. Hopefully it'll help Mohegan and I with the whole communication thing.
Been such a busy week. School's kinda crazy right now. My Farsi professor's a nice enough lady, but there's a wee bit of a language barrier between us. I've kind of been playing this game, since day one, that's been fondly dubbed "What the fuck is going on?!"
I'm not winning.
I also realized Wednesday night that I had a rough draft for a group project due the next day. I'd thought "writing workshop" meant we'd be writing the project he hadn't told us how to do. Turns out it meant we'd be reviewing it.
Flipped out, did the entire thing Thursday morning, walked into class, and about a third of the kids didn't have their essays.
He pushed the due date back.
My grandmother also just moved in with us, and the entire family's been...Stressed. We're all butting heads more than usual. I got fed up enough that I pretty much took off Tuesday night, and went to chill with J. Stayed there until late Wednesday.
J broke up with me because he couldn't deal with the poly thing. Okay, fine. I'm honestly grateful he tried. I'm okay with being just friends - in some ways, he can be a better friend than boyfriend.
He wants to be benefriends.
I'm not particularly bugged by the notion, because he might actually be right when he said we communicated better when we were 'friends.' I didn't feel like there was so much pressure to be the dream girl he thought I was. I was what I was, and being a friend, he couldn't expect more of me.
He chose to shut down, and I'm tired of trying to talk him out of it.
I'm not walking on eggshells to spare his feelings anymore, either.
He's spent months using me cheating with D as his moral high ground (he'd never ever cheat, of course) from which to launch all kinds of guilt trips.
That's kind of my fault - I didn't give either J or Karma the full story about what happened with D for a good long time. Part of it was that I didn't (and still don't) entirely understand what happened. I get the actions, I don't get the reasoning.
Another part of it is that given the full story right away, both J and Karma would probably have immediately gone to hunt D down. I'm not really down with the idea of visiting either of them in prison.
D pushed one of my biggest triggers, and I immediately caved - it's a trigger both Karma and J are very aware of, because they've seen me flip out because of it. Knowing D pushed that button repeatedly would have infuriated them both.
I hadn't told J because, to be honest, I figured he would blame me for it anyway, or worse, not believe me. It was also easier for everyone for him to be angry at me, to resent me.
So when he started bitching at me about how unfair the whole poly thing is, how Karma and I are being unfair to Mohegan, etc. etc. etc., D came up. He always does.
So this time I was totally, brutally honest.
J looked like I'd kicked a chair out from under him. Suddenly, he's got no soapbox to stand on to preach and condemn.
I could have done it more delicately, but I'm not particularly contrite. He needed the clue-by-four to know he was out of line. I needed to know that my words still had some impact.
He was heartbroken that I hadn't told him, that I had assumed he wouldn't believe me.
Dunno if this leaves us in a better place, but I think we're nearing the end of the fights about D.
Unfortunately, when I was chatting with Karma, the conversation came up, and in my irritation, I didn't at all bother to censor what I was saying. It hadn't occurred to me that Mohegan was reading over his shoulder, or that she'd take the comment that Joe felt we were breaching her trust badly.
Looking back, I totally get why she would be upset by it.
It was a rough night wondering if I'd fucked things up again.
Once Karma explained it, she was okay with it all again.
So with all the week's ups and downs, I don't know if I wanna go out this weekend. Ordinarily I'd love to - but I know that the place I wanna go is one where D will almost definitely be.
He's made threats agains J, J got a peace order, it was served a few days ago. That doesn't at all mean I can count on either of them to keep their hands to themselves, and I kind of feel it would be a bad idea for me to be there if the shit hits the fan. I don't trust D not to try to use me against J.
I'm not even sure he wouldn't lash out at me - I don't have a peace order against him.
Perhaps a weekend at home with a book is in order. ;)
I was kinda looking forward to you being there this weekend. I was hoping we could all hang out.
But I completely understand why you don't want to be there. Now that we have netflix maybe we could do a movie night, and just see how things go? With Karma there it won't put all the pressure on us to entertain eachother, as going out alone would. Baby steps in getting to know eachother?
I haven't quite decided whether or not to go. C also wanted to hang out this weekend and thought we'd all chill there or something, cuz I really do need to get out of the house. K won't let C go to anywhere alone at Faire anymore. D's kind of got everybody watching their wimminz. I've kind of been hoping that everyone there will be on guard, so if you and Karma weren't there, C and the Polar Bear would be, or something.
I would love to go to Faire, I just...don't want to cause problems. Y'know?
I'm reluctant to avoid a place I love, and avoid hanging out with people I love, but odds are good D is going to be there, and it's a given that he's going to be pissed. J had kind of fallen off his radar until D got involved with me, and then "lost me" to J.
A movie night definitely sounds good. :)
Last weekend, D ignored everyone until the last like 15 min, then he and Karma had there deep talk , where D's fake tears gave me a migraine :mad:
I wouldn't avoid a place you love because of stupid people. If others are going to be there to protect you, and I've no doubt K and polar bear will, then why let one person ruin your good time?
Plus, J being there is an instigation to D anyway. J being alive is an instigation to D.
If you wanna go, go. And maybe my wish will come true and they'll both just implode :)
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