Flood of Feelings
It is funny to write that I am new to Polyamory, since I have been practicing it in various forms since childhood. What is new to me, however, is my husband's interest in having other relationships.
We have been married for 10 years and he has always been my rock. Where I am emotional and spontaneous and magical, he is solid and linear and comforting. Part of why I feel safe to venture out into unknown territories is because I feel so certain of my relationship to him and of the topography of that relationship.
Now he is falling in love with someone else. I have met her and I very much understand why, as she elicits feelings of love in me as well, though not the romantic kind. It was hard to get through that first bit because my husband has cheated on me in the past and these issues were the ones brought to the forefront immediately. Now we have started to wade through these issues and feelings and are also drawing up clear lines about behavior and trust so that everyone can begin to relax.
My trouble is in the feelings. I understand some things in my head and even in my spirit, but I have a seemingly constant stream of really really difficult emotions to process. It has only been a week, but my body is weary from adrenaline, lack of sleep, and not much eating. I have turned all my attention to the task of dealing with emotions, and it is very hard.
It is hard to deal with my extreme fear of losing-- myself, my understanding of the way the world works, the way I know of relating to my husband, losing what is normal. I am afraid of the intensity of my emotions as well. I walk around feeling raw, as if I have no skin, and I don't want to make bad decisions or act out of emotion in a way that would destroy what I am trying to build.
It seems that as soon as I peel away a layer of emotion, there is another lying just beneath that must be dealt with immediately. What I want is a respite from this intensity. For myself and for my husband. Because another fear is that as I continue to express these emotions, he will tire of it and push me away. It is unfounded, as are most of these fears, but it is still there.
Emotions are irrational. They can't be logic-ed away and they cannot be ignored. When I "stuff" an emotion, even if it is just so I can get some sleep so I can be aware enough to deal with it in a healthy way, it is intolerable to my spirit.
I have read the Ethical Slut, and it is the only book about Polyamory I have read so far. I didn't find solace in it, however, because it is so far removed from my current "normal". I can't jump from my "intellectual appreciation of polyamory couched in a comfortable decade of monogamy" to "free love" without stops in-between.
So, what is my question exactly? I want to know how to relax into this emotional storm so it does not destroy me. I want to know that it is okay to feel these things, and I want healthy ways of dealing with the really ugly ones (anger, betrayal, intense fears) without triggering my husband's issues in turn. How can we both unload these difficult things we are dealing with, without the other person feeling responsible or blamed or hurt?
Anyone got anything on that?
So sorry that you are in so much hurt. Hang in there! A few thoughts…
Don’t keep your feelings to yourself! You are suffering about it, and you should not feel bad about it because you are feeling the things a person does in these situations. You are so normal, there is nothing wrong with you, it is not your “fault”. Oh boy is it okay to feel these things!
One thing my wife and I did when we had to have some very difficult conversations is to just take a night after the kids were asleep, and we would just let ONE of us talk at a time. The other’s job was to just listen, never having to think about what they were going to say in response to this or that, it really diffused the moments and allowed for better communication of hard things. Then there is always plenty of time to come back to it. We wrote a lot to each other too. But what ever you do you can’t keep your feelings to yourself.
And you are allowed to say “slow down” if you need to. Take a break… It has to work for both of you.
So be honest with your husband. And he, being a good man, will be there after all the ugly feelings are expressed. I know my wife was so scared to say so many things to me, but it was eating her up from the inside! We are doing much better for it, and I can honestly say that it was in fact some of the worst things I have ever heard her say! You have a solid relationship, you will be fine.
Just be real honest and communicative with each other, say what you need. Those are a good couple of poly rules.
Best wishes to you.
Furthermore, if you know about this new interest, he's obviously not cheating, so how is this triggering feelings of betrayal as if he were cheating? I'm quite confused.
Of course, it also sounds as if you're confused and that's a more serious problem than me being confused.
At this point, I'm more interested in how you're processing your experience. Are you seeing images in your head? Are you constantly chattering at yourself? Are you carrying feeling sensations strongly? Creating worst-case scenarios in your head and playing them over and over? How are you processing what's happening?
You've reported onion-like layers, though I'm not certain as to whether you're seeing something with each layer, or talking to yourself with each layer, or what. I can offer things to do that depend on what it is you're seeing/hearing/feeling with the layers.
Seventh Crow, in answer to your questions:
I haven't identified as poly until recently. ("Venturing out into unknown territories" meant dealing with the energy of Spirit, with creativity, with madness, not exploring sexual relationships. Sorry for the confusion) It is upon looking back at my life that I realize what has been there inside me the whole time. We have not, however done this with a map.
He did cheat on me. Cheating is about dishonesty and betrayal, the polar opposite of the emotional honesty and upfront dealings that characterize polyamory. My husband had a sexual relationship with someone else without my knowledge, while trying to soften me up to the idea of us all having a relationship in the future. I thought we were all exploring the idea of something together, but they were already experiencing it without me.
When I look back at my life before marriage, I see that I was trying to create relationships with people of more than one gender at a time. I usually had overlapping relationships with varying levels of honesty. I didn't know there was such a thing as polyamory until recently, but I've been trying to create it on my own. So, it is surprising that it wasn't me that brought it up this time.
An update: I stayed with my emotions as they peeled away. I was committed to feeling everything, to emotional honesty with myself. What was I experiencing? Flashbacks of previous hurts, constricting fear of the unknown future experienced as "worst-case scenarios", intense emotions like colors in my chest.
I went through a period where I felt hollowed out, but not in despair. I felt clean and open, though utterly ravaged. This was a good thing. The emotions weren't endless, even though they felt that way. I began to see clearly that I was safe. Because no one was lying and there was no chance they would be, because everyone was open to listening to my fears and desires, there was no chance of betrayal.
Now I'm experiencing such an expansion of spirit. I am filled with love. Truly the more I share, the more I give away, the more I have. It seemed cliched. Now I see it is truth. I have come to know this woman in my husband's life and I can see why he loves her. Indeed, I am growing to love her, too, though in a different way than he does.
I am constantly amazed. I thought I knew some things about life, about the universe, about the way the world works. I knew nothing, and I still don't. The world is filled with wonder and anything is possible.
OK, got it. Yeah, he acted horribly.
As for the update: woohoo! It appears you got through that just fine! It also appears like you have a good understanding of how to proceed. I think that relegates us here to cheering from the sidelines....
The other Woman
I am the other woman that a man is falling in love with. He and his wife decided to have an open poly relationship and encouraged me to join them. It has been really hard to see what she has gone through.
Here I have found a new lover in both her and her husband, but he and I just had this intense passion from the begining that was really hard for her to deal with. I don't want to take her husband, I am very happy with the poly-triad situation we have. The emotions are very hard on all sides. He did not expect to fall in love with me, I did not expect to fall in love with him. I am bi-sexual and she and I are intimate but the passion that he and I have is overwhelming and very obvious.
In the 3rd person plural :)
Welcome to the boards!
Dealing with NRE is always tricky for those not tight in its grip. It's also tricky for those coming in new to a situation and inflamed by the NRE to understand how it is to be the other partner. It appears that you're all negotiating things well, though.
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