wow, there is so much to think about here. i really love getting all this direct feedback so i will say it again: thank you so much.
something about annabelmore giving me permission to leave did strike a chord with me. i have read that post over and over again. i have been heavy with guilt over not feeling like it was fair or like i had the right to leave. it certainly is not the easy or convenient thing to do for anyone. but i have been trying really hard to make this work and i just end up feeling more and more guilty and bad about myself and Alex just feels more and more insecure and desperate. this morning she said to me "all i do is give, give, give and all you do is take, take, take". i know she said that out of feeling hurt but it exemplifies for me why i need to leave, at least for while. she can't see how i'm trying, and she's giving more than she truly feels comfortable with. she feels like a chump and i feel like a jerk. i can't be what she needs me to be right now and vice versa.
we have agreed to a trial separation. we are still negotiating what that will look like but at the very least it means me moving out for awhile and having my freedom. i feel like i need to start at ground zero and really explore what my needs and boundaries are and how to communicate those along the lines of what nycindie said...i need to look for opportunities to be assertive, with Sam and with others that I (casually!) date, so that i can truly learn how to preserve my sense of myself in the context of a relationship without feeling smothered or controlled. that is my work to do. i have thought about taking the rest of this year as a trial separation from Alex, and if we are still in the same place, and i'm still wanting to leave, i will sign a year lease on my own place for next year and commit to a FULL year of being single, living alone, and doing the work on myself that i need to do. i have some amazing opportunities to do some deep spiritual work next year that are presenting themselves right now, and i think being single and just dating will really support me going as deep as i can into that work.
as far as Sam goes, she is new to poly but is seeing other people right now also, which is perfect. she has told me she is falling in love with me but i think that is okay as long as we are both on the same page about what that means and how far this will go. i agree that i will need to stay vigilant about not falling into the same pattern of being passive and then sliding into something i don't want and feeling trapped by it. i want to learn how to love and be loved freely and generously, without the need to possess or control, without the need to build up a lot of expectations, allowing each relationship to find its own natural levels while I give myself the gift of truly finding my own way, learning to be with my own heart and being able to share it with others in a truly authentic way.